Using loudspeakers to broadcast Quran and eulogies before dawn prayer
1-What is the ruling on broadcasting the five prescribed prayers via loudspeakers?
2-What is the ruling on transmitting the Qur`an radio station and eulogies via loudspeakers and raising the volume approximately one hour before the dawn prayers?
Islam is a religion of tolerance, justice, propriety, manners and mercy. It is the true religion expected of every morally responsible person; God the Almighty says, "The religion before God is Islam (submission to His will)". In spite of this, it does not compel anyone to enter the religion nor does it force anyone to listen to the Qur`an. God the Almighty says, "Let him who will, believe, and let him who will, reject (it)", "Wilt thou then compel mankind against their will, to believe!", "Thou art not one to manage (their) affairs", and "Let there be no compulsion in religion". For this reason, Muslims must spread the rites of Islam in a manner that befits the principles and ideals they call for. It is impermissible for a Muslim to turn the people away from religion or act as a barrier between the Creator and His creations under the pretext of calling to the way of God the Almighty by forcing the people to listen to exhortations and Qur`anic verses, and consequently disturbing them in their homes and work and encroaching upon their time of rest and work. The matter [of worship] is left to each morally responsible person depending on his time, ability and readiness. It is not right to use loudspeakers in mosques to inconvenience the people by day and night, claiming to remind them of the sanctity of the content of the aired material. God the Almighty says,
And those who annoy believing men and women undeservedly, bear (on themselves) a calumny and a glaring sin." [Al-Ahzab, 58]
Ibn Abbad narrated that the Messenger of God said, "Do not harm and do not reciprocate harm" [Recorded by Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and al-Tabarani. Jaber (may God be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of God said, "A Muslim is one from whose tongue and hands other Muslims are safe" [Recorded by Muslims and others].
The Prophet's manners
The Prophet was scrupulous about taking into consideration the feelings and interests of the people during his performance of religious rites and would refrain from disturbing them at their times of rest. Abu Qutada (may God be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet said, "I undertake prayers intending to prolong them, but when I hear the sound of a child crying, I shorten the prayer for fear that I make prayers difficult for its mother" [recorded by Bukhari and others].
It was reported that Mu'az ibn Jabal (may God be pleased with him) would offer his prayers with the Prophet and then go to lead his own people in prayer. On one occasion when he was leading his congregation, he recited the chapter of Al-Baqarah. At this, a man [in the congregation] broke off his prayer behind Mu'az and offered a short prayer individually. When news of this reached Mu'az, he exclaimed, "This man is a hypocrite!" When the man learned of Mu'az' words, he went to the Prophet and said, "O Messenger of God! We toil with our hands and load water skins on camels [and distribute the water to the people]. Yesterday, I broke off my prayer behind Mu'az because he recited the chapter of Al-Baqarah during the prayer. Because of this, he claims that I am a hypocrite." The Prophet then told Mu'az, "O Mu'az! Do you want to turn the people away from religion?! Recite "Ash-Shams", "Al-A'la" and other similar chapters" [recorded in the Sahih of Bukhari and the Sahih of Muslim].
Abu Mas'ud al-Ansari (may God be pleased with him) narrated that a man complained to the Prophet and said, "O Messenger of God! I can barely finish the prayer due to the lengthy prayers of such-and-such." Abu Mas'ud continued, "I have never seen the Prophet so angry in his admonition as he was on this occasion. He said, 'O people! Some of you cause the people to turn away from prayer. Whoever leads the people in prayer should be brief because the congregation includes the ill, the weak, and the needy'."
Benevolence towards others
The above mentioned texts and others forbid causing harm to others, encourage taking the people's feelings into consideration with respect to listening to Islamic rites, as well as warn against encroaching upon others by word or deed. The sin is even greater and the crime more abominable if wrong doing and oppression are inflicted against neighbors. This is attested to by the great number of textual evidences exhorting good will towards neighbors. These include the following:
Worship God and associate nothing tot him, and do good to your parents, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companion at your side … [An-Nisaa`, 36]
The Prophet said, "By God! He is not a believer, he is not a believer, he is not a believer!" [The Companions] asked, "O Messenger of God! Who [is not a believer]?" He replied, "He whose neighbor is not safe from his designs."
Raising the volume of the loudspeakers and broadcasting eulogies before dawn is of great harm to the people, constitute wrongdoing against them, and encroach upon their sleep when only God is aware of their conditions. The people include the ill whose pain is exacerbated by being kept awake, mothers who do not sleep nights to care for their children and whose rest is disturbed by such noise, and workers for whom this is the only opportunity to rest from their work by day and night. Consequently, the offenders sin and expose themselves to punishment in the Here-after though they assume that they are doing a good deed. The fact that the broadcasted material includes eulogies that are lawful in themselves does not justify raising the volume. This is because a Muslim is commanded to take into account the feelings of his fellow brothers and is prohibited from disturbing them during their hours of rest. Likewise, the offenders' wish to do good is not considered a justification since warding off evil takes precedence over gaining an interest and being mindful of people's need for rest and refraining from disturbing them is a duty required by Islamic law.
Additionally, a Muslim is commanded not to cause the people to resent religion even by way of something from religion itself. God the Almighty forbade cursing the gods of the polytheists — though this is not only a right in itself but one of the signs of freedom from polytheism — lest the polytheists insult God. If this is so, what then of raising the volume of the loudspeakers broadcasting the eulogies which are permissible in themselves and consequently disturbing the people's sleep and igniting their ire?
God the Almighty called the period before dawn, 'the time of 'awrah'. He said,
O ye who believe! Let those whom your right hand possess, and the (children) among you who have not come of age ask your permission (before they come to your presence), on three occasions: before morning prayer; the while ye doff your clothes for the noonday heat; and after the late-night prayer: These are your three times of undress." [An-Nur, 58]
Through this verse, God instructs us to be considerate of people's conditions and feelings, especially during this time of day.
The ruler's prerogative
The concerned authorities forbade broadcasting the five prescribed prayers via loudspeakers placed outside the mosques though this is less detrimental than broadcasting eulogies before dawn. Consequently, transmitting anything via loudspeakers placed outside mosques is considered arrogating the ruler's prerogative because he has the authority to restrict what is lawful. What then if this harms the people and disturbs them!? Not only this, but raising the volume of loudspeakers in this manner harms those who are praying in mosques, their homes, at work and the entire neighborhood. God the Almighty says, "Neither speak they prayer aloud, nor speak it in a low tone, but seek a middle course between." [Al-Israa`, 110]
Abu Hazem al-Mattar narrated through al-Bayadi (may God be pleased with him) that the Messenger of God entered upon some people while they were praying with their voices raised high, so he told them, "A person who is praying is in conversation with his Lord; he should therefore be mindful how he conducts the conversation. Do not raise your voices above one another when reciting the Qur`an" [recorded by al-Nisa`i in Al-Kubra and elsewhere].