Sunday, January 16, 2011

Is the Azan calling too loud?

Here we go again.

One early morning back in early September 2008, the jemaah for a surau in Puchong had a surprised visitor. YB Theresa Kok, Selangor state exco, MP for Seputih and State Assemblyperson for Kinrara requested that they lowered the speaker volume for azan.

That became a political issue between UMNO and DAP with PAS taking Theresa's side. Naturally, words like insult on Islam was used and both UMNO and PAS were trying hard to score political brownie points.

There is a demonstration on a complain of loud azan at Pantai Dalam. This time the complainant is an MCA man. The same emotional and political play is at work.

Is the surausand masjids too loud these days that it has exceeded the level of acceptance and tolerance by non-Muslim Malaysians? Or has Malaysian lost their sense of acceptance and tolerance to the religious diversity of the country?

After a tense GE 2008 in March, the azan issue raised by Theresa ended her being detained on September 12th 2008 under Section 73(1) of the Internal Security Act.

There was police report made against her on September 14th by NGOs like Perwaris, Pekida, and such for allegedly banning suraus in Puchong Jaya, Kota Damansara and Sri Serdang use of loudspeakers for azan, especially for subuh.

After her release, Theresa Kok was still hogging the limelight when she visited the Masjid As Salam Puchong 25 September 2010 in skirts. Her dress was inappropriate for entering the Masjid for it is not in accordance with Islamic aurah restriction for women.

In my understanding of ISA, the reason for detention could be beyond that. It must be a serious security issue to get held up for ISA.

The same aurah issue repeated again and again in September 2010 when DAP's Sri Serdang Assemblyman Teoh Nie Ching visited a Sri Serdang surau and recently held a senamrobik within a Masjid compound in unacceptable attire.

Many other DAP and Pakatan leaders like Xavier Jayakumar, Gobind Singh Deol, William Leong, Tian Chua, and perhaps others seemed to have a new fascination to ply their political skill by visiting surau and masjid but end up creating controversy for not understanding the required code of conduct.

That is that.

This time around last Friday a similar issue is heating up involving a former press secretary to former MCA President, Ong Ka Ting, lawyer Ng Kian Nam and the jemaah of Masjid Al Ikhlasiah, Pantai Dalam.

Ng who lives at a Kondo Pantai Hill Park wrote a complain to various authorities and Ministers, including the Prime Minister, claiming the azan is excessively to loud, particularly in the morning.

It is believed that Federal Territory Minister, Raja Dato Nong Chik had requested Jabatan Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan (JAWI) to look into the matter. JAWI had instructed the Masjid to lower the volume.

This created furor and a group of NGOs had demonstrated in front of the masjid after Friday prayers to express their disappointment and unhappiness against Ng.

This time PAS took their turn to whack back at UMNO and the Government.

Similarly during the Hulu Selangor by-election, YB Khalid Samad made a wild accusation that BN candidate now YB P Kamalanathan had campaigned inside a masjid and PAS bloggers doctored pictures to show such.

Kamala had got even with Khalid since then.

So much for politicians and their constant need to create chaos by agitating the public to draw political support. But politicians cannot agitate the public, if the public do not easily lose their head and become gullible to such emotional stirrings.

Where does my stance on this issue as a Muslim and pro-UMNO blogger?

The natural tendency would be to side with the masjid in both cases of Theresa and Ng.

What has happened to Malaysians and their acceptance and tolerance to the religious diversity of the country? That would be the question to ponder.

Most Malays and Muslim could accept (not just tolerate) their neighbours' spiritual need to burn joss-sticks and tolerate the emanating unfamiliar smell. Non-Chinese neighbours tolerate the midnight burning of firecrackers on Chinese New Years.

No one have any problems with Hindu temples playing their drums loudly in the evening.

Except that, it may not be quite tolerable to the jemaah of the affected surau at Section 21 for a temple to be relocated next. For theological or ritual reasons, Maghrib is a time for solace to the Muslim and noise is hindered.

The Hindu must respect and oblige to accept and tolerate that customs of the Muslims. They should be considerate to not insist their temple be relocated next to a surau and insist on other options.

This is where the MP for Shah Alam, Khalid Samad, exco for Selangor in charge, Xavier Jayakumar and MB for Selangor, Tan Sri Khalid Samad failed to find an amicable solution. They started the agitation and they must solve it.

