Oxford: Request for call to prayer

Muslims in East Oxford are asking Oxford city councillors if they can add to the noise of life on Cowley Road by broadcasting a call to prayer.o The Central Mosque in Manzil Way, one of four East Oxford mosques, attracts congregations of up to 700.

Now, the Iman at the mosque, Mohammad Munir Christi, and other trustees, want permission to broadcast the call to prayer from the minaret.

The mosque has expanded since moving from Bath Road five years ago and building work has recently started on the first-floor worship area with the completion of the central cupola.

Sardar Rana, 68, a spokesman for the Central Mosque, said the call would be broadcast three times a day from early next year if permission is granted.

He said: "The call to prayer has been taking place in other major cities now for many years and we would like to be able to do the same thing at the central mosque three times a day.

"During the winter months the call to prayer would be at 12.45pm, 2.30pm and at 4.20pm, although the times would be slightly different during the summer months.

"The call to prayer would be made in the central hall and then linked to three speakers in the minaret, which would point in different directions.

"I hope the majority of people would not object to this - I don't think it would disturb anybody, but I don't know yet how loud we would be able to broadcast the call."

There are normally five prayer times during the day, starting at 6.45am and the call to prayer lasts about two minutes each time, said Mr Rana.

The bid has been backed by Canon David Partridge, a retired Anglican priest and Interfaith worker in Oxford.

He said: "In the City of Dreaming Spires, many calls to prayer are heard from its bell-ringing towers, but all of them are Christian in historical origin and intent."

Erica Bingley, 26, of Southfield Road, who can see the mosque from her road, said: "I think the call to prayer would add to the cosmopolitan ambience of Cowley Road."

The application is likely to be discussed by the East Area Parliament in the near future because the move would require a change in a planning condition.

Jan Bartlett, who owns Premier Lettings, in Manzil Way, said: "It's absolutely fine with me, whatever each person's religion needs we should try to assist.

"They have to put up with our church bells ringing."

Source: Oxford Mail (English) h/t Nieuw Religieus Peil (Dutch)

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