Call to Prayer Too Loud?

This email just in the inbox.  Anyone want to weigh in?

Hi CHB,

I live on Washington btwn Atlantic and Fulton, and for a couple of months now, the first call to pray from the mosque on Fulton (btwn Washington and St. James) has been waking us up every morning. I stopped in to ask them VERY nicely if they would consider turning the loudspeakers down a few notches, and they told me, literally, to fuck off.  So I called 311 and Letitia James’s office, to no avail.  I’d be curious to know if anyone else in the neighborhood is having this problem, and if there is anything we could do to fix it.  Thanks!

45 thoughts on “Call to Prayer Too Loud?

  1. BKLuis

    Another one of these “noise” posts? You don’t even realize how out of touch you come off. Baby, seriously though, you got to move over it.

  2. jmb

    Haha, good for them. Did you go to all the churches and ask them to turn down their bells a notch or two? Stop in to Brown Baptist Church and ask them not to rock their gospel music so enthusiastically? Stop by the subway station and ask them to grease the tracks?

    This is just insane. I suggest moving to Chappaqua, where they don’t have these kinds of troubles.

  3. Disco-D

    Umm… you live in a city. Cities are noisy! If you don’t like extraneous sound you really should consider moving to a quieter town in Connecticut or Jersey.

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  5. Tony

    Hold on – if I start my own religion can I blare loud noise whenever I please, and do it next store to you nasty people? Seems like she has a legit complaint, she asked them nicely, they responded in a mean-spirited way – wouldn’t you call your local rep in that event?

  6. ossie's dream

    I live on St. James right by Fulton. I am often awoken each morning by the call to prayer. I was at first annoyed by it, but now it doesn’t even bother me. Just one of those ambient city noises you get used to, I guess. On the occasions it does wake me up, I drift immediately back to sleep…

    Whoever mentioned church bells has a point. I also lived right by a church – again, you get used to it.

    It is a little disturbing that they told you to “fuck off.” They really, literally said “fuck off?”

  7. SK

    I live on Fulton between Washington and St. James. I hear the call to prayer in the evenings and during the day on weekends. For some reason I don’t hear it in the morning (I usually wear earplugs anyway) and if I did, I might feel differently, but I love hearing it when I do. It’s part of the neighborhood and reassuring in a way.

  8. Overlord

    I agree with comment #6. If the call to prayer is in fact loud enough to be a nuisance, there’s no reason the mosque should get to do whatever they want just because it’s their religion. The real issue is whether the offended neighor is being reasonable in her complaint (i.e. how loud is the noise, how early do they sound it).

  9. neigbor

    REALLY GET OVER IT! That mosque has been in this neighborhood longer than you and if you have prblem adjust or move–it’s quite simple. Involving legislators is a joke

  10. Guvna

    The call to prayer is part of the hood that you moved into. Will you try to stop everything that you dont like about the hood? Then it will no longer be the hood that you moved into thinking it was cool, but a sterile nondescript place to live.

  11. Charlie

    Let’s stand on the corner and blast my ideas on how religion is a waste. We’ll see if anyone’s opinion changes. Or is that ok and everyone should get over it?

    It’s common courtesy. If they’re too loud where they are bothering neighbors, then quiet it down. It’s just annoying.

    There’s a church on Bedford Avenue that has speakers outside the church, so when you walk by, it’s all you hear for blocks. A bit overboard?

  12. tallulahbankhead

    Move baby.

    Connecticut is super quiet and with the foreclosures, I’m sure the person can find a mansion to squat in for a couple of months.

    Seriously, this is a part of living in a gorgeous mosaic — you take the bad with the good (within limits) and you learn to adjust instead of whining that someone change the way they choose to worship.

  13. Overlord

    @tallulahbankhead

    if you’re willing to concede that the call to prayer is part of “the bad,” why should the disturbed neighbor “learn to adjust” rather than taking reasonable steps to stop “the bad” thing from happening? isn’t that how bad things get better? Charlie is right that you shouldn’t look at the call to prayer through rose colored glasses just because it’s religious. If something is creating a disturbance, it shouldn’t get a privileged status just because the disturbance happens to be the way someone chooses to worship.

  14. ThereAreWorseThings

    Well. Music is my religion, so I’m glad that no one complains when my band practices into the night.

    By the same token, I’m also within earshot of the mosque, and I’m indifferent about it. It is a bit loud, but whatever, it’s part of the neighborhood.

    What I’m NOT fine with is the fucking dispensation they get to double-park on St James on Fridays, which blocks in everyone that hasn’t moved in time to avoid the Towncar armada. THAT is fucking bullshit.