Most Malaysians do not complain of the perceived higher incidence of drunk driving on Christmas but just accept the higher than usual consumption of alcohol and be extra careful on the road.

Coming back to the issue, so why can't the non-Muslims learn to accept the Muslim make-up of this country they adopt as home and tolerate the azan?

Is Ng being ridiculously stubborn or self centered?

After all, Ng's condominium is located a mile away from the Masjid. He had just moved into the neighbourhood some 15 months ago. Why is it an issue when his neighbours learn to accept and tolerate it?

An MCA friend asked explained that before Ng wrote those letters as a citizen, he had asked the question in his Facebook (see here). The feedback he had received was that the azan is excessively loud.

I have no way of gauging if the azan of Masjid Al Ikhlasiah, Pantai Dalam or suraus and masjids approached by Theresa is too loud. One will have to accept it in good faith even if there are intolerable individuals claiming it.

But I am about to give a non-conventional view on the loud azan issue because I face the same problem myself. Mind you, as a son of an Imam, I live next to Masjids all my live.

I have no issue with the azan. It helps to remind me of the prayers time. Furthermore, it is hardly more than two minutes.

However, it is the broadcasting of the kelas ugama by the neighbourhood surau, usually in between maghrib and isya, and after subuh, that is irritatingly loud. It is so loud that the words of the ustaz is inaudible. The speakers is blasted beyond its sonic capacity.

Since it is as loud as the azan, I began to realised that the azan is excessively loud. It is unnecessary because there are altogether 6 suraus and masjids within our two miles radius.

I have no problem with the ustaz's ceramah despite his cleverly in-fused PAS anti-Government political propaganda because the jemaah in the neighbourhood are not gullible to such cheap politicking. The jemaah sacked few ustazs for being partisan.

My concern was the volume disturbed the attention of schoolchildren studying at home. In the early subuh, it disturbs babies and younger children still sleeping. That is about the time parents are busy preparing their children to schools and themselves to work.

In my case, I expressed my issue with the relevant people of the surau. Over time, it is solved.

In the case of Theresa, she helped solve the problem of low quality speaker system of the suraus and masjids that had been the cause of irritation to the non Muslims in the neighbourhood.

Shouldn't Ng and others complaining the same approach the responsible people of the masjid instead of showing power and applying his political influence to force the masjid to lower the volume?

Is it a case of a lawyer used to the adversarial ways of practicing laws and authority that they lose sense of community and humanity?

Ng's approach sent the wrong signal and invite animosity. Newton's third law of strong action results in strong opposite reactions.

Ng should understand Muslims sensitivity. If the local authority in Switzerland had banned the building of minarets, one can understand that it is not an Islamic country. Islam is constitutionally the religion of the federation and not just ceremonial official religion. Muslims will expect more leeway.

Politicians being politicians, PAS will only take advantage of the situation and create a perception of animosity between MCA and Muslims and Malays. Tenang by-election is just days away.

Ng should have taken a less adversarial and politically more correct solution. He should show more tolerance and acceptance till an understanding is reached.

It is most unlikely for someone involved in politics but let's assume Ng is naive and ignorant as most Malaysian are in the culture and practices of other Malaysians outside their race and religion.

Government has an important issue to be addressed for the future. Is there such policy on environment that determines the acceptable decibel level for religious houses broadcast?

Is there a procedure and authority to settle inter-religious disputes at the localised level within the neighbourhood? In the urban areas, we do not have that wise and respectable penghulu personality that solve localised disputes.

That should certainly help citizens like Ng and others.

Not every dispute and issue is a calling for the struggle for alif ba ta.

22 comments:

The Phoenix Foundation said...

ANW!
It's strange that I just saw your posting for over sunday lunch just a few minutes ago I had talked about this to my friends.
It is my humblest belief{and I am Hindu}that the sounds of prayer/s have a very positive effect by way of healing
All calls for prayer & prayers themselves have a "vibratory" & "resonant" effect within ourselves.
We listen to our favourite music and relax - why? because the sounds sooth us!
That is what sounds , communication & prayers are all about.
We know for a fact that plants & animals responds positively to music & sounds.
We know for a fact that babies whilst in the wombs of their mothers, respond to music,sounds & speech!
So what's the fuss & issue?
I feel reminded early in the morning to hear the azan call wafting through the hills & trees, that a new day is just beginning.
Then when I hear the temple bells ringing, I know I must get up & to greet the day.
Throughout the day, whenever I hear the call for prayers from the mosque/s, I stop for a few moments & take time out, as the muslims stop for prayers- a reminder that a group of people of a different faith, are prayering for ALL OUR WELL BEING!
Such that when i do my evening prayers, I return the same "salaa'm"
Godspeed.
Jeya

Anonymous said...

