Pillar of Faith

It’s easy to get wrapped up in western expat life while living in Dubai, but the call to prayer blaring from the mosque on every corner is a persistent reminder that we are living in a Muslim country.  It disturbs an already restless sleep at 5:30 am, mingles with children’s laughter at 12:30 while picking up the boys from preschool, accompanies me at 3:30 inside the shopping mall, serenades dinner at 6:00, and acts as an Arabic lullaby for the boys at 7:30.

For instance, here’s an example of what I heard this afternoon – taken tonight from my house.

The call to prayer doesn’t happen at the same time from every mosque, so you can often hear several renditions at the same time.  And when I mentioned before that there was a mosque on every corner, I was only slightly exaggerating.  After a quick drive around my ‘hood, I found around fifteen mosques – all within walking distance to my house!  Here’s what some of them look like:

Some are modest

Some are grand

Many of the mosques have a little grocery store attached or right on the premises. All that praying must make people hungry! It’s always a little odd to see something so commercial right next to a mosque.


This beach is directly behind this one.

Just in case one of the other 15 isn’t close enough for you, have no fear, they are building more

This one is going to be gigantic! It totally dwarfs everything in its surroundings. I thought it was condos when I saw it from afar. (Probably because in Houston, that’s what it would likely be)

Since the call to prayer is one of the “five pillars of faith” in Islam and I’ve heard it around 455 times, consciously and subconsciously, since I’ve been here, I thought it might be a good idea to find out what is being said.  After a quick google search, I found the translation:

Allahu Akbar
Allah is Great
(said four times)

Ashhadu an la ilaha illa Allah
I bear witness that there is no god except the One God (Allah).
(said two times)

Ashadu anna Muhammadan Rasool Allah
I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.
(said two times)

Hayya ‘ala-s-Salah
Hurry to the prayer (Rise up for prayer)
(said two times)

Hayya ‘ala-l-Falah
Hurry to success (Rise up for Salvation)
(said two times)

Allahu Akbar
Allah is Great
[said two times]

La ilaha illa Allah
There is no god except the One God (Allah)

For the pre-dawn (fajr) prayer, the following phrase is inserted after the fifth part above, towards the end:  As-salatu Khayrun Minan-nawm
Prayer is better than sleep
(said two times)


The “prayer is better than sleep” portion is quite funny.  Apparently, I’m not the only one grumbling at 5:30 am.  Convincing millions of people that prayer is better than sleep at those early hours is a hard sell, I’d imagine!

Non-muslims are not allowed to enter a mosque.  However, there is one that you can tour if you make an appointment.  Hopefully I will do that in the next few weeks and report back.


About Lynda

Longhorns and Camels is a blog about exploring Dubai from the perspective of an expat from Texas. It features stories about living in Dubai including descriptions of local culture and popular activities in the region. It also includes photography of the UAE and other countries abroad. It has been recommended by several well-known guides for expatriates: InterNations, ExpatWoman and Expat Focus.
This entry was posted in Day-to-day living in Dubai, Emirati Culture and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Pillar of Faith

  1. Nikki says:

    Hey Lynda!

    I have so enjoyed getting caught up on your blog today, and I’ll be a regular reader from now on! Your experience so far sound so incredible, and I deeply admire your openness to taking it all on, and taking it all in! Thank you for sharing! I miss you terribly, and I hope to make over to your new world one of these days!

    =) Nikki

  2. Tavia says:

    I read this awhile back and thought it was insightful and funny, especially the part about prayer being more important than sleep, I don’t know how I would handle those constant reminders to pray, hearing it from my mom every so often is even a little much for me! Beautiful photos.

  3. Pingback: Jumeirah Mosque | Longhorns and Camels

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