By ARAB NEWS - JEDDAH: Despite the directives given by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, many imams of mosques across the Kingdom increase the volume of loudspeakers, disturbing people living in the neighborhoods, especially children and patients.
An Arabic daily recently reported that some mosques in the Asir province were not following the ministry’s instructions. There are several mosques in Abha that are located close to one another and the sounds of the azan (call for prayer) overlap.
As a result of this, some imams and muezzins increase the volume of their loudspeakers in order to make their voices distinguishable.
Some imams are very much concerned with the sound systems in their mosques and ask the faithful to contribute money in order to purchase the most advanced systems.
A survey of mosques in Abha and Khamis Mushayt found that most of them compete with one another in obtaining the most advanced sound systems, the Arabic daily said. Some imams keep loudspeakers in various parts of the mosque, bringing the total number of speakers to 16.
Sheikh Ali Al-Ahmary, imam of the Jami mosque in Khamis Mushayt, supported the ministry’s decision to reduce the volume of sound systems to protect public interest, especially children and the elderly who live in the neighborhood.
He also pointed out that some imams install nine to 10 loudspeakers on the mosque’s minarets. “We should not install more than four loudspeakers in a mosque because they are enough to alert the public when it is prayer time,” he said.
Sheikh Saeed bin Ali, imam of Zaina Al-Hasaniya Mosque in Khamis Mushayt, said some people want to hear the azans and the prayers at a high pitch, especially when imams have beautiful voices.
“I am not in favor of switching off loudspeakers outside mosques. At the same time I am against using them at top volume. One thing we should remember is the time when prayers are done loudly are not sleeping hours. Some patients enjoy listening to the Qur’an, especially if the imam has a nice voice.”
However, he pointed out that imams and mosques installing several loudspeakers on minarets and other parts of the mosque is a clear violation. “The ministry gave its instructions in the public interest. Some people in the neighborhood want the imam to raise his voice for them to follow. We cannot ignore such requests.”
Muhammad Al-Qattani, director of the ministry’s branch office in the Asir province, said loudspeakers are allowed in order to inform the public about prayer times. It is also used when classes and lectures are held inside mosques. Some imams increase the volume of these sound systems in order to inform people who show negligence in their prayers, but it creates a problem for others. “We have set up a team to monitor such violations,” he said.
Islamic Affairs Minister Saleh Al-Asheikh has given instructions several times that the use of loudspeakers should not cause a disturbance to the public, especially children, sick and the elderly. He also instructed that only Jami mosques (that conduct Friday prayers) are allowed to use loudspeakers for taraweeh, not small mosques.
A company supplying sound systems confirmed that most mosques replace old sound systems with new ones at the beginning of Ramadan. Philanthropists pay the cost of purchasing new sound systems for mosques. “We make more revenue during Ramadan compared to other months,” a company official said. Some systems are valued at more than SR30,000.