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Church bells and azaan

Reader comment on item: Which Privileges for Islam?
in response to reader comment: 99.99% agreement

Submitted by Irfan Khawaja (United States), Mar 23, 2005 at 16:44

I wonder if I could address some respondents who have referred to my earlier post on church bells and azaan.

There are three obvious reasons for equating them. (1) Both are loud. (2) For many people, both are undesired. (3) Likewise, both are held to double standards: both are tolerated while secular noise/music of a similar sort is highly regulated. Churches feel free to toll their bells, and mosques are now demanding the same sorts of rights, but if a secular person were regularly to stand in his frontyard and play secular chamber music at the same volume, the police would undoubtedly make him stop. None of the respondents deals with these three obvious facts; each simply takes the opportunity to 'vent' against azaan.

Some respondents insist that church bells have no religious content while azaan does. That's irrelevant. Whether religious in content or not, both are loud. I was talking about municipal noise ordinances, not First Amendment issues.

Some respondents simply profess to find church bells aurally pleasing while finding azaan aurally displeasing. That's irrelevant, too. Aesthetic responses of that sort are highly subjective, and subjective reactions can't be a basis for law. Personally, some days I find each pleasing; other days I found both displeasing; and other days I can take one but not the other. But the relevant issue is why we should be forced to hear either of them.

The bottom line is that, when it comes to noise, there is no fundamental difference between church bells and azaan--or for that matter, car alarms, leaf blowers, and loud parties.

I thought of a better practical solution to the issue than my previous one, however: There is a great market opportunity here for someone to invent the Muslim/Christian equivalent of an "alarm clock." The Muslim version can play azaan five times a day and the Christian version can have tolling bells however often their owners want to hear them. Interfaith homes can have both. Since the device would be indoors, the problem would be solved. I just hope that when they market it at Sharper Image, they send me a royalty check.

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