CAIRO: Cairo’s unified prayer call project, which was scheduled to be implemented by the Ministry of Endowment, has been halted due to budget problems, a ministry official told Youm7 Tuesday.
A proposal to introduce a single live prayer call at around 4000 mosques in Cairo was passed in 2004 under the then –Minister of Endowment Mahmoud Hamdi Zaqzouq.
It was revived again in January 2014, when the Ministry of Endowment and the Ministry of Communications coordinated to apply the experiment in small areas first.
The head of religious affairs department at the ministry Mohamed Abdel Raziq said the “unified [prayer call] is something good and a great idea, but there is no possibility to implement it now.” Abdel Raziq added that the idea is still alive but will be postponed to a later time when financial allocations are available.
At that time, Mokhar Gomaa, the Minister of Religious Endowment signaled that the purpose of unifying the azan, or prayer call, which mosques broadcast five times daily, is to reduce the mistakes of some muezzins, announcers, in addition to unifying the broadcast times.
In September 2004, BBC quoted Zaqzouq as saying that the “loudspeakers are heresy because Islam has been doing fine for 1,350 years without loudspeakers.”
Zaqzouq explained that the decision came after complaints he received about mosques’ loudspeakers that transmit the call five times a day, but apart two or three minutes. In many parts of Cairo, multiple mosques are within earshot, and with their speakers, non-synchronized prayer calls can result in 10 minutes or more of din.
Additional reporting by Ismail Refaat