Question: What is wrong with broadcasting the adhan by means of a loudspeaker or employing the use of it in salat?
First of all, let us treat the matter scientifically:
The sound emitted from a loudspeaker, phone, stereo, radio, or television is not the original voice of the speaker, but only a likeness to the speaker's voice. There are many books on the market concerning transducers and acoustics. The following is written in them:
A microphone, which converts sound waves into electrical signals, is a piece of equipment that produces electrical signals as a result of vibrations of built-in diaphragms due to air impact occasioned by any pressure, just like the mechanism of the ear.
The transducers that convert electrical vibrations into sound are loudspeakers and headphones.
A loudspeaker is a transducer that converts electrical energy into acoustic energy. The transducer is a device that converts one form of physical energy into another form of physical energy. (İ. Eren Başaran, Ses Frekans Tekniği [Sound Frequency Technique], p. 599)
Every television transmitter broadcasts two totally different signals for visual and aural output. For sound transmission, frequency modulation is used. For visual transmission, amplitude modulation is used. (Wayne Thomas, Electronic Communication System, p. 2, 482)
A mechanism that converts sound waves into electrical signals is called a microphone. A mechanism that converts electrical signals into sound waves is called a loudspeaker.
One's voice is not transmitted between a microphone and a loudspeaker. That is, the speaker's actual voice is not transmitted or amplified. There is only energy conversion. The voice of a person who speaks into the microphone is converted into electrical energy first. Electrical signals that go to the loudspeaker from there are converted into sound again.
Sound waves that go into the microphone cause the diaphragm to move the crystal element, and thus, electrical current is produced at the ends of the magnetic coil. The electrical signals go to the loudspeaker via the amplifier. They affect the magnetic field formed in the acoustic coil by electrical current transmitting aural signals and the stable magnetic field of the magnet, with the result that the diaphragm of the loudspeaker vibrates. The diaphragm emits sound waves by vibration. This is not the transmission of the original voice. A new voice with a different quality is produced due to energy transformation at varying frequencies. This voice, though strikingly similar to the speaker's voice, is a different voice. It is not the speaker's own voice. It is some other sound produced by a metal plate that vibrates because of the magnetic power activated by electricity.
As the frequencies of electrical signals are known, a similar voice is obtained by sending similar electrical signals to the loudspeaker without a sound source. There is a delicate and flexible membrane called diaphragm in the microphone. Vibrating air molecules strike this membrane and make it vibrate. As a result, electrical signals are produced with the conversion of sound waves into electrical signals. Human voice becomes nonexistent when it enters the microphone. Instead of it, induction current and then magnetic waves and then sound waves are produced.
The accuracy of the information above that we have taken from encyclopedias and technical books has been verified by experts of this field, some of whose names are as follows:
Prof. Dr. Osman Işıkan
İsmail Salkım: Electronics engineer
İsmail Derdemet: Electrical engineer
Ahmet Kırılmaz: Electrical engineer
Habib Can: Electrical-electronics engineer
Musa Aras: Electrical-electronics engineer
S. Süleyman Yılmaz: Electrical-electronics engineer
Ali Kılıç: Physics engineer
Ahmet Kanter: Physics and mechanical engineer
Ahmet Çamırcı: Physicist
Hüseyin Gökmen: Physics engineer
Mehmet Poyraz: Electrical engineer
Mahmut Sağırlı: Electrical engineer
Sabahattin Aktuğ: Physics teacher
Ömer Mehmet Sur: Electronics teacher
Let us treat the matter Islamically now:
As it is explained in manuals on physics and electricity, when the voice of the imam goes into the loudspeaker, it transforms into a sound formed by electricity and the magnet. The sound we hear is not the imam's actual voice, but the sound formed by electricity and the magnet. That is, the sound emitted from the loudspeaker is a sound formed by the vibration of the iron plate activated by magnetic forces due to the effect of electricity.
It is written in all reliable fiqh books that it is not allowed to follow any voice other than that of the imam and that only the recitation of a pious Muslim man is called adhan. The recitation of a sinner, a child, or a woman is not called adhan, even if he/she recites it with his/her own voice. For this reason, it is in no way permissible to lead people in salat using a loudspeaker or to call out the adhan using a loudspeaker. The Qur'an al-karim says (what means):
(If you obey most of the people on earth, they will mislead you from Allah's path.) [Al-An'am 116]
Hadrat Ibn Abidin, who was a specialist in the field of fiqh and who wrote valuable books on the fiqh of the Hanafi Madhhab, stated:
When the sound hits a mountain and echoes back, the echo is not counted as the voice of the human. [In order for it to be counted as the human voice], it must be uttered by the human without an instrument. As the sound that echoes back is not counted as one's actual voice, sajda at-tilawat is not necessary for sound heard in this way. The salat of a person who says "Amin" to the voice of someone else other than that of the imam will be nullified. (Radd-ul-Mukhtar)
Elmalılı Hamdi Yazır says in the tafsir of the 204th verse of Surat al-A'raf:
"Qira'ah is a voluntary action that means reciting something loudly with a view to understanding and relating the words that come out of the mouth of a person who is sane and talking. As a matter of fact, what Hadrat Jibrael, Angel of Revelation, does is not a qira'ah (recitation of the Qur'an), but an iqra (instruction). What Allah does is to reveal wahy and to create qira'ah.
