Is the azan (call to prayer) very loud? Please respond especially if you live in the Jalan Kolam Air area of JB.

Today, we read the news report that a 23-year-old man had stabbed someone in a mosque, because he was unhappy with the victim for using the loudspeaker when reading the Quran. Two other worshippers witnessed the incident which happened at 6.30 am, in Terengganu.

The suspect’s house is 100 m from the mosque and he was furious that his sleep had been disturbed. 

PTI photo

New allegations about loud azans in Johore Baru.

I have received a letter with allegations about similar noise levels from mosques/suraus in JB. They are from the inhabitants of a residential area. 

If true, the allegations are serious. I am attempting to verify the allegations and if you live in the area, would be grateful for your feedback. All replies will be treated in strict confidence.

The residents do not want a ban; they just want a bit of consideration, and for the mosques to reduce the duration & level of the noise, and frequency of the broadcasts. Surely, five broadcasts a day is sufficient.

If the allegations are proven, I will report them to the relevant ministry. If the allegations prove to be unfounded, I will remove the post.

My Experience

I have witnessed similar noise pollution in various parts of Batu Ferringhi, Langkawi and Kuala Lumpur.

It must be disconcerting when one has to revise for examinations, or put in several hours of piano practise, a day, for the higher grades, especially for those who live beside such mosques and don’t have air-conditioning, to shut out the prolonged loud broadcasts.

Religion is one thing, but there must be consideration for others.

Neither the Koran nor the hadith, says anything about blaring the call to prayer from a loud speaker. 

Please note, that in the olden days, during the time of the prophet, people did not have watches, and the azan was made to inform people to come in from the fields or homes, because it was prayer-time. Church bells serve the same purpose. 

Why I am publishing this letter

I am publishing this letter at the request of the residents, to raise awareness of this disturbance, as this is deemed to be a sensitive issue in Malaysia and non-Muslims usually suffer in silence. Although they are annoyed, they fear that raising the issue will enable the religious fanatics to spin it into a new racial/religious issue.

They claim that they have emailed the Minister in the Prime Minister’s department in charge of religious affairs, Mujahid Rawa, & his deputy, twice, without getting any response. They also claim to have emailed the minister in charge of religious issues in Johor, Aminolhuda Hassan, without success.

They also said that not all ustazs or imams are inconsiderate, because one man’s colleague had said that after speaking to the imam in the mosque in Skudai, he didn’t lower the volume, he stopped the broadcast. Now, that’s a very considerate move by moderate muslims!

Masjid Kolam Air, Photo from 2012

The letter from the inhabitants of a residential area of Johore Baru.

Residents in our neighbourhood are facing disturbance from overly loud & long azan prayers since bulan puasa of 2017. Despite reports to 2 ADUNs, they didn’t seem interested in solving the problem for us. Emails to the state & federal ministers in charge of religion also went unanswered.
 
So, we’re hoping open-minded & progressive Muslims, like your good self, can help us highlight this problem in your articles, as you have a wide audience and influence. Hopefully it can also raise awareness to it, as many Muslims may not be aware that the loud prayers they find holy and calming, are, to non-Muslims, actually no different from other annoying loud noises from inconsiderate neighbours. Non-Muslims also find its sad tone irritating.
 
Since bulan puasa of 2017, the mosque & suraus in our neighbourhood of Jln Kolam Air, JB, Johor, suddenly started to add a 6th azan prayer (instead of the usual 5) after 8pm every night. They’re also much louder than they have been for the past few decades. On top of that, some of them also started adding pre-azan & post-azan prayers & sermons as and when they like. Sometimes they seem to be in a competition to see who can shout the loudest or with the highest pitch!
 
As this is an old neighbourhood that’s not well planned, there’s a few suraus not far from each other. We only realised there’s a few more suraus nearby after all of them started broadcasting loudly, as sometimes we can hear up to 4~5 different azan broadcasts, some even coming from a different neighbourhood!
 
The worst offender is Masjid Kolam Air (MKA), which not only installed new & very loud speakers, but also extended daily loud & long broadcasts to between 3~5 hours a day! They broadcast all indoor events & force hundreds of surrounding residents to listen to them, seriously disturbing their sleep and recreation like enjoyment of music & TV programs. We can’t catch up on much needed sleep during weekends & off days, due to the loud broadcasts.
 
