JEDDAH - High sounds from mosque loudspeakers, which are used for Adhan (call for prayers), and Qur'an recitation during the holy fasting month of Ramadan, are sparking a heated debate in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries.
Raising the sound of loudspeakers above the accepted level is not permissible, said Sheikh Tawfiq al-Sayegh, imam of a mosque in the coastal city of Jeddah, to Okaz daily.
There are ill and elderly people in the neighboring houses who need rest and quietness.
Mosque loudspeakers have become a source of annoyance for many Saudis, particularly those living near mosques.
Saudi authorities have recently banned small mosques from using loudspeakers to call for prayers during Ramadan.
But the decision sparked a heated debate among Saudis, with some rejecting the ban on the ground that it would take away from the spirituality of the holy fasting month.
It is only one month [Ramadan] that has a social character in every part of the world, columnist Mohammad al-Uhaideb wrote.
There is no harm in allowing the sounds of prayer to blast loudly in it.
Ramadan is the holiest month in Islamic calendar.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.
Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.
It is customary for Muslims to spend part of the days during Ramadan studying the Noble Qur'an.
Many men perform i`tikaf (spiritual retreat), spending the last 10 days of the month exclusively in the mosque.
The loudspeaker problem is not limited to Saudi Arabia, but is also evident in several Muslim countries, including Indonesia.
One complaint includes when there are two or three (mosques) in a neighborhood and they get involved in a loudspeaker war, Amidhan, head of the highest Islamic authority, the Indonesian Ulema Council, told Reuters earlier this week.
There are nearly 800,000 mosques in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country.
During Ramadan, most mosques use loudspeakers to call for prayers and recite the Noble Qur'an.
But the high sounds carried by the loudspeakers cause tension among residents.
Trying to tackle this problem, a local company called V8sound offered smoother sounding speakers.
The brand name of the new loud speakers is Al Karim, which can be translated to the generous.
The purpose of these loudspeakers is so that Indonesian mosques can have a jazz lounge standard, said Harry Kissowo, the company founder.
He told Reuters that more mosques are willing to pay a premium to install the new sound system.
More mosques are willing to pay the 25 million rupiah ($2,600) price tag for an Al Karim, more than double the price of more commonly used sound system, he said.Muslims make up around 85 percent of Indonesia's 237-million population.