There are many controversies in India these days that revolve around religion, most of which focus on Muslims and Islam. The issue against ‘hijab’ had not yet cooled down and noise was heard against ‘halal’. Meanwhile, a campaign agaThere are many controversies in India these days that revolve around religion, most of which focus on Muslims and Islaminst the call to prayer (Azaan) on loudspeakers was seen in many states and the campaign intensified to such an extent that many hardline Hindu organizations have filed petitions against it in the public interest.
The issue did not stop there, but Raj Thackeray, head of the Maharashtra Norman Sena “MNS”, a major party in the western state of Maharashtra, threatened that if the call to prayer (Azaan) was not stopped on loudspeakers, his workers would be heard playing Hanuman Chalisa loudly on the speaker outside the mosque on May 3rd.
It should be noted that Hanuman Chalisa is a word of 40 syllables written in praise of Lord Hanuman of Hindus which is recited as a sacred text or mantra. It is said to have been written by the 16th century poet Tulsi Das who also wrote the epic ‘Ram Chattermans’ based on the Hindu god Ram.
Echoes of the same controversy can be heard on social media and hashtags like ‘Azan vs. Hanuman Chalisa’ are appearing along with ‘Azan’ in which sectarian color is prominent.
In 2017, India’s leading singer Sonam Nigam also opposed the call to prayer(Azaan) but later said that he is not against any religion and this is what Raj Thackeray has said now that he is not against any religion but noise pollution and t has nothing to do with religion.
But Chandra Shekhar Azad, a young Indian leader and founder of Bhim Sena, has written to the Election Commission of India and the Maharashtra police chief asking them to prosecute Raj Thackeray under Section 298 of the Indian Penal Code (knowingly insulting religious sentiments). Meanwhile, his party secretary Ashok Kamble has demanded the authorities to cancel the registration of Raj Thackeray’s party.
After Raj Thackeray’s statement, the debate on azan over loudspeaker has intensified in Maharashtra.
According to ANI, Nashik Police Commissioner Deepak Pandey said, “All religious places are ordered to get permission to use loudspeakers before May 3. After May 3, if anyone is found violating the order, they will be prosecuted.
He then talked about Hanuman Chalisa and said, “You have to get permission to play Bhajan or Hanuman Chalisa. It will not be allowed until 15 minutes before and 15 minutes after the call to prayer. It will not be allowed to be played even within a distance of 100 meters from the mosque. The purpose of this order is to maintain order.
However, this is not the first time that the issue of azan over loudspeakers has come up in India. Shahid Raza, a member of the ruling Shiv Sena in Mumbai, told: “The call to prayer (Azaan) is to call people to prayer and not to hurt anyone. It would be better if his voice was kept low on the loudspeaker”.
Earlier, a survey by the Maharashtra Police found that after the court’s decision to reduce the volume of the call to prayer (Azaan) on loudspeakers, 72% of mosques had either reduced their volume or stopped using loudspeakers.
Raj Thackeray ‘backed by BJP’
Shahid Raza said that as far as Raj Thackeray was concerned, he was looking for his lost ground in Maharashtra and Mumbai and he had the support of the BJP behind the scenes.
He said that since the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress coalition government, Raj Thackeray and his party have been marginalized and their secular hearth has gone down. They have even changed the color of their flag. It used to have blue at the top, saffron in the middle and green at the bottom. If Neela represented Dalits, then Saffron Hindus and Green Muslims. But now their flag is completely saffron in color and the seal used in it is the seal of the medieval Maratha king Shivaji Maharaj.
He claimed that he was playing this game for municipal and other elections with the support of BJP.
He claimed that he had earlier launched a campaign against Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in Maharashtra and that his party was involved in the beating of students appearing for government jobs from Bihar but now he was talking about going to Ayodhya. Ayodhya is a city in Uttar Pradesh which is said to be sacred and the Hindus believe that their Lord Ram was born there and he was the king there.
‘We are not disturbed by the call to prayer (Azaan)’
Before Maharashtra, in the southern state of Karnataka, there was also opposition to the call to prayer (Azaan) over loudspeakers. The state of Karnataka is ruled by the BJP. Commenting on this, HD Deve Gowda, former Prime Minister of India and head of the Janata Dal (S), told ANI that the implementation of such a policy would eliminate the BJP in the state.
