Today, the mufti of Penang, Wan Salim Mohd Noor said that loudspeakers at mosques and suraus were only to be used for the azan (the call to prayer).
He said that this decision had been made in order to maintain peace and harmony. The link is here.
The mufti is right. One can be a devout Muslim without having to disrupt other people’s lives, their well-being or endanger their health.
For years, Malaysians have contacted me, to help address the problem of very loud azans in the vicinity of their homes.
Many tried approaching the local authorities and councils, only after they were unsuccessful in engaging with the mosque or surau officials. They tried to ask the maximum permissable decibels for the azan, but were unable to obtain a reply from the council.
Does the environmental department officials in charge of sound/noise pollution not know? Or is their refusal to respond to the query, because religion is termed a sensitive issue?
The people who wrote to me about the loud azans, both Muslim and non-Muslims, are NOT against the azan, but they find that the loudspeaker has been used to broadcast sermons, koran readings and talks. Often, these broadcasts can stretch for hours.
They can start before dawn, and some may extend late into the night. The issue of this noise pollution is worse during the fasting month.
It is bearable if the azan or recitals are given in a melodious voice, otherwise is it painful to most ears.
Most of the people who contacted me, live close to a mosque or surau. In some areas, they live close to three, maybe four mosques, and they are caught in the middle of competing azan loudspeakers.
Can you imagine anyone trying to study, or read, entertain, watch television, have a conversation, sleep, or just sit in peace and quiet contemplation, without a loud broadcast in the background?
Some say that their babies and childrens’ sleep is disturbed when the broadcasts are so loud and frequent.
People fall ill, but cannot rest adequately with the sound pollution. A few claim they have depression.
Many elderly people already have trouble sleeping. Loud, frequent broadcasts, do not help them have complete rest.
Some people claim that some mosques invest in the latest loudspeakers and the noise can even be heard 5 km away.
Others who live close to a few mosques or suraus, suffer a lot, when the mosques compete with one another, and try to outdo one another in loudness and length of broadcast. The lives of the residents become unbearable.
A few said that when they complained to have the decibels reduced, the mosque official would reduce the volume, but a few days later, would increase it to a higher volume than before the complaint was made. Why is the official being unpleasant?
No-one is calling for a ban
Why do the mosque officials feel it is OK to disturb others, both Muslims and non-Muslims?
No-one is asking to ban the azan, the original call to prayer. Can they not understand this?
Why is that so difficult to ask without a Muslim being told that they will rot in hell, and non-Muslims who complain are warned for being anti-Islam?
Didn’t Islam teach us to be compassionate and mindful of our neighbours and the feelings of others?
Malaysian Islam and Ketuanan Melayu: Is might right?
Why is the Umno-Baru/PAS brand of Islam in Malaysia, emulating the Ketuanan Melayu policy?
Why should Muslims force their beliefs on others using the loudspeaker to ram home the message? Do they think might is right?
The Penang mufti warned Muslims that they should not politicise the azan. He said that a group of Muslim NGOS had threatened to protest against the order by gathering at the governor’s residence.
They claimed that the ban on loudspeakers was an erosion of Muslim rights. How come only their rights are important?
These inconsiderate and arrogant Muslims do NOT know their religion.
In 2010, Penang’s Islamic authorities issued a fatwa banning the use of loudspeakers for the reading of al-Quran and tarhim before Subuh prayers.
In 2015, an advisory to discourage tazkirah, ceramah and wirid to be broadcast through loudspeakers was issued by the authorities.
The Penang mufti added, “…but we have yet to gazette them as fatwas, as many Muslims are unable to grasp the reason for the ban.
“It must be reminded that Islam does not want to see its adherents being seen as troublesome to others, even in matters of carrying out prayers.
“Muslims are constantly being reminded of this, but there are some who do not understand, or plainly refuse to understand.”