Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla is taking his crusade against noise pollution to a new level by setting up a team to keep tabs on dins coming from mosques’ loudspeakers.
The planned move came after he urged mosques to stop blaring recorded religious sermons or Quranic recitals through loudspeakers, saying that such a deed would not result in divine favour.
“A team from the Indonesian Mosque Council will gather facts on the ground about overlapping sounds and timings of religious sermons, Quranic recitals and calls to prayer through loudspeakers,” Kalla’s spokesman Husain Abdullah told the Parrot.
He added the team would monitor the noise level generated by mosques’ loudspeakers in cities like Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Malang, Surabaya, Medan and Makassar.
Husain said that Kalla, who is also the head of the Indonesian Mosque Council, is concerned about discordant noises resulting from the simultaneous broadcast of calls to prayer (adzan), Quranic recitals and sermons .
He said, for example, that some mosques would already broadcast the call to prayer when other surrounding mosques were still blaring sermons or recitals.
“Jusuf Kalla thinks the duration should be measured and the sound coverage should not go beyond the mosque’s immediate surrounding so that it won’t overlap with sounds from mosques in other neighborhoods,” Husain said.
The head of cooperation and international relations at the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI), Muhyiddin Junaidi, said guidelines on the use of loudspeakers were issued by the government in the 1980s and these include a requirement for mosques to use a loudspeaker for the maximum duration of 15 to 20 minutes before a call to prayer.
“In reality it’s different in practice. Sometimes it can start an hour before. It disturbs a lot of people who are resting, including Muslims who are performing tahajjud [midnight prayer] at home,” Muhyiddin said.
“It’s time to regulate and monitor the loudspeakers so there will be no more competing sounds and will not become counterproductive,” Muhyiddin Junaidi added.
Indonesia is home to the largest Muslim population in the world and more than 800,000 mosques.
At a meeting of the MUI’s Fatwa Commission in Central Java recently, Kalla said that blaring recorded religious sermons or Quranic recitals from loudspeakers disturbed neighbourhood peace.
He also has said that he himself was bothered by noise coming from a mosque at 4 am while he was in his hometown in Bone, South Sulawesi, and urged mosques to lower the volume of their loudspeakers.