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Old 25th May 2009, 02:01 PM   #1
khadija is offline khadija  Kuwait
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Default Synchronization of “Calls to Prayer” in the Arab world

en.v (www.envearth.com) is an initiative that is dedicated to raising awareness for issues related to social responsibility in the Arab world.

For our quarterly publication (summer edition that is distributed in 9 countries throughout the Arab World) we would like to pose a question and receive your feedback for our “technology” section regarding the following:

In most Arab countries there tends to be a concentration of mosques in large residential areas. And as per Islamic law, prayer (“Adaan”) is recited 5 times a day from these mosques. All mosque’s clocks and audio systems are not synchronized to a centralized broadcast system so it is typical for prayers to be broadcast from several different mosques in a dense urban area all at varying times (with delays occurring within a matter of seconds or even minutes sometimes). Furthermore, the “Imam” or person leading the prayers in each mosque exhibits a unique audible range with their recitations (as is only natural given that we are human), whereby some recitations are pleasant to the ear and others are piercing.

We would like to pose the following question. Given your understanding of acoustics, what are your thoughts regarding an economical and sustainable solution to the above-mentioned problem? What technologies exist today (or are under R&D for the near future) that can counter “noise pollution” in a dense urban environment (keeping in mind delicate cultural and religious traditions)? And can you cite examples, if any, of implemented solutions or technologies in cities today that have successfully countered a similar problem(s)?

Looking forward to receiving your feedback. For those whose answers we find the most enlightening and well constructed we request permission to publish them within our publication (both online and in print) to which we will credit you for.
Old 25th May 2009, 04:34 PM   #2
jan.didden is offline jan.didden  Europe
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Default Re: Synchronization of “Calls to Prayer” in the Arab world

Hello Khadjia,

Your post brought back memories from my trips to Jordan and Syria, so I understand your question!

Let me ask another question: given that most of the recitations are pre-recorded on casette tape or something (that was what I was told), is it an option to have a central 'transmission' to many mosques? For a low-tech solution, someone could play centrally (or even speak live) at one place, and relay it by telephone to a number of mosques. So, all at exactly the same time, all the same text so no confusion by hearing two different texts at the same time.

Assuming that each Imam would like to give his personal message (don't know if that is true, just assuming, if this is not the case then disregard the next part): each Imam could take turns to speak to all mosques, like one Imam on Monday, another on Tuesday etc.

For a more hi-tech (and better fidelity) solution you could replay a central message through the internet to any mosque that wants to air it. In this case, people who cannot hear the recitation for any reason can listen to it at another moment.

I don't know if I am talking sense, I may look stupid because I don't know the requirements for Islam, but just trying to think about a technical solution.

Edit: corrected spelling

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Old 25th May 2009, 07:41 PM   #3
jan.didden is offline jan.didden  Europe
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Forgot to mention: if you synchronize all transmissons over a city, you can each set for less volume and still cover the same or larger area.

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Old 25th May 2009, 08:57 PM   #4
Variac is offline Variac  Costa Rica
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It's most probable that each Imam wants to be heard in his area.

As an audiophile, my suggestions are of course audiophile related.

First, In all areas of the world I constantly marvel at how terrible the public address systems usually are, in or outside of any type of building. Getting decent reproduction will help the problem. This might include a low distortion recording method if the prayers are recorded. Recording quality is a big factor. If the organization had a simple and inexpensive recording area with a quality microphone, the Imams could record the prayers with high quality. The digital recordng could be played back with a CD player or on a computer.

An idea is to have an organization with knowlege of sound systems purchase decent sounding system components in large quantity. Buying in quantity would save money so that better quality components could be used and would make buying the system more appealing- Why buy a crummy system elsewhere when you can get a good one for the same or similar price?

Then, while it is probably tempting to have the loudspeakers high, and in the center of the mosque, It would be less distorted and interfere less with other close-by mosques if there were many smaller loudspeakers distributed around the outer perimeter of the building, or building grounds. Since each speaker is smaller, it would be less expensive so the overall cost might actually be less.
The sound level could still be very high in the area around the mosque..

As far as announcing at the same time, there are many ways to do this, but the various mosques need to WANT to broadcast at the same time. Perhaps there could be a broadcast on radio or on computers with a message, spiritual or otherwise ,and exactly at the end of it everyone starts.

Ok, to sum up: A volunteer organization develops and assembles a reasonably priced speaker and amplifier system that is designed to be distributed around the perimeter of the Mosques. Larger mosques have more of the same speakers if they need more coverage.


The Imam makes a high quality recording at the organization and it is put on a CD which can be played through the system, which would include a low cost CD player.

Or possibly :

They could also customize an inexpensive computer that would play back recorded messages, when triggered by a central location. The Imam of each mosque would come to the organization and record his prayers. These would be loaded onto the computer right there, and various people from the mosque could be instructed on the (not-complicated) way to make sure it is operating. A simple program could be written to use different recordings on different days if that is a requirement. The organization would have to provide an on-site repair service to ensure that all is operating properly...

Of course as Jan mentioned if the prayers could be exactly the same at any one time with a rotating schedule so every Imam gets to broadcast to the entire city that would dramatically help as the differen mosques wouldn't be competing with each other regarding the sound. Probably this would be very difficult to implement though..
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Old 26th May 2009, 01:35 AM   #5
theAnonymous1 is offline theAnonymous1  United States
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I don't know how practical this tochnology is, but it's the first thing that popped into my head........

Old 26th May 2009, 03:57 AM   #6
lumanauw is offline lumanauw  Indonesia
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Old 26th May 2009, 12:23 PM   #7
Shaun is offline Shaun  South Africa
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I have never before heard of Imam's call to prayers being a playback of a recording. I could sometimes hear the imam fiddling with the microphone. Sometimes there would be a new imam, and his melody would be somewhat different. I don't know about distributing a common sound track. I always assumed that each mosque had its own imam who broadacst his own call to prayer.

However, if there could be a common sound track or live broadcast, it seems a simple matter to use a radio-linked system that would activate on receipt of a start code and turn off on receiving an end code. That is: turn on, receive and play the broadcast through a PA loudspeaker and then turn off.

Khadija, if you could agree on a simple principle of operation (that is, radio link with common broadcast or synchronising multiple imams's song via communications signal), then all you'd need to do is put the job out to tender. Let the professionals solve the how-to (technical) problem.
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Old 31st May 2009, 03:49 PM   #8
bulgin is offline bulgin  South Africa
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Default Synchronisation


Referring to diy member Shaun's tender suggestion, a ready-made solution may already exist. In my days as a watch distributor, I had dealings with a Swiss firm Bosshard? who manufactured synchronised time and voice? display systems. They used a time-base located at Reunion. Perhaps you should enquire with them.

There is also the British firm of Tannoy but I'm not sure if they are still involved with what you require.

For all I know, there may well even be local firms in my country, able to provide answers and equipment.

Good luck with your enquiries.

Old 31st May 2009, 04:30 PM   #9
Shaun is offline Shaun  South Africa
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I must mention that I really do not see the synchronisation of calls to prayer as a useful issue to spend time and money on. Where I grew up I could always hear the calls to prayer from two locations. Even when I lived with my grandmother a few kilometres away, it was again from two different sources that I heard it. At worst it would be out by a few seconds. It never bothered me that it was not synchronised. I just knew that it was of importance to some people, and that was that...
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Old 31st May 2009, 04:53 PM   #10
Westerp is offline Westerp  Netherlands
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