British Muslims’ right to ‘the call to prayer’
THE ARGUMENTS FOR
Britain is a tolerant multicultural democracy. It should therefore allow the 700 Muslims who worship at the Oxford mosque a key part of their religious experience.
There are already loudspeakers put in place to aid the muezzin, the official who chants the call to prayer, in Bradford, Blackburn, Manchester, Bolton and Coventry. Oxford shouldn't forbid the call to prayer simply because of the traditional, intellectual character of the town.
The imam at the Oxford mosque is only asking for permission to sound the adhan for two minutes on three occasions during sociable daytime hours. Failing that, he would like just one weekly amplified call for Friday prayers. This is not an unreasonable demand.
The noise of the call to prayer will not rise above an agreed decibel level. It will cause no more disturbance than the sound of church bells, which, incidentally, Pakistan - a Muslim country - allows.
THE ARGUMENTS AGAINST
The Cowley Road area of East Oxford is largely non-Muslim. The adhan is therefore likely to mean nothing to - or disturb - the majority of people who hear it.
There are more than 2,000 mosques in Britain. If Oxford council permits an amplified call to prayer, many of the others might ask for their own. Britain is not an Islamic country, but might sound like one in the future.
A call to prayer from a loudspeaker is not a necessity of Islam. Mainstream Muslim teaching accepts that the adhan can be performed exclusively inside the mosque in non-Muslim countries.
Britain is a society historically based on Christian principles. To hear repeated praise for Allah and Mohammed across British skies would chip away at national identity.
The call to prayer is a cultural assertion rather than a practical necessity. Like everyone else, modern Muslims have wristwatches. They can use these to help them get to the mosque on time. ·
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