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The silent minaret of Graz

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Archictect's rendering. Photo: Islamic Cultural Centre of Graz
10:38 CEST+02:00
Anyone who has holidayed in a Muslim country knows the sound of the muezzin reciting the adhan, calling the faithful to prayer five times per day. But with only 20,000 believers in the predominantly Christian city of Graz, another solution needed to be found.
With the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on Saturday, Friday evening will see for the first time a call to prayer from the minaret of the new mosque in Graz - using light instead of sound, reported Austria's Kleine Zeitung newspaper.
 
The mosque has a new construction on its minaret, consisting of backlit sheets of bronze, on which will appear the calligraphy of the call to prayer.  Combined with this will be smartphone apps which will alert the faithful, meaning that the call to prayer is sent at radio frequencies rather than audio frequencies, as well as with light.
 
The €9.6 million construction of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Graz houses the minaret and mosque, as well as education rooms, administrative offices, a business centre and a multi-purpose hall.  It was built by Graz architect Gerhard Springer, who explained that having a silent minaret was an essential prerequisite for the first mosque in Styria, in order to prevent conflict.
 
"Having a muezzin would have made no sense," said Springer, "with the approximately 20,000 believers in Graz who are scattered all over the city."
 
Muslims with smartphones can download special apps, such as iMekka, which indicates both the five prayer times as well as the compass direction to Mecca. 
 
Springer won the 2009 competition for the project of the Muslim Community of Styria, which includes Muslims from Bosnia and other countries.

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The eminent calligrapher from the Emirates, Mohammed al Mandi, who penned the call to prayer not only designed the font for the minaret, but also the qibla wall of the mosque with the 99 names of Allah.  His calligraphy already adorns banknotes and passports, as well as ministries and corporate logos throughout the Arab world.
 
 

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