Often, MKA’s broadcasts from over 1000 feet (400~500 meters) away are so loud, that they drown out the radio & TV sounds barely 10 feet in front of us!
 
Several issues needing immediate attention & action:
 
1. Nowadays, with easy access to prayer times through radio, TV & mobile apps, why are azan prayers even needed at all? And they’re now even louder than in the old days! It seems religious extremism & radicalisation are slowly creeping into our lives.
 
2. Why is there a need to broadcast all indoor events & force hundreds of residents, many of whom are non-muslims, to listen to broadcasts they aren’t interested in? Non-Muslims aren’t interested in Islamic prayers & sermons, just like how Muslims aren’t interested in other religions’ prayers.
 
3. Such overly disturbing broadcasts, instead of promoting Islam, do exactly the opposite – by tarnishing the image of Islam & Muslims, due to the inconsiderate & selfish actions that seriously disturb others’ daily lives. Loud broadcast is one of the main reasons for the bad image on Islam & Muslims around the world. If a community doesn’t respect others’ basic need for a quiet living environment, others will similarly show no respect for that community too.
 
 

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  • James Tan says:

    How true. People have been suffering from such loud azan for far too long. It’s must be stopped.

    • Billy says:

      I don’t live in JB. But I think it is high time such loud prayers or even other entertainment broadcast by neighbours at weddings and other events be restricted to reasonable levels and periods of the day or night! In certain areas one can hear not less than 3 different directions of sound from the mosques, meaning there are so many blaring at the same time in residential areas built BEFORE these suraus or mosques. Thank you and good luck in your endeavour for harmony!!

  • Raziq says:

    The first reasoning isn’t quite fair because we’re not on our phones all the time & sometimes lose track of time but I agree out of the 5 azan there shouldn’t be any extra ones either pre or post sermon or prayers

    • Observer says:

      In my office, religious muslims always pray accordingly, even though not always on time as they desire, due to work responsibilities or lack of space in the office surau, despite not being able to hear azan calls indoors. The less religious ones never pray, despite seeing others doing so.

  • Jane says:

    Yes we live across the Kolam Air Mosque. The sound is so loud in the morning that we had to install windows and doors that cuts some noise pollution. Costs us 3 times more. But evenings are not as loud in the mornings.

  • doubletree says:

    I live in the vicinity of the above mentioned mosque. In fact the whole area was my ‘kampong’ from childhood. There were no loudspeakers on mosques from so long long ago. Only in the 70s did the whole thing of putting loudspeakers started. Initially it was very very loud. Later it was a little toned down. Now occasionally it is very loud – probably at the fancy of the ulama preaching that day. It is not the prayers times that are loud, it is the ‘other’ activities that occur in the mosque, i.e. talks, debates, discussions. Very often the debates are very noisy affairs. So also the talks given ‘visitors’ because the voice is different. Calling to prayers is by the bilal usually orally, as in the past. There was no issues over this. It is NOT a religious issue. There were many non muslims families staying around the mosque. Now all of them have moved out. Except the housing estate on the side of the mosque, across the canal. This Taman Rubi bears the brunt of the ‘noise’. No one complains about the calls to prayers, but their complain is the excess decibels that emanate from this mosque. I thought this matter was raised at the national level and settled? Now it seems some people want to exert their ‘ketuanan’. As SAA has said in his blog, muslims can pray quietly. No need to tell the world what you do. A very disturbing event or events have occurred in the past.There have been occasions when the ‘preacher’ gave very seditious sermons. And very loudly broadcasted as well. I have brought this up with some of my muslims friends – they just kept quiet. With UMNO/PAS riding on the waves of radicalism, it behoves every one to maintain a level head and be rational at all times.

