UAE Fatwa Against the Vuvuzela

The vuvuzela horn that produces that annoying buzzing sound at the world cup games had threatened to spread from South Africa around the world. An Abu Dhabi businessman, Dhia al-Din, had planned to import 10,000 of them into the United Arab Emirates. But the trusty General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments in that country has intervened on public health grounds, issuing fatwa number 11625. The fatwa or considered legal opinion, holds that scientific studies show that sounds over 100 decibels are bad for the hearing, and that the typical vuvuzela emits 126 decibels. So unless someone can invent a soft-spoken vuvuzela (and what would be the point of *that*?), the instrument is illicit in the Emirates.

The more mischievous parts of the blogosphere are arguing over whether the death penalty is actually appropriate here.

Western discourse about fatwas, most of which are perfectly sensible, has tended to focus on the sensational or extreme, but this one is an example of solid Muslim jurisprudence based on the principle of public welfare.

Now if only the muftis’ attention could be drawn to the kazoo.

Meanwhile, here is what the film Invictus should actually have sounded like with verisimilitude:

7 Responses

  1. Fatwa decrees vuvuzela haram above 100 decibels
    Eugene Harnan

    To be scientific about this, one needs to specify at what distance the sound is measured. If it is measured at the mouth of the horn that would be an improper measurement. Usually scientific audio measurements are taken at 1 Meter from the source. Almost any horn; bugle, trumpet or even a kazoo will measure more than 100dB and probably 126dB if measured close enough to the source. Beyond that distance the inverse square law takes over and the levels are reduced drastically at every doubling of the distance from the noise source. Time of exposure also comes into play. If one puts one’s ear in the mouth of a vuvuzela one might experience 126dBs but only for a short time since one would naturally jerk their head away to avoid the sound thus making the time of exposure very short and the likelihood of damage very small.
    Regards,
    Michael D. Adams
    Chief Engineer, OMI LLC

  2. Is this why I’ve never seen a middle eastern accordionist?

    • I wonder if loudspeakers used for call to prayer might be condemned by fatwas, as they may produce sound greater than 100 decibles?

  3. This is hilarious, thanks. I will not shed any tears over Vuvuzelas. These buzzing bees hijacked one of the best parts of the game. The fans noise. Also the players couldn’t communicate effectively. So I am holding them responsible if the Netherlands lose tomorrow. And I will also substitute Paul’s luscious mussel with a vuvuzela. Nahh.. he is too cute.

  4. Not a bad idea to reduce the nuissance of noise – just one question bugs my mind: what’s this got to do with religion? A Fatwa is a religious (legal) opinion. If the Vuvuzela (or this tremendous loud music at wedding parties) is damaging to the public health shouldn’t the Ministry of Health step in? But I guess it’s meant well.

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