The distinctive sound of the muezzins call to prayer is about to be curbed, as the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs has banned mosque loudspeakers during Ramadan.
Revered as the birthplace of the Prophet Mohammed and the heartland of Islam, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is attempting to tone down the noise produced by the five times daily call to prayers. Noise pollution is impacting on the quality of life of residents forced to endure unsynchronized calls from competing mosques.
According to Arab News ministry regulations guiding the use of mosque loudspeakers stipulate "that no loudspeakers are used for taraweeh and qiyamallail (special night prayers) during the upcoming Ramadan" and "external loud speakers are permitted for congregational prayers but only in such a way that they do not adversely affect the prayers in nearby mosques."
Alarabiya reported the ministry is struggling to enforce the ban which some believe will "take away from the spirituality of the holy month." Others, including the iman of a mosque in Jeddah, approve the ban. Sheikh Tawfiq al-Sayegh said "Raising the sound of loudspeakers above the accepted level is not permissible. There are ill and elderly people in the neighboring houses who need rest and quietness.”
Imans who violate the ministry guidelines and blast their calls to night prayers through loudspeakers will be summoned to the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and expected to agree to an undertaking to adhere to the ban.
The issue is one that crops up with frequent regularity in Muslim countries where the call to prayers can conflict with calls for peace and quiet. Global Post reported efforts have been made to reduce the noise caused by muezzins in both Morocco and Egypt.