Vice President Boediono's request for mosques to lower the volume of their speakers when broadcasting the call to prayers - known as adzan - has received mixed reactions from several groups in the country.
Ahmad Suaedy, executive director of the Wahid Institute, a nongovernmental organization focused on pluralism, said on Friday that he appreciated Boediono's bravery for speaking up about the "elephant in the room".
"I was a little surprised when I heard the news. Although he used to be a reticent sort of person, he turned out to be one who was bold enough to raise his voice about such things," he told The Jakarta Post in a telephone interview.
Boediono expressed his plea in the opening speech of the sixth conference of the Indonesian Mosque Council (DMI) at the Pondok Gede Haj Dormitory in East Jakarta on Friday.
He asked council members to begin discussing a policy to limit the volume of loudspeaker broadcasts at mosques in the country, which he deemed "too loud".
The broadcast of the adzan occurs five times a day, calling Muslims to conduct their daily prayers.
Commenting on this, Ahmad said that Boediono's request should be mulled over by the council, saying that they should conduct research to confirm or disprove Boediono's statement.
The study's result, he added, could lead to policies to settle disputes. "I think even some Muslims have been complaining about the overlapping sounds of adzan from different mosques in their neighborhood. The problem is there is no
single rule that limits the use of sound systems for adzan," he added.
Furthermore, he acknowledged that the use of loudspeakers to announce prayer times did not have to be banned if there was awareness from mosques' caretakers that noisy adzan might disturb other people - including fellow Muslims.
"However, we need a high-profile figure to encourage them to increase their understanding. We need a brave leader [such as Boediono] to alert them about this very serious issue."
Contacted separately, Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) chairman Amidan said that he disagreed with Boediono's statement, saying that Indonesians were known for their "signature" sound of adzan.
"The fierce and loud voices of Indonesians' adzan have always been our characteristic," he told the Post.
"Besides, what is the point of using a sound system if the voice for adzan must be lowered?"
He said that the purpose of using microphones in the first place was for Muslims to be able to hear the call to prayer, adding that a muadzin - the person who performs the adzan - has always been obliged to use a "clear and loud" voice.
However, Amidan agreed that the timing for the call to prayers should be managed among the mosques, especially those in the same region.
He agreed that Indonesia could reflect upon the authorities in Cairo, Egypt, which centralized their calls to prayer in 2006.
Abdul Muti, secretary of Muhammadiyah, the country's second-largest Muslim group, said that the organization agreed that Muslims must respect others when expressing their religious beliefs in public. "[However], establishing such unsuitable rules would be counterproductive, because it would trigger unnecessary debates in society," he told the Post. (asa)
Limit the loudness
In 1978, the Religious Affairs Ministry provided guidance on the proper use of loudspeakers in mosques through Director General for Islamic Guidance Instruction No. Kep/D/101/78 dated July 17, 1978.
- Loudspeakers and speakers should be in good condition for good output.
- †Separate speakers should be used for activities inside and outside the mosque.
- The first goal of using outside speakers is to announce the call to prayer.
- †The call (using loudspeaker) to wake Muslims for prayers is 15 minutesbefore prayer time.
- †Use only inside loudspeaker for Friday prayers and daily sermons, except in cases when a large congregation is outside the mosque.
- †Use inside speaker for reading the Koran (Tadarusan).
- †Both inside and outside speakers may be used for major sermons, such as for Idul Fitri and Idul Adha.
- †A mosque's loudspeaker can be used to announce death, calamity, disaster or activities that benefit the public.
Source: The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sat, 04/28/2012 8:43 AM