Nigerian Religious Centres and their Neighbours

Religion is an inescapable involvement of every member of the human race. Whether directly or indirectly, an individual communes with whatever deity his mind chooses to adopt spiritually or physically. In other words, we are all religious in the sense that we believe in the sacred and are committed to one faith or the other. This accounts for the zeal with which different religionists (Christians, Muslims, African Traditionalists and other Religious sects) pursue their religious convictions, not minding sometimes, how others feel. It happens everywhere imaginable and unimaginable without fear or bias; I mean its religion so why give a damn about what anyone feels. We don’t own ourselves neither are we here of our own accord. We all have to answer to that Supreme Being some day; I wonder how many people have really come to terms with that though.

Founded upon western ideologies in the good old days, Christianity was noiseless but what we have these days is a cacophony of sounds of different denominations besieging our privacy at a go!

Noise pollution has become a mainstay in our lives; we all experience it every other day, one way or the other. But after the torture one’s being undergoes in the course of a typical working week of industrial pollution or is it the pollution that arises from traffic congestion? One would think the weekend will make up for the evils albeit agony is their lot.

In recent times there has been an influx of churches within and around residential areas; along streets, in neighbourhoods and even within an apartment. The noise that emanates from such religious buildings during their midweek, weekends and Sunday programmes is second to none. Moreso when they organize any major event, you should expect a full dose of holy dissonance.

Is there really a way out of this? Should it really be a problem? Shouldn’t churches and mosques be situated anywhere they choose to be? Does any person or organization have the right to clamp down on their activities? Wouldn’t that be an offence to God?

Well, in this age and time when religion has been rubbished in the eyes of mortals and gradually losing respect due to the comments, activities and utterances of our so-called men of God especially in my beloved country, does the average layman really think the noise/disturbance is indeed a necessary noise pollutant?

If noise is an unwanted sound, then is that amplified sound from the mega speakers of a mega church in a populated street or the sonorous voice from the microphones an unwanted sound? Probably it’s only wanted by the people worshipping in the church and the truth won’t be far-fetched if I say it is really not wanted by their neighbours at that particular point in time. But it does have its merits, right? The noise might just be a reminder for some who have plans of missing service or a chance at worshipping their creator, better still, it might just be the service they attended that Sunday without having to be within the four-walls of a church for the not too religious people. It could be the church’s way of telling us that whether you like it or not everyone has to be associated with God one way or the other.

In Islam, an announcement to the people to gather together for prayer; it is as well a declaration usually made with the loudest of voice, from every locality inhabited by Muslims even if it is only a Muslim that dwells in that locality.

Nevertheless, the impact of the calls for prayer on the environment (especially early morning) is apparently underestimated. In Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt, Nigeria and other African Countries, the call to prayer has been a major source of noise pollution. It is so bad that for nearly a decade, the regime of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak struggled to implement a project that would synchronize the call to prayer at all of Cairo’s 4,000 mosques, ostensibly to lower the daily cacophony in Egypt’s capital.

That brings us to the issue of Environmental noise pollution which is the resultant effect of all these. Environmental noise pollution is a form of air pollution which consists of all the unwanted sounds in our communities except that which originates in the work place. It is a threat to health and well-being and for this reason it is something to worry one’s head over. Hence the need to really take time out to dissect the issue of having lots of religious centres in populated residential areas especially within the streets of such areas.

Noise pollution can cause devastation of any kind even the bible accounts for this. In the book of Joshua the sound of the trumpet and the great shout that is ‘noise’ of the people caused the walls of Jericho to fall flat. This type of noise was associated with the miracle of massive destruction of the great strongholds of Israelite enemies but it’s still pollution anyways if I were to imagine it happening in modern times. If the sound of the trumpet would bring the whole world to a standstill then a cacophony of sound confined to a small densely populated area is treacherous.

When I was schooling in Benin, we use to have a make-shift church behind my off campus accommodation. The only good thing about that church was that they had very sound speakers but the bad part of it was that they held vigils every Friday and anytime they did my roommate wouldn’t sleep all through the night. The only consolation he had was that the following day was usually lecture free.

This is just one out of the many ills of having a church or mosque within and around residential apartments especially in areas where there is a large congregation of people.

Should we frown at this development or just throw out the baby alongside the water in the bath?

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