Late last night I lay in bed for awhile hoping to fall back to sleep, but finally I gave up and went into the living room, turned on a light and picked up a manuscript I have been reading. All is quiet in this neighborhood, and the only sound is the ever-present soft hum of the air conditioning. Then I heard it, the Fajr, the morning Call to Prayer, which is sung/chanted just before dawn every morning.
There is a mosque outside our windows about a block away. There are mosques everywhere because it is important that devout Muslims be able to hear the Calls to Prayer wherever they may be so they can pause, bow toward Mecca and pray.
According to Wikipedia there are five pillars of the Islam faith which are the 5 basic acts considered mandatory by believers and are the foundation of Muslim life. The second of these pillars is Salat, the ritual prayer which is performed five times a day: Fajr (dawn - just before sunrise), Dhuhr (noon), Asr (afternoon), Maghrib (evening), and Isha (night).
At the appointed time the Call to Prayer can be heard coming from the minarets, the tall spire that is part of the architecture of every mosque. The sound is amplified, and that adds an echoey quality to the call. This morning I heard it and noted that, yet again, I was awake at dawn. The Call is exotic and mesmerizing, and I paused in my reading and let it wash over me.
Where I live in Hoboken I can hear the bells chime hourly from the Church of St. Peter and Paul two blocks away. At 6:00 in the evening they play a song - sometimes sacred and sometimes not, but always beautiful. As I listened to the Fajr this morning I reflected that almost half a world away I am experiencing a kind of symmetry: Christian church bells in Hoboken and a Muslim Call to Prayer in Abu Dhabi. Both cause me to pause in my day, and both fill me with feelings of peace and gratitude.