Morocco: Hands off my Muezzin!

Robin des Blogs received over a dozen comments on his post about a minister in the Moroccan government who has asked muezzins in mosques adjoining tourist areas not to do the call to prayer.

The post's title, “Touches pas à mon muezzin” [Hands off my muezzin], which received numerous reader comments, plays off of the now well-known slogan “Touche pas à mon pays” [Hands off my country], a popular, predominantly youth movement to discourage Islamic fundamentalism.

Sur mon [ancien] Blog, j’avais répondu à Karim Boukhari, du magazine telquel sur la même question dont je vais parler, aujourd’hui, mais ce qu’il a dit lui est franchement tres bénin comparé à ce qu’a demandé Mme Nouzha Skalli, la ministre du developpement social, de la famille et de la solodarité (ouf!).

Madame la ministre, et lors d’une réunion du gouvernement, a en fait, delaissé ses prérogatives et s’est lancée dans un discours incompatible avec ses fonctions, tout d’abord, et rudement vexant pour tout musulman; que ce soit dans ce cher pays ou de part le monde.

On my old blog I responded to Karim boukhari, from the magazine Telquel on the same question I'm going to talk about today, but what he said is frankly pretty benign compared to what Madame Nouzha Skalli, Minister of Social Development, the Family and Solidarity (phew!) has asked for.

During a governmental meeting, Madame the Minister neglected her prerogatives and launched herself into a speech incompatible with her functions, first of all, and rudely vexing for every Muslim, be it in this dear country or anywhere in the world.

De quoi ça s’agit? Rien de spécial, sauf peut etre que la charmante dame a demandé au ministre des affaires islamiques d’uniformiser l’horaire de l’appel à la prière ( al adan) , aisni tous les muezzins du Maroc seront synchronisés, et aussi d’abolir l’appel à la prière d’ALFAJR dans les mosquées juxtaposées aux hotels et aux complexes touristiques. Rien que ça?!!

Selon elle, le muezzin dérange les gwer qui n’aiment pas être reveillés aux aurores et que par conséquent, cela nuit gravement aux projets touristiques au Maroc. Non mais je rêve?!! Iwa pkoi pas abolir l’aid El Adha qui froisse BB, le Ramadan qui derange aussi les goinfres, et tiens tout l’islam et faire du Maroc un vrai plusbopaysdumonde, sans identité, sans culture, et sans souverainneté et tout ça pour que jean paul profite un max de son sommeil payé en devises, et du coup de son séjour ici bas.

What was it about? Nothing special, except perhaps that the charming lady asked the Minister of Islamic Affairs to standardize the time schedule for the call to prayer (al adan), such that all of Morocco's muezzins would be synchronized, and would also abolish the call to prayer of ALFAJAR in mosques next to hotels and touristic complexes. Oh, is that all?!!

According to her, the meuzzin bothers the gwer [plural of gawri, “foreigner”] who don't like being woken up at the crack of dawn and consequently, this is greatly harming Morocco's plans for increasing tourism. Are you kidding me?!! Great, then why not get rid of Aid El Adha which rankles BB [French actress Brigitte Bardot, an animal rights activist], Ramadan that also bothers those who like to pig out, and hey, all of Islam, and make Morocco a real mostbeautifulcountryintheworld, without identity, without culture and without sovereignty and all so Jean Paul can get the most from his sleep paid for in hard cash, and from his trip down here.

Mais Madame, l’appel a la prière est une chose sacrée et le décalage des minutes est une merveille d’ALLAH qui fait que le ADAN ne finit pas de retenir de part le monde, et ce durant les 24 heures, car quand un muezzin dit La Ilaha Illa Allah, un autre dit Allahou akbar plus loin… et il n’ya pas de priere sans ADAN de toutes façons. Sinon comment voulez-vous que L’imam appelle les gens à prier dans ces mosquées là? Il les Bipe?… En plus et même en europe, aux etats unis ou autres pays où l’islam n’est pas la religion officielle, ou même laïques , les muezzins appellent à toutes les prières et n’ont jamais reçu de réclamations, ni personne n’a demandé à les faire taire. Alors comment osez-vous dire ce genre de conneries dans un pays musulman, avec sang froid et sans scrupules ?

Arretez SVP d’empoisonner notre vie avec votre charlatanisme politique de pacotille et faites nous le plaisir de respecter ce pays, sa religion et surtout les sentiments de ce peuple qui n’attends plus rien de vous. Enfin pas encore!

But Madame, the call to prayer is a sacred thing and the time difference in minutes is a marvel of ALLAH which makes it so that the ADAN is uttered at any given time somewhere in the world in a 24 hours period, for when a muessin says La Ilaha Illa Allah, another says Allahou Akbar further away…and there is no prayer without ADAN anyway. Otherwise how would you like the imam to call people to prayer in those mosques? You want him to beep them?…Furthermore and even in Europe, in the U.S. or other countries where Islam isn't an official religion, or even where there is no official religion, the muezzins call for all the prayers and have never received any complaints, nor has anyone asked them to be silent. So how can you dare to say this kind of crap in a Muslim country, with sang froid and without scruples?

