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Accommodating Noise Levels from the Local Mosque

One caution before signing your housing contract on a new house. Go to the proposed new residence at the time that the call to prayer is broadcast through loudspeakers from the adzan at the mosques surrounding your neighborhood. There will most likely be more than one that you hear. Check the noise level and make sure you can handle the distruption to the peace and quiet of your home during the call to prayer.

If you've already signed the housing contract, here are a few suggestions to help you survive the noise:

  • It's possible that a 'donation' to the mosque will encourage them to turn the speakers in a different direction - away from your house. This can reduce the noise levels somewhat or significantly.
  • Install sound-proofing windows and doors that will help block the noise.
  • Get used to using earplugs at night !
  • Heavy curtains or a white noise generator may also help to muffle the sound
  • Develop selective deafness :)
  • Adjust your schedule to rise early to accommodate the call to prayer, especially during the month of Ramadan

Please do NOT go to the mosque in a confrontational mood demanding that they turn down the loudspeakers. The consequences could be unpleasant.

The people that go to your neighborhood mosque are your neighbors. An attitude of neighborliness will go a long way in resolving the issue. As guests in Indonesia, expats will benefit from respect for the culture, religion and customs of their neighbors. Note that the noise volumes and frequency of broadcasts will usually increase during the month of Ramadan.

In time, you will probably get used to it. Believe it or not, many expats miss the call to prayer after they leave !

Following are the regulations regarding blasphemy against another religion in Indonesia - Undang-Undang nomor 1 tahun 1965 tentang pencegahan, penyalahgunaan dan/atau penodaan agama which has modified with its article 4 the KUHP by adding an article (156a) which reads:

Pasal 4
Pada Kitab Undang-undang Hukum Pidana diadakan pasal baru yang berbunyi sebagai berikut:
Pasal 156a

Dipidana dengan pidana penjara selama-lamanya 5 tahun barang siapa dengan sengaja di muka umum mengeluarkan perasaan atau melakukan perbuatan:

a. yang pada pokoknya bersifat permusuhan, penyalahgunaan atau penodaan terhadap suatu agama yang dianut di Indonesia;
b. dengan maksud agar supaya orang tidak menganut agama apapun juga, yang bersendikan Ketuhanan Yang Maha Esa

Thanks to n4t4c4 for sharing this great info on soundproofing of windows from the Expat Forum:

It's a quite common misconception that double pane windows are good for transmission loss. In reality, they are not that much better if not worse than a single glass. For example, here's info from my glass supplier:

A Single Glass 12 mm transmission loss 34 dB
Double Glazed : Clear 6mm + AS 06 + Clear 6mm, transmission loss 33 dB.
Laminated glass 6mm + Pvb Clear 0,76 + Clear 6mm transmission loss 37 dB

A better version though, would be double glazed laminated, with air space that's large enough to prevent noise transfer between the separate glasses. Ex: Laminated 6mm + pvb 1,52 + 8mm + Air Space 16mm + 8mm glass, the transmission loss would be 40 dB.

So laminated is best for transmission loss, double glazing is best for energy saving.

Another expat's take on "A Good Night Sleep in Jakarta ? Quiet Peaceful Enjoyment in Jakarta ?"

Indonesian Vice President Boediono, has triggered a national debate by saying publicly something some Indonesians are whispering privately: Mosques need to dial down the volume on their daily calls to prayer. Mr. Boediono, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name, on Friday called on the Indonesian Mosque Council to issue a regulation on the noise levels for loudspeakers used by muezzins to belt out calls to prayer, known as azan. “We are all aware that the azan is a holy call for Muslims to perform their prayers, but I, and probably others, feel that the sounds of azan that are heard faintly from a distance resonate more in our hearts that those that are too loud and too close to our ears,” he said in a speech opening the council’s annual conference. Boediono also said “Mosques should not fall into the hands of those who want to send provocative messages that could incite violence and terrorism.” (from online article by Ahmad Pathoni - May 2012)