The Vespers bells tolled on Friday evening calling faithful Catholics to prayer, I was half a mile away picking up Hawaiian food when I heard the bells. Even inside the restaurant I could hear the beautiful notes from the belfry at Saint Pius V. The bells have a wonderful tone. The notes carry for miles. On a clear night, I can even hear them from my home a couple of miles away. The sound brings to mind dark sanctuaries filled with incense and chanting.
Deus, in adiutorium meum intende. Domine, ad adiuvandum me festina. Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen. Alleluia.
The call to pray is a background part of my community. It enrich's the fabric and is as natural as the sounds of the birds chirping each morning. As an atheist, I am not offended by the sound, nor would I complain about the noise, it is more like music anyway. Would I feel the same if it were a Muslim call to prayer? I would have to say, I don't know. I've never actually experienced it myself.
As Islam grows in America, cities are dealing with the traditional Muslim call to prayer. Controversies arise frequently, some make it into the press. The most common complaint is that the loudspeaker broadcast is a nuisance that disturbs the peace and quite of the neighborhood.
Listen to the call to prayer for yourself. In my opinion, the Muslim call to prayer is every bit as beautiful as the the sound of church bells. Beauty is not the issue though, the community must ask, is the broadcast too loud to bear? In most cases I've read about, it appears that volume is the issue. When residents hear it through the walls of their homes five times a day, the call becomes a nuisance.
I do not see the difference between the two. One call uses bells, the other call uses an amplified loudspeaker. Both must observe community and heath standards or loose the privilege of broadcasting. For my part, I have to ask - is this tradition even necessary any longer? We have ample means to remind ourselves of time based obligations. Alarm clocks, cell phones, and all manner of electronic gear can service the need. Why bother the neighbors?