Noisy mosques warned of legal action

MOSQUES that disturb the peace by blasting the call to prayer through loudspeakers have been threatened with legal action. People are also being encouraged to complain if they think mosque speakers are too loud.

A Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Ministry official revealed sound systems could be removed altogether if mosques refused to turn down the volume. Sunni Waqf Directorate engineering and maintenance services head Abdallah Al Moaily made the comments yesterday during a meeting of the Northern Municipal Council. “The rules are clear – external speakers are there for the call to prayer so worshipers know when it is time for the five daily prayers,” he said.

“Microphones for internal speakers can be used for prayers, sermons and lectures.“It is clearly unnecessary to have external speakers for the whole prayer rituals, sermons and lectures while people are trying to rest, sleep or are looking for peace of mind. “Most complaints that have resulted in legal action are related to morning prayers, Friday sermons and lectures after night prayers.“We take measures to defuse tensions between residents and mosque caretakers by changing the direction of external speakers, lowering the volume, locking the system and giving the keys to one responsible individual or removing the sound system altogether.”

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However, Mr Al Moaily stressed even if such measures were taken a case was also referred to the Public Prosecution when there was sufficient evidence to support a complaint.“Complaints are mainly from Muslims,” he revealed.“In some cases they are from expatriates.”

Meanwhile, he revealed the number of complaints increased during the cooler weather when people turned off their air-conditioning at home – making mosque speakers even more audible.“We are getting more complaints than any time in the year, as several people lose their sleep – especially in the morning,” said Mr Al Moaily. “Islam is about respect and tolerance, not making others’ lives difficult through disturbances and loud volume.”

He also cautioned worshipers against parking vehicles illegally or without consideration outside mosques, describing such behavior as an “unforgivable sin”.“All mosques have sufficient parking spaces,” he said.“For those in old neighborhoods we have started constructing underground parking and, soon, we are going to have multi-storey car parks for mosques with a high number of worshipers. “In case there are no car park spaces, worshipers can park far away and walk.

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“The elderly and disabled have special car parking at all mosques, which no-one should park in or traffic police will issue tickets.“It is an unforgivable sin to park vehicles in the middle of the road, outside garages of homes or on the pavement, knowing there could be an emergency or a disturbance to people’s lives.“God doesn’t accept a prayer when others are harmed.”In addition, he revealed plans to make all mosques environmentally friendly in the next two years.

“We have started with the introduction of solar energy and planting trees and flowers, which is something that is already incorporated in our new mosques,” he said. “In the case of a few mosques we have taken space from the green area to have commercial projects, making them self-dependent. “But those are exceptional cases that can be counted on two hands, as we need to generate revenues to meet their running costs.

“Security and safety are a requirement and we have opened special emergency exits – and will soon have first aid boxes across all mosques in case of medical emergencies.”

Source Credit: Gulf Daily News

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