03/24/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Egypt's Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa calls time on Qur'an-based ringtones in new fatwa

One of the most senior authorities in Sunni Islam has this week stated his disapproval of mobile phone ringtones that feature verses from the Qur'an and the call to prayer, reports Tom Trewinnard.

Qur'an-based ringtones have become increasingly popular in the Middle East in recent years, on the back of a growing trend in religious sentiment. Now, however, Sheikh Ali Gomaa has issued a fatwa - a kind of Islamic recommendation - disavowing the use of the Qur'an in ringtones. Egyptian daily Al Youm Al Sabie quoted the Gomaa as saying: "By using Quran verses as ringtones we undermine this legitimacy and limit it to a phone call. Quranic verses are interrupted and meanings are often truncated when the reciting stop as we answer the phone call."

مثل هذا الاستخدام فيه نقلُ له من هذه الدلالة الشرعية إلى دلالة أخرى وضعية على حدوث مكالمة ما، إضافة إلى ما قد يؤدى إليه من قطع للآية وبتر للمعنى بل وقلب له أحياناً عند إيقاف القراءة للرد على الهاتف

This is not the first time the issue has been raised, Saudi scholars have spoken out claiming such ringtones are "inappropriate", but this is the first time such a high authority has criticised the phenomenon.

Internet users, it seems, agree with the Mufti's statement. In a comment on Al Youm Al Sabie's report, one reader refers to another common trend - the placing of Qur'anic verses on the dashboard or rear-view mirror of cars: "I support the Grand Mufti's decision. Allah's book must be holy in our lives and we should stay clear of actions such as placing the Quran in our cars."

تعلسقات من اليوم السابع: انا اؤيد كلام السيد المفتي علي هذا القرار لاننا محتاجين نقدس كتاب الله اكثر في حياتنا ونبتعد عن مثل هذه الاشياء كهذه الافعال او وضع المصحف في السيارات لحفظها

Over at Meedan, community member Masrawiya also affirmed her agreement with the Gomaa, stating:

"I totally agree with the Mufti that the Holy verses of Allah should not be messed with. The book of Allah is sacred and must be respected."

أتفق تماما مع المفتى فى أن ايات الله الطاهره لايجوز العبث به لان كتاب الله المطهر له قدسيته الخاصه ويجب احترامه

Only time will tell whether Egypt's mobile phone users heed Ali Gomaa's advice and switch their Qur'an based ringtones for less religious alternatives.

Thanks to Deena, Ghaydaa and Abdellah for translations.  You can add your view in two languages on

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