Saudi Arabia's mosques asked to turn down volume on loudspeakers

Official circular says ruling was based on saying from Prophet Mohammed

This picture taken late on May 9, 2021 during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, from the Mecca Royal Clock Tower of the Abraj al-Bait skyscraper complex, shows an aerial view of Muslim worshippers around the Kaaba, the holiest shrine in the Grand Mosque complex in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca. (Photo by Bandar AL-DANDANI / AFP)

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs has issued a note restricting mosques' use of external loudspeakers during the calls to prayer.

The Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, Sheikh Dr Abullatif bin Abdulaziz Al Sheikh, issued the circular on Sunday telling mosques to ensure that the volume “does not exceed one third of the full volume of loudspeakers".

The ministry has been concerned at the use of external speakers during prayers, which could affect the vulnerable, the elderly and young children in the vicinity.

It also addresses the problem of loudspeakers interfering with prayers held in nearby mosques.

"In Islam, we have to make sure we are a source of peace and comfort for all, Ms Redham, an American resident of Jeddah, told The National. "Sound is a part of it too.

"If the prayers, which can go up to 10 to 15 minutes, are loudly played on speakers, it can cause discomfort to those living next to the mosques, including Muslims and non-Muslims.”

The circular said the ruling was based on Islamic law and on the Prophet Mohammed’s saying that even while worshippers are praying, they should not harm or cause any inconvenience to each other through loud recitations during prayer.

It stressed that the imam’s voice must be heard by all inside the mosque during prayer, and that there was no need for him to be heard in neighbouring houses or outside.

“I always wondered why the speakers were so loud. It is not a competition between imams of different mosques," said Haya Idrees, a resident of Jeddah.

"Sometimes the prayer is so loud, I can hear two mosques at the same time, so there’s not only the extra noise but overlapping of prayer that is easily avoidable.

"I welcome this verdict. It is indeed very thoughtful and depicts the true teachings and values of Islam."

Saudi Arabia has more than 98,800 mosques, including the most significant mosques in Islam, the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.

In 2018, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a project to renovate more than 130 historic mosques in the kingdom.

Several significant mosques are being renovated across the country, including those built by the Prophet Mohammed and by his companions.

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