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Islamic Society ( 23 Jul 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Questioning the Ramazan Loudspeaker Menace



By Aamir Hussain Shah, New Age Islam

23 July, 2014

Sri Nagar: The month of Ramazan sees a lot of buzz in our Kashmir valley. Though holy in essence, it is also exploited in many ways. From beggary to the use of loudspeakers in mosques, one is frustrated by much of the spectacle.

The use of loudspeakers in mosques is quite common in our valley. Using loudspeakers has almost become an integral part of our religious duty. In a single village one can hear the confusing echoes from various mosques. It seems as if they want to outplay one another.

I wonder who their God is. A God with impaired hearing?

We have converted our religious centres into advertisement and promotion centres. Can such people dare to answer what right they have to irritate other people? What authority do they have to pollute the serenity of environment? No religion advocates that prayers should be performed at the cost of disturbing the peace of others. But who is going to tell these people and their so-called religious leaders? They continue to relish disturbing others. Using loudspeakers for every prayer, Tarawih, Quran recitals, Naat Khawani and other kind of eulogies is questionable. Where is the spiritual aspect of prayers? Prayers are meant to give solace to our soul; not to create hue and cry just as a show-off.

This act of such people and religious leaders has almost become a serious threat to public health. After working all day long, being caught in a traffic jam for hours, one hopes to relax when home; but, can’t because of the blaring sound from nearby mosques all night during Ramazan.

Not to mention the daily Sehar Khan who visits at 2 AM at certain places, waking up little children and disturbing the old and the sick, who need rest. And why does a potential Rozadar (a Muslim who intends to fast) need a Sehar Khan in this day and age anyway. We are all equipped with so many time gadgets and a variety of alarm clocks, even on our cell phones now, to supplant him.

The culture of using loudspeakers is not as common in other places, I am told, as it is in Kashmir. This is mainly because we, as a society, have failed to evolve and don’t recognise what is ethical and what is unethical. Just take the example of the main shrine, the Hazratbal. They are using loudspeakers throughout the day, thus creating huge disturbance in and around the area.

Look at our Friday sermons. Why use loudspeakers and force people who are in their homes, orchards, offices or shops to listen to the speakers if they don’t want to? It’s often argued that loudspeakers help in reaching out to people who are not present in the mosque. Believe me, I haven’t found any person yet who will say that I listen to the speaker with passion/love/interest sitting at shop, working in the field or even resting at home.

Friday sermons too seem to raise more sectarian issues or legalistic hair splitting and hardly touch the most important and universal subjects like ethics. No wonder people enter mosques quite late as Khutba proper begins. Our Maulvis take great pleasure in haranguing us loudspeakers on Fridays. Very often, the subject is hell that is. Modern man is already living under a kind of hell, enhanced in its effect by noise pollution. He needs love and not these fearful lectures.

Actually we have left no scope for true religious scholars who could have structured our society on better lines. This is why we see drug addiction, moral degradation, disrespect for one another, intolerance etc prevailing in our society. Our so called religious leaders are busy making speeches on sectarian lines. In madrasas we don’t train students properly. The focus is on memorization, while critical analysis of subjects is almost censored. They are taught an outdated syllabus, leaving no scope for them to deal with contemporary social problems and other crises. Unfortunately we have reduced our religion to a mere formalism; killing the true essence of all prayers and other religious rituals. I wonder how many of us want loudspeakers to be silenced after Azaan but how few dare to say so.

I wonder what is the government doing? Why aren’t conscientious jurists protesting loudly against this un-Islamic practice, this Bid‘ah? Those who ask us to follow the dress and other codes of seventh century Arabia, why don't they ask themselves if there were any loud speakers then? Did Hazrat Bilal use loud speakers to amplify his voice? Were those people not good Muslims? Why are we silent? When will the State act? I wonder why PILs are not filed against Ramazan-sound-and-fury, miscalled piety.

Aamir Hussain Shah, the author, is currently studying in Kashmir University.