A Muslim call to prayer in Milwaukee’s cathedral

A Muslim call to prayer in Milwaukee’s cathedral

Recall that when Cardinal Theodore McCarrick prayed to Allah in the presence of a Jordanian Muslim prince there was some debate over how appropriate that was. Some said that Allah was just Arabic for God and it was no big deal.

But could we all agree that having the Muslim call to prayer sung out from the ambo of the cathedral of the Milwaukee archdiocese is not a good thing? Granted this wasn’t during a Mass per se, but a “concert Mass” commemorating 9/11. (Setting aside, for a moment, whether concert Masses that are pure performances are appropriate for space reserved for authentic worship or whether they present a confusion of signs.)

Perhaps the most appropriate soloist is Amjad Khleifat, who was approached by Milwaukee Archdiocesan Choir Director Jeff Honore and Kamenski to perform the second movement’s “Adhaan” or “Call to Prayers,” which Jenkins indicated should be recited in its native Arabic.

From the marbled ambo in the center of the cathedral Sunday, Khleifat covered his ears and rehearsed, calling out to Allah in a sweeping, sitar-like voice.

“To do an Islamic call to prayer in this space is unusual; it shows that our first response should not be fear or terror, but peace,” Honore said later from the back of the church. As the words, “Lord grant us strength to die!” rang out from the front, he added: “That’s the power of this piece - people on either side of the battle pray the same prayer.”

Most appropriate for a 9/11 commemoration. I disagree. Frankly, isn’t “Lord grant us strength to die” what the 9/11 hijackers called out?

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli