I am staying near a huge mosque in Medan. Indonesia is predominantly an Islamic country with around 88 per cent of the country Muslim, which is around 200 million people, making it the populous Muslim nation in the world. Yesterday I went to a cafe located right next to the mosque for a beer. A couple of young guys were eager to practice their English. They said they had been waiting 2 months to find a foreigner who was willing to chat with them. They belong to the batak ethnic group and are Catholics.

Just as we were talking, prayer time at the mosque started and prayers are broadcast over huge speakers at full volume, making it impossible to talk. “When we pray we pray silently in our hearts”, one of the guys said. It was pretty weird drinking a beer, right near a mosque, talking or shouting to two Indonesian, batak Catholics.

I admit I know very little about Islam, but you get to experience it first hand when you come to Indonesia. Next prayer time was around 4 a.m. It had already taken me a while to get to sleep and it was impossible to even think about sleeping as prayers were broadcast again at full distorted volume. When there were brief silences in prayer, you could hear the noise from more distant mosques.

I tried to find the reason for using the loud speakers. One of the reasons is to remind people to pray. The other reason I read is that they are hoping that God will hear their prayers. Hmmm.

Medan mosque