If you live in a Muslim country, then you hear the call to prayer often throughout the daily routine. But here it might be better to use the verb "listen" rather than the verb "hear"....
You hear the call to prayer five times a day, but do you listen to it?
This call to prayer has become so much a part of our daily lives that we merely hear it and therefore we may not be aware of its true meanings. To shine some more light on the matter we turned to some Muslims and non-Muslims who live in places where there is no adhan to get their views on the matter; they tell us what they feel when they hear (or first heard) the adhan.
And those who grew up with the sound of the adhan to later move to places where there is no adhan ...it must be much more difficult for them.
Reyyan Kilic, Pharmacist, Philippines
In the first three years of my conversion, I paid little attention to the adhan. I knew the story and the significance of it. However, I have no recollection of any particular time during those years where İ heard it and felt something extraordinary. As a new convert, I am sad to say that the adhan held no special place in my practice of Islam. My call to prayer was a tiny little alarm clock set to the Turkish prayer calendar. The nearest mosque was a suburb away. In any case, the adhan can only be recited inside and not allowed to be broadcast outside. Never did I realize what I was depriving myself of during those early years as a muslim convert.
Four years ago just barely two months after arriving in Turkey, I finally had that moment where everything was perfectly clear. I heard the adhan as if I was hearing it for the first time. The call for the noon prayer was delivered with such beauty and clarity I felt unbelievably emotional. I still remember the tears in my eyes and the warm feeling that I felt inside. I am glad that the realization of the mercy in this simple call to prayer happened in Turkey and not where I used to be. I know I will hear the adhan five times a day and that I am one with the muslim community.
Michiko Kayanoki Japan, Retired Teacher
When I first came to Istanbul I stayed in a hotel near the Blue Mosque. I woke up to a sound in the morning and at first I could not understand what it was. I heard the same sound at different hours during the day. Each one greatly affected me, but in particular, the morning call which woke people up from a deep sleep affected me most. I rang my 84-year old mother in Japan and said "You have to come to Istanbul to smell the sea and hear the adhan". She was in the final years of her life and she had to experience this. My mother could no longer see, but she did not need to see to smell the sea air or to feel Istanbul surrounded by the adhan...
Zhang Chou, Korea Graphic Artist
A friend in Istanbul invited me to an evening meal on the Bosphorus. We were sitting in a restaurant near Ortakoy Mosque. Towards the end of the meal this call, which I was hearing for the first time, started to be recited. I asked what it meant. My friend told me in detail, and told me the meaning of the prayer. After dinner we walked towards the mosque. Many people were coming out of the mosque. My friend said "Look, these are the ones who listened to the call". I started to think at that moment, God was calling people and those who believed in Him were immediately listening; what a dynamic relationship these people had with God in their daily lives...
Ataullah Bogdan Kopanski, Poland, Historical and Political Science Professor
When I was 12 years old I rejected many of the rules of the church that were in conflict with logic. Two years later, in 1962, the struggle carried out by the Muslim mujahids in Algeria against the French imperialists ended in victory and this awoke my admiration. This was the first arrow that opened the way for Islam to enter my heart...In high school and in the first years of my university education I was a member of the "Reds" like the rest of the "revolutionary generation". The path that led to the truth of the Quran was full of obstacles and I proceeded slowly. In 1974 I went to Turkey to work on my master's thesis on the politics that Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent adopted towards the Polish kingdom. There I heard the most beautiful human sound which shook me, the adhan!
The adhan gave me goose pimples and sent a shiver down my spine. A large unknown force dragged me to one of the oldest churches in Istanbul. In the courtyard of the mosque a cheerful old man was making wudu and he taught me how to do it. In tears I confessed "Allah is one and Muhammad is His prophet" and I prayed my first prayer - evening prayer - there. I threw out all the hollow ideologies from my world. For the first time in my life my mind had reached peace and I was at ease. My heart experienced the pleasure of being united with Allah. I was now a Muslim.
Mehtap Bekhan, England, Student
A child who has lost his mother will wait for his mother's voice. He will wait for her, look for her, thinking every sound is the sound of his mother. But later he will realize that these sounds only cause feelings of distance and emptiness.
In the same way people when they are abroad, living in countries where there is no adhan, are like a child waiting for his mother's call. They are waiting for the invitation, the call to "come to me". They look around them, as if at any moment they will hear it, thinking similar sounds to be the adhan. Their ears might deceive them for a short time, but their eyes are never wrong; there is no minaret for the muezzin to climb to in the city...they give up...
But there is a comfort; there are still places where the adhan can be heard. People long to hear the adhan when abroad, and this longing seems infinite....
Ahmed Khalid, Canada, Engineer
Everything should be experienced in its natural environment. In Muslim cities Islam is experienced with the recitation of the adhan and people run to the mosques. When people are living within such an atmosphere they are not aware of the value of the adhan. How beautiful it is to hear the adhan from the muezzin, to run to the mosque, being able to following the minaret to the mosque when one feels the need, to make one's wudu at a fountain in the mosque courtyard - one can only understand how beautiful these are when they are gone. You long for the joy of counting the minutes to the time when you will bow before Allah, waiting for the adhan with people of all ages in the courtyard of the mosque.
If you cannot hear the adhan, if you cannot go to the mosque, then you are both the imam and the congregation...