Bollywood singer Sonu Nigam’s objection to use of loudspeakers at religious places merit consideration but his direct attack on Muslim call for prayers (Azaan) is highly outrageous. We concede that Nigam has as a right to sleep as Muslims have right to prayers. But he could have said it in a civilized way. Nobody had expected him to be so uncivilized to call the “Azaan” as “gundagardi” and “forced religiousness”. In fact, his way of attack itself is demonstration of “gundagardi” and one is well within one’s rights to connect it with overall Hindu extremist disposition that has been on display in the streets of India ever since the rise of RSS-BJP to power. One would have appreciated Nigam had he not been selective in raising his voice against use of loudspeakers. Muslims are not the only one who use loudspeakers for religious purposes. The other religionists including Hindus, Sikhs and others do use loudspeakers even with more frequency and for more periods than Muslims. “Azaan” is a five-minute affair blared out on loudspeakers five times a day. What about the Bhajan’s that are played all through the nights. During Hindu festivals, which are almost daily and daylong affairs everywhere in India, use of loudspeakers has become part of religiosity. Taking out processions, playing songs, dominating streets and, on occasions, main roads and blocking traffic should have caught the attention of Nigam. He instead selectively targeted Muslims. It is only after widespread criticism that he talked about the use of loudspeakers by all religionists. But Sonu Nigam’s criticism apart, we as Muslims need to rethink and relook from within. Nobody would perhaps dispute with the fact that loudspeakers are not central to our religion. The religion of Islam has not spread to the far and wide of the world due to loudspeakers. It is rather the message Islam carries that has fascinated its followers and made it a worldwide religion. Loudspeaker or for that matter electricity are quite late inventions. None of these two existed in the life and times of our beloved Prophet (S.A.W). Yet within a span of some years Islam spread to every nook and corner of the Arab. During and after the period of Khulfa-e-Rashideen, Islam came out of Arab borders and spread to African, Asian and parts of European countries. Moreover, the spread of Islam was not limited to its miraculous early expansion outside of Arabia. During later centuries the Turks embraced Islam peacefully as did a large number of the people of the Indian subcontinent and the Malay-speaking world. In Africa also, Islam has spread during the past two centuries even under the mighty power of European colonial rulers. This miraculous spread of Islam happened without loudspeakers. It is very saddening that the religiosity in our private and public life is no more than a ritual. We have abandoned the vital principles and moral values of our religion for unimportant and customary things. The use of loudspeakers in mosques has become a part of Ibadat (prayers). In the month of Ramadan, with crowds of seasonal Namazis swarming the mosques unusually, the loud-speakers blare out more ferociously. On occasions it looks devotees shouting on higher and higher pitches to compete with one another in the race for achieving upper grades before Almighty Allah. That has made the prayers more like a Hangama. It is quite disappointing that Islamic scholars and religious preachers and leaders have maintained a discreet silence over the way we observe our prayers. In some cases, religious preachers (Imams), driven merely by worldly benefits, do encourage such noisy scenes in the mosques. Saner voices are silenced (sometimes thrown out of the mosques) using the combined might of ignorant and illiterate devotees with accusations of being followers of a different thought (Fiqh).
That makes our religious case very weak and meek. We need to bring some moderation in our ideas and behaviour as Muslims. Being accommodative is one such thing that is needed most. If use of loudspeakers because some discomfort to the followers of other religion let we acknowledge and abandon it. Why to make it an issue?