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.
Rebuilding Malaysia


  • Observer says:

    Five instances of loudspeaker curbs at religious places outside India
    18 April, 2022 08:30 pm IST

    1. Indonesia

    The world’s most populous Muslim country has felt that the overzealous use of sound amplification by religious places is an environmental issue and has issued guidelines over their use.

    The country has issued guidelines on when and how it ought to be broadcast by mosques. Titled ‘The use of loudspeakers in mosques, langgar and musholla (prayer houses),’ the circular urges the religious institutions to follow the instructions of the director-general of Muslim guidance, according to The Straits Times.

    2. Saudi Arabia

    Last June, Saudi Arabia had ordered that all loudspeakers should be set at only a third of their maximum volume. Islamic Affairs Minister Abdullatif al-Sheikh said the measure was in response to complaints from the public. But the move in the conservative Muslim nation sparked a backlash on social media. A hashtag calling for loud music to be banned in restaurants and cafes began trending.

    3. United Kingdom

    In May 2020, Waltham Forest council, London, gave eight mosques permission to publicly broadcast their call to prayer during Ramadan. Subsequently, another city council followed suit, granting permission to nineteen mosques within the London borough to publicly broadcast their call to prayer during Ramadan.

    Many residents in the area of Newham, in dispute with the decision, wrote to the Mayor’s office occupied by Rokshana Fiaz. Later, residents concerned with the public broadcast to prayer received a response back from the Mayor in which she stated: “…the Council does not propose to take any further action or correspond further on this matter.”

    4. United States

    Back 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, who pointed out that the city was already subject to loud bell ringing from the local church, while some 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.

    5. Nigeria’s Lagos State

    Back in 2016, Lagos authorities shut down 70 churches and 20 mosques in an attempt to reduce high-noise levels. About 10 hotels, pubs and clubhouses were also closed. Some estimates put the city’s population at around 20 million, creating a constant background of noise – from the blaring of car horns, to the calls to prayer and loud religious singing. The Lagos State Government in 2019 conveyed its desire to manage and reduce noise pollution across the metropolis in view of the need to protect citizens’ rights and privileges towards good life in a serene and comfortable environment.

  • Observer says:

    No prayer broadcast, loudspeakers–Saudi Arabia imposes restrictions on Ramadan celebrations
    10 March, 2023 11:08 am IST

    Among the rules continued from previous years is the limitation on the volume of the loudspeakers emitting the call to prayer.

  • Observer says:

    As if loud & loud prayers from mosques & suraus aren’t enough, a school just a stone throw away from Masjid Kolam Air is now broadcasting 5~10 minutes of prayers every school day morning, around 7am, before continuing with morning assembly broadcast.

    Sooner or later, we’ll be getting 24×7 broadcasts.

    • Help for Sabindo says:

      Dear All,
      I live in Sabindo, Kota Kinabalu. We have been living here for the past 20yrs. There has been an old mosque in Pekan Lokawi since the 80s and it was a lovely little house of worship, quaint and peaceful in every way with its calls to prayer.
      The past 2 years a new bigger Mosque was built nearby. Unfortunately l am unable to say that this house of worship is neighbourly and conscious of its neighbours. It is loud and inconsiderate with lenghty sermons at various times especially after dark and prior to dawn. It even clashes prayer calls with the old mosque, ruining the lovely old sound from the grand older house.
      Please relook at the operations and broadcasting materials, so all can enjoy this neighbourhood from Muslims to non muslims, old to the young, weak and sick to the young and healthy. Religion is nothing without a forgiving and considerate heart.

  • Pantai Hillpark resident says:

    My area in Pantai Hillpark Phase 2 is exceptional loud too, just like the speaker placing next your ears. A pray for 5 times are a bit teganggu, especially when you want to have a good weekend sleep and 6am it started until 6.40am including giving a speech. We don’t mind to have the speaker since this is already a culture or ritual of a islam country but could it just soften down to 30-40% so we can have a good sleep?

  • Observer says:

    When one is obsessed with only pursuing religious knowledge, and has no wisdom or basic common sense in applying it, the end result is these “ustaz loudspeaker”. When M’sian muslims need now is not more religious knowledge, but basic common sense, wisdom, empathy, and most importantly, RESPECT for others, so that others can begin to respect your community too.

