By S. Arshad, New Age Islam
30 April 2020
The controversy over the use of loudspeakers with the onset of the month of Ramadhan has caused anxiety among the Muslims of India. It began one day before the month of Ramadhan with video of two men in uniform reportedly from Kirari area in New Delhi telling a maulvi not to call the azan during the Ramadhan as it was the order of the LG of Delhi. Later higher officials of Delhi police denied any such order. But the next day. the district officials of Farrukhabad, UP reportedly banned azan in mosques. Then reports of ban on azan came from Ghazipur, Gorakhpur, and Qannauj in UP and Sonepat and Faridabad in Haryana. Afzal Ansari, the BSP MP of UP has even moved the court challenging the ban. In Itawah, UP the ban was revoked the next day with the condition that the volume of the loudspeakers should be kept low and that the message of social distancing will also be given on the loudspeakers. Generally, in all the places, the problem was not azan but azan on the loudspeakers. This hints at the real problem and this problem should be sorted out by the Muslim community.
No one can deny that the use of loudspeakers in the month of Ramadhan becomes rampant. Apart from usual azan on the mike, the loudspeakers are used also for collecting donations for mosques and madrasas. People appeal for donations for madrasas on autorickshaws or other small vehicles on the loudspeakers from morning till evening in the Muslim majority areas causing nuisance to not only to non-Muslims of the area but also to the general Muslims who want peace for prayers, Quran recitations or for their ailing family members. No one can object to the high volume of the loudspeakers because it will be considered anti-Muslim objecting to a noble cause in the month of Ramadhan.
In mosques now it has become imperative to use the loudspeakers for calling the azan. In most of the mosques, two or three big mikes are tied to the minar facing different directions so that the Muslims of the entire town could hear the azan oblivious of the fact that this high volume of azan disturbs the sleep or the peace of mind of non-Muslims who have nothing to do with Azan. They cannot object to this because if they do they will be branded communal or a person with an RSS-affiliation. This has continued for decades but Muslims did not pay heed to their feelings and inconveniences. During the month of Ramadhan, the loudspeakers are also used for announcing the time for Sehri and Iftar. During the Sehri, the muezzin makes the announcement every 15 minutes giving the countdown to Sehri causing nuisance to the non-Muslims in the area. In some places Naat (poems in praise of Prophet Muhammad pbuh) is also recited between the announcements not allowing the Muslims of the area the tranquillity and peace needed for prayers, namaz or recitation of the Quran. These issues have never been discussed by the Muslims from an introspective point of view and from the point of view of the non-Muslims though the Quran asks Muslims to care for the comfort of the neighbours, both Muslims and non-Muslims. The hadith is also tough on giving trouble to the neighbour.
If a Muslim scholar or activist raises this issue, he is branded an atheist or an enemy of Muslims. But this rigidity in the attitude of Muslims is now causing bigger problems to Muslims in a multicultural society.
But the scenario has changed in the last few years. It cannot be totally blamed on growing Islamophobia and communalism. Non-Muslims have become vocal about the inconvenience azan on the loudspeakers causes to them. Therefore, Muslims should also change their attitude towards the use of loudspeakers. Our ulema had once said that the loudspeaker is the voice of Satan but now the loudspeakers have become a quintessential part of Islamic activities that we are not ready to sacrifice this non-essential tool for the sake of the non-Muslim neighbours. In most cases, the objection was raised on the loudspeakers not on the Azan.
Ramadhan requires Muslims to be introspective: they should stress more on inner purification than on outer show of piety and reverence. Let Muslims minimize the use of loudspeakers, rather ban the use of loudspeakers for religious purposes. Loudspeakers are also used to spread sectarian hatred among Muslims. In this age of scientific and technological progress, loudspeakers are not even necessary for the few who care for five-time prayers. They keep themselves aware of the times of namaz. The mobile phone is a multipurpose tool which can also be used for keeping a tab on the times of Namaz, Sehri and Iftar. Why should especial arrangements be made for those who do not offer five-time prayers through the whole year and become overzealous during the month of Ramadhan? These people think that they can commit all kinds of sins and crimes and spread mischief on earth during the whole year but all their sins will be washed away if they fast for one month and offer five-time prayers and Tarawih only in the month of Ramadhan. The pious and true Muslims are taking all the trouble for these ‘one-month migratory birds’ among Muslims who will fill the mosques and create all the fuss during the holy month and then disappear.
S. Arshad is a regular columnist for NewAgeIslam.com
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