For more than a millennium, Cairo's call to prayer has been communicated by a chosen person known as a muezzin, or muzim, from the top of the minarets at the city's 4,500 mosques. The muezzin leads the call to Friday service, known as the adhan, and the five daily prayers.
Up until now, each muezzin has begun his call to prayer at slightly varying times, leading to a wave of out-of-synch chanting across the city. This is all about to change however as the Egyptian government plans to implement a project which will synchronise the calls to prayer using a computerised system.
The plan, which has been long mooted, is unpopular with the muezzins who fear for their jobs and societal roles in the largest city in the Arab world. In addition, traditionalists are opposed to the move, citing the conflicting sounds of the chants, whether in tune or not, as part of the city's charm.
The ministry of religious endowments is currently linking each mosque throughout the city to a centralised computer network. Sheikh Salem Abdel-Galil, the official behind the proposal, stated that the ministry's goals are to accurately set the time of prayer so that it is called at the same time from each mosque, and to control the quality of the voices that call the prayer.