Allahabad University Vice-Chancellor Sangeeta Srivastava has written to the city district magistrate asking for a ban on the use of loudspeakers for 'azaan', citing an Allahabad High Court order of May 2020 and asserting that it disturbs her sleep and affects her work efficiency.
In the letter, Srivastava states that the call for morning prayers from the nearby mosque disturbs her sleep around 5: 30 am every morning and she is not able to sleep after which results in a headache throughout the day which affects her work.
"An old adage says 'your freedom ends where my nose begins': this holds true here. I am not against any religion, caste or creed. They may perform the azaan without the mike so that others are not disturbed. Even before Eid, they announce Sehri on the mike at 4:00 am. This practice also creates a disturbance to other people. The Constitution of India envisages a secular and peaceful co-existence of all communities, which needs to be practised in letter and spirit," she wrote.
In 2017, renowned singer Sonu Nigam had stirred a hornets’ nest when he questioned the need for mosques in India to use a loudspeaker while calling out for daily prayers to devotees.
"I’m not a Muslim and I have to be woken up by the azaan in the morning. When will this forced religiousness end in India," he had written on his Twitter account.
The Allahabad High Court today held that Azaan (Islamic call to prayer) can be recited by a Muezzin without using any amplifying devices. The Court also held that playing Azaan through sound amplifying devices is not protected under Article 25 of the Constitution.
In May 2020, holding that recital of azaan is certainly an integral part of Islam, the Allahabad High Court said that playing azaan through sound amplifying devices is not protected under Article 25 of the Constitution.
“It is held that azaan may be an essential and integral part of Islam but recitation of azaan through loud speakers or other sound amplifying devices cannot be said to be an integral part of the religion, warranting protection of the fundamental right enshrined under Article 25 of the Constitution of India, which is even otherwise subject to public order, morality or health and to other provisions of part III of the Constitution of India," the court order said.
The letter written by the Allahabad University V-C, however, has ruffled some feathers.
Shia cleric Maulana Saif Abbas has reacted strongly to the complaint of Allahabad University Vice Chancellor Sangeeta Srivastava who said the use of loudspeakers during the morning azaan from a nearby mosque disturbs her sleep.
Abbas said even the morning ‘aarti’, if one goes by Srivastava’s argument, would make the same amount of noise. The cleric asked the V-C to take back her complaint saying ‘such complaints by someone on such a high post is not good’.
“The morning azaan takes hardly two to three minutes. Had the vice chancellor complained about morning aarti and keertan also, it would have been justified. But objecting only to the azaan is beyond my understanding. Someone positioned at such a high post in a university should not have raised objections only for azaan. I request her to take back her complaint,” Abbas said.
Another cleric Maulana Sufiyan Nizami raised the issue of noise during the month-long festival of Kumbh. “If azaan is offered from mosques, aarti is done in temples. There is a big Kumbh going on in the city. The loudspeaker sound comes all through the month. Roads are also closed, but no Muslim has written any letter or raised any objection. There is Kanwar Yatra and many roads are closed during Holi celebrations and loudspeakers play songs… but no Muslim has written or raised any objection to it. I think this is part of a well-thought-out conspiracy which should not take place.”