Please stop poisoning our lives with your worthless political charlatanism and do us the favor of respecting this country, its religion and above all the sentiments of its people who expect nothing else from you. Or at least not yet!


  • It’s sad that in some countries there are leaders who seek to destroy or modify traditions in the name of “modernization” or in order to satisfy an often distorted concept of what Westerners want. Note to city planners, tourist boards, and economic development offices around the world: MOST Western tourists will be draw to your country (along with their euros, dollars, and pounds) because of what makes it unique.

    Of course, there are some who prefer to travel abroad, seeking little Frances or Englands or Americas wherever they go. Trust me, these are not the kinds of tourists you want to attract!

    I’m an American, I’ve had the opportunity to visit countries with large Muslim communities (mainly in Africa), and I’ve been woken at the crack of dawn for the call to prayer many times. It is one of the most soul-moving sounds on this earth, and I don’t think you need to be Muslim to appreciate that. (I was similarly awoken whenever I stayed in or near ashrams in holy cities in India.)

    I will never forget being woken by the call to prayer in Mombasa, grasping in the dark until I stumbled onto the balcony of the apartment where I was staying, everything black except for that mosque which was pouring out that beautiful sound. I sat there, listening, until the sun rose over the Indian Ocean.

  • Jen, thank you for the comment. I wholeheartedly agree on all points you mentioned. What wonderful memories you have of these travels. Cheers!

  • I’m a non-Muslim American, and if I travel to a Muslim country such as Morocco (which I hope to do), I’d love to hear the call to prayer whenever it happens. It’s part of the culture, and it’d be worth losing a few minutes of sleep to hear that stirring sound.

  • I think the real issue isn’t the call for prayer per se, but the fact that loudspeakers are used, sometimes at a very loud volumes. I’m not sure these were used at the time of the Prophet (saws)… But then this shouldn’t be regulated to please some squeamish French tourists, but rather to let those Moroccans who do nat pray at fajr to go ahead with their sleep…

  • Ibn Kafka – Indeed, I’m pretty sure Muadan Bilal did not have access to a loudspeaker in the eighth century :) and simply relied upon the resonance of his voice. I admit I would be all for a return to this former practice, especially as in most large cities there are enough mosques for each neighborhood to hear their call to prayer. There is a recent New York Times article about the extreme loudness of Cairo’s streets -which is predominantly because of honking cars- but also due to mosques turning their loudspeakers up full blast to be heard over the next one down the street. I would hate to see a similar situation arrive in Morocco.

  • Hello every body,
    I’m Realy glad to see my post down here, and to read those comments.
    SOME People here is morocco don’t respect their own religion, and thnk that all faces of it , that might not please some hypothetic tourists, or their own egocentrism, should be prohibited… I know it’s not all the truth, but none of this will happen… we yill keep fighting against that kind of “cancers”!
    Thanks for the post Lydia

  • Docteur Ho- Thank you for your comment and creating the original post; However, (and you can chalk this up to me being a liberal Westerner nsraniya if you like) I feel that the degree to which people practice their faith is a matter best left up to them. As people so often say “it’s between me and God”. That is a personal issue.
    Also, “some” of those people you mention might be Jewish, or Christian or secular. They might like hearing adan; they might not. No matter, they’re still going to hear it every day -but don’t they deserve the opportunity to at least express their opinion on the issue?

    What I felt your blog post was really about was government officials seeking to dictate how religion should be practiced in the Moroccan Kingdom, particularly to accomodate non-citizens, rather than whether or not people “respect” their religion. Ideally the government should work to benefit its citizens, and not visitors. I think this minister thought she was doing that in a round-about way by promoting a peaceable environment to increase tourism, which hopefully would increase Moroccans’ incomes. However, as others have duly noted, most people come to Morocco WANTING to experience what makes Morocco unique and different and not a place that just reminds them of home.

    Islam is the official state religion under the constitution and King Mohammed VI is the Commander of the Faithful -so in a way, whatever he decides is what goes. This means that already the government does meddle with the way religion is practiced in Morocco. The key is to find a balance between what works for the masses and what works for individuals.

  • Thanks Lydia,
    There’s just a point that i want to explain…By some people, i meaned SOME MUSLIM PEOPLE… That’s what i wanted to say!
    And there is where the difference exists… Muslims HAVE to respect their religion, and if some of them make the choice of not practicing it, they shouldn’t cross over some limits that hurt others feelings. It’s betyeen them and god Back and forth.
    Concerning the moroccan governement, there is no way they can hurt islam as far as the king is the guarantee down here… the belance as you said, it the only way to do it well…

  • “Ideally the government should work to benefit its citizens, and not visitors”. Hear, hear, that’s what bothers me most about Nouzha Sqalli’s remarks – this tendency to adapt laws or build infrastructure not for our own benefits, but for that of tourists, as if we only exist through them.

    I don’t mind the call for prayers resounding at all times, as long as it doesn’t imply using loudspeakers for salat al fajr. There’s no single city-dwelling Moroccan who doesn’t have a cell phone or a wake-up clock through which s/he may get up to pray in at dawn, so the loudspeakers play no functional role. Yes to the moueddin, no to the loudspeakers – and I am certainly not an enemy of religion or of prayer…

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