Pasal yang komplen tu orang BN, dan pilihanraya Tenang dah dekat, maka tulisan you ni, dah lain pulak. Baca baliklah apa yang hang tulis semasa kes kat Puchong tu.
Kenapa tak pakai ISA kali ni?

Tok Mudim said...

In my village, a row of houses occupied by mostly chinese families is located just 15 meters from our surau.

And the surau, the houses plus the azan (using the corong) has been there since the british time if not the portugese and the dutch era.

The chinese family never complain to the bilal because of the azan
(which is also works as their morning call) and the jemaah surau never bother of the colok smell and their dogs as long as you know the limits.

My simple suggestion to this loyer cum mca member is just go to bed early and you might wake up earlier than the bilal himself plus a fresher body and mind.

Just avoid those late night drinking, movie, internet surfing or live football unless you're a soccer pundit like serbageth singh.

Anonymous said...

When I ws little, we lived next door to a Chinese old folks home-cum-funeral parlour.
Everytime there ws a 'ceremony' my brothers and I wld get the creeps as we knew what that night had in store for us.
Through the night wld be various instruments playing. We especially dreaded the wind instruments that gave us the chills.
But I digress. My point is : we never thought of complaining about the noise. (Yeah, we bitched about it among ourselves. Hey, we're human lah).
So Mr MCA man, Teresa and Namewee - what's your problem again about the azan.
This kind of racial intolerance is what will give rise to trading of barbs like - Tak suka boleh balik China lah .... and where will that lead to.

- u call yourself Malaysian, really !

Skilgannon1066 said...

When I am in Singapore, I stay at a condo in the East Coast's Siglap suburb which is mostly middle-class and upper middle-class. Near my condo is the Kampong Siglap Mosque, which is across the road from Victoria School and metres away from the Sekolah Indonesia. To this day, I have yet to hear an Azan call from this mosque. Yet Muslims throng the mosque for Friday prayers and in the early morning most days of the week.

Faith and piety without overt demonstrations of strident announcements of the call to prayer?

Maybe the Singapore government got it right being strictly secular, with all faiths and religions treated equally. Witness the recently announced stringent regulations for the Thaipusam processions in Singapore and the noise regulations enforced during the getai festivals during the Chinese Seventh Month festivals, without fear or favour.

Whereas in Malaysia, we get bullies trying to throw their weight around. Reminds me of the self-righteous zealotry of the gun lobbies in the US!

Anonymous said...

Good Sir

I have no issue with Islam as the official religion or with azan per se. I would consider a complaint on azan from other angles too after all we do have public nuisance in torts. With respect, the complainant has stated that he has no issue with azan for last few years. It becomes an issue when it becomes unbearably loud (especially after all the political polemics). What You have stated in this posting that even ceramah etc played over the sonic limit of speakers becomes unbearable.

Put aside the politics for a while for the purpose of evaluation.
Islam teaches us tolerance; Malay culture teach us to respect others as well. There are other ways to assert the Malayness or Muslimness of Malaysia (if that is the drift). But will the demonstration of the intolerant radical side win argument?

Good posting on your side sir. It proper perspective into the issue.

Malaysian Melayu Muslim

Anonymous said...

They still think that Malaysia can be the hinterland for the tiny red dot.

Malay Muslims there have gone toothless, dumb and mute.

Originally tuan tanah, they are now leasehold owners of a pigeon hole flat for 99 years.

If Malaysian Malay Muslims go on saying, "Tak apa lah, kita undur".

Mungkin satu hari nanti, rakyat asing akan dibawa masuk utk menjadi rakyat Malaysia. Mana tahu, kaum pendatang akan menjadi majoriti diTanah Melayu.

