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Religion sans speaker - The Observer

Parwez Ghiasuddin (Lucknow) ()
3 December 1996

Title : Religion sans speaker
Author : Parwez Ghiasuddin (Lucknow)
Publication : The Observer
Date : December 3, 1996

It is reported (as in The Hindustan Times of November 23,
1996, front page) that Muslims are upset by the Calcutta
High Court order banning the use of loudspeakers at all
places of worship.

The order was provoked by the sound pollution caused by
the amplification of music at Durga Pujah pandals in
Calcutta. But it would equally apply to azaan from the

I appeal to my co-religionists to use an opportunity like
this to introspect. To consider whether we should inte-
grate with the rest of Indian society or to sustain a
separate, not merely a distinct, identity.

Whether we should be like sugar or play the role of lemon
to the milk of Indian milieu. When the forefathers of the
Parsees first anchored their two ships on the coast of
Sanjan in Gujarat in the eighth century, their leader
sent a request to the rajah to give them refuge. The
rajah replied with a cup of milk full to the brim, con-
veying that Sanjan had no extra space. The Parsee pa-
triarch mixed a spoon of sugar with the milk and sent it
back implying that sugar always had space for sugar. That
his people would integrate with the local people and
sweeten their society.

The Hindus have since accepted the Parsees wholehearted-
ly. The Islamic contribution to the Indian civilisation
has been enormous. However, the Hindu perception of us
can be compared to the lemon, tasty, even flavoury,
essential but separatist. Lemon helps to split milk into
water and chhana for making Bengali sweets like rosogol-
la. The Hindus quote the partition as the Outstanding
example. This is the prejudice. Is it in Muslim interest
to perpetuate it or to put it out.

I am a devout Muslim who offers namaz at least twice
daily. I do not miss going to the masjid on Jumma. But I
do not subscribe to confrontation. It is an approach to
no destination except perhaps destruction.

The jumma prayers in Mumbai insistently spreading to the
streets provoked maha artis by the Shiv Sena which went
on to capture the chief ministership of Maharashtra.
Have we Muslims gained?

I have lost Rs 15 lakh due to the muezzin on the micro-
phone in Calcutta. I put on sale my house in the Alipore
locality. The potential buyers were mostly bania busi-
nessmen who did not appreciate the azaan. So I requested
the muezzin to turn his mike away from my next door house
so that the buyer might not, be put off. But he did not
listen. I ended up selling a 40 lakh property at 25! For
14 centuries our great religion flourished without a
microphone. Why use it now and annoy so many non-Muslims?

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