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Egypt fatwa bans Quranic cell phone ringtones

Ringtones violate the sanctity of the holy text: Mufti

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Egypt’s Grand Mufti issued a fatwa that prohibits the use of Quranic verses or the call for prayers as ringtones on the basis that they show lack of respect, according to a copy of the fatwa text obtained by Al Arabiya on Thursday.

Dr. Ali Gomaa, considered Egypt’s highest religious authority, argued that using verses from the Quran for ringtones violates the sanctity of the divine words.

“The Quran came from God so that we can worship Him and it should be read or listened to with reverence,” Gomaa said in his fatwa. “Picking up the phone is sure to interrupt the verse and this is disrespectful to the holy book.”

As the phenomenon seems to be increasing amongst Egyptian cell phone users, observers argue that using Quranic verses for ringtones is considered by many a sign of piety and keenness to be in constant contact with God’s words.

“In this case, Quranic verses can be replaced with religious songs or poems that praise the prophet,” said the fatwa.

The prohibition, added the fatwa, applies to the call for prayers as well, not only because it shows disrespect, but also because it can give people the illusion that it is actually the time to perform the prayer.

In this case, Quranic verses can be replaced with religious songs or poems that praise the prophet

Fatwa

Reverence

The fatwa came after Dar al-Iftaa, the body in charge of issuing fatwas in Egypt, received many inquiries regarding the legitimacy of using Quranic verses and call for prayers as ringtones, said Dr. Ibrahim Negm, the Mufti’s advisor.

“To resolve the matter, the Mufti issued a fatwa prohibiting this because it implies a lack of respect for the holy words,” he told Al Arabiya.

“There is a verse in Quran that says that God’s words and rituals have to be glorified and treated with reverence.”

Negm added that another reason for the prohibition is that the Quran should be recited and listened to in a place that is pure and people often take their cell phones to impure places like, such as the bathroom. This violates the concept of tahara (physical purity) in Islam.

The fatwa, however, was not met with enthusiasm by all religious circles. Abdul-Razeq Afifi, head of the Salafist Ansar al-Sunna (Supporters of the Prophet’s Teachings) group in the Delta governorate of Monufia, argued that there is nothing wrong with using Quranic verses as ringtones.

There is a verse in Quran that says that God’s words and rituals have to be glorified and treated with reverence

Dr. Ibrahim Negm, the Mufti’s advisor

Technology for Islam

“We should use technology for the welfare of Islam,” he told Al Arabiya. “Maybe one single verse on a cell phone can change somebody’s life.”

Afifi argued that cell phones, as well as other devices, could be one of the many means God sends Muslims to help preserve the Quran and spread its verses.

“In one verse, God says that He sent the Quran and He is going to preserve it. Maybe He is telling us that this is one of the ways to preserve it.”

Afifi added that the Quran should in the first place be preserved in the hearts and minds of Muslims, but it is definitely better and more beneficial to preserve it through other various means.

Sheikh Ali Abdul-Baki Amin, Secretary General of the Islamic Center for Research at al-Azhar, opposed Afifi’s statements which he labeled an unacceptable justification and noted that this is not the first time this issue has been categorically rejected.

“Al-Azhar had already previously prohibited the use of Quran ringtones” he told Al Arabiya.

Amin added that al-Azhar, the world’s leading institute of Sunni Islam, plans to address Egypt’s service providers in order to work on banning the use of Quranic verses and the call for prayers as ringtones.



(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid).

We should use technology for the welfare of Islam. Maybe one single verse on a cell phone can change somebody’s life

Abdul-Razeq Afifi, head of the Salafist Ansar al-Sunna