How is Azaan (Adhan) not a Noise Pollution?

Answer by Sarosh Mohammed: There have already been quite a few answers to this question. Some have ridiculed the OP and some have justified his claims. Some have used rationality to argue while some have made quite some insensitive comments. But I am surprised very few have addressed the question details so let me do that before proceeding to the actual question.

Why is Government allowing such sound levels? Namaz is played 5 times a day.

Namaz is not played on the loudspeaker 5 times a day. Only the azan (call for the namaz) is. I haven’t come across any mosque that plays the entire namaz on the loudspeaker. As a matter of fact there is a Hadith that quotes the Prophet (saws) as saying “Listen ye who supplicate to his God, let not these of you cause disturbance to others” to a man who was reciting the Quran very loudly in the mosque.

What is the real intention of Muslims to place Loud Speakers? Is it to proclaim or propagandize their Gods?

It is these sort of statements that make me not want to take this question seriously. There is no hidden agenda, no hidden motive, nothing. It’s just a way of saying “Hey Muslim folks! Look it’s time for the prayer”. Sure it contains verses that glorify Allah but if you don’t understand Arabic it’s not going to convey any meaning to you. On a side note, Muslims believe in one God, not Gods.

Countries like United States, dont allow such noise pollution.

The United States has different laws for different cities. While I will agree that generally Mosques over there don’t use loudspeakers I also think it’s worthwhile to point out that some mosques are allowed to do so. Al-Islah Mosque is one such example that I know of. There could be a few more.

Would Muslim Majority Countries (Pakistan,Saudi Arabia,Qatar etc)have allowed other religions to do this on loud speaker everyday ?

To answer that question, Maybe, maybe not. But it doesn’t matter. The countries you have pointed out are not secular. There are other secular countries with a majority Muslim population and Purujeet Parida points out some relevant statistics regarding them.

Now having got those details out of the way let’s actually delve a little more into the azan. The azan is an integral part of the Muslim prayer. Without an azan the namaz cannot be started. Of course there is no compulsion to call out the azan on the loudspeaker. But the azan actually serves a purpose and is not there only because it is a part of the tradition. The time for certain namaz vary by a minute every third to fourth day. Also the maghrib namaz (prayer at sunset) starts immediately after the azan. Most farz namaz (obligatory prayers) last for as little as 10 minutes. Therefore without a system to let the people know that the namaz has started in the mosque, it would be quite hard to guess the starting time and people would end up missing it completely or join in late. Remembering the time of namaz doesn’t help since it’s highly unlikely that all our clocks show the same time accurate to the minute. This coupled with the fact that different mosques might follow different times for namaz makes the presence of an “alerting system” all the more necessary.

Contrary to what most people think, calling out of the azan is not really a “who’s got the strongest lungs contest”. When a mosque is built, the mic is calibrated to ensure that the azan wouldn’t be too loud. However I understand this is sometimes not the case. The muezzin is also trained to give the azan in a soothing way but quite often an over zealous one will scream his lungs out and get too close to the mic (the ideal distance is 6 inches). Also the orientation of the loudspeaker can make a huge difference in dissipating sound. These are small things that should definitely be taken care of by the mosque and it’s committee as they needlessly cause problems to other people, Muslims and non Muslims alike.

I hope my fellow non Muslims however understand and appreciate the need of an azan for a Muslim. The azan at the longest would run for no more than 3-4 minutes at a time and when recited properly is melodious and should not be something disturbing. I am not saying this only because I am a Muslim but also because I’ve been told this by some of my non Muslim friends who’ve heard the muezzin in their locality. However if you claim that it’s not music to your ears then I can’t force you to look at it that way and I admit I will have to concede my point. I will however wholeheartedly agree that mosques near schools, hospitals and other such places should keep a check on the noise they produce.

One of the reasons why this question is being viewed with hostility from the Muslim’s perspective is because we feel we are being singled out here. The fact that this question has attracted so much attention while a similar question Hinduism: How apt is it to pray on loud speakers? has only ONE answer with NO upvotes sort of proves it. We all know that there are enough Hindu practices that produce more noise pollution than an azan. Sure it doesn’t happen 5 times a day through out the year but when it does happen, it happens for hours at a stretch unlike for a few minutes like the azan. Also the fact that the temples vastly outnumber the mosques will only amplify this figure. Therefore if you decide that the azan on the loudspeaker should be banned then it is only fair that a lot of other things including but not limited to various pujas on the loudspeaker in a temple, marriage processions in the late night, politician rallies, firecrackers during Diwali, dubstep and hard rock concerts should also be on the list.

I however don’t think a blanket ban is a solution. In a truly pluralistic society such differences are bound to come up and if we are supposed to maintain our diversity then we’ll have to learn to live together. This does not mean that we have to compromise on our rights but let’s look at solving problems while maintaining mutual respect. If a particular mosque in a particular locality receives a complaint of being too loud it’s only fair that the mosque turns down it’s volume. As long as the complaint is genuine the Muslims should not view it as an attempt to defame them. The same should hold true for temples too.

Also do take a moment to listen to this beautiful azan 🙂

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One thought on “How is Azaan (Adhan) not a Noise Pollution?

  1. People have smart phones now, which means they down load apps that will remind them. I would not mind hearing it once a week maybe by 5 times a day is too much. And I highly doubt Saudi Arabia will let anything other religion to ring bells or call to prayer.

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