At a time when, early this week in Egypt, attention turned to the Climate Summit held in Sharm El-Sheikh, a group of Egyptian commentators were interested in statements made by the famous Egyptian archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, about raising the call to prayer through loudspeakers.
Hawass’ statements revived a new old debate on social media about the use of loudspeakers when calling the call to prayer, as commentators were divided between opponents and defenders of the call to prayer via loudspeakers.
There were those who criticized the archaeologist and blamed him for his “interference in a purely religious issue”, and there were those who defended him and his right to discuss an issue that was “a public issue.”
Behaviors that harm tourism
The controversial statements came during a television interview that Hawass gave to the “Nazra Program” presented by the journalist Hamdi Rizk on Sada Al-Balad channel.
During the episode, which lasted about an hour, Hawass touched on many topics, including the reality of tourism in Egypt and the issue of smuggled and looted antiquities.
Hawass also called for the inclusion of tourism in the educational curricula to change wrong practices and improve the culture of Egyptians in dealing with tourists.
But the thing that sparked the biggest controversy was his “criticism” of raising the call to prayer through loudspeakers.
Hawass said that “it is better that the call to prayer be raised through loudspeakers only inside the mosque,” adding, “There is nothing in religion that says that all these voices are made. We are a tourist country and we must maintain the comfort of the tourist, and there are practices that must be changed in order to attract the tourist.”
He attributed the reason for his demand to restrict broadcasting the call to prayer through loudspeakers to a personal experience he had lived when he was A guest in a hotel in preparation for a lecture.
He continued that “when he was in the touristic Luxor Governorate, he felt himself surrounded from all directions by the sound of loudspeakers,” and considered that any religious person would not be satisfied with disturbing others, according to him.
Hawass also expressed his admiration for the Egyptian writer and journalist Ibrahim Issa, who had previously demanded that loudspeakers be banned in mosques adjacent to tourist resorts.
Hawass’ talk about raising the call to prayer through loudspeakers was the reason for the attack on him. But his statements were met too The approval of some who saw in it an opportunity to “correct the misconceptions promoted by the Salafis.”
Those who objected to Hawass’s statements described them as “provocative” and demanded an apology.
Other commentators also believe that Hawass’ statements deviated from mentioning the real problems that the tourism sector suffers from .
While others have come to accuse him of insulting “the religious and cultural values in Egypt, which is characterized by its many minarets.” .“
Some do not view the call to prayer as a religious ritual, but rather consider it an authentic cultural manifestation of cities with a long Islamic history. Accordingly, commentators believe that “the tourist usually accepts the call to prayer as part of the features of the country he is visiting.”
There are also those who believe that the statements of the archaeologist come in An old campaign aimed at preventing the broadcast of the call to prayer through loudspeakers. The matter went to a number of commentators accusing those demanding to stop broadcasting the call to prayer via loudspeakers that they prefer to replace it with music, on the grounds that they will not demand a halt to loud music in concerts.
To respond to Hawass, tweeters evoked conversations by sheikhs who support the idea of raising the call to prayer through loudspeakers.
Defense and calls to limit the amplifiers
On the other hand, there are those who defended Hawass, surprising the attack that affected him.
Some see the Egyptian expert’s statements as an invitation to rational thinking, and there is no “any harm to the faith or any infidelity, as many have argued.”
Others stressed that whoever attacked Hawass did not understand the content of his words, and they called for a broader understanding of the issue, so they cited other opinions and fatwas attributed to well-known clerics. Among them is Sheikh al-Shaarawy, who considered raising the call to prayer with loudspeakers: “a demagogic religion and its rule in religion is invalid.”
Despite their reservations about Hawass’ statements, others criticized the overlapping of the call to prayer with each other, and demanded the preparation of qualified muezzins and the selection of those with the sweetest voice.
Others also called for accepting the dissenting opinion rather than demanding that it be withheld, saying that The wave of criticism that Hawass was subjected to and everyone who deals with religious issues in a different way from the norm reflects “the state of intolerance that has become characteristic of the majority.”
While another section of the commentators described these discussions as subversive and an attempt to distract people from their main issues.
and in this The context, one of the tweeters wrote, “We are not discussing the issue of whether or not to raise the call to prayer, but rather we are talking about the overlapping of sounds through the early sounders.” He added, asking, “Since when did loudspeakers become a pillar of Islam? Noise has become the dominant feature with the large number of mosques and the decline in interest in preparing qualified muezzins. And this The aspect of the issue is that which Zahi Hawass touched upon.
On the other hand, another tweeter responded by pointing out that the city of Istanbul is witnessing a very loud call to prayer from Hagia Sophia, without disturbing large numbers of tourists.
This is not the first time that a discussion has been raised about the use of loudspeakers to raise the call to prayer on Arab electronic platforms.
About a year ago, the Saudi authorities’ decision to regulate and limit the use of loudspeakers in mosques provoked mixed reactions.
In 2019, the Egyptian Ministry of Awqaf threatened users of loudspeakers in mosques with severe penalties. It confirmed its tendency to expand the generalization of the “unified call to prayer” experiment, following the success of the experiment in some mosques in Cairo. .
The Egyptian Ministry of Awqaf forbids the use of loudspeakers in mosques outside the times of the call to prayer and Friday prayers.