Tamara Yesmin Toma

Researcher, Dismislab
No, Saudi Arabia has not banned mosque loudspeakers during Ramadan
This article is more than 1 year old

No, Saudi Arabia has not banned mosque loudspeakers during Ramadan

Tamara Yesmin Toma

Researcher, Dismislab

According to recent social media (1, 2, 3, 4) posts, Saudi Arabia has banned muslim prayer calls (Azan) and the use of loudspeakers. Several Indian Bengali (1, 2, 3, 4) and English news headlines (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) also claimed that loudspeakers were banned in mosques in Saudi Arabia during Ramadan.

Dismislab has confirmed that the 10 directions published by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs ahead of Ramadan do not include any regulations prohibiting the use of loudspeakers or the restriction on prayer calls (Azan).

Earlier this year, the Saudi Ministry issued a directive limiting the number of loudspeakers outside the mosque to a maximum of four.

Sheikh Dr. Abdullatif Al-Sheikh, Minister-in-Charge of the country’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah, and Guidance, issued 10 instructions for mosques to keep Ramadan on track.

On March 3, it was posted on the Ministry’s official Twitter account in both Arabic and English. However, upon further investigation, it was discovered that neither of the two directives issued in January and March mentioned the use of loudspeakers or the call to prayer.

How the rumor began to spread

The Saudi government’s directive was examined by Sami Hamdi, the founder of the Middle Eastern magazine The International Interest. Sami criticized the directives in a video posted on his Twitter handle and YouTube by The International Interest, claiming that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was implementing an agenda to reduce the influence of Islam by imposing Ramadan restrictions.

“Bin Salman announces new orders restricting Ramadan in #SaudiArabia,” tweeted Sami Hamdi. The first of six points he mentioned was “No loudspeakers.”

The video shows Sami Hamdi criticizing Mohammed bin Salman for limiting the use of loudspeakers in mosques in Saudi Arabia in 2021 (from 6 minutes 3 seconds to 6 minutes 32 seconds). “Even last Ramadan, Salman did not relax the rule of limited use of loudspeakers,” Hamdi said in this segment.

In addition, the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs issued instructions in 2021 to limit the use of loudspeakers to the five-time prayer call and Iqamat, and to keep loudspeaker volume within one-third of the maximum loudness limit. However, there was no outright prohibition of loudspeakers in the guidelines of that year.

In January of this year, the ministry issued a new directive requiring the use of no more than four loudspeakers outside mosques.

Media outlets such as Ei Shomoy, First Post, Op India, and LiveMint cited Sami Hamdi’s statement that loudspeakers are not permitted in Saudi Arabia during Ramadan. According to the First Post and The Print, last year’s directive to limit the use of loudspeakers in mosques will be enforced again this Ramadan.

Alt News, Indian fact-checking organisation, has also refuted the rumors of a ban on loudspeakers in Saudi Arabia on Twitter and in the media.