Cairo: Egypt on Thursday began unifying calls to prayer that ring out five times a day from thousands of minarets across the capital, but the move has been criticised by the men who make the call or azzan.
The Ministry of Religious Endowments says it will implement the plan neighbourhood by neighbourhood until all of Cairo`s estimated 4,500 mosques transmit the call live and in unison from a radio station studio.
"It has so far been implemented without a problem in Nasr City and Heliopolis," ministry official Salem Abdel Galal said, referring to two of the city`s neighbourhoods.
He said the unified call to prayer was supposed to start on Wednesday to coincide with the onset of the holy month of Ramadan, but that it was postponed for a day because of technical problems.
The calls to prayer, made by muezzins who are either paid small wages or volunteer for the task, are seldom issued simultaneously and sometimes drown out one another.
"The azzan should be done by those who are most qualified and have the best voices. But people who shouldn`t be doing this are making the calls, and you hear some unacceptable noises," Galal said.
The plan has both won praise for reducing noise pollution and been criticised by others who feel its goes against tradition.
"This will put an end to the sound pollution generated by the microphones," said Suad Saleh, a professor of Islamic law at Al-Azhar University.