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Shun loudspeakers at mosques, says theologians’ body

K.P.M. Basheer
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High Court order against noise pollution by places of worship

The Kerala Samsthana Jamiyathul Ulema says there is no need for use of loudspeakers for religious purposes at the mosques.
The Kerala Samsthana Jamiyathul Ulema says there is no need for use of loudspeakers for religious purposes at the mosques.

The Kerala Samsthana Jamiyathul Ulema, an association of Muslim theologians, has said that there is no need for use of loudspeakers for religious purposes at the mosques.

Najeeb Maulavi, secretary and spokesman for the association, told The Hindu that loudspeakers could be dispensed with during khutba (sermon as part of the Friday prayers or during the Id prayers) and for ‘baank’ (the call for prayers given from mosques five times a day.) He said his organisation had for long opposed the use of loudspeakers for Islamic religious purposes, particularly khutba.

The Kerala High Court had, in a recent order, asked the police to take strict action against the indiscriminate use of loudspeakers for religious purposes.

“No religion prescribes performing prayers through amplifiers and the use of microphones and loudspeakers by religious denominations are to be within the limits prescribed under the Environmental Laws and Police Acts,” a division bench comprising Chief Justice Manjula Chelloor and Justice K. Vinod Chandran said in their decision on a public interest litigation (PIL) appeal.

The petitioner had complained that the prayers and devotional songs, amplified using loudspeakers, at the Mannaramala Devi temple and the Assembly of God Spiritual Fest Centre, both in Pathanamthitta district, had caused noise pollution.

Najeeb Maulavi, referring to the court order, said prayers should not cause nuisance to the people living in the vicinity of the places of worship. The Kerala Samsthaana Jamiyyathul Ulema opposed the use of loudspeakers at mosques. It had recently held a seminar on ‘the use of loudspeaker and ethics’ in Malappuram.

However, the association’s opposition is based on Islamic principles. “The use of loudspeaker is not in line with Islamic principles and traditions,” Najeeb Maulavi said. He noted that the Sunni Muslims in Kerala started using the loudspeaker hardly half a century ago.

Back in the 1960s, there had been a heated debate among Muslim theologians over the use of loudspeaker. The Samastha Kerala Jamiyyathul Ulema had, in April 1967, decided that the loudspeaker could be used for khutba. But the then president of the ‘Samastha,’ K.K. Sadaqathulla Maulavai, who furiously opposed this decision, resigned his position, and later formed the breakaway group Kerala Samsthana Jamiyyathul Ulema.

Najeeb Maulavi contended that khutba was meant for those who assembling for the mass prayers on Friday and for the two Id prayers a year. No loudspeaker was needed for these occasions. As for the ‘baank’ prayer call, it was meant for people living in the immediate vicinity of the mosque. The practice of ‘baank’ was started by Bilal during Prophet Mohammed’s time. Later on, it also served as a marker of time. These days, there was no need of giving the ‘baank’ through the loudspeaker, just uttering it within the mosque premises would do.

He pointed out that around 500 mosques in Kerala, mainly in the Malabar region, did not use loudspeakers for khutba, and a few mosques did not amplify the ‘baank’ using public address system.

The Maulavi said the use of loudspeakers by places of worship in densely populated neighbourhoods was a big nuisance for people and it would affect inter-community relations.

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