The holy month of Ramadhan has come and with it a set of controversies including the opening of restaurant at daytime for non-Muslims, Muslims exempted from fasting and labourers assigned to practice strenuous work and whether the latter category is meant by the Quranic verse: “(Fast) a certain number of days, but if any one of you is ill or on a journey let him (fast) a similar number of days later on; and for those who are unable (to fast), there is a ransom - the feeding of a needy person. Whosoever volunteers good, it is good for him; but to fast is better for you, if you but knew.”— Surah al-Baqarah (The Cow), Verse 184. There is also the issue of the Qaranqasho and that of whether or not the ‘Night of Power’ recurs.
Such controversies existed long ago, they were present in the books of heritage and fatwa a long time ago, but they were discussed amicably back then without the bullying and verbal abuse we see on social media nowadays whenever such an issue is put for discussion as if some people believe that Islam is so vulnerable that it will collapse as a result of such discussions.
Besides, we don’t come across theses that dig deep into heritage books and review the interpretations of the texts and their historical contexts. People have developed a disposition to embrace superficial knowledge. It might be irrational to expect everyone to have deep theses, except for the specialists. Everyone deals with social media in accordance with their tendency and cognitive abilities which vary from one person to another depending on age and insight. Generally, the social media content ranges from deep to shallow, however it shouldn’t be a reason for bullying and swearing because it’s natural for people to wonder and ponder and they have the right to raise questions and express their thoughts.
At the beginning of Ramadhan this year there was a debate over the use of loudspeakers for the Tarawih prayers which is deemed by some as a sort of noise pollution and disturbance to the sick and old people. Some people are of the opinion that when the holy Quran is recited everyone should listen attentively. “So, when the Quran is recited, listen to it, and be silent that you may receive mercy.” (204 Al-A'raf).
So, it’s irrelevant that the Quran is recited on loudspeakers while people are selling, shopping and chatting.
Others believe that the Tarawih prayers have a short duration, one hour at most. In their opinion, overnight parties are more deserving of denunciation than the Tarawih loudspeakers for some of the sick and the elderly. Tarawih is an embodiment of the greatness of Ramadan and a reminder of the grandeur of prayer.
Both opinions represent a natural attitude. The objectors do not disbelieve in the Quran nor they dislike Islam. The issue in question has nothing to do with the religion. Likewise, those in favour of the act do not aim to disturb the people.
In the small villages that are inhabited by homogeneous of closely related tribes they don’t often complain about noisy loudspeakers at the Tarawih prayers because they are accustomed to the noises of Ramadhan.
However, in large cities like Muscat that have lately become home to a heterogeneous population, the mosques are in close proximity and their minarets overlook the houses which is why noises are quite common. Besides, some of those in charge of mosques tend to increase the volume of loudspeakers even for the religious lectures in mosque where tranquility should prevail so that the worshippers easily contemplate the Quran.
Personally, I have failed to understand the wisdom behind noisy loudspeakers at a time when everybody can listen to the Quran or religious lectures from mobile phones whenever they want.
As for overnight parties, they are not held so frequently and are usually held at special venues situated away from residential quarters such as the Opera house and closed halls.