Story By: William McGee, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash
An actress and influencer has divided opinion in her native Indonesia for criticising the volume of her neighbourhood mosque loudspeaker in its early-morning wake-up call during Ramadan.
Zaskia Adya Mecca, 33, posted the clip she filmed from her window of the noisy reminder for Muslims to fill their stomachs before sunrise, when fasting begins, to Instagram on 22nd April.
It has since racked up shy of 1.9 million views and 20,000 comments, which were divided between those who agreed that the announcement was not in the muezzin’s remit and others, who accused the actress of denigrating Islam.
In Mecca’s footage, the muezzin can be heard announcing ‘suhoor’, the pre-dawn meal practising Muslims eat before fasting from sunrise to sunset during the holy month of Ramadan, in rip-roaring fashion.
She wrote alongside the clip: “Is it ethical to use the mosque loudspeaker this way? Especially as we live in Indonesia, where there are a variety of religions. Wouldn’t this disturb those who aren’t having suhoor?”
In a number of predominantly Muslim societies, mosque loudspeakers are forbidden to broadcast anything other than the call to prayer.
However, in Indonesia, particularly in rural areas, it is common for muezzins to call for suhoor, sometimes as early as 2 am to allow time to prepare the morning meal, which is eaten at around 4 am, ahead of the first call to prayer at around 4:30.
Following her post, Muslim fundamentalists were so incensed by Mecca’s complaint that a group of them staged a noisy nighttime march past her house two days later.
The actress filmed the young males as they banged drums, set off firecrackers and sang the suhoor wake-up call at the top of their voices.
Mecca tried to assuage the controversy by having a good-natured, respectful chat with the 23-year-old muezzin behind the original call, aptly named Ramadan, which she filmed and posted to Instagram on 25th April.
Mecca drew on the ‘hadith’ (the record of the words and actions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad) to argue that Muslims should respect their neighbours.
Ramadan, while proffering that his call to suhoor had never previously garnered any complaints, promised to tone down the volume in future.
The Indonesian Ulema Council, the country’s highest clerical body, has since announced that the call to suhoor is permitted as long as it does not disturb non-Muslims.
The Religious Affairs Ministry, on the other hand, has stated that mosque loudspeakers should only be used for the call to prayer.