Spring, 1998, became a big moment in my life. It was the first time I heard the azan, the Call to Prayer. I was in my first year serving in the US Peace Corps in a small southern Kazakh town named Karatau (Qaratau). I remember that it surprised me since it was coming from the unfinished Karatau Mosque. There was another mosque but the Muslim community had decided to move to this mosque.
This unfinished mosque had an interesting story. Before I had arrived, they started construction of the mosque. My understanding was that funding came from Turkey but when funds ran out, the construction company left. There were attempts to raise funds from other Muslim countries but this proved fruitless. By the time I left, the mosque remained unfinished but they could hold prayers there.
Hearing the azan would become a daily routine after just a couple of days. I enjoyed hearing it. To this day, I wished I had recorded the call of prayer but at the time, I did not have a video camera nor did I think about doing a audio recording. Blogging or social media would be 6 years away.
Within the next year, my journey to Islam started. The next posts are my experiences meeting a young Kazakh Muslim community.