  15. emilyahn

    im on st james btw fulton and gates, closer to fulton. i can hear the call to prayer and i find it to be a nice feature of the neighborhood. in fact, i was walking home from the subway last night when they were praying and i was thinking to myself how beautiful it was. though, i never get woken up from it in the morning. but i am shocked by how these comments have been so judgemental and negative – honestly, if something is bothering me as a person of the neighborhood, i think i have the right to go discuss it with someone on a local level. and unrelated… this last comment, #16, do you have the 1 story space on st james and fulton… if so, do you have shows there ever? i always hear great music coming out of there and am curious to who’s playing in there…

  16. Joe

    The city has a noise ordinance. If its over that level is should be lowered, if not, it doesnt have to be.

    Double parking is BS. They do it on my block on Clermont. Last week, finally saw an 88th radio car ticketing all of them.

  17. dekalb

    my next door neighbors not only have band practice, but just jam at their will on drums, bass, guitars, cymbals, and a mic on a daily basis, and i think it’s totally ridiculous. it’s a residential building. so i file noise complaints as the landlord has told me to do. so i understand that incessant noise is disrespectful to neighbors. on the other side of me is an infant who i can hear screaming and crying all the time, but that doesn’t bother me a bit because it’s not like the family is choosing to be blatantly disrespectful to their neighbors.

  18. Tolerance

    I am of another faith (won’t mention b/c I don’t want it to distract from this conversation) yet I am extremely tolerant of other faiths. Not only was I raised in one, had one half of my family in another and am now observant in a 3rd.

    This being said… is the loudspeaker (an electrical device) that inherent to their call to prayer? I certainly respect their need to a) pray 5x a day and b) make all that need to be aware of it to be aware.

    This is where I believe tolerance and respect for others comes into play. We live in a very diverse society- esp. here in NY. I am not personally affected by this mosque.

    I do wonder if there can be some open dialogues that share the respect for what they need to do in their lives and for the people around them that may not share their beliefs.

  19. drummer

    I’m a drummer and you’ll never hear me complain about noise.

    I have to say, I’m surprised at all the ‘live and let live’ attitudes… because I’ve never run into them… I’ve spent literally thousands investing in soundproofing in a place I don’t even own.

    I continuously worry that as more and more yuppies move in (yes, I am a newbie, but I’ve been here for almost 9 years, and I’ve seen quite a few changes) that I’ll run into mr Dekalb there… who won’t complain about the same decibel levels based on content. Would ‘dekalb’ complain about condo construction?

    (complaining about noise at all, unless it’s _really_ late a night is pretty poor form if you ask me anyways).

    Did you ever think that your neighbors aren’t _trying_ to be disrespectful, that there just trying to make music? In many places, right here in our own country, this is even appreciated!

    Music is a fantastic thing!

    Does anyone know how hard it is to be a musician in this city? How many of you can pay a second rent to just play drums once in awhile? Are you going to tell me that all musicians should live in the suburbs? I am quite fortunate to be successful enough to pay for the soundproofing I’ve done, but believe I am in an extreme minority.

    *sigh*

    I can see mr dekalb, over the sounds of traffic and construction and babies, complaining about his neighbor exploring one of the best things in life.

    Mr dekalb, you are LAME.

    “Little boxes on the hillside,
    Little boxes made of ticky-tacky,
    Little boxes, little boxes,
    Little boxes, all the same.
    There’s a green one and a pink one
    And a blue one and a yellow one
    And they’re all made out of ticky-tacky
    And they all look just the same.

    And the people in the houses
    All go to the university,
    And they all get put in boxes,
    Little boxes, all the same.
    And there’s doctors and there’s lawyers
    And business executives,
    And they’re all made out of ticky-tacky
    And they all look just the same.

    And they all play on the golf-course,
    And drink their Martini dry,
    And they all have pretty children,
    And the children go to school.
    And the children go to summer camp
    And then to the university,
    And they all get put in boxes
    And they all come out the same.

    And the boys go into business,
    And marry, and raise a family,
    And they all get put in boxes,
    Little boxes, all the same.
    There’s a green one and a pink one
    And a blue one and a yellow one
    And they’re all made out of ticky-tacky
    And they all look just the same.”

  20. jx

    drummer: you haven’t got a clue. not everyone wants to hear your drums just because you consider it “music.” there’s a reason we have 311 for noise complaints in this city, and why bloomberg has campaigned against excessive noise. it’s annoying, frays people’s nerves, and makes the city all around unpleasant to live in. drummer: if you want the freedom to drum anytime you want, then it’s YOU who should move to the suburbs. have some respect for your neighbors.

