The Muezzin are calling ezan in Marrakech right now. Some voices are deep and inviting, others harsh and scratchy from years of dryness. They call for the people to come, attend the mosque, for the sun is soon to rise. I guiltily lay in bed knowing that his final call reminds the people “prayer is better than sleep”.
ca. 1970-1995, Cairo, Egypt — A muezzin of the Aqsunqar Mosque, calls the faithful to prayer. This mosque is also called the Blue Mosque for its flowery blue Turkish tiles. — Image by © Christine Osborne/CORBIS
My family however is sleeping. We have our own faith. I should get up and meditate.
Nestled in the middle of a traditional riad, in the heart of Marrakech, I found a bear like cave that shields my family just enough while allowing the daily flow of Moroccan life to circle around us. Its been a long 5 months on the road, in a bus and on display.
The riad is centred in a traditional Medina or town and surrounded by a 20 foot high polished earthern wall. It is cool, mysterious and secured with a chain smoking security gang who stop every car with as much determination as the morning Muezzin. I only wish they had put down their cigarettes long enough to catch the kid who smashed our bus window yesterday. It seems that security only starts once you cross the red and white line and not a meter out. We didn’t catch the kid and we didn’t know what we would do even if we did.
I found this little oasis on the net and after just one day our bodies have relaxed enough to sleep peacefully. Everything you would need to survive a 2 month sandstorm is right at our disposal and the compound also boasts a few cafes, a little shop for various supplies, a pharmacy and mosque. I think I saw a pool too but swimming is prohibited on Friday and yep – that’s today.
Photo taken in Marrakech, Morocco
There is an eclectic strange mix of global warriors and hard to understand French speaking Muslims who share the compound. Over a strong black shot and cheap pizza yesterday afternoon, I have already met a gorgeously garbed designer who I want to buy from for my market and an old time rocker from the 80’s called ‘Mr Tiger’ who has an amazing energy and recording studio. Dare I say, I lost my husband for hours yesterday. There is something here for each of us and we haven’t yet explored the world renowned markets of Marrakech located only 10 minutes away.
Light starts to creep into the bathroom window and cars begin to choke outside. The compound is still quiet and I imagine the Inam or leader of prayer has begun his service. I wonder a lot about the Muslim faith and would like to talk the many of the men and women who fill the mosques but the language barrier makes learning slow.
A friend of mine traveling through Morocco at the moment wanted to learn more about this religion so thought he would attend a mosque for the Muezzin had called so beautifully this day he told me. He followed the swarm, removed his shoes and entered the inner sanctum. He was respectful, removing his shoes and sitting quietly up the back but it wasn’t long before someone approached him and asked what had happened to him.
My friend replied, “I am here to learn”.
The stranger said “Well learn outside”.
Although my friend has the sweetest heart and a humble manner I am thinking he forgot to bathe or prepare himself for prayer. Just like in our home or hearts there are certain ways in which we perform sacred offerings or blessings, even the way we go about bathing or eating. To practice or pray here one must be in good shape and pure condition before starting prayer. It is necessary to wash the parts of the body which are generally exposed to dirt or dust or smog and going on past experience I doubt my friend had cleaned well in days.
Prayer to me looks like a gymnastic exercise and a mechanical act but one thing for sure its brings the awareness of God into their daily lives. I can only hope my day is filled with such devotion.
I hope for you too that your day is filled with such devotion to life and a love inspired by higher forces.
Rock on Marrakech.
Prayer or chant for Muslims carried out 5 times a day.
Allaahu Akbar (four times – “Allah is Most Great”).
Ash’hadu an laa ilaaha illallaah (twice – “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah“).
Ash’hadu anna Muhammadan-rasulullaah (twice – “I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah“).
Haya ‘alas-salaah (twice – “Come to prayer”).
Haya ‘alal falaah (twice – “Come to the good;’).
Allaahu Akbar (twice – “Allah is Most Great”).