A few days ago, while going for Tarawih prayers, I complained about the loud volume of loudspeakers at a nearby mosque. I thought they would take it seriously, and will turn the volume of speakers down, but I was totally wrong.

As we are all aware, high volumes of speakers can annoy to those who are living near the mosque and I am one of them. They might say the speakers are serving Islam by dragging people who are not aware of actual time towards mosques. They might also say that this is allowed in Islam, and they also have a right to say that it is better to attack those who have a problem with it. But they should also keep in mind that the high volumes can cause annoyance to those who are sick and to those who are living around the mosque.

I have seen whenever anyone their raised voice on this matter, they are either branded a “murtid” or “wahabis”. When Islamists aren’t given a chance to say anything on the mic, the colour of their faces turns red or it’s like they want to kill those who are preventing their “freedom of speech”. Unfortunately, my complaint took negative effect and they started calling me a murtid. Someone behind me said: “Now they have a problem with Azaan”.

Rather than cursing them, I cursed myself for raising my voice. This is why I am writing this. I am writing this not to justify myself as a contractor of religion, or as someone holy or pure. I am a simple person—follower of Islam, since I was born in an Islamic family, and I find it lucky to be part of a religion that allows me to justify myself.

Back to the main topic— loudspeakers. Loudspeakers are generally used in mosques for Azan/Adhan (Call for Prayer) or sometimes for Friday sermons or Eid sermons or, at times, for Islamic debates, competitions etc. Voices of muezzins from the tops of minarets to call people for prayer are often heard in Muslim cities around the globe. With increasing population, the number of mosques has also increased – which, in turn, has increased the number of loudspeakers.

Loudspeakers used in mosques have become a source of contention in some places, because noise levels can bother those living near mosques or  those who are sick. People living near mosques, especially the elderly and ailing ones, are exposed to blaring loudspeakers all the time when they are in dire need of rest and silence. There are ill and elderly people in the neighbouring houses who need rest and quietness. Prolonged exposure to noise has been known to have adverse effects on health and may cause hypertension, high stress levels, tinnitus, hearing loss, sleep disturbances, and other harmful effects.  Any noise which becomes intolerable for a human ear is harmful. Noises above 115db can even lead to deafness. According to statistics, about 50 percent of those who are exposed to noise above 80db for a long time lose their hearing capacity.

Mosque loudspeakers have become a source of annoyance for many Saudis, particularly those living near mosques. The Ministry of Islamic Affairs in Mecca has ordered mosques in Mecca not to use outside loudspeakers during Taraweeh (Ramadan prayers) prayers except during calls for prayers, Friday prayers and on Eid prayers. Mosques would only be allowed to use outside speakers if they do not disturb worshippers at other mosques in the city. The Saudi officials justified the move saying that people living in the vicinity of the mosques were irritated by the high volume of speakers which may cause deafness. 

Not only in Saudi Arabia, even in Indonesia—world’s 2nd largest Muslim population—people have been complaining about the “loudspeaker war” in the neighbourhoods. The complaint may sound quite familiar for many Kashmiris especially to me who have also tried to complain about the matter. According to latest media reports, Indonesia has set up a team to investigate complaints about its mosques being too noisy. Officials of the country’s mosque council gathered samples of noise from places of worship in several cities and found loudspeaker volumes set too high. 

During Ramadan, most mosques use loudspeakers to call for prayers and recite the Noble Qur’an. But the high sounds carried by the loudspeakers cause tension among residents. The high volume of loudspeakers makes men or women more irritable. The effect of noise pollution is multifaceted & inter related. The ill-effects of loudspeakers on human beings are as follows:-

1.      It decreases human efficiency: Regarding the impact of noise on human efficiency there are number of experiments which print out the fact that human efficiency increases with noise reduction.

2.      Lack of concentration: The noise of the loudspeakers diverts the attention of the people working in offices or causes hypertension to those who are living nearby.

3.      It causes high blood pressure: The high volume of loud speakers can cause irritation which could lead to an increase in blood pressure.

4.      Temporary or permanent deafness: High volume of speakers could cause permanent or temporary deafness in people who are living close to such places.

It is hard to make them understand that faith can’t be amplified by loudspeakers. But what to do and how to make them understand –for them the low volume of speakers is an insult that may lead to blasphemy.