  21. sweet baby jesus

    brooklyn is the borough of churches. your real estate agent/hipster blog should have hipped you.
    get over it. and i seriously doubt a iman/mosque members told you to fuck off.

  22. Colin

    I am a member of that mosque you speak about and I highly doubt any of my brothers was disrespectful towards you. The only complaint we ever had was that people found the Azan pleasant.

  23. KimOnClinton

    There’s something I’m a little unclear about from the OP (if they’re even still around, and haven’t been scared off): has the noise level always been something you’ve been uncomfortable with, or has it all of a sudden just gotten louder than usual?

    If it’s the former, well…okay, try calling 311, but they may indeed not be able to do anything, because presumably if it’s always been like that, it’s probably at a legally-sanctioned decibel level. But if it was fine before and suddenly just now may have spiked in volume, something may be screwy with the sound system — some wiring went weird, someone accidentally bumped into the sound system and raised the volume and no one inside noticed — and it may be worth someone looking into it, at that.

    But it was unclear from the complaint whether it’s ALWAYS been like that or is just like that now. That would make a difference, I think.

  24. MES

    Drummer, music IS a fantastic thing, especially when it’s not forced on anybody. I consider myself a tolerant person when it comes to neighbors and music, but drumming and any kind of band practice should be in a rehearsal space, NOT a residential building.

    Why you’re surprised that people take an issue to this is rather mind boggling.

  25. KS

    Geez, most of you people are nasty! It’s definitely inappropriate to blast ANYTHING at 5 in the morning. I think after 7 AM it’s ok by city noise laws. I don’t know of any church that rings church bells in the middle of the night but if they do, they should quiet down as well.

  26. drummer

    Has anyone on this thread ever been to a Caribbean neighborhood? I’m guessing you were disgusted and thought they all should move to the suburbs, right?

    “drummer: you haven’t got a clue. not everyone wants to hear your drums just because you consider it “music.””

    – which is why I built a room with two sets of walls, triple-thick and ten inches apart, along with a floor that floats on two inches of rubber. I’m just pointing out that I wouldn’t try to eradicate musicians from the city, because I understand not everyone has the financial means that I do.

    “drummer: if you want the freedom to drum anytime you want”

    – not anytime I want, but in the normal hours when construction is allowed to occur, etc.

    “have some respect for your neighbors”

    – YOU get some respect for your neighbors. Making music is what some people do. Try to respect that.

    “why bloomberg has campaigned against excessive noise. it’s annoying, frays people’s nerves, and makes the city all around unpleasant to live in”

    -actually, I find more unpleasantness from whiners, who don’t respect other people enough to allow them to live in accordance with their own virtues (within reason, and making music during normal hours and no louder than a screaming baby or construction, is reasonable)

    “Why you’re surprised that people take an issue to this is rather mind boggling.”

    – read it again, I’m surprised that ppl say ‘live and let live’, because I’ve never run into that attitude… I keep hoping though.

    BTW, those who think moving to the suburbs is a fix have it all wrong. This same “I don’t like your lifestyle so I’m going to complain” exists there too… Mr Dekalb in the suburbs will start lawsuits over trimming a tree too much, or painting your house the wrong color, or not mowing your lawn enough, or idling your car in the driveway, or yes, playing music (even if it’s not louder than their crying babies, or the construction next door).

  27. jackiechan

    Come on, now. Let’s be reasonable. How loud is this call to prayer? And how loud does it need to be?

    There’s a lot of complex musicality in a good call to prayer, it should be a very specific type of vocal improvisation using fixed words at given times on given days. In that sense, it’s a kind of musical and religious expression, fully covered under the 1st Amendment.

    However, people don’t really use this to “get-to-the-mosque-on-time” these days, any more than Christians file out of their little houses when the church bells ring. In that sense, it doesn’t really need to be that loud and if it’s bothering people in the neighborhood, it’s probably too loud.

    Last time I checked getting on with your neighbors was a well-represented tenet in the Koran and in the Hadith.

  28. Ali Hassan

    Seventy years ago my grandfather was muezzin in a city called Ramla. A group of people moved into town and they asked him to stop making the call to prayer. He asked them to go back to wherever they came from. But it worked out in the end, ten years later they kicked us out of Ramla and demolished all our houses, our mosques, our cemeteries and our minarets. So problem solved.
    So I guess you can do what they did. Just round up and expell all the neighborhood’s aborginals, that way you’ve gotten rid of the noise pollution and also have spared your eyes from the hidiousness of their features. Maybe you can turn the Mosque into a club called Mosque?

