Muslims upset at row happening during Ramzan
Amidst increasing communal disharmony in Karnataka, a debate over azaan has sprung up where right-wing extremist groups have called for a ban on the use of loudspeakers in mosques.
They say loud noise from loudspeakers disturbs people who live near mosques. When The Observer reached out to some of these people, they said it is not a problem.
Anusha P, a political researcher who works at an office beside Modi Masjid on Queens Road, said: “I work here from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the loudspeakers do not bother me. Azaan is played 2-3 times while I am in the office and it doesn’t really affect my work. There are festivals of other religions like Ganesh Chaturthi where they take out loud processions. So it does not make any sense to target just one community.”
Even people who have lived in the area for a long time agree the loudspeaker volume is not very loud. A housekeeper who has been working in a house near Modi Masjid for over six years said: “They play the azaan on medium volume. I do not think it is a nuisance to anyone.”
Recently, a report by The Mint quoted Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai as saying: “It is not only for azaan; it is for all loudspeakers. So we will take a call.”
Mohammed Ashraf, secretary at Char Minar Masjid, Shivajinagar, is bothered about the issue happening amid the Ramzan month. He said that they will follow court orders if something comes up. “We pray five times a day starting from 5 a.m.”
In March 2021, the Karnataka State Board of Auqaf issued a circular to all the mosques and dargahs in the state prohibiting the use of loudspeakers between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Recent reports say Bengaluru city Police Commissioner Kamal Pant has instructed jurisdictional police to take legal action against violators. The police have started issuing notices to religious places for defying the High Court order on noise pollution.
In the wake of Hindu activists launching a campaign against azaan, security has also been tightened near religious places.
M.G. Mahesh, a BJP spokesperson, said: “The High Court of Karnataka has strategically mentioned that it (the noise) should not cross the 75 dB limit. But some of the mosques are crossing even 200 dB…. This issue is not created by BJP. Society itself looked into the matter and wanted the government to do something about it. It is not the agenda of the party to create any disharmony. In the halal case, in the hijab case, whatever has been going on for the past two months… is not our agenda. It is being created by the Muslim community.”
Mohammed Irshad, a resident of Vijayanagar, explained why azaan is played over loudspeakers. “Azaan is very important to us. It is basically like a testimony that we give before namaz. In Islam, we have a belief that the farther the dua (prayer) reaches, the better it is for society. That is why we play azaan over loudspeakers.”
The azaan controversy started when MNS chief Raj Thackeray last week said his party workers would play Hanuman Chalisa in front of mosques if the Maharashtra government does not remove loudspeakers outside mosques”. His comments were countered by the Shiv Sena and the NCP.