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Mornings in Michigan: Dearborn residents wake up to sacred chant

Feb 2, 2018

This story is a part of Mornings In Michigan, our new series about the sounds of morning rituals in our state. 

In Dearborn many residents wake up to the sound of a sacred chant from a local house of worship. It’s the adhan, or call to prayer, that’s broadcast five different times during the day over a loudspeaker on top of the American Moslem Society

Michigan Radio's Lauren Talley visited the mosque at dawn.


Scroll down to hear the full call to prayer and read an English translation. 

A member of the mosque began reciting the morning call to prayer just before sunrise. The time shifts throughout the year so I arrived at 4:30 a.m. Vernor Highway in Dearborn is usually a busy street, but only a handful of cars passed by at that hour. There was a glow from the 24-hour gas station behind us, but the bakery next door hadn't opened yet.

"Some people have different reasons to wake up," said Mosad Algahmi. "Some people wake up to go to work. Some take a morning jog, some to walk their dogs, but for the most part the majority of Muslims wake up to pray."

Algahmi is the outreach coordinator for the American Moslem Society.

Some people wake up to go to work. Some take a morning jog, some to walk their dogs, but for the most part, the majority of Muslims wake up to pray. - Mosad Algahmi

He said about a hundred people come for morning prayer. Later in the day, the mosque can draw as many as 2,000 worshipers. The broadcast is a longstanding tradition.

"It’s been since the '70s they’ve had the adhan broadcasted over loud speakers for people to hear," Algahmi said. 

There are other mosques in Michigan that also play the call outside. It lasts a few minutes. Algahmi said the sound of the chant alerts worshipers that they have roughly 15 minutes to get to the mosque for morning prayer.

Aiman Almasnaah is a member of the mosque. He thinks of the call in three parts.

  • The first is a key tenet of the faith.

"Allahu akbar, and that translates into, basically, God is greater than whatever you’re doing right now," he said. "That there is no deity worthy [of] worship except God and that Mohammed is his prophet and messenger."

  • The second part is a set of commands.

"Come to prayer, come to prayer. Come to success, come to success. And for the morning prayer, there’s one thing that’s also included – prayer is better than sleep. He repeats it twice."

  • The third part is a final reminder. Almasnaah considers it an invitation.

"It’s a communal thing calling the entire community to come together and be led in prayer in unison behind one spiritual leader."

When Almasnaah was a student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, he couldn’t hear the call to prayer and felt less inspired to wake up. Worshipers can pray at home, but Almasnaah said he missed sharing the moment with other Muslims.

"If you pray at home, it’s easier to just pray and go back to sleep, whereas if you pray at the mosque, you pray and you’ve talked to people," he said. "You come out feeling more rejuvenated."

For Mosad Algahmi days aren’t the same when he can’t make it to a mosque for the morning prayer.

"My whole day is ruined," Algahmi said. "I feel lazy. I feel like I didn’t accomplish anything. The dawn prayer is the one that charges us for the rest of the day. Your day is set."

Listen to the full call to prayer at the American Moslem Society:

 

Read an English translation:

Allahu Akbar / God is Great (said four times)

Ashhadu an la ilaha illa Allah / I bear witness that there is no god except the One God. (two times)

Ashadu anna Muhammadan Rasool Allah / I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God. (two times)

Hayya 'ala-s-Salah / Come to prayer (Rise up for prayer) (two times)

Hayya 'ala-l-Falah / Come to success (Rise up for Salvation) (two times)

For the pre-dawn prayer, the following phrase is inserted after the fifth part above, towards the end:

As-salatu Khayrun Minan-nawm / Prayer is better than sleep (two times)

Allahu Akbar God is Great (two times)

La ilaha illa Allah / There is no god except the One God

Lauren Talley is Michigan Radio's Morning Edition producer. Doug Tribou contributed to this story.