Sunday, January 24, 2010

WSJ Today: The Grand Mufti issued the fatwa about Quran-related ringtones

Mufti Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt and the country’s highest religious legal authority, denounced the use of the Muslim prayer call or verses from the Quran as cell phone ringtones, saying that it trivializes the word of God.

In response to a growing trend of using verses from the Quran or the prayer call for ringtones among Muslim cell phone owners, Mr. Gomaa said the practice “violates the sanctity of the divine words,” according to the Arabic and Muslim news site Al Arabiya, which quoted a copy of the fatwa, or religious edict.

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Grand Mufti of Egypt Ali Gomaa speaks during the eighth General Conference for Islamic Call in Tripoli on October 27, 2008. “Picking up the phone is sure to interrupt the verse and this is disrespectful to the holy book,” the fatwa said. Instead, cell phone users might replace the ringtones with other religious songs. And prayer calls should not be used as ringtones, the fatwa said, because it might confuse people and make them believe it was actually time for prayer.

The Grand Mufti issued the fatwa about Quran-related ringtones after it received numerous inquiries about whether their use was appropriate, according to Al Arabiya.

While some Muslims may download prayer call ringtones as a sign of their piety, mobile technology isn’t necessarily embraced from all corners of the Muslim world. A 13-year-old Saudi Arabian schoolgirl will be given 90 lashes and face two months in prison as a punishment for being caught with a camera-equipped cell phone, according to The Daily Mail. Cell phones are prohibited in schools for females, and the girl allegedly assaulted her teacher after the teacher confiscated the phone.

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