From: Sanjeev Nayyar
By Sanjeev Nayyar, July 20 2016
During the holy month of Ramzan, a call to the devout awoke me at about 4.45 am every day. For the rest of the year the call rouses me between 5.15 to 5.45 am. For 365 days of the year azaan is done five times a day. Calls come from four mosques, sometimes simultaneously, or one after another.
Two of the four mosques are nearly a kilometre away; one is very close. Either way, the sound is very loud. The mosque closest to our building has installed new high powered loudspeakers which brings the call to the devout right into our homes. Some members of the residential society are forthcoming on how disturbing and irritating this is; others prefer to skirt the issue. Friends in the neighbourhood crib, the elderly, women and students being the most agitated.
Speaking to the police was an option; some wanted the lane association to speak with the local MLA. But others pointed out that the police, in the absence of political support, would avoid action.
Our area alone is not affected. During a meeting at Starbucks off Linking Road in Mumbai, a business conversation was disturbed by azaan. When we looked out, we saw a loudspeaker placed atop a hut in the adjoining plot. Ditto in huts close to Lilavati Hospital in Bandra Reclamation.
To understand the mindsets, the writer spoke to three Muslim taxi-drivers, saying loudspeakers disturb the neighbourhood and are giving the community a bad name.
The first lives in a Muslim area. He was critical of how early morning azaan spoilt his sleep and added that the devout could set an alarm on their mobile phones. The second wore a skull cap and short white pajama. He was adamant that loudspeakers would be used, come what may. The third, who lives in a Hindu area like ours, said he was helpless in front of the maulvi who said that the louder the call means shaitan bhag jayege(the devil will run). Appreciating his honesty, one pointed out that residents' anger could have a negative impact. He said fewer Hindus used his taxi nowadays.
To learn how educated apolitical Hindus feel, a quick whatsapp survey followed. The questions were, how do you feel about being disturbed by azaan? Has it changed your attitude towards the Muslim community?
One lady said, "I am against religious activity with loudspeakers. If one is truly devout there is no need to shout. I have nothing against the Muslim community. What about Ganeshotsav mandals? In Vridhachalam we heard temple bells and azaan." When told Ganesh festival is celebrated for ten days in a year while azaanis 5 times a day all year round with loudspeakers, unlike temple bells, she said, 'yes you have a point'.