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Call to prayer

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Question: I hear chanting coming from the loudspeakers on the towers of mosques. What are they saying? Also, after hearing it so many times, I almost memorized its tune. But from time to time, a different tune is chanted and a normal speech is made afterwards. What is said then? 

Response: The chanting from the loudspeakers on mosque towers, called minarets, is called ezan. It is the call to the Muslims for prayer. It is the public announcement to tell them it is time to pray. 

The man who makes the call to prayer is called muezzin. The muezzin climbs up to the balcony of the minaret five times a day just before prayer times. While chanting, the muezzin tours the balcony so that he calls in four directions. 

Thanks to today's technology, instead of climbing up the minaret and touring the balcony, a microphone and loudspeakers makes the muezzin's job easier and more affective. 

Normally the Sabanci Mosque in Adana needs 16 muezzins, because the first four minarets have 3 balconies each and the other two minarets have two balconies each, during every prayer time. But a recorded prayer serves the purpose. Some cities have a centralized prayer call system. All the mosques are connected to each other and the prayer call is made from one place at the same center. 

The prayer call is chanted in Arabic, not Turkish. The call has been the same since the beginning of Islam and is chanted the same way in all Moslem countries. 

The translation of the call is: 
- God is the most great! 
- I testify there is no God but Allah. 
- I testify that Mohammed is the messenger of Allah. 
- Come to prayer, 
- Come to salvation; 
- God is the most great! 
- There is no God, but Allah. 

Only during the morning prayer call an additional sentence is chanted as well which states "Praying is better (pleases God more) than sleeping." 

The different tune chanted from time to time is not the prayer call, but some verses from the Koran, the Holy book of Islam, and the normal speech is the announcement of a death in the community. Thus, the loudspeakers of the mosque are used for public announcements of the death and memorial service which should be held within 24 hours under normal conditions, mostly after the noon prayer.