Awas dan prihatin selalu, sebab Perlembagaan Negara sudah tidak dihormati lagi.

donplaypuks® said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Cina kat Malaysia makin lama makin kurang ajar, terutamanya bila PM kita Najib yang tidak ada telur untuk membela nasib kaum sendiri dan memprogandakan konsep 1Malaysia. Lihat sahaja adik sendiri, Nazir, di CIMB, habis orang melayu di halau dan di hina oleh kaum Cina, konon-kononnya orang melayu malas dan tidak boleh membuat kerja.

A Voice said...

dpp

I don't like the adverserial manner of comment.

It is not like I do not know you personally.

Thus I do not see a need for you to give hostile remark like "It's a figment of your and many others' imagination."

It as though I do not have my source. And you only have access to information.

You can tell your side of the story but save your insults.

If have a problem with that, get lost.

This is my blog!

I am removing your comment.

Gurindam Jiwa said...

I would like to add a point. Some suraus/masjids also use their PA system when conducting their meetings (regular meetings, committee meetings, even general meetings) for all the surrounding public to hear. Naturally, some meetings can get a little loud, emotional, and feisty; but to have it for all to hear?

Freddie Kevin said...

Salam,

Whats with this lawyer? See, I never held lawyers in high regard. When Chinese New Year crackers bang every year, which is banned, do we rat on our Chinese neighbours to the police, never mind complaining? Next thing you know, as one commentor mentioning Thaipusam, can complain to all and sundry about road closures and traffic jams?
I was talking to a colleague about this matter and I said that I could not believe that the complain actually took place. I was wrong. And that if he did, I would seek the guy out and puncture his tyres. Yes, thats how strongly I feel that it was utterly impropriate on the part of this lawyer. Sorry to say, Cina betul sudah tochang naik, lupa diri. Come to Kepong Baru and see CNY stalls on the main road near the market. They take up quite a number of parking bays. The jam somtimes extend right to my front door in Taman Kepong! Whats there to complain? just get up earlier to go to work lah. This lawyer are the types that comtribute to extremism of every form.

Freddie Kevin said...

ABITW,

My queries.

1. Does this guy have any muslim friends?
2. can he in all honesty come out openly and say he did the right thing?
3. Was his intention political?
4. How did his letter of complaint come to light?
5. Will he wait another 2 weeks like Pak Lah and Rais before he
gives his side of the story?

Anonymous said...

I used to stay at Pantai Hillpark Phase 3 and I am familiar with the Masjid which is the subject of controversy. Honestly, I have to strain my ears to hear the Azan. Maybe because my block was facing the Andalusia (Phase 4) and the sound of the azan didn't bounce that hard. It never bothered me.Even if you are staying at Phase 1 (which is the closest to the masjid) the azan couldn't have been that loud to wake up the residents. The Lawyer must have bionic ears.

Anonymous said...

I am a Muslim i have no problem with azan call that is beautiful melodious n soothing but not the one that is too loud shouting to us Muslims as if we don't know its prayer time furthurmore the suraus/mosques are not far from each other ,just imagine..a war call or what...

Anonymous said...

Lepas selesai episod ini, kita orang Islam, secara tidak rasmi @ diam2, patut mengkaji semula keperluan dari segi perlaksanaan mana2 perbuatan, tingkah laku & kesesuaian ibadah yang kita lakukan sekarang. Kumpulkan semua ilmuan Islam, dari Asia saja, jangan jemput dari Arab kerana kita bukan dari kalangan mereka. Lagi pun tiada apa yang dapat kita belajar dari mereka pada zaman ini. Bincangkan apa yang kita lakukan sekarang yang tidak terdapat pada zaman Rasul.

