A Ban On World Cup Vuvuzelas: Finally, A Fatwa That Makes Sense

The general public, and perhaps many football (soccer) fans, will sooner forget Germany’s third place win in the 2010 World Cup than they will the introduction of the vuvuzela. A remarkably simple, yet ferociously loud, addition to the noise-making arsenal of fans everywhere.

With an average sound intensity of 113 decibels (DBA), the vuvuzela becomes potentially harmful to human hearing after only one minute and thirty seconds, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). With a futbol fixture lasting at least ninety minutes, the concern for damage is more than understandable.

On July 9, 2010, the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, in the United Arab Emirates, issued Fatwa against Vuvuzelas. “If they are loud enough to damage hearing, vuvuzelas are haram (a punishable offense),” they stated in the fatwa.

This seems to make sense. Granted, this is under the assumption that “punishable offense” means that use of a vuvuzela may result in the loss of said vuvuzela rather than one’s hand, or head, but the general reason for this fatwa seems relatively sound, excuse the pun.

The fact that the use of a vuvuzela has a direct and potentially harmful effect on others seems to make it fair game for regulation, or at least debate. Innocent fans at a fixture cannot simply turn away from, or ignore, a vuvuzela. Likewise, those offended or harmed by a vuvuzela do not have the ability to escape the vuvuzela without sacrificing their attendance at the event.

This fact differentiates this fatwa from the vast majority of others. Most fatwas express a tyrannical authority that aim to govern the behaviors of individuals regardless of the fact that those behaviors have no direct impact, or harm, to the persons performing the act, or to anyone else.

The famous rule against drawing Muhammad is a good example. The harmless act of depicting the person of Muhammad has been claimed as just cause for murder, while no direction to simply tolerate or ignore such an innocuous act warrants an edict of equal import.

For instance, this ban on vuvuzelas is much more sensible than the fatwa that does not permit someone to take reading material with them to the toilet, in case the word ‘Allaah’ (in any of its spellings) happens to appear therein. Apparently it would be wrong to subject even the printed word ‘Allaah’ to the sensory onslaught of human defecation.

This new fatwa shows some potential progress. A fatwa against these horns is far more understandable than any rule that forces women to dress in burqas, or the ever-stylish burqinis. I can certainly understand the allure of leaving something to the imagination, but even Tolkien would be challenged by an outfit that makes it harder to find your wife in a small group than it is to remember which beer is yours at Octoberfest.

Considering all the ridiculous fatwas that exist, this one is a real milestone. Aside from their usual and obvious over-reach, a common characteristic of religious rules against acts that clerics spend far too much time obsessing over, such as homosexuality, masturbation, and generally all things ‘sex’, fatwas have been the combination of the incredibly nosey neighbour, the tattletale, and the schoolyard bully.

There is, believe it or not, a fatwa against laughing too much. Fortunately, there is at least one account where Muhammad laughed until his molars were visible, otherwise there would be some idiotic rule outlawing it altogether. As laughter has never been recorded as the cause of hearing damage, a rule regulating vuvuzelas over 100 dBA seems to elevate such a rule to a status of veritable enlightenment.

If that fatwa is not silly enough for you, there’s another fatwa regarding women who menstruate past the age of 70 . This is like having a rule for what to do if a goat happens to ride an elephant into your living room while you’re watching a reality show of the Queen of England skinny-dipping. Is geriatric menstuation something that happens often in Islamic countries? If so, these women must be sexual dynamos. Perhaps this explains the insecurity that drives the men to oppress them so severely.

There seems to be no limit to the control that Islam exerts over the civil liberties of the individual. Matters of utmost intimacy, that are completely innocent of any affect on others, are regular fodder for their canonical attacks.

I was aghast to find out that there is a fatwa against blow jobs. Not just random, recreational blow jobs; there is actually a fatwa against a man getting a blow job from his wife. Seriously. This is the first fatwa that I ever suspected may have actually been written by a woman. The reasoning for this fatwa is that it emulates the actions of animals; and this is stated as a bad thing. This being the case, that it was actually men that wrote this crap, I can only imagine that they evened things out by making foreplay and cuddling seriously verboten.

Aside from its seemingly practical nature, the truly remarkable thing about this new fatwa is that it even includes qualifiers. The ban is not against all vuvuzelas. The fatwa only includes vuvuzelas that exceed 100 dBA. Considering that normal conversation is around 60 dBA, and a snow-blower is approximately 105 dBA, this seems to be a truly reasonable standard. This may be the first fatwa that I would be even able to follow, let alone possibly willing.

An even more extraordinary thing about this fatwa is that it only governs vuvuzelas being sold in the United Arab Emirates. That’s right, a cartoonist in Amsterdam can blow a vuvuzela at the Amsterdam ArenA without being shot, beaten and stabbed to death. What a wonderful step forward for religious tyranny.

Personally, vuvuzelas don’t bother me one iota. They’re part of the World Cup experience this year. I would prefer to see a fatwa that recommended ear protection for anyone attending World Cup fixtures, but let’s celebrate the baby steps. Let’s all congratulate Islam for taking a wee step out of the stone age and coming at least a smidgen closer to learning how to play well with the other children on this planet. Shall we?

Now everybody say; “No more vuvuzelas louder than 100dBA are allowed to be sold in the United Arab Emerates.” That certainly beats “kill the non-believer.” Allaah Akbar.


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