Muezzin (Arab, mueddzin, caller, proclaim-er), an officer of a mosque who calls the faithful to prayer, as prescribed in the Koran, at dawn, near noon, in the afternoon, a little after sunset, and at nightfall, generally about an hour and a quarter after sunset. He stands upon the balcony of a minaret, and turning successively toward the four cardinal points chants in a loud voice: "God is great; I testify that there is no God but Allah; I testify that Mohammed is the prophet of God. Come to prayer; come to the temple of safety. God is great. There is no God but Allah." For the convenience of those who may desire to per-form extra devotions, the muezzin chants the same words during the night, and at these times, immediately after the words "come to the temple of safety," he adds: "Prayer is better than sleep", According to an Arabic tradition, the office was instituted by Mohammed himself, and the words last quoted were added to the regular formula by the first muezzin on an occasion when the prophet overslept himself. Mohammed approved of them, and they were ever afterward retained in the nightly call.
As the lofty position of the muezzin' enables him to overlook the roofs and balconies of the neighboring private houses, on which the women often pass their time, it has long been the custom to confer the office only on blind men; and stories abound in the East of men feigning blindness in order to secure it, Purity of morals, acquaintance with the Koran, and a srong and pleasant voice are also regarded as indispensable qualifications.