Prayer (salah) is one of the Five Pillars of
Islam. Prayers are
supposed to be performed five times daily: at dawn (the
Salat Ul Fajr), midday/noon (the Salat Ul Zuhr), mid-
afternoon (the Salat Ul Asr), sunset (the Salat Ul
Magrib), and nightfall (the Salat Ul Isha), and can last
up to a half an hour. Prayer call (Adhan) sounds (usually
via loudspeaker) from each mosque, and is just what the name
says — a summons for Muslims to attend the five daily
prayers and the Friday service (which is the main service of
the week). The call, which is always delivered in Arabic,
but has no fixed melody, may actually be sung by the
Muezzin, or may be a recording.
During prayer times, shops and restaurants close; usually
you will be allowed to remain in the shop or restaurant, but
will not be served during the period of prayer. Often
newcomers to the Middle East are startled the first few
times they hear the call — particularly the early dawn and
nightfall calls — but quickly become accustomed to it.
In Western countries, not all mosques broadcast the prayer
call outside the mosque.