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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
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