Just as the sound emitted by non-living things cannot be counted as qira'ah, so the activity that results in the echo of voice is not counted as qira'ah. For this reason, jurists stated that the echo of a qira'ah is not considered a qira'ah. They said that sajda at-tilawat, for example, was not necessary for the echo of a qira'ah [when one recited an ayah that necessitated sajda at-tilawat]. Reading a book silently cannot be called qira'ah. Similarly, listening to a sound that is played or that echoes is not considered listening to qira'ah; it means listening to a sound that is echoing. Then the recitation of a person reciting the Qur'an through a gramophone or a radio, which reflects sound, cannot be counted as qira'ah. Sound of this type is not qira'ah, but an echo and reverberation. The ruling regarding listening and remaining silent does not apply to this sound." (p. 2361)
It is not necessary to do sajda at-tilawat when one hears the recitation of an ayah that necessitates sajda at-tilawat from a gramophone [a cassette deck, radio, or television]. (Al-Fiqh 'Ala Al-Madhahib al-Arba'ah)
Question: In some countries, mosques are linked to one another via TV screens. Thus, people in the other mosques or those in their homes follow the imam in the central mosque on a live TV. Is there anything wrong with this?
It is permissible to listen to the recitation of the Qur'an al-karim on TV or on a stereo with the intention of learning it. If one, while the Qur'an al-karim is being recited, records it on tape and plays it when visiting a grave, it is not considered the actual recitation. Similarly, if one videos oneself performing salat and plays the tape at every salat time, one is not considered to have performed salat. Performing salat or calling out adhan is an act of worship that must be done at certain times. Performing it through a stereo or a video is bid'at and a major sin.
A TV or a video is a good medium of education. For example, teaching how to perform salat via it would be fine. However, it is not permissible to follow an imam through a screen broadcast. Similarly, it is not permissible to call out the adhan, when the time for a salat starts, through a videotape of a mu'adhdhin recorded before because the image of the mu'adhdhin on the screen is only a picture of him, not himself. In the same way, the voice on a TV screen is not his own voice, but a voice similar to his.
Two different things may be strikingly similar to each other, but it does not mean that they are the same things. For example, even if a boy closely resembles his twin brother, they are different from each other.
A photograph of a person is his/her perfect likeness, but it is not that person. If the picture is torn on the eyes, it does not affect the physical eyes of the owner. The image of one in the mirror is only one's picture. It is not that person, but one's likeness and image. If we break the mirror, the image goes away; however, it does not affect the physical body of that person.
The sound of voices emitted by the television, stereo, or radio is a voice similar to the actual voice, but it is not the actual voice of a person. Similarly, when the voice of the imam goes into the loudspeaker, it is converted into a sound produced by electricity and the magnet. The sound that we hear is not the voice of the imam, but the sound produced by electricity and the magnet. That is, the sound emitted from the loudspeaker is a sound formed by the vibration of the iron plate activated by magnetic forces due to the effect of electricity. This sound, no matter how much it bears a likeness, is not the actual voice of the imam, but only a likeness.
Following an imam on a TV screen is the same as following the voice of an imam emitted from a loudspeaker. Just as the image is not the imam himself, so the sound emitted is not his actual voice. For this reason, when one follows the image on a screen or sound emitted from a device, one is not considered to be following the imam.
The sound of voices from a TV is not an echo, either, and it is not permissible to follow an echo [in salat].
In salat, just as it is not permissible to follow the videotape of an imam performing salat, so it is not permissible, either, to follow an imam on a live TV broadcast. It is not permissible to perform salat by acting on sound emitted by a loudspeaker or radio because it is not the actual voice of the imam.
Question: Salat al-Fajr is relayed live on the radio across Egypt. It is broadcast very clearly. Is it permissible for us to follow the imam via radio? Our spiritual guide said that we could follow him.
It is written in fiqh books that it is not permissible to follow the imam if there is a large distance between the imam and followers, such as a river as large as to let a boat pass or a road wide enough for a car to pass. It is not permissible to follow salat on a live TV broadcast, either. The point of concern here is that the sound emitted by the radio is not the actual voice of the imam, but a voice perfectly similar to the imam's. It is like a photograph of a person or an image of a person on a screen. That picture or image belongs to that person, but it is not that person himself or herself. For this reason, it is written in fiqh books, too, that it is not necessary to do sajda at-tilawat for an ayah that necessitates sajda at-tilawat if it is recited on TV. Naql is essential in Islam. If everyone fabricates things in the religion according to his/her personal opinions and feelings, then there will be no religion. (Al-Fiqh 'Ala Al-Madhahib al-Arba'ah, Hadiqa)
Question: There were not loudspeaker systems in our cities a hundred years ago. In fact, there was no need for them. However, today there are metropolises accommodating millions of people. What is wrong with calling out the adhan through a loudspeaker if the adhan is an announcement and if the intention is to make people hear it?
Our religion does not say what you are saying. It does not say that the adhan must be heard by all people. It does not even say that the voice of the imam must be heard by all followers. There were big mosques, like the Blue Mosque, even before the introduction of loudspeakers. Our Master the Prophet delivered a khutbah to a hundred thousand Companions. Not each one of them heard it, and they did not have to hear it. That is, that people must hear it is not one of the conditions of the khutbah. It is still valid even if a lot of people do not hear it.