Friday, November 19, 2010

A Rude Awakening

Well, it happened again this morning. I thought that after a few day's time, I would be able to sleep through it.  I naively believed that I would be able to either tune it our or incorporate it into my dreams. Unfortunately for me, that is not what happened this morning. Somewhere just before four o'clock a.m., I (along with thousands of others in the city) were rudely awakened from our sleep. Again, I thought? Yes, again. And again and again and again. I may as well get used to it because it's not going to change. In the pitch dark of night, when not a light had been lit and not a sound could be heard nor a soul was in sight, this is what I heard:

What is this eerie music, you might wonder? When I first woke up in a fright to this haunting cacophony of noises a few years ago, I was hysterically sure that a terrorist attack was about to erupt and that I was going to die momentarily. My eyes bulged forward and my heart raced. Thankfully, an amused Rafi was there to calm me down and explain to me that there was no reason to worry. I could go back to sleep, he said. Five times a day, no matter where you are in Jerusalem, there is a good chance you will hear the indistinguishable, persistent wailing that hails from the the old city's Arab corner. This, my friends, is the Muslim's call to prayer. 
Broadcast to the city with epic speakers, the boisterous and rackety chanting resonates out from the city center in concentric circles, much like the ripple effect when a rock hits a pond. It's as if the speakers have been placed directly inside your bedroom. We're not talking about one simple speaker here; we're talking about dozens of grandiose speakers going off one after the other, booming into your bedroom and ear canal. And it's not just one morning; it's every single morning, every day of the year. With this said, at 4:00 a.m., it is nearly impossible to give into dreams and avoid falling mercy to the roaring prayer ritual. While throughout the day, it is common that the hustle and bustle of the city washes out the echoing ringing forth from the Arab quarter, it is an entirely different situation in the early morning hours. 
This notion brings to thought one question: Is really not possible for them to just use alarm clocks? And does it honestly need to be that loud? For a religion that claims to preach tolerance, the Muslims seems to ironically be pushing their morning rituals into the unsuspecting ears of an entire city full of diverse peoples who are just trying to get a good night's sleep.
Though I've never been in person to the Arab quarter of the old city, here is a closer look at what the call to prayer looks like:

Perhaps in time (fingers crossed) I will grow to love these unsought noises and begin to associate them with comforts of home; much like the ringing of church bells reminds me pleasantly of high school and the ecstatic barking of a dog reminds me happily of home. For now, I guess I will be waking up groggily prior to the sunrise, annoyed to be taken away temporarily from my world of dreams.


  1. Thanks for sharing your adventures Erin. You are a great writer!

  2. WOW...that would drive me NUTS!! You should buy some bigger speakers and blast Beyonce at 3:55am.

  3. Haha, Nikki that is hilarious! I wonder what would happen to me if I actually did that. Hmmm.....some food for thought :)

  4. This happens all over. It woke me up every morning in Morocco and in Egypt. It isn't really that fun at all.


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