    Always making police reports, angry protests, and even death threats to the slightest criticism in the aim of silencing any different voice, gain you no respect. In fact, they do the exact opposite – more disrespect and phobia against your community.

    If these “ustaz loudspeaker”, with their overly loud and lengthy prayers and sermons, that have become a nuisance and given Islam and muslims a bad name, think they’re surely entitled an entry into heaven, with all their “contributions” to their religion, I wish them good luck!

  • Concerned resident says:

    I respect all religions, but this may be getting out of hand. I hope someone authoritative here can do something about this issue.

    Masjid Al-Ehsan in Bandar Kinrara 5 is exceptionally loud. My family gets woken up suddenly by screams at 6am in the morning. There is no escape from this harsh reality.

    If the azan songs were gentle and soft, which used to be the case until lately, they would have been tolerable. Now, they blast the sound with a song that’s almost shouting at the top of their lungs, and there are several nearby mosques also playing their own versions of their own songs, making a huge amount of competing noises, kind of like a sea of drowning men. If religion is supposed to be beautiful, this definitely does not sound like it.

    Go back to the older, nicer songs, played at a reasonable volume.

  • peter emmanuel says:

    Recruit a group of acoustic health and technical experts, do some R & D and establish a DECIBEL STANDARD. This could be a postgraduate project. It will be an innovation.
    THIS IS A SCIENCE PROJECT, Keep the holy mollies out of this project.

    • Seventysix says:

      In my line of work, we have to deal with various authorities, one of them being the Dept of Environment (DOE). Well, there ARE actually Noise Pollution laws, and the DOE does have a guidebook detailing residential limits (eg 50-60dB), plus definitions, equations, sound mapping diagrams- stuff that would make any engineer proud. 126 pages worth of a seemingly laudable statement of intent, then comes the statement “Sound amplified systems used in conjunction with mosques and other places of religious worship shall be exempted”.

  • Neil says:

    Where do you complain to for mosque that extended the Azan… loudly

  • Wit says:

    Let us hope that technology can advance faster so as to enable the enforcement of a law such as “only official-Muslims can hear the extremely irritating mosque’s azan and not anybody else in the neighborhood throughout the entire world.”

  • foong says:

    woken up by the blaring noise from a surau at antara gapi here since 6am. looks like i m not alone. mariam, thank you for bringing up this issue.

  • Observer says:

    It seems that, at least here in M’sia, religious knowledge and common sense are mutually exclusive – the deeper one’s religious knowledge (that of the ustaz, imam), the less common sense one possesses.

    An average person would be sensible enough to minimise noise & disturbance to his neighbours. But alas, ustazes & imams don’t seem to have this very basic common sense. Otherwise, they would know that their loud broadcasts, religious or otherwise, are the biggest nuisance to surrounding residents; they would also know that loud broadcasts only give their own religion & followers a bad name, instead of promoting the religion and convincing more people to convert.

    But of course, these insensible people would readily blame others for “misunderstanding” their religion, and put the blame squarely on everyone and anyone but themselves for the bad image & reputation of their religion & fellow followers.

    With such people, the religion of peace needs no outsiders to destroy itself.

  • Wonder says:

    Azan is really ok and understandable as being a Malaysian born and grew up in a multiracial country, we are use to azan. In where I live for the passed 49 years, we don’t find azan is disturbing as it wasn’t so loud as compared to now. In the recent 5 years, the mosque near my house at Kebun Teh, Johor Bahru, is getting extremely loud. I was never woken up by Azan before until recent 5 years time. The volume of the speakers are definitely being increased and the 5 times a day and duration of each azan and teachings are increased too. Today’s, Asr, Maghrib and Isha were done together and continuously with music and songs. It only stopped at 2230 in the evening. Imagine 5 hours of loudspeaker Azan and teaching with music and song.

  • Adrian says:

    I’m also facing the same issue, and don’t mind suffering through the azan calls early in the morning though it is disturbing my sleep, and evening though its disturbing my work conference calls. However I would like to request for one of the nearby mosque to not continuously broadcast their prayers loudly. Anyone can advise what is the correct step to take? Talk to the imam personally, or talk to MP or report anywhere?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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:

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!!

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