In a significant decision, the Karnataka State Waqf Board has issued an order banning the use of loudspeakers during Azaan between 10 pm and 6 am in mosques and dargahs across the state.
In the circular issued last week, the board said, “With the objective of maintaining the ambient standards of noise, The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 are in force. Loudspeakers shall not be used in the night time, which shall mean from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am.”
The Waqf board observed that increasing ambient noise level around many masjids and dargahs due to generator sets, loudspeakers and public address systems have deleterious effects on human health and the psychological well-being of the people.
Further, the circular said any violation near the “silence zones” will be liable for a penalty. However, the Waqf Board has also made it clear that there is no ban on Azaan, but it has only barred loudspeakers during the specified time to prevent noise pollution.
“Whoever uses sound amplifier or burst sound-emitting firecrackers, uses a loudspeaker or public address system in a silence zone is liable for penalty under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act-1986,” the circular read.
Loudspeakers should be used only for Azaan, important announcements
The order further said, “Noise-governing apparatus may be installed in the institution in consultation with the local environment officers. The management of the institutions shall train the muezzin (the person who gives the call to prayer at a mosque) to operate the amplifier within the prescribed limit”.
The orders further said that loudspeakers used during the day should be as per the ambient air quality standards, and they should not make unnecessary noise. “Loudspeakers shall be used only for Azaan and important announcements such as death, the timing of burial, the sighting of the moon etc.,” the order said.
The Waqf Board has classified areas comprising not less than 100 metres around hospitals, educational institutions and courts as silence zones. No sound-emitting firecrackers shall be burnt in or around the masjid and dargahs at any occasion, the Waqf board has ordered.
The Waqf board said that the management should use the open spaces of the masjid and dargahs for the plantation of fruit-bearing shady trees and ornamental plants. “A clean and hygienic atmosphere shall be maintained. Discourage beggary in religious premises, instead, counselling and philanthropic measures may be taken at the institution level,” the order read.
The Waqf board took these significant decisions during its 327th meeting held on December 19, 2020. The body decided to strictly adhere to the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 in Karnataka and “it unanimously resolved to create awareness amongst the managements of Masjids and Dargahs”.
Islamists attack Waqf board, says they have no right
Meanwhile, the order has not gone down well with the Islamic organisations in the state. Radical Islamic organisation SDPI has attacked the Waqf board for overstepping its jurisdiction.
Abdul Hannan, SDPI state president, said the board has no right to take decisions on Quran, Namaaz and the Azaan. He said the board should be dealing with Waqf properties that are allegedly encroached on by the government, private sector and politicians.
The Islamic clerics and Imams have accused the Waqf board of taking such a decision out of pressure from the BJP government in Karnataka.
It is important to note that a similar circular was issued during the Siddaramaiah headed the Congress government on July 10, 2017.