This Ramzan, Kashmir Valley debates high-pitch mosque speakers

Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar: Prolonged use of loud speakers in hundreds of Valley mosques during Ramzan has triggered a major debate this year with a senior politician of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) feeling intimidated and mulling selling his house for its proximity to such a speaker.
“Followers of a deaf God have led me to this passive action. Stop paying the monthly donation to mosque whose loud speaker is making life of the locality miserable. If that does not work, I seriously contemplate selling my house even at a discount that proximity to the mosque with a microphone entails,” wrote PDP MLC and the party spokesman Naeem Akhtar on his Facebook (FB) wall.

The FB post elicited a barrage of responses claiming support to an end to the use of speakers besides Azaan, a call for prayers, performed five times a day.

“People need to turn their loudspeakers off and lighten up a bit. Surely God means for us to sleep and laugh, even as He means for us to pray and reflect,” wrote Aliya Nazki, a netizen.

Every year, Ramzan, the Islamic month of fasting, witnesses prolonged prayers in evenings and mornings in the Valley, which is house to several thousand mosques.

A number of mosques prefer to keep loud speakers on even after reciting Azaan for recitation of Quranic verses and praises towards Allah.

The society is, however, divided among traditionalists who are for use of speakers. “We have been using speakers for decades now for reciting Durood (praises for Allah and the Prophet) that has a rejuvenating effect on soul,” said Maulana Azhar Shah, a preacher.

In contrast, there are several Muftis (religious leaders) who oppose the idea of turning mosque speakers into a source of noise pollution and discomfort to others.

“Mosque speakers should restrict its use to Azaan only. It should not become a source of discomfort for others,” said Syed Hamidullah Haqani, Valley’s well-known preacher.

Haqani argues that it has been a source of distraction for devotees too. “When we say collective prayers of Tarawhi in the evening, the devotees get to hear verses from all sides from other mosques too. One has to concentrate on the verses being recited by an Imaam (one leading the prayers) of the mosque,” said Haqani.

Many argue that the prolonged use of speakers takes a toll on the patients living in that particular area.

“I am really feeling helpless and miserable. A cardiac patient like me deserves all the sympathy for losing sleep, so essential,” said PDP leader Akhtar.