1. Pengunaan pembesar suara. (e.g; Untuk azan =OK. Bacaan quran/Ceramah agama etc.= dalam bangunan saja). Dengan Penunjuk waktu(Jam), H/P, Internet, TV/Radio dimana2 saja, Azan sebagai penentuan masuk waktu solat bukanlah lagi menjadi keperluan semasa. Jika terdapat banyak surau di sekeliling sebuah Masjid, azan di surau2 ini tidak di benarkan mengunakan pembesar suara, terutamanya yang terletak di bawah flet atau pangsapuri. Ataupun di azankan serentak. Elakkan persepsi untuk jadikan Azan sebagai penghalau Hantu & Iblis.
2. Penentuan hari mula puasa & raya. Tetapkan, guna teknologi sekarang, mengikut zone masa supaya Islam di tidak di tafsirkan sebagai agama yang 'tidak tentu' & tidak sehaluan.
3. Pembinaan masjd di kawasan perumahan. Tempat parking mesti di ambil kira. Jangan mengganggu jalan keluar masuk penghuni lain. Lagi jauh Masjid, lagi banyak pahala!
4. Jenis perkerjaan zaman sekarang. Kerja mengikut shift, yang memerlukan kita tidor pada masa yang mungkin pelik pada zaman Nabi. Malah, pembesar suara belum ada pada zaman Rasul.
5. Cerita hantu, syaitan & iblis yang mungkin tidak manasabah yang di ceritakan pada kanak2 di Sek. Keb. atau dalam TV & wayang.
6. Kaedah mengajar anak2 sampai jadi 'jijik' pada daging babi dan arak. Dalam suasana masyarakat berbilang bangsa, akan berlaku persengketaan, apabila sesuatu yang dianggap jijik dimakan/minum oleh bangsa lain. Kalau kita tidak anggap jijik, membaling botol arak atau kepala babi kedalam masjid, tidak akan menjadi kemarahan umat Islam.
7. Menghadkan umur seseorang boleh masuk Islam. Hanya apabila kedua-dua ibu bapa masuk Islam, baru anak-anak boleh dibawa bersama.
8. Membuang sampah seperti plastic merata-rata, yang apabila hujan boleh masuk kedalam parit & sungai, di tafsirkan semula dalam kategori dosa besar. Zaman Nabi tidak ada plastic.
9. Orang Kena Tuduh di mahkamah, mesti di haramkan memakai pakaian atau menunjukkan imej Islam. (Bayangkan seorang Pak Lebai melanggar Traffic Light Merah & membawa kereta tanpa menghiraukan keselamatan orang lain: Jika dilihat umum, perkara pertama yang akan terjejas adalah nama Islam).
10. Dan lain-lain.........
Dalam maksud yang lebih tepat, sebagai contoh; Kalau Nabi hidup balik sekarang, adakah Baginda bersetuju dengan apa yang kita lakukan sekarang dalam mengerjakan ibadah.
Semoga agama & Tuhan kita di pandang mulia dan tidak dicerca, dihina dan disumpah oleh bukan muslim. Dengan demikian, orang akan bertambah tertarik kepada syariat Islam.

Anonymous said...

Then I think about time I complain about that chinese funeral parlor across out road too. Its very noisy, very smelly (annoying incense smell all the time) not to mention they create loads of rubbish with papers and plastic strewn all over the place after every ritual. As usual if you wait for them to clean up nothing will happen so we end up doing it, picking up the bits n pieces that flew all over. If in Spore guarantee they wont do it.

Terang Bulan said...

Fitnah ialah DOSA! Sembahyanglah sebelum engkau disembahyangkan.

Skilgannon1066 said...

Anon 6:47 PM

Maybe that's why the SMNO (Singapore Malays National Organisation) is a dismal, abject failure in Singapore. Much to the chagrin of big brother u-know-who!

Malay Singaporeans have figured out what it takes to stay competitive in a globalised environment - like taking advantage of an English language-based education system.

I reiterate my point about the Azan call in Singapore mosques. Like church bells from Christian churches and gongs and chanting from Hindu and Buddhist temples, all of which are strictly controlled.

I am amazed by those who think that they can get into the good books of The Almighty by the amount of noise they make and the external piety they exhibit. He Who Is Omnipotent, Omnipresent And Omniscient And Who Is Love doesn't need such fripperies from mere mortals.

Anonymous said...

Ai yo...if it is loud, then lower the volume a bit lor.... What's the big deal? Win win lor ..........

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Anonymous said...

Lets not make this a political agenda. We are stating opinions about the current modernization of the country and how religious sentiments are interfering nationalism, which are completely different now than it has been arranged 50 over years ago. all respective town councils must understand that mosques, church, and temples allocation must be made a drivable distance away from community. It has to be build in a compound where there wont be any office buildings, commercial shops, or most importantly the residential buildings. This is very important because it propagates the communities towards unity, human value and true understanding of a civilized community. None of us owns this land, we were merely a representative of our respective clans and religions, living a harmonious life in Malaysia. We should be sensitive to all races, and develop a non-biased community planning based on modern standards, to avoid touching the religious sentiments.

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