To understand the sounds of the call to prayer in Abu Dhabi city is to understand the complexity of places and voices that contribute to our aural understanding of place. The recording of a place captures the ambient sounds of that place, and those ambient sounds do not disappear because a recitation is unified. The Sound Map of the Islamic Call to Prayer is a collection of many disparate recordings from all over the world and serves as a cohesive nuanced representation of the Islamic azhan. The representation includes some similar characteristics, tied to recitation and musical style, as well as unique differences. The practice of making field recordings of the call to prayer and focusing in this paper on those recordings, points to various conclusions.
I have never heard the azhan from my father’s family mosque in Brooklyn, but perhaps I don’t need to. I have been thinking about and regarding my connection to Islam as distinct and unique from all other Islam, of his community as different and nuanced in a way it may not be. As I dig and uncover more information about my father’s community, I am surprised to find familiar similarities to the Islam I research and have observed in communities around the world. My father’s heritage is not a kind of Islam; it is Islam. It is a form of Sunni Islam practiced by Muslim Tatars from Eastern Europe. And the mosque in Brooklyn is not a kind of a mosque; it is a mosque.