Fatwa Declared on the Vuvuzela
The United Arab Emirates’ General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments has the guts to do what FIFA never would: In response to a craze that will doubtless live long beyond the World Cup, the Authority has decreed a fatwa against overly loud vuvuzelas. Fatwa #11625 declares vuvuzelas “haram,” or forbidden by Islamic law, if their volume exceeds 100 decibels, beyond which point studies have shown that noise can damage human hearing.
According to UAE newspaper The National, reports that many vuvuzelas currently on the market are louder than 127 decibels didn’t sit well with authorities: “According to fatwa number 11625, the horns can be used only in stadiums if they pose no harm. ‘However,’ the ruling declares, ‘importers and traders … must ensure that its power is not over 100 decibels so as to avoid damaging people’s hearing.'” One businessman interviewed by The National who had initially planned on importing 10,000 vuvuzelas into the country took things a bit farther and did an about-face when he considered that they “were used to bring out devils” and can transmit diseases like influenza due to unhygienic contact.
While the ruling comes a bit late in the life cycle of the current World Cup, “fans must not harm others with their noise”seems a reasonable enough conclusion, and the scientific consideration of decibel levels brings the lie to the Western stereotype of fatwas as the province of fanatics.