A spiritual call to prayer or noise pollution? Some communities seek ban on mosque call in Israel
Should Israel be more lenient than Europe in the amount of noise that can emanate from a mosque call to prayer? These are the questions that Israeli government officials are asking recently, with some ministers looking to back a ban on mosque call to prayers. Muslims broadcast in a singing prayer, over a loudspeaker, when the faithful should start praying. The call is made five times daily, and when competing mosques pump up the volume the noise can be quite cacophonous!
I love the sound of the call to prayer five times daily, especially the one before daybreak and the one at dusk. But in some cities – I remember being rattled out of bed in a hostel in Istanbul by the call to prayer which was a bit unsettling – the question of religious freedom over the rights of others is coming into question.
Not all people believe that religious reason is enough to keep the loudspeakers on. Even beautiful sounds can become torture for people over time, especially when heard in the middle of slumber, or played at the time when baby is falling asleep.
In recent years, noise pollution has been studied on urban environments as a kind of pollution that can cause tension and stress, affecting the well-being of people. I remember loving to see signs in New York streets where honking was prohibited.
Car noise, bus engines, loud sound systems, truck brakes, screaming neighbors, barking dogs – and of course industrial noise is all a form of pollution. It not only harms people, noise pollution affects the marine environment as well.
In mixed neighborhoods and communities in Israel there is still an ongoing debate about the level of noise that should be able to come from mosque call to prayers. Unlike church bells that ring on Sundays only, usually, the Muslim call to prayer happens when most people are asleep.
Have your say. Sound pollution or a spiritual right? Should mosques be allowed to broadcast their call to prayer in any community?
Image via jemmasmith