Saudi minister defends order to turn down the volume on mosques

Published May 31, 2021
In a circular last week, the Islamic Affairs Ministry said loudspeakers on mosques should not be set higher than a third of their maximum volume. — AFP/File
In a circular last week, the Islamic Affairs Ministry said loudspeakers on mosques should not be set higher than a third of their maximum volume. — AFP/File

Saudi Arabia's Islamic affairs minister on Monday defended an order to lower the volume on mosque loudspeakers, saying families had been complaining that competing speakers were keeping their children awake.

In a circular last week, the Islamic Affairs Ministry said loudspeakers on mosques should not be set higher than a third of their maximum volume. Speakers that are used to broadcast the call to prayer and the signal for prayers to start should then be switched off, rather than continue to broadcast full prayers and sermons.

The changes come at a time of wider reform to the role religion plays in public life under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, who has eased some strict social restrictions while allowing no political dissent.

It was too early to say for certain how much of an impact the new directive was having on the soundscape in the kingdom. Four residents of the capital Riyadh reached by Reuters on Monday said some, but not all, mosques appeared to have become somewhat quieter. At least one mosque appeared to be broadcasting full-length prayers, as loudly as before.

In a video released by state broadcaster Al Ekhbariyah, Islamic Affairs Minister Abdullatif al-Sheikh said the changes were a response to complaints from the public over excessive volume, including from the elderly and parents whose children's sleep was being disrupted.

“Those who want to pray don't need to wait for ... the imam's voice. They should be at the mosque beforehand,” he said, adding that there were also several television channels broadcasting prayers.

Some Saudi Twitter users welcomed a reduction in noise in their areas, though others said they missed being soothed by prayers.

One Saudi user, identified as Mohammad al-Yahya, tweeted: “As long as the reading of the Holy Quran through loudspeakers has been muted on the excuse that it disturbs a few people, we hope that attention is given to a large segment bothered by loud music in restaurants and markets.”

Al-Sheikh said some criticism of the policy was being spread by “haters” to cause trouble.

“Enemies of the kingdom want to stir public opinion, cast doubt on the state's decisions and dismantle national cohesion through their messages,” al-Sheikh said.

Opinion

Karachi diary

Karachi diary

If govts could focus a bit more on infrastructure and transportation, the heart of Pakistan would be able to pump a lot more life and activity.

Editorial

Starting over
Updated 01 Mar, 2024

Starting over

Both govt and opposition must resolve that their decisions will prioritise the public good over anything else.
Missing the point
01 Mar, 2024

Missing the point

IN a change of heart, the caretaker prime minister attended the hearing of the Baloch missing persons’ case in the...
Fleecing power consumers
01 Mar, 2024

Fleecing power consumers

THE so-called independent inquiry committee, formed by the power ministry to probe charges of excessive billing by...
Unchanged rating
Updated 29 Feb, 2024

Unchanged rating

Unchanged Moody's rating underscores that fears of default will continue unless a new, larger loan agreement is reached with the IMF.
Silenced voices
29 Feb, 2024

Silenced voices

THE state suddenly seems to be acting more loyal than the king as far as respect for the judiciary is concerned. The...
Gwadar deluge
29 Feb, 2024

Gwadar deluge

GWADAR has been battered with severe rains — the worst since 2010 — with both the town and Ormara to its east ...