  • Lee Lee says:

    Azan prayers are a norm in Malaysia and tolerated to a certain extent but since the heavy Arabisation and the Ketuanan process into the Malay agenda , it has becomes a nuisance and annoying. The Azan religious call of prayers are not with the intention of spiritual uplifting but more of a process to define that it is an Islamic country and the the ketuanan race religion is there to stay. “So eat your heart out” !!!!. Well nobody is disputing that line of advocation as it is enshrined in the constitution but please respect others of not similar faith so that they can respect your Islamic religion . Imagine if one is staying in a vicinity where there are a few Mosques and suraus all blaring out at the same time and in different unberable tones , it is definitely an annoyance. If it is all with the same soothing tone with tolerable decible many will be quite calm to accept it . To make matter worse some of the recitations are out of tone but just a damn blaring noise to make its presecnce felt. Forcefully shaffing it into one ears is not the right way to inculcate a nation of a well maturity of thoughts, religious binding rakyat . On the contrary , just look at Kelantan where it is PAS bed rock of Islamic fundanmentals but sadly highest in vices and nonsensical attitude towards the religion itself. with prime example by the so called ” sharia compilant leaders” It sure do tells lots of stories for during the Azan call , Kelantan is blaring away till kingdom fall but it has not cleared the index of vices and crime committed in the states. The blaring speaker is obviously not doing its job. Actually by going high blasted volume to ensure conformance to prayers is very artificial for it do not augment the role of holistic approcah practises with humanity touch to brings out the love for the religion. Infact it cast aspersion and brings forth more curses by others. Prayers are very private and should be done with sincerity rather than force.!!!.

  • doubletree says:

    Just to add to my earlier post, there is another surau nearby. I have been to that area – actually a mile away. The tiny surau is surrounded by a large number of empty and run down houses. All the inhabitants have moved out years ago because this surau BLARES out continuously from loudspeakers, even outside prayer times. I couldn’t believe my ears! It was really loud and I wonder how the tuition teacher manages to keep the attention of his students – which is the reason why I am there. Why does this have to happen? I suppose this is the way to score points during the ketuanan hey day.

  • Observer says:

    Judging from what’s written by the likes of Mariam Mokhtar, Prof. Tajuddin Rasdi etc. , and from our own real life experience, it’s quite clear that in Malaysia, the biggest threat to Islam is not the kaffirs or non-muslims, but muslims themselves, ESPECIALLY the ulamas, ustazes & imams.

    Some from this holier-than-thou group of people are always instilling into muslim minds the imaginative threats from non-muslims, the need to be suspicious & wary of non-muslims, etc.

    They also love praying at the top of their voice, or top of their pitch, as if the louder or the higher the pitch, the holier they are. Surely He doesn’t judge someone’s sincerity or religiousness by the loudness or pitch of the voice?

    Meanwhile, they do what’s mentioned in this article – blare their prayers, sermons & pre-haji preparation talks and whatnots, and forcing them upon everyone in the neighbourhood, effectively tarnishing the image & reputation of Islam & muslims. THEN they have the cheek to blame others for having MISUNDERSTOOD their religion!

    This is NOT a misunderstanding, but simply a natural reaction to PUBLIC NUISANCE. But of course, these holy people do not understand this concept (or pretend not to understand it), as, for them, their religious knowledge level is somehow INVERSELY PROPORTIONAL to their level of COMMON SENSE and BASIC RESPECT for others.

    With many such holy people around, Islam doesn’t need outsiders to destroy itself, as there’s already plenty of insiders going all out to do so!

    p.s. can someone be so kind as to translate this article into Malay & share it among the Malay social media circles? Many of them are unlikely to read this English article, although they’re the main audience who ought to know about the issue discussed here. Thanks!

  • Jessica says:

    I also live in the vicinity of the above mentioned mosque.
    I concurred that the Masjid Kolam Air has indeed gone overboard with their azan broadcasts that are too loud and lengthy,
    Other nearby suraus are also much louder than before, like the surau at Kampung Mohd Amin and when the prayer time comes, they seem to compete with each other in loudness, really no peace with such a high decibel. I have no issue over the calls for azan but detest the blaring out continuously from loudspeakers.

  • Jessie yeo says:

    Around my housing area got 3 Surau..
    The latest new one newly build had 4 super speaker – situated north, south, east and west….
    Is ok if is loud in the afternoon or evening…
    But would prefer to have it softer in the early morning.

  • double tree says:

    Just a small factoid for interest. Islam started more than 1400 yrs ago. Loudspeakers were invented 100+ yrs ago. So loudspeakers were not part of the Islamic tradition. The Islamic tradition is the bilal calling the faithful to prayer – orally.

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