Rift in Gaza Over Prayer
By Micah Halpern
Sunday January 7, 2018
I've Been Thinking:
A massive rift is emerging in Gaza - and it is had nothing to do with politics. This rift is over morning prayer.
Muslims pray 5 times a day. The first prayer is said at dawn. It is called "fajr" which means dawn. A committee of religious leaders thinks that the fajr has not been well attended and have decided to start a Gaza-wide campaign to change the situation. They are waking up all of Gaza for dawn prayers.
For the daily wakeup call they are not only using loudspeakers from the mosque as is traditionally done, but they are making them even louder and they are adding drums to the call to prayer.
There has been serious blowback, even from several Islamic scholars, who say that it is against Islamic law to annoy people.
Abdel-Bari Khela, a mufti, an imam and a very influential scholar of Islam, explained that while the fajr is very important, so is protecting people's sleep and not annoying them and this intrusion into their daily lives could backfire. He said, "The banging will awaken children and it will cause confusion."
Khela issued an Islamic ruling about the importance of prayer and going to the mosque at dawn. He also said that it is against Islam''s instructions to "annoy" people. He said that there are two traditional calls of prayer issued from the mosque, known as "azans," according to the instruction of Islam and you are not to add to them and disturb people.
"Replacing them with illegitimate means such as drums, music and loud sound that makes noise is illegal. If it leads to harm like annoying people or disturbing them, this is forbidden."
Filling the mosques at dawn is now a policy of the government. The ministry of religious affairs in Gaza has chosen to become involved and is sponsoring the early wakeup, so it has now become political. More people will be coming to dawn prayers but the inevitable outcome is that even more people will be angered.
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