- samba suzuzu
- BBC – Great Lakes Region
Muslims in Rwanda will not hear the call to dawn prayer through the minarets of mosques this Ramadan, and may not hear it again.
Last month, the Rwandan authorities banned the use of mosque loudspeakers during the early hours of the morning.
The authorities said the loudspeakers violated the country’s noise reduction laws, which allow a maximum sound intensity of 55 decibels during the day and 45 decibels at night – in residential areas.
“The decision violated our rights to perform a basic ritual of our religion,” says Zina Mukamapano, 55, who lives in the capital, Kigali.
Zeina notes that this is the first Ramadan that she will live without the call to prayer being raised for the Fajr prayer.
The habit of attaching loudspeakers to mosque minarets began in the thirties of the last century in Asia before it spread to the rest of the world.
The Rwandan authorities say that residents have complained about the sound of the call to prayer for dawn prayer, which is timed between 30 and 49 minutes after 4 am, while the call to prayer takes about two or three minutes.
“We are not happy…in Ramadan, the dawn call to prayer tells us the time to start fasting, and not all Muslims in Rwanda have alarms to set the time,” says Kigali-based Nohu Bihibende.
Zina Mucamapano suggests that the government order mosque workers to reduce the volume of sound, as it does with bar owners, ordering them to lower the volume of music.
“The call to prayer is part of our culture, a ritual in our religion, and banning it would anger Muslims, especially during Ramadan, because it is very painful,” says Zina.
Also from the capital, Kigali, Issa Karim Mugabo says he and his comrades are considering suing the government over the ban on the morning call to prayer.
But Sheikh Suleiman Mbarushimana, an advisor to the Mufti of Rwanda, confirms that Islamic leaders in the country have already discussed the matter with the government before agreeing on the decision.
Sheikh Suleiman says, “Muslims say their right to worship has been violated…The authorities say that the call to dawn prayer has been banned for the sake of the public good…We say the opinion is to agree and move forward, because our religion commands us to respect the decisions of those in authority.”
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