People take part in the night prayers inside an old mosque in Cairo, Egypt December 24, 2017. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh People take part in the night prayers inside an old mosque in Cairo, Egypt December 24, 2017. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Egyptians’ debate over Azan

Fri, Dec. 29, 2017
CAIRO - 29 December 2017: Social media users have been on fire recently, either in defense of actress Sherin Reda or to attack her with accusations of defaming Islam, after her bold statement on a TV program criticizing the loudspeakers used for the Azan (call to prayer in Islam).

The actress expressed her annoyance over the high volume of the Azan and the bad voice of the Mu’azens (the men who chant the call to prayer) during her interview on the TV program, “Ana w Ana” (Me and Me), in an episode which aired on December 22. Reda called on the Ministry of Endowment to impose the law unifying the Azan as quickly as possible.

The Azan is the Islamic call to prayer which occurs five times a day, often through the loudspeakers of a mosque, reminding Muslims that it is time to pray, in accordance with Islamic Sharia law.

Some took to social media to make statements against Reda’s opinion, accusing her of infidel-ism and blasphemy against Islam, while many others defended her right to express her opinion and agreed with her on the bad quality of the Mu’azen's voices.

“There are children who wake up scared because of the sound of Azan, is this how you call them to pray?” the actress told Samar Yousry during the TV program, wondering why the unified Azan law has yet to be imposed. She said that the bad voice of the Mu’azen's effect tourism negatively. “It has nothing to do with religion, it is just noise,” Reda added.



Although the Ministry of Endowment backed the actress’s statements by saying that she is overly caring for Islam and wants to improve its image through the Azan. Reda was subject to criticism by the public throughout the last week, an attorney has even filled a lawsuit against the actress for contempt of religion (penalty ranges between six months and five years in prison) for mocking the Islamic call for prayer.

MPs in the House of Representatives expressed their outrage over Sherin’s statements, asking her for an apology to the ruffly 1.8 billion Muslims in Egypt and around the world.

Reda is not the first public figure to criticize the loudspeakers of the Azan, Sheikh Mohamed Metwaly Sha’rawi, a prominent Egyptian Islamic preacher who died in 1998, criticized the loudspeakers of the Azan and the bad voice of some of the Mu’azens, saying they do not represent the calmness and peace of Islam.



A law to unify the Azan was issued in 2010, to regulate the broadcasting of one version of Azan through all speakers in Cairo's 4,000 mosques, but the law was halted after the 2011 Revolution due to technical obstacles.

The debate over the loudspeakers of the Azan is a frequent topic, with some people saying that the high volume of the Azan scares children and makes sick patients and the elderly uncomfortable. Many have appealed to authorities to prohibit hanging speakers on mosques in residential neighborhoods.

Salafist preachers and supporters objected to the requests, claiming that being anti loudspeakers is an attempt to obliterate one of the most remarkable signs of Islam, saying that without the Azan Arab nations will turn into western countries where mosques usually do not use loudspeakers to preform the Azan.

There are five countries which have bans on the use of loudspeakers connecting to mosques to give the Azan, due to the loud sound which disturbs residents and contradicts with the calm nature of the cities. The countries are the Netherlands, Switzerland, Israel, India and the city of Oxford in the UK also had a ban on loudspeakers connected to mosques.
 
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