Where’s a fatwa when you need one?

Desert point doing its thing

Galaxy III made the passage from Sumba to Lombok with some irregular trade winds that required some motor sailing.  The swells from the Southern Ocean were low and wide, almost submerged and concealing most of their power, until they reach the coastline where they rise up and unleash on the coral reefs of Indonesia, which arguably has the best surf in the world.  Desert Point is a famous Indonesian wave, so we had to check it out on our way to find something less crowded & intense.

Also on the lookout for a marina to provision before heading to Java & Sumatra, we were drawn to Gili Gede on Lombok – written up in glowing terms as the Maldives of Indonesia in the cruising guide.  The author was either joking or had a big night when he wrote that part of the guide – the phone number was ‘not defined’ and the floating docks with power, water and wifi were nowhere to be seen.  Just a few moorings, so somewhat bewildered, we made our way across Lombok straight to Nusa Lembongan for the evening.

No cars on Gili Islands

Ben has been considering doing a scuba diving course for a while and being only 45nm from the Gili Islands which are well known for diving, it seemed a good option. We hugged the Bali coastline, to avoid the worst of the southerly current in the Lombok Strait, that can run up to 8 knots at times, and found a mooring off the beach at Gili Trawangan in the late afternoon.

After a morning surf, Ben signed up for a 3 day PADI scuba course and onshore accommodation, while I opted to stay on the boat and mix diving, surfing & yoga for a few days.  Ben completed his course by day and partied at night, with the last night an initiation for new dive masters known as the ‘snorkel test’.  I’ll leave that to your imagination or you can google it.

Galaxy rolled a lot on the mooring with swell, tidal current and wind all in different directions.  Just to mix it up, a keel boat like Galaxy swings differently to the wooden longboats alongside and occasionally I needed to fend off the other boats through the night. In addition to fun on the mooring, there’s the 4am call to prayer (adhan) or sermon (khutbah).  Attempting to sleep through Arabic prayers broadcast from an outdoor loudspeaker, so it can be heard over several kilometres, is harder than it sounds.[i]  I have found it near impossible, even for a good sleeper like me and so the afternoon nana nap, between calls to prayer, has become imperative.

Minaret and mosque from the mooring


Indonesia has some 800,000 mosques[ii] that use outdoor loudspeakers, mounted on minarets, to broadcast the call to prayer five times a day.   It has become an environmental issue in Indonesia (and elsewhere) that the government has sought to address. The matter landed in the inbox of the Vice President Abdullah, “The idea is for mosques to turn down the volume a little so that the sound can be heard only by residents in the immediate area,” he said, adding that the aim was to have a “more harmonious, melodious sound coming from mosques”.  The 2015 article concludes; Abdullah acknowledged that regulating the country’s noisy mosques would be difficult and called on the Indonesian Council of Ulema to issue a fatwa (religious ruling) on the issue.  The media appears to have been silent on the matter since 2015, so perhaps the fatwa isn’t forthcoming.

Great food at the night market

I’m no religious scholar, nevertheless, how about keeping to an unamplified voice given the Quran pre-dates loudspeakers by some 1,000 years.  As Ben was quick to point out, I am a visitor, so STFU.  Noted.


Just as we were packing up the dinghy and about to weigh anchor one of the long boats struck the stern of Galaxy at just the wrong angle and damaged the transom. Bugger – another fibreglass repair to do.  We sailed down the middle of the Lombok Strait, to ride the current, for Serangan, Bali to restock fuel, water and groceries.  Bali is Hindu, so no fatwa needed and we had a loudspeaker free evening before heading for Java.





[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudspeakers_in_mosques

[ii] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/25/indonesia-bids-to-muffle-noisy-mosques


  1. Paul Sinclair

    The call to prayer never woke me when I was living in Indonesia, but on my last visit, we were right next to a mosque. Most mornings it only lasted 10 minutes but on the Sunday (for what reason I do not know) it went for almost an hour!!

  2. Ian Rhodes

    How’s the serenity?

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