A few weeks ago, Israeli Cabinet Ministers passed a bill in which they suggested to ban using the loudspeaker during the Adhaan (a Muslim call to prayer) time. Muslims all around the world are criticising the Israeli government for its anti-religious law which they believe to be an act of direct discrimination against Muslims living in Israel. Israel did not ban Adhaan but restricted the volume of Adhaan by using loudspeakers. This bill has not been presented in the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) yet, and it can be challenged in the high court before or after passing. Some Muslims or human rights’ organisations are considering a legal fight, preventing this bill from becoming a law in Israel.
My attention has been drawn to this consideration by pro-Israel and anti-Israel Muslims supporters and people were expecting to hear my views as a Muslim Zionist and strong supporter of Israel.
I can no longer be silent and, although I am not an Israeli government spokesperson, Muslims from my community need my point of view on this burning issue.
I have never supported any anti-religious and anti-human rights’ laws passed whether by Pakistan, Israel or any Western or Arab countries. I assessed this situation very carefully as to whether it is categorised under the violation of human rights or not. Israel is not a perfect country and neither are their political or governmental policies. However, we must weigh Israel’s political policies in comparison to other Islamic countries where they have zero human rights for their minority community whom they consider second-class citizens.
Before we comment or discuss emotionally on this bill, we must evaluate the situation very deeply and examine the area where these Mosques are located. Unfortunately, it is a political matter which has been dragged into a religious one which gains more sympathy. The bill has been submitted by a member of the Israeli Parliament who belongs to a Jewish home, and is a member of the religious right wing party in coalition with the Likud ruling party. The same bill was introduced by the left-wing labour party government as well, and they only agreed to some clauses of the bill. This bill was amended and represented in the cabinet and finally was approved by it. The bill was presented again and again due to increasing complaints of local Jewish neighbours.
The consideration of this law did not surprise me at all as living in England where this type of law is already implemented. No person has had any issue following it. Wherever there are non-Muslims living in the area, there must be limited loudspeaker noise. The Islamic teachings are to create a peaceful atmosphere for neighbours during the night or dawn times. In the UK, Muslims are not allowed to open a mosque even in Muslim areas where non-Muslim neighbours do not give permission. Still, we have no problem with the law. Millions of Muslims living in the UK are happily following the rules and regulations of the country, whether it is a political or religious based law. Mosques in the UK never use external loudspeakers and the same law is also implemented all across the Europe and in the US as well.
The state of Israel is a Jewish state not a Muslim country and same law should be applied there as in any European country.
In protesting against this law, a prominent Israeli Arab member of Parliament (MK), Ayman Odeh, called Azzan in the parliament, and his video had become viral on social media. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims across the world show their support and solidarity to Ayman Odeh. I see his act of delivering Azzan in the Israeli parliament in a positive way. Israeli law is what gives him a legal right to protest in the Israeli parliament (Knesset) which he did successfully. The world will never find these basic human rights of minorities elsewhere in the Muslim world, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Syria Pakistan and in other Arab or non-Arab countries where minorities are heavily suffering from Muslim’s persecution.
In Islam, neighbours have more rights and Islam never supports any act which may harm the neighbours anyway. If there exist non-Muslim neighbours, we must respect their basic rights which include the right to sleep in the night time, the right of their pregnant women, the right of their minor children, the rights of their elders, as well as patients. During the day or at night time, people sleep and they do not want to be disturbed. We Muslims must accept their priorities because it is an obligation on Muslims to look after the neighbours’ fundamental rights.
I have heard some voices on social media from the Muslim community stating that:
Muslims have been living in these areas for a long time and question why the Israeli government needs this ban to be imposed NOW!
If they look at the history, they would find that it is not a new issue but an ongoing issue for decades.
In 1992, this issue has been referred to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s court by the local Jewish residents who were feeling disturbed and coping with the excessive use of loudspeakers in mosques for decades. The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court imposed a fine to a Muezzin to lower his Azzan (call for prayers) due to disturbance of local Jewish neighbours. The judge also ordered a mosque to lower their Azzan call (Limitation of Loudspeakers usage).
If we look at around at other non-Muslim countries, even within the neighbouring Arab countries, we can find the same issue there where they considered a ban on external loudspeakers in Mosques during the prayer times.
UAE: Dubai Department of Islamic Affairs considered to ban loudspeakers 5 times daily for prayers.
Indonesia: Indonesia’s hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) threw their support behind calls to curb the excessive use of loud speakers by mosques during Ramadan. “It is indeed better that mosques adjust their loud speakers when reciting the Koran, so as not to disturb other people.” Central Kalimantan’s deputy governor, Achmad Diran said: “Don’t use loud speakers when reciting the Koran. Take pity on people of different faiths who want to rest.”
Saudi Arabia: The Ministry of Islamic Affairs banned small mosques from using loudspeakers for the nightly tarawih prayer in Ramadan. “Raising the sound of loudspeakers above the accepted level is not permissible,” said Sheikh Tawfiq al-Sayegh, Imam of a mosque in the coastal city of Jeddah, to Okaz daily.
There are ill and elderly people in the neighboring houses who need rest and quietness
Egypt: Cairo is said to have 4000 officially recognised mosques that use loudspeakers five times a day and they too have assured noise reduction.
India: the Kerala Samsthana Jamiyathul Ulema, an association of Muslim theologians, has said that there is no need for use of loudspeakers for religious purposes at the mosques and that the Sunni Muslims in Kerala started using the loudspeaker hardly half a century ago. The Delhi High Court on Friday directed all mosques and temples in Ekta Vihar and Sunder Nagri in east Delhi to restrict the decibel level of loudspeakers. It said the loudspeakers should be positioned at a restricted height of only eight feet from the ground. The court also directed them to change the direction of the loudspeakers and make them face the wall of buildings, and not outside, to reduce the noise level.
Sri Lanka: The Supreme Court made a ruling on 9 November 2007 pertaining to loudspeakers. It viewed the right of one party to use loudspeakers against the annoyance, disturbance and harm caused to other parties who were compelled against their will to listen to the amplified sounds from the loudspeakers.
The difference, of course, is when Muslims complain about loud calls to prayer, it is an internal matter. However, when Jews complain, it is Islamophobia.
How do you see the situation in Muslim countries where Jewish synagogues and cemeteries were demolished and turned into theatres, cinemas and shopping centres? Where are the rights of minority communities in Muslim countries? When the Jewish sacred place, Joseph’s Tomb site was set ablaze by Palestinian Muslims last year (2015) in West Bank, was there outrage? Why was the Islamic world so silent? What do you think, when the remaining Jewish community is hiding their faith due to Pakistani Muslim’s religious persecution against them? Would you call it just and fair under the so called democratic Law of the country?
The Israeli cabinet’s approved Muezzin bill, not only addressed the excess of Mosque loudspeakers, but for other religious places, including sounds of Churches as well as Jewish Synagogues.
I strongly condemn the criticisms of my Muslim fellows all around the world against this bill, the external speakers of Mosques, and they must be banned completely in the area where they may cause alarm and distress to other religious communities. This represents the teachings of Islam according to the rights of neighbours in the Shariah Law.