Monday, June 11, 2012

countdown: 9

(what am I counting down to? explanation here!)

I don't usually talk about religion on here; perhaps because I'm not super ~religiousy~, or maybe because I don't usually have much to say. I know there are some religious bloggers that rock it daily (shout out to all you stunning Mormon bloggers!), but I keep my faith pretty low-key, both online and off. That said, I could not do this countdown of things I love in Tunisia without mentioning the adhan.

The adhan, or azan, is the Muslim call to prayer. The muezzin recites it five times a day, to let all of us Muslims know that it is time to come and pray. Here in the States, we don't have that; we check our watches or have our iPhones do that weird harp alarm to notify us that it's about that time, or, if we're lucky, we're already in the masjid and we hear it up close. There have been a lot of folks complaining about the call to prayer in places across the country, from Texas to Michigan⎯nonsense about noise ordinances and other excuses. In Tunisia, it's not like that.

Growing up, I would always stay up beyond the reasonable summer-bedtime, my eyes wide and glued to a glowing computer screen as I attempted to flirt with whichever boy I was interested in that year, who would type back from a six-hour time difference that made the whole thing entirely more reasonable for him. I did this furtively; cousins would occasionally crack open the door and say groggily to my silhouette, "Sleep, Leilouti?", to which I would say, "Yes, yes," and, "One minute!" Of course, it was never actually a minute, which brings me to adhan.

I would always know it was time to give it a rest when I heard the voice of the muezzin split the sleepy silence of night. There is something so beautiful about it, more beautiful than those boys I wasted nights talking to. The first call starts at dawn; the pinprick of light would silently form, just past all the apartment buildings of Tunis. In my dark room, I would sit still and just listen, both mesmerized and comforted by the sound of it. Once it was finished, I would calmly type my farewell and turn off the computer for the night.

I'm definitely not the most devout of Muslims, but I truly appreciate the call to prayer. When I'm in Tunisia and I hear it ring out overhead, I feel peace settle somewhere inside of me⎯as someone who struggles with anxiety, this is a welcomed change. It makes me feel part of something bigger than myself. It makes me feel connected to all the other people, pausing in their separate yet similar homes, turning their heads to listen.

God is great, God is great


  1. Great Post! I just found your blog about a week ago and I just love your style and your pictures! Anyway, just wanted to introduce myself. Have a great time on your trip. ~Nini

  2. So nice to read about another religion and another religious practice. Seriously so refreshing. I think about the presence of religion on blogs a lot (how it can seem one dimensional, or like there's only one way to believe, or that you have to believe), and am SO glad to read something like this. Anyway, thank you! xo.

  3. Loved this post. I would love to hear more about Tunisia!! Your blog is amazing, Leila. So glad you emailed me that day so I could find it. <3

  4. This is a beautiful post. I'm not really religious. I was christened and my grandparents took me to a Church of England Sunday school when I grew up but I was always the kid who got in trouble for talking in church. I mostly sway towards not believing in a god but I occasionally wonder about a Christian god.

    In some ways, I wish I was more religious. I wish I had that faith in a god and the belief that everything will be ok so long as I have god looking over me.

    Most of the children I teach are Muslim and they are so certain in their beliefs. They have such belief and faith in their god. It's hard not to feel a little jealous of that sometimes.



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