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A muezzin (//; Turkish: müezzin from Arabic: مؤذن, muʾaḏḏin IPA: [muʔaðːɪn]) is the person appointed at a mosque to lead and recite the call to prayer for every event of prayer and worship in the mosque. The muezzin's post is an important one, and the community depends on him for an accurate prayer schedule.
Roles and responsibilities
The professional muezzin is chosen for his good character, voice and skills to serve at the mosque. However, the muezzin is not considered a cleric, but in a position comparable to a Christian verger. When calling to prayer, the muezzin faces the qiblah, the direction of the Ka'bah in Makkah, while reciting the adhan.
Call of the muezzin
The call of the muezzin is considered an art form, reflected in the melodious chanting of the adhan. In Turkey, there is an annual competition to find the country's best muezzin.
Historically, a muezzin would have recited the call to prayer atop the minarets in order to be heard by those around the mosque. Now, mosques often have loudspeakers mounted on the top of the minaret and the muezzin will use a microphone, or the muezzin recording is played, allowing the call to prayer to be heard at great distances without climbing the minaret.
The institution of the muezzin has existed since the time of Muhammad. The first muezzin was Bilal ibn Ribah, who walked the streets to call the believers to come to prayer. Although many of the customs associated with the muezzin remained undecided at the time of Muhammad's death, including which direction one should choose for the calling, where it should be performed, and the use of trumpets, flags or lamps, all of these are elements of the muezzin's role during the adhan.
After minarets became customary at mosques, the office of muezzin in cities was sometimes given to a blind man, who could not see down into the inner courtyards of the citizen's houses and thus could not violate privacy. Whether factual or not, the blindness of muezzins is claimed as almost universal at certain periods by Jose Saramago in his novel concerning historical epistemology, The History of the Siege of Lisbon.
- David A. King (1996). "On the Role of the Muezzin and the Muwaqqit in Medieval Islamic Society". Tradition, transmission, transformation: Proceedings of two conferences on pre-modern science held at the University of Oklahoma. Brill: 285–346. ISBN 90-04-10119-5.
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|Wikisource has the text of the 1905 New International Encyclopedia article Muezzin.|