  29. raffa

    i can’t believe this discussion. ali, your tale is of absolutely no relevance. in what circumstances did that take place?

    and why is everything us vs. them?? i think people who live in clinton hill resist any improvement in the neighborhood in the name of “authenticity”. it’s like it’s a badge of honor to have a noisy, dirty, dangerous neighborhood.

    my italian/greek father of immigrants was born and raised in this neighborhood in the 30s and 40s and we’ve all been here ever since. i’m white, wear a suit to work and have a daughter that i walk around the neighborhood. am i supposed to feel bad about that?? people look at me like i’m some kind of horrible gentrifier despite that i’ve been here much much longer than most others. guess what–black people came into this white neighborhood, not vice-versa. i wish all new comers–which to my mind means anyone whose family has come to this neighborhood since the 40s or 50s–would lay off. by virtue of being black or being here 15 or 20 or 25 years doesn’t make you any more entitled to this neighborhood as anyone else.

  30. Ramla

    Ramla used to be a city in Palestine, and I guess the story is of no relevance to anyone but me, but the post reminded me of my grandfather’s joke so I posted. I’m Palestinian so maybe I’m really over sensitive to the issue of gentrification because my whole people were gentrified out of our country, lol.

  31. raffa

    come on, ramla. gentrification is not even remotely analogous to what happened in palestine. in fact, drawing that comparison really does a disservice to palestinians and to history in general.

  32. Joe

    Common courtesy, It’s way to loud. If every and anyone expressed themselves that LOUD in that area, when they wanted to just because it’s their right it would be terrible. It is a legit complaint. check it out for yourself. But i don’t think just one person can make the difference by walking into the mosque and asking them to turn down the volume because the volume would have been lowered along time ago. I suspect that you are not the only one who feels this way.

  33. Orv

    I just have one question for the newcomers: where did you people come from. You complain about noise, bodegas, houses of worship and basically anything except the shit coming out of your mouths. This is why the long time residents don’t look you in the eye when they pass you on the street: You are insignificant and worthless so take yourself and your two best friends who are attached to you at the hip and go back to where you asshats came from.

  34. raffa

    orv: you’re a total moron. stop talking about newcomers. thankfully, soon the market will recover and you’ll be forced to leave. enjoy queens. bye-bye.

  35. lesterhead Post author

    Received this response from Councilwoman James’ office:

    Council Member Letitia James is aware of this issue, and is very much willing to facilitate a meeting between the residents, herself, and the representatives of the mosque. However, she thinks it’s vital that these individuals be given the freedom to practice their religion; and that, additionally, the religious overtones of the matter be treated with the appropriate sensitivity. In the end, there are certain realities of urban living, and while Council Member James’ office cannot speak on any personal interactions residents have had with individuals at the mosque, we feel that it would be in the best interest of all parties if this matter was dealt with in a communal- rather than reactionary- manner.

  36. Ramla

    Yes KS Ramla still has some Arabs. But most of us were sent on a forced march which Yitzhak Rabin writes about at great length in his auto biography (in the English version, the Hebrew version leaves any mention of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians out). Many of the old people and children died during the march due to thirst and hunger, and most of the belonging we took with us were taken by Israeli soldiers at the checkpoints. But Palestine never really existed, and we Palestinians don’t exist as a people, so this must never have actually happened.
    Silly Arabs always making up stories.

  37. George M. Alvarez-Bouse

    You can probably get used to a “call to prayer.” After all a mosque like any other institution has to honor its traditions and publicize its activity. You say that they told you “literally, to fuck off.” Truthfully that is the first time in my experience I have heard a Muslim speak that way. I am not saying it is excluded, I am just saying I have never heard it before. And, while I have not been in a mosque, ever, I am doubtful anyone would address you that way from one. I know Malcolm X didn’t speak that way, instead he patiently explained his stand on things.

  38. RS

    It’s noise pollution in a communty that we all live in. Why can’t their be compromises as far as noise level and times of day it can be done.

  39. Maggie Tobin

    http://www.change.org/petitions/rectify-noise-code-laws-in-nyc-to-include-religious-institutions

    Please sign! This is not about trying to squash anyone’s right to free speech or to practice their religion. This an an environmental issue, NOT a religious one. This a problem with instutions of all faiths throughout the country but particularly in Brookly and Queens. It is our constitutional right to have peace and quiet within the privacy of our own homes!

  40. B. E.

    This is a problem that definitely needs to be addressed! The use amplification devices are not an essential component of religious worship. Unfortunately, somewhat understandably, most politicians and many residents are afraid to deal with/help resolve this issue. It is a problem, however, that cannot be ignored. All religious institutions should be held to the same noise code laws as the rest of NYC.

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