Loudspeakers in mosques

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Loudspeaker in a mosque in Melaka, Malaysia.
A mosque minaret in Hyderabad fitted with loudspeakers.

Loudspeakers were invented in the early 20th century, and they were introduced in mosques in the 1930s, where they are used for the adhan ("call to prayer"),[1] and sometimes for khutbah (sermons).

Outdoor loudspeakers, usually mounted on tall minarets, are used five times a day for the call to prayer, sometimes starting as early as 4 a.m. Some mosques have loudspeakers that are powerful enough to be heard as far as 5 km (3 mi) away.[2] In areas where more than one mosque is present, the loudspeaker sounds overlap one another,[3] especially in the early morning when sounds are more clearly heard. Loudspeakers are sometimes also used inside mosques to deliver sermons or for prayer.

Legality[edit]

Limitation on calls of prayers by muezzins exist in countries including the Netherlands, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, France, the UK, Austria, Norway, and Belgium.[4] Some cities have independently banned or restricted the use of loudspeakers by mosques, including Lagos, Nigeria,[5] some cities in Michigan, USA, and Cairo, Egypt. [6] [7] [4] [8]

In November 2016, a proposal to prohibit loudspeakers during rest hours by religious institutions was approved in Israel.[4]

Opposition[edit]

Germany[edit]

The installation of outdoor loudspeakers on mosques has frequently met with opposition in communities where Islam is a minority religion. In Cologne, Germany, the proposed construction of the Cologne Central Mosque encountered strong criticism from some area residents; a ban on broadcasting the call to prayer over loudspeakers outside the building was among the first stipulations that the mosque's supporters had to agree to when seeking a building permit.[9]

India[edit]

In India, some anti-noise pollution activists have called for restricting the use of loudspeakers, arguing that religion is not a ground to violate noise rules.[10] In 1999, in debating a proposed blanket ban on loudspeakers atop mosques, some political leaders in India alleged that loudspeakers had been used to create communal tension, and that they had been used to incite a riot in Nandurbar, Maharashtra state, on November 10, 1999.[11]

Indonesia[edit]

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, has recognized that the overzealous use of sound amplification by its many mosques is an environmental issue and appears to be taking official measures to curb the problem.[12] However, in August 2018, a woman who complained of the volume of her local mosque's speakers was eventually given an 18 month prison sentence for blasphemy, while mobs burned 14 Buddhist temples following the news of her complaint against the loudspeakers.[13] As a direct response to this incident, Indonesia's Ministry of Religious Affairs issued a circular on Adhan or the Islamic call to prayer, with guidelines on when and how it ought to be broadcast by mosques.[14]

United States[edit]

In 2004, the Al-Islah Mosque in Hamtramck, Michigan, US, attracted national attention when it requested permission to broadcast its call to prayer. This upset many of the non-Muslim residents of the area, which has a large and long-established Polish Catholic population. Proponents pointed out that the city was already subject to loud bell ringing from the local church, while opponents argued that the church bells served a nonreligious purpose. Later that year, the city amended its noise regulations to limit the volume of all religious sounds. Prior to this, other mosques in the Detroit area had been using loudspeakers to broadcast their calls to prayer without incident.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Adhan And Iqamat (Iqamah)". Hizmetbooks.org. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  2. ^ Riyadh (Afp) (2009-04-25). "Variety News | Saudi cracks down on blaring mosque speakers". Alarabiya.net. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  3. ^ "[IslamCity] Cairo's Dilemma Over Prayer Calls". Mail-archive.com. 2005-05-09. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  4. ^ a b c "Ministers approve bill muffling muezzin's call to prayer". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. November 13, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Nigerian city of Lagos shuts 'noisy' churches and mosques". BBC. 30 June 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  6. ^ a b Leland, John (2004-05-05). "Call to Prayer in Michigan Causes Tension". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  7. ^ Spencer, Richard (Aug 13, 2010). "Cairo to use computerised call to prayer after complaints over tuneless muezzin". Telegraph.co.uk. 
  8. ^ Wajihuddin, Muhammad (3 August 2016). "Muslim leaders welcome high court order on loudspeakers". Times of India. TNN. Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  9. ^ Landler, Mark (2007-07-05). "Germans Split Over a Mosque and the Role of Islam". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-11. 
  10. ^ "Anti-noise crusader for curbs on loudspeaker use in mosques". Thaindian.com. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  11. ^ "Mosques must get permission to install loudspeakers: Dy CM". Indian Express. Retrieved 2012-10-04. 
  12. ^ "Indonesia bids to muffle noisy mosques". Guardian Newspaper UK. 2015-06-25. Retrieved 2016-07-03. 
  13. ^ "Indonesia woman irked by mosque noise convicted of blasphemy". AP News. 2018-08-21. Retrieved 2018-09-04. 
  14. ^ "Indonesia issues guidelines on call to prayer". The Straits Times Singapore. 2018-08-26. Retrieved 2018-09-07.