The dawn prayer rite (salat al-fajr)

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The next four examples are taken from an Egyptian radio broadcast, starting before the dawn prayer (fajr). The following sequence is broadcast daily from one of the main mosques: (a) Qur’anic recitation, (b) vocalized supplications (ibtihalat), (c) call to prayer (adhan) at dawn, (d) more Qur’anic recitation preceding group prayer, (e) the prayer rite itself (salat al-fajr).

  • Qur’an recited before fajr prayer (end). The style is mujawwad (the melodically elaborate form of tajwid, Qur’anic recitation). From Qur’an 2:231-232. Reciter: Shaykh Salah ‘Abd al-Razzaq Shams al-Din. The excerpt is taken from near the end of his recitation, which may last half an hour altogether. Note how he descends from Rast on G to Bayyati on D. Recitation typically starts low, moves higher, and then descends again, in the arc shape characteristic of so much improvisation in the maqamat.
  • Ibtihalat (sung supplications; start). Performed by Shaykh ‘Awwad Abu Layla. Note differences between ibtihalat and Qur’anic recitation. Ibtihalat is based on supplicatory phrases and poetry; the text is not Divine Revelation. More melody and melisma is possible, because there are no rules (the rules of tajwid) governing the recitation, which is consequently much freer.
  • Ibtihalat and adhan. Same performer. Note how the end of the ibtihalat merges seamlessly into the morning call to prayer, or adhan, in the same style.
  • Ad‘iyya (prayers of request; singular: du‘a’). These call and response prayers are performed towards the end of the morning prayer; the imam (leader) recites a prayer and all respond “Amin”.