New guidelines have been issued in Indonesia for the use of loudspeakers by mosques.
The Indonesian government is responding to complaints from religious minorities in the country and also from the Muslim community itself about the volume of the loudspeakers.
Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas said the use of loudspeakers in mosques is a necessity for Muslims. It is a medium used for the call to prayer.
The minister also said that it is important to realise that the Indonesian population is diverse. This is true in terms of religion and belief systems.
Solidarity and social harmony
“Efforts are needed to maintain solidarity and social harmony. The guidelines were issued as an effort to increase peace, order, and harmony among citizens,” said Minister Qoumas on the website of the Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs.
The guidelines regulate, among other things, the volume and quality of the sound that is broadcast through the speakers. The volume may not exceed 100 decibels and mist have good sound quality. Mosque managers are therefore also requested to ensure good quality acoustics.
The guidelines also state that prior to the sunset prayer call – Fajr – the external loudspeakers may be used for the recitation of Quranic texts for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, the external loudspeakers are allowed to be used for Quran recitation for five minutes prior to the call of the remaining four prayers: Dhuhr, noon prayer; Asr, afternoon prayer; Maghrib, sunset prayer; and Isha, night prayer.
The Religious Affairs Ministry’s new guidelines are supported by Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama, the two largest Muslim organisations in Indonesia. The conservative Islamist opposition party, PKS, strongly opposes the guidelines and believes the ministry should not meddle in the technicalities of worship.
The volume of mosque loudspeakers has been the subject of discussion for years. In 2018, a Buddhist woman in North Sumatra was sentenced to 18 months in prison for complaining about the volume of her local mosque’s loudspeakers.
In October last year, this issue was also extensively discussed following a report by AFP about the many complaints from local residents, including Muslims themselves. A Muslim woman told the French news agency that she had developed an anxiety disorder caused by “noisy loudspeakers” from the nearby mosque.