Azaan is mandatory but not loudspeakers

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Very recently while spending a night at a friend’s residence in uptown Srinagar, I observed two mosques following two different sects about 50 feet away. Ordinarily the Azaan should last 2-3 minutes, but here the moazzins of both the mosques gave azaans which lasted much longer. They were involved in so called ‘competitive religiosity’ although religion has nothing to do with loudspeakers.

Loudspeakers was a necessity in the past when everybody did not carry a watch to know the prayer time. So announcing it through loudspeakers was advisable and nobody considered it as a disturbance. But is it a necessity today and if so to what extent and at what cost? The rules of any religion are based on holy books which have been revealed hundreds of years ago but the loudspeaker came just around 1900s, so there could be no mandate for loudspeakers.

In Islam Azaan is mandatory but not the loudspeaker. If loudspeaker becomes a source of inconvenience and disturbance to students, elderly, sleeping children during early morning time, day time, evening time then it is a public nuisance which needs to be removed rather than a tool for better salvation or religious propogation. Same holds true for Sikhism, Christianity etc

Calcutta High Court Judge in 1956 once remarked: “One remembers with pleasure the romantic sound of an early morning moazzin from the turrets of an upcountry mosque on a misty morning but to transform this into a noisy fanfare is neither artistic nor necessary. I find nowhere that the religion of the Muslims enjoins it”. It holds so true to Kashmir where amplification levels and no of loudspeakers is increasing with every passing day.

There are a myriad of court judgements on noise pollution, noise pollution laws and rules but they are being flouted by us day in and day out. Who is to be held responsible? A moazzin, a priest, molvi, local politician, common citizens, people who attend prayers or those who don’t attend? After all prayer is intended to be silent communion with the creator and does not call for tumultuous prelude or a noisy accompaniment. Keeping in view the loudspeaker invasion in valley whether atop a temple, gurdwara, church or mosque, it seems God is either deaf or we think loudspeakers will speed up our salvation. Everyone goes to place of worship to get peace of mind but not at the cost of breaking the same peace of mind.

Have the relevant authorities whether Srinagar Municipal Council, Town Area Adminstration, District administration, Pollution Control Boards ever done an assessment of noise pollution levels which these loudspeakers emanate. Has the health department ever talked about health hazards of these loudspeakers? Has the police ever enforced the relevant rules and regulations? They say there are certain permissible decibel levels of sound for certain places. Who measures those decibels? Who fixes those decibels?

There must be permission for use of loudspeakers, amplifiers based on audible levels and population to which a religious place of worship caters to rather than becoming a part of mad race to increase noise levels in vain search of “God”. Religion is a personal entity but then when it interferes with others lives, it becomes a part of the public discourse.

 

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