London mosques broadcast call to prayer

7 May 2020

Tim Dieppe comments on the recent allowance for several mosques in East London to broadcast the Islamic call to prayer during Ramadan.

Mosques in London have been allowed to broadcast the Islamic call to prayer for the first time due to lockdown restrictions during Ramadan. The Metro reports that Waltham Forest Local Authority agreed that nine mosques could use speakers to broadcast the Adhaan at sunset daily throughout Ramadan, and again on Fridays for Juma prayers.

The East London mosque in Whitechapel has been broadcasting the Adhaan for many years, but this is a first for the Waltham Forest area. When Muslims hear the call to prayer that is a signal that they can break their fast which lasts during daylight hours in the month of Ramadan.

The call to prayer

The Adhaan is recited in Arabic, and some phrases are repeated. The key phrases are the Takbir (‘Allah is greater’), followed by the Shahada which is the basic statement of faith and one of the five pillars of Islam. A translation of these phrases is:

“Allah is greater!
I bear witness that there is no god but Allah.
I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”

In essence, this is a proclamation. These phrases are not prayer directed to Allah, but a public declaration that Allah is God and that Muhammad is his messenger. It is a missional declaration.

Not the same god

It is evident that the Allah of the Qur’an is not the same as the God of the Bible. Allah is not a trinity and the Qur’an specifically denies the divinity of Jesus. The nature of Allah is fundamentally different to the nature of the God of the Bible. Allah is non-relational and unknowable, whereas the Lord God is essentially relational and seeking to be known. The comparison between Allah and the Lord God of the Bible is carried out in detail by Sam Solomon and Atif Debs in their book Not the Same God, published by Wilberforce Publications.

Some people have argued that the Apostle Paul’s address to the Athenians in Acts 17 can be used to defend saying that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. However, this is not justifiable when the passage is looked at in detail as I have explained here.

 A sign of the increasing influence of Islam

Allowing more mosques to broadcast the Islamic call to prayer is a sign of the increasing influence of Islam in this country. Waltham Forest has 21.9% of the population identifying as Muslim, the eighth highest portion in the UK according to the last census. Broadcasting the call to prayer is likely to encourage more Muslims to move into the area and non-Muslims to move out, only increasing the concentration of Muslims in the area.

There is no doubt that in Muslim countries, Christians are not allowed to broadcast any call to prayer or act of worship. In many Muslim countries, Christians are heavily persecuted. Here in the UK we allow freedom of worship and freedom of religion, as we should. But freedom of worship does not need to extend to broadcasting a proclamation that Allah is greater and that there is no god but Allah.

Islam seeks to promote worship of Allah and to influence the culture towards worship of Allah. We can easily look at Islamic countries to see what it looks like for a culture to be heavily influenced by Islam. The UK is moving slowly in that direction. We already have ‘sharia courts’, sharia finance, and halal food in most supermarkets and restaurant chains. How much further will this go? As the nation moves away from following the Lord God of the Bible, other gods are waiting in the wings. Maximum freedom will only be maintained by recovering the Biblical foundations of our culture. Christians need to be missional, bold, and prayerful to achieve this.

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