In Karnataka, Congress chief DK Shivakumar slammed the BJP, saying, “They are harassing Muslims. Let beauty be beauty. No one is breaking the law. We are not disturbed by the call to prayer (Azaan).
Meanwhile, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has also expressed his views on the issue. He said those who oppose the call to prayer (Azaan) or loudspeakers have “nothing to do with religion”. “Let the people follow their own beliefs, don’t stop them,” he said.
He was speaking after a BJP minister in his cabinet backed MNS leader Raj Thackeray’s demand to remove loudspeakers from mosques by May 3.
‘Trying to get people to vote on religious grounds‘
Abhay Kumar, a history teacher and social activist at Delhi University, says he is deeply saddened by the opposition to the call to prayer (Azaan) over loudspeakers.
Speaking to BBC Urdu, he said, “By deliberately targeting Muslims, hurting their feelings, hurting their beliefs and religious practices, polarizing people in the name of Hindu-Muslim are the attempts to get more votes by dividing the people on religious grounds.
He further added, “You may have noticed an increase in the incidence of sectarianism in different parts of India these days. Whether it is a matter of food and drink, or azan or hijab, unnecessary things are being prolonged. And Muslims are being deliberately targeted day and night.
He said that parliamentary elections are to be held in 2024 or some states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are doing so in view of Assembly elections in the coming months.
He said that they have no work for the welfare of the people so they made a calendar based on 365 days in which they would raise such unnecessary issues.
“Today we will talk about hijab, tomorrow we will talk about food and drink, the day after tomorrow we will talk about meat. The next day they will talk about beef, then one day they will talk about jihad, then they will talk about conversion, they will talk about terrorism, they have seven or eight hundred issues which they have instead of 365 Keep teasing
When was the call to prayer (Azaan) on loudspeaker challenged before?
Even today, in many mosques around the world, the call to prayer (Azaan) is not given on loudspeakers, but after the popularity of loudspeakers, there has been disagreement among Muslims on its use. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.
However, the case first came to the notice of the Supreme Court of India in 2005 when the Supreme Court in July banned the use of loudspeakers from 10 pm to 6 am. It was then appealed against in several states, then the use of loudspeakers was allowed for 15 days a year till midnight on festive occasions.
Then in August 2016, the Bombay High Court ruled that the use of loudspeakers was not a fundamental right of citizens under Article 25 of the Constitution of India.
“It is our decision that all religious places should abide by the law on noise pollution,” the apex court said. No religion or creed can claim that the use of loudspeakers or the public address system is their fundamental right.
Then in June 2018, the High Court of the northern state of Uttarakhand restricted the volume of loudspeakers to five decibels, although the volume of breathing is also ten decibels. The court later admitted its mistake and withdrew the order, but after 12 o’clock in the night, without permission, stopped any temple, mosque or gurdwara with the permission of loudspeaker.
In September 2018, the Karnataka High Court banned the use of loudspeakers after 10 pm and ordered to abide by the decision of the Supreme Court in the matter of noise level.
It may be recalled that according to the Supreme Court, the loudspeaker noise level in industrial areas is allowed up to 75 dB during the day and up to 70 dB at night. In commercial area it is 65 and 55 dB day and night respectively while in residential area it is 55 and 45 dB.
In July 2019, the Punjab and Haryana High Court banned the use of loudspeakers in public places without prior permission.
On May 15, 2020, the Allahabad High Court ruled that the call to prayer (Azaan) is a fundamental and essential part of Islam, but it is not obligatory to perform it through loudspeakers or. Therefore, the court upheld the permission to call to prayer (Azaan) in human voice but declared it free from fundamental rights under Article 25 of the Constitution of India.
In January 2021, the Karnataka High Court ordered the state government to immediately remove illegal loudspeakers installed at religious places in violation of the Supreme Court’s decision on noise pollution.
In November, the court again asked the state government to clarify that mosques were allowed to use loudspeakers by law and asked what steps had been taken to restrict them.