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The Indonesian Muslim Council has called for a review of mosque loudspeaker usage


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Following concerns and complaints from members of the public in the world's largest Muslim-majority country, Indonesia's highest Muslim clerical council has asked for a revision of guidelines on the use of loudspeakers at mosques.


Across the enormous Indonesian archipelago, there are about 625,000 mosques, with over 80 percent of the 270 million people professing Islam.
The azan, or call to prayer, and sermons are broadcast over loudspeakers in most mosques.
Many of them have poor acoustics and crank up the volume, resulting in noise pollution complaints.

 

In 1978, the country's Religious Affairs Ministry issued a rule that outlines the proper usage of mosque loudspeakers.
The Indonesian Ulema Council said in a fatwa released earlier this month that these recommendations needed to be "refreshed" in light of current societal dynamics and to avoid disagreement.


The directive was hailed by Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, the country's Religious Affairs Minister, as "extremely essential" in providing "a broader insight for mosque management to use loudspeakers more prudently."

 

Religious scholars have recognised unregulated use of mosque loudspeakers as a major public problem, according to Masduki Baidlowi, one of the council's heads and a spokeswoman for Indonesian Vice President Ma'ruf Amin.


"We noticed that it had become a problem, particularly in heterogeneous, metropolitan environments," Baidlowi added.
"The guidelines have been in place for a long time, but they are not being followed effectively."

 

He used Jakarta, Indonesia's capital, as an example, where the population was more homogeneous decades ago, but that has since altered as the country's largest metropolis has welcomed new inhabitants of various religious backgrounds.


"For example, Jakarta used to have a homogeneous population of Betawi people, but it has now evolved into a heterogeneous society," Baidlowi said, referring to the city's native residents, who are mostly Muslim.

 

There are almost 7,000 mosques in Jakarta, which covers an area of 661.5 square kilometres and is home to 11 million people, around 20% of whom are non-Muslim.


Miftahul Huda, the council's fatwa committee secretary, told Arab News, "We have to use (the speakers) responsibly, we can't do it as we want."
"Even if the aim is good, it has the potential to be upsetting, and we don't want that to happen."

 

Indonesia's former Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who chairs the Indonesian Mosque Council, has often addressed the problem of mosque loudspeaker volume.


Repairing mosque acoustic systems is one of the council's primary priorities for 2017-22.
Over 52,000 mosques have already had them repaired and modified.


Several debates have erupted over mosque loudspeaker loudness and use in the early hours of the morning, even before the call to prayer.

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