Mosque managements in Malang regency, East Java, are allowed to rent minarets to cellular phone operators as towers for transmitter antennas, a decision made by Nahdlatul Ulama’s (NU) Malang branch.
Branch secretary Abdul Mudjib Syadzili confirmed the decision Thursday, saying that the decision was made during the organization’s 2010 bahtsul masail forum, a forum designed to discuss problems encountered by the community.
“Yes, we allow [mosque managements] to do this,” Mudjib said.
Minarets so far have only been used to place loudspeakers for call to prayer.
Mudjib said that of nearly 2,000 minarets in the regency, so far 40 had attracted cellular phone operators to rent. “We are now conducting surveys on the feasibility of the minarets,” he said.
He added that the decision was made mostly based on considering that renting minarets would help the respective mosque managements receive additional earning for mosque management, as some are dependent solely on donations.
He said, however, that only minarets located separately or within enough distance could be rented for that purpose. The mosque managements are also given the freedom to decide the rent.
If an agreement is made between the cellphone providers and mosque managements, the cellphone companies would be given the right to utilize the minarets for seven years. If the respective mosque does not have a minaret, then cellphone companies can build one.
"In seven years the minaret will become the property of the mosque,” he said.
Mudjib also said the decision had resulted in pros and cons, but he promised the problems would be dealt with.
Data at the Indonesian Mosque Council (DMI) Malang regency branch showed that some 95 percent of mosques in the region were affiliated with NU.