Call To Prayer

Date of original journal entry:  Sunday, January 8, 2017

Sunset minarets at a large mosque in Kono


Devout Muslim man and his wife listening to the public preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Our village of Baomahun boasts three mosques, two of which have a minaret.  The minaret, or tower, was traditionally used by the muezzin, the man who, in a wailing high tenor falsetto, calls the faithful to mandatory prayer five times a day.  But the minarets in West Africa sport incredibly loud P.A. systems with recorded Arab voices to which we are subjected five times a day and even more on Fridays, the Islamic holy day.  By two mosques.  At the same time but … not quite exactly!  Since the first call begins roughly at five o’clock in the morning, we try to rise around 3:45 to have one blissful hour of quiet before the mosques begin their morning wail which is often the loudest of the day to rouse the drowsy faithful.

On this particular morning, following some much needed quiet prayer and unaware of the time, I started reading Proverb 8. Suddenly I had a most incredible overlay of scripture with this Arabic call bringing into sharp relief the spiritual struggle which we encounter daily in Sierra Leone.  To maintain the affect of this moment, I’ll give you only the Arabic here; the full call to prayer, along with its English translation, is at the end of the post.

“ Allahu Akbar” [pause]

Doth not wisdom cry … ?

Completely awe struck by the split-second and improbable timing, I too paused for my own prayer at the end of each phrase.


Public preaching in the center of our village

“Ashhadu an la ilaha illa Allah” [pause]

And understanding put forth her voice …  [prayer]

“Ashadu anna Muhammadan Rasool Allah” [pause]

She cryeth at the gates, at the entry of the city … [prayer]

“Hayya ‘ala-s-Salah” [pause]

Unto you, O men I call;

And my voice is is to the sons of man … [much prayer]


I was so moved to prayer by this stark contrast of light versus dark, understanding versus gross ignorance — willful ignorance, a choosing on the part of the sons of man to remain in their darkness.  Wisdom quite literally cries at the gate of our “city” and puts forth her voice calling, “whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17) I will never be able to read Proverb 8 without praying for Muslims around the world to hear and heed the real call to prayer.


Post Script:

This is a translation of the prayer call which we hear five times a day and, as stated, more on Fridays.  During the holy month of Ramadan this call starts at three in the morning then at midnight for the concluding week!  The final call is at seven, eight, or sometimes nine at night.  Sleep can be difficult at times.

Public reading of scripture on the main road of Baomahun

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.

(said two times)

Ashadu anna Muhammadan Rasool Allah

I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God.

(said two times)

Hayya ‘ala-s-Salah

Hurry to the prayer (Rise up for prayer)

(said two times)

Hayya ‘ala-l-Falah

Hurry to success (Rise up for Salvation)

(said two times)

As-salatu Khayrun Minan-nawm

Prayer is better than sleep

(said two times)

(said only for predawn [fajr] prayer)

Allahu Akbar

God is Great

(said two times)

La ilaha illa Allah

There is no god except the One God

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