On Loudspeakers: Islam and its Tenets must be Practiced in Accord with its Spirit and Teachings

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Nadeem Qayoom

Everything has its limits. And, it becomes a cause of annoyance if it gets out of its limits. The Almighty has also created the psyche of a man in such a way that it can’t resist annoyance beyond a certain threshold. The issue in contention that I am referring to and will be is the use of loudspeakers at religious places. First, loudspeakers were introduced in Masjids for Azaan and Friday sermons only and Nimaz proceedings were made audible to devotees by indoor speakers. But, today, its purpose has not been kept to these two rather it has been extended to prove one’s in-depth devotion to God by amplifying the volume of religious utterances so much as if Almighty God is too far away to hear. More than required number of loudspeakers are installed and even, at some places, confrontations occur between the groups whether to install 4 or 6 loudspeakers.
An obsession and ostentatious demonstration of dedicated followers of a particular sect/religion is a trend nowadays. To many readers, I may seem to have a little extremist view against the use of loudspeakers at religious places particularly in Masjids here in Kashmir but these public announcing system are now becoming a cause of concern for the people rather than being a medium of calling for prayers at five times. Islam doesn’t allow its followers to annoy or disturb others while one is praying or even reciting the Qur’aan.
Imam Maalik (AS) narrated in al-Muwatta’ (178), from Sharh al-Zarqaani in Baab al-‘Aml fi’l-Qiraa’ah (How Qur’aan is to be recited) from al-Bayaadi Farwah ibn ‘Amr – (may Allah be pleased with him) – that the Messenger of Allah(SAW ) went out to the people when they were praying, and their voices were loud in recitation, and he said: “ A worshipper is conversing with his Lord, so let him think about the One with Whom he is conversing. Do not raise your voices above one another when reciting Quran.”
Abu Dawood (1332) narrated, under the heading, “Raising the voice when reciting Qur’aan in night prayers” that Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allaah be pleased with him) – said: The Messenger of Allah (SAW) observed i’tikaaf in the mosque and he heard them raising their voices in reciting Qur’aan. He drew back the curtain and said: “Each of you is conversing with his Lord, so do not disturb one another, and do not raise your voices above one another in reciting Qur’aan – or in prayer.” Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr said: The hadiths of al-Bayaadi and Abu Sa’eed are both sound and saheeh. These two hadiths show that it is forbidden to raise one’s voice in reciting the Qur’aan in prayer to such an extent that it disturbs others, and that, this is a nuisance and is forbidden.
Will a person prefer a place where there is ear–drum shattering noise? There is an inbuilt response bestowed by the Almighty that we shy away from the place of annoyance no matter what the nature of disturbance is. The female members of society offer Nimaz at home, when Imam is reciting Surahs; how can they concentrate on their own? Furthermore, they will prefer to offer Nimaz later on. The same logic applies to old and ill-persons that prefer Nimaz at home. How can a person be spiritually relaxed when he is made to listen tasbeeh in a very high pitch volume from 4 AM through 7 AM in the morning without being able to listen the individual verses due to loudness and interference of the loudspeakers? I’m not saying that we shouldn’t recite the same but if we recite in a low soothing tone, a person in the religious gathering would naturally be spiritually seasoned.
Moreover, the current situation in the valley has made almost 90% of the population, regardless of age and gender psychologically weak who cannot tolerate much disturbance. (Aged members of the society are at high risk. Even slight loud voice grips them in panic). Medical science also argue with experimental proofs that loudness for more than 25 minutes can cause tinnitus, hearing loss, hypertension, sleep disturbances and other acute medical conditions.
Last, I would like to mention here, that we as Muslims ought to practice and propagate our religion Islam according to principles which are already laid down in its teachings and not in such a way that our own fellow brothers and sisters raise finger on our elders and Imams, both having a great repute in our religion. Tasbeeh is an integral part of morning prayers; it should be recited by heart and not shrieked out loud.
Let’s us ponder upon this issue in a humane and logical manner. And, let’s propagate our religion in the way it teaches us and not according to our tastes and wishes.

The author is studying Geo-Technical Engineering from Kurukshetra University. He can be reached at: nadeem003@yahoo.com