Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Ali Ahmed Mullah Interview English Translation

Interview With Al-Masjid Al-Haram's Muezzin

MAKKAH, October 21, 2005 (IslamOnline.net) – Azan or call for prayers is a major element of a Muslim's life, stemming from the fact that praying is the very second pillar of the Islamic faith's five pillars. Muezzin or caller for prayers at any mosque is consequently a significant religious job that takes more importance when that mosque is Al-Masjid Al-Haram, one of the most sacred sites of Islam. Sheikh Ali Ahmed Mullah has been calling for prayers in Al-Masjid Al-Haram in Makkah – towards which Muslims from the four corners of the globe direct their faces and hearts five times a day when they pray -- since he was 14 years old.

As a result of being muezzin in Al-Masjid Al-Haram, Sheikh Ali Ahmed Mullah has gained a pan-Islamic fame.

IslamOnline.net met Sheikh Ali Ahmed Mullah, whose warm and lovely voice can be easily discerned by Muslims when it is prayer time. O, what did Sheikh Ali Ahmed Mullah have to say about his 35-year-long experience as a Muezzin.

Question (Q): How did your long journey with Adhan in Al-Masjid Al-Haram start?

Answer (A): I've started as a muezzin when I was only 14. At first, I was an assistant muezzin as there were no microphones and more than one muezzin had to repeat the Adhan to make sure it reaches all quarters of Al-Haram.

Q: Who taught you to be muezzin?

A: There were many muezzins among my family members who taught me how to be a good muezzin, and when time was ripe, I joined Al-Haram as a co-muezzin. I was much influenced by my uncle Sheikh Abdel Rahman Ali Mullah.

Q: Did you practice Adhan before officially joining Al-Masjid Al-Haram?

A: Yes, I was the muezzin during school trips and I always enjoyed distinguished voice tones, in addition to the experience in employing such tones. I gained that experience from my uncle and other muezzins at Al-Masjid Al-Haram. I became my school’s regular muezzin. Adhan gives me some sort of spiritual satisfaction I always feel each time I call for prayers.

Q: Do you work on passing on the Muezzin job to your sons?

A: In my case, I was influenced by the elder members of my family. My eldest son Atef has shown much interest in becoming muezzin and was influenced by me. But he is busy with his business.

Q: Tell us about muezzins and imams of Al-Haram.

A: I have come by a host of marvelous people in this score. To begin with, I liked a lot Sheikh Abul Simh and his brother. Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamid, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Khalifi, and the current imams, they are a group of great people one can learn a lot by remaining near to them.

Q: What is the overall number of muezzins now in Al-Haram?

A: We used to be six, but now, with microphones, there are three muezzins at a time; one calls for prayers, one calls for Iqamah, the second call for prayer, with a total number of 16 muezzins serving in Al-Masjid Al-Haram.

Q: Do Muezzins face funny situations?

A: I believe one in my place, surrounded by thousands of worshipers, must have so many of such incidents. But I can not forget repeated requests by some visitors of Al-Haram for Umra or Hajj to call for prayers.

I explain to them it is impossible because of regulations and that such procedures are systematic. They usually get angry, insisting they are muezzins back home. Such incidents show Muslims’ affection for the holy mosque.

One day, I saw a mad man who was imitating me and repeating Adhan. When he was heading for the Minaret where I was calling for prayers, I stopped Adhan and seized the man not to hurt himself. I remained with him till guards came and took him away in peace.

Also when I was working as a teacher, many of the students wanted me to listen to their Adhan, trying to imitate my voice. I encourage them.

Q: What about your fans?

A: Many pilgrims come to visit me at home or call me to know when I'll be saying the Azan in Al-Haram. Some youngsters send me recordings of Adhan asking for my feedback. One day, a person called me and told me he had 150 cassettes of my Azans saying he wanted to train to have the same tone of voice.

Q: What about your foreign tours to inaugurate mosques in western states?

A: I always feel the support of Muslims there during calling for prayers during the inauguration of mosques built by late king Fahd bin Abdul Aziz in some European states.

Q: How did you set Adhan times in the past?

A: There was a form of a solar clock where you have a piece of stone and a spike and a piece of robe. The piece of stone is scaled similar to the hands of a modern clock. That was a way of knowing times of Adhan.

It was also the task of one family in Makkah, Al-Raiyss family, to follow up the matter and tell the differences between prayer times in summer and winter. When they call for prayers, every body else follows.

Q: Usually muezzins blow in the microphone before using it, why?

A: It is usually the case, especially before Maghrib prayer in Ramadan, to make sure they are working properly and alarm worshippers on iftar time.

Q: Do you have any other activities or hobbies?

A: Yes, of course. I used to have many hobbies, mainly boy scouting. We used to assist hajj and Umrah performers during the rituals in Ramadan. Now, I only have my business to run, besides my work as muezzin.