The adhan is the Muslim call to prayer, an invitation to sacred space traditionally recited by a muezzin at a mosque five times each day. Cairo has thousands of mosques, and with countless muezzins chanting the call simultaneously there is a holy cacophony that reverberates through the city’s soundscape. Enter the Ministry of Religious Endowments with the concept of a unified adhan, a single call from one muezzin broadcast from a central radio station to a network of 4,000 officially recognized mosques, each relaying this unified adhan through its own sound system. This beautiful and timely film is full of rich details of everyday life and maintains a quiet respect for the range of opinions voiced on either side of this somewhat unpopular edict. In a culture still unsettled by recent revolution, the idea of any kind of unification is controversial, and the loss of local traditions and individual voices is deeply felt. The story follows muezzins from when they first heard rumors of plans to install wireless receivers in Cairo’s 4,000 officially recognized mosques, through implementation of this Adhan Unification Project (AUP), which since 2010 has displaced thousands. Now, most mosques have receivers installed, though political changes have halted inspection and maintenance. Former muezzins who now perform other duties at mosques, recite the adhan when receivers [all-to-frequently] fail. The film is structured through the five adhans of the day, woven through with interviews of main and supporting characters as well as scholars, painting an emotional and historically relevant portrait of a tradition undergoing change in a time and place ripe with transformation.

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Arabic (Stereo, Dolby 5.1)


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