The Battle of the Pious

The maulvi’s in the mosques around my house have five competitions every day. They try to one-up each other at the crack of dawn for about fifteen to seventeen minutes, and then pretend like it never happened. This goes on till right after sundown, after which I imagine they drink honey-lemon-water and rest their throats for the next showdown.

I see them on the streets outside strangers’ houses, discussing community betterment and righteous living, but when it’s time for the Azaan, they sneakily retreat back into their domains, rubbing their hands and clearing their throats. You can see that their eyes narrow, their pace becomes brisk and they only have one mission- to scream as loudly as they can into their microphones so people take notice.

Not to say the Azaan isn’t a calming and rejuvenating beckon. It’s harmonious and allows even the most occupied person the opportunity to self-reflect. It’s a glorious proclamation. But over where I live, some shit isn’t right.

I’d understand if there was a solitary call to prayer for a neighborhood. We would enjoy it, open our windows to hear it better even. Or even if multiple mosques did want to have separate Azaans and they coordinated so that they wouldn’t overlap. Maybe they could be spaced out at four minute intervals. Maybe they could all have walkie-talkies and start at the same time, making one synchronized mega Azaan that would rock the neighborhood to the core. I’m sure they’d like that more anyway.

I saw them carry in a stereo system into one of the smaller mosques this morning. Not just any stereo but one that you see at weddings and high-budget parties that purposely make it harder for two sane people to have a conversation. The ones that if you go close enough disrupt your heartbeat and jumpstart your system. I saw two little girls in the house next to the mosque crying as they peered over from their terrace into the mosque’s courtyard and said goodbye to their peace of mind. Doomed before damnation.

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