Debate To Tone Down Mosque Loudspeakers Grows Louder

Debate To Tone Down Mosque Loudspeakers Grows Louder

22 July 2012
Rising Kashmir
Nasrun Mir

Srinagar: With the arrival of Ramadan, the use of loudspeakers in mosques is emerging as a popular subject of public debate, particularly on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. As more and more people attend mosques for prayers five times a day during the holy month, they spend more spare time debating religion and privacy. But this time what was discussed in private is becoming public. The loudspeaker volume of mosques has been a subject of debate in many Muslim countries. In Indonesia, Vice President Boediono recently said the Indonesian Mosque Council should issue directions in lowering the dial of the caller prayers. The post-prayer recital of Islamic hymns is part of Kashmir’s religious life, but for many it is an acoustic attack on their privacy. Many young people coming out of the mosques say they prefer more quiet mornings, but others oppose the dissent in terms of Salfi aggression on a society, which over the centuries, has followed Sufi thought of Islam. “It is basically the plot to stop the hymning of the Duaya Sobhu, Awraydey Fateh and other Doruud sharief, which are part of Kashmiri Muslim culture,” said Sameer Bakshi, a young management consultant and devote follower of Sufi thought of Islam. “It is a deliberate ploy to erode the value system existing here from centuries.” In Bahrain, the use of exterior loudspeakers in mosques is banned since 2010. The decision came in force after the Bahraini Sunni Endowment Department known as Awqaf and Ministry of Islamic Affairs reached on the conclusion that mosque loud speakers should only be used for the traditional Muslim call to prayer (Azaan.) The country has started using the SMS text messaging to inform people for other religious gatherings. Many religious scholars from Hanafi school of thought say use of speaker is only a way to propagate good message. “Hundred years back there were no speakers in Kashmir. It is only a gadget and not a part of worship,” said Maulana Hami who heads the Hanfi clerical group Karwanay Islami. “Daroods are meant to heal people; I don’t think they can disturb anyone.” The use of loudspeakers in Valley extend beyond the caller prayers and is used for recitation of Quran, Naath and weekly Friday sermons. Noted columnist Naeem Akthar in an article, which has triggered the online debate, wrote: “Come Ramadan and this torture for the ears will stretch by hours. For anyone who tries to concentrate on seeking mercy of Allah in the solitude of night, the nearest retreat is 300 kms away in Jammu. In Kashmir, which is otherwise loved for its lazy, laid back ambience no refuge is available from the deafening noise.” Sibti Muhammad Shabir Qumi, a PhD scholar in Islamic Studies, said barring prayer call and other special occasions, loudspeaker should not be allowed. “Everyday usage of amplifiers is not welcomed as it could bring discomfort to others,” Qumi said. Mirwaiz Kashmir, Muhammad Umar Farooq could not be reached for his comment on the issue. One of Facebook users, Imran Sheikh said, “Sane people have similar feelings about the usage of loud speakers in mosques, but very few people express the views in public.”