Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mosque loudspeakers violating noise laws

Cartoon source: Cox and Forkum
I was not raised Muslim. I am not even religious. India is not an Islamic country. Mine is not a predominantly Muslim neighborhood. Yet I am called to prayer insistently, daily, and loudly.
Here are the timings for the mosque loudspeakers within earshot of my bedroom.

4:40 - 5:30 am
1 pm
4 - 4:10 pm
5:15 - 5:30 pm
7:15 - 7:30 pm
8:40 - 9:10 pm
There are at least four loudspeakers, but I can never count exactly because it's hard to separate individual voices in the cacophony. They all go off at slightly different times, and presumably each one calls azaan five times a day. Which means I am called to prayer around 20 times a day.

It's against the law to use loudspeakers outdoors in residential areas at any time, and in any area at all between 10:30 pm and 6:30 am. Religious use is not exempt from this law, except by specific court order, which is only possible for a limited number of days each year.
I have complained to the police literally dozens of times. I have the right to make an anonymous complaint, but they often refuse to take my complaint. They have often asked me to go to the police station and file a written complaint in person, although this is not required under the law. They are supposed to go to the spot where the violation occurs, and confiscate the loudspeakers and other offending equipment. Either the Mumbai Police has never actually dispatched a van, or, if they have, they haven't confiscated a thing, because the noise has never abated for a single day. Azaan lasts 2-5 minutes, so the cops need to station themselves by mosques and wait for the violation to occur.
There are cases of mosques in Oxford (England), Brooklyn (New York), and elsewhere being restricted from at least the pre-dawn azaan, if not more. One might argue that those are non-Muslim countries with assimilationist expectations of immigrants. But even Muslims in Islamic countries understand the need to curb noise pollution. Here's what an Indonesian blogger says about mosque loudspeakers -- she and most of the commenters agree that they are a nuisance, and that there's nothing Islamic about them. Here's a report of 150 people being arrested for abuse of mosque loudspeakers, in Pakistan.
I hope God, Allah, or whoever is up there, listening to the azaans in Mumbai, is increasingly pissed off and throws a bolt of lightning at every single loudspeaker in Mumbai, because the police sure as hell aren't doing a damn thing about it.
A call to prayer may be necessary for Muslims, but not all of us are interested. Besides, a loudspeaker is quite a different thing from a call to prayer. No scripture could possibly say that electronic amplification is necessary. If you're going to have technological innovations, then why not SMS azaans? Or Islamic alarm clocks? (Update, April 10, 2009: I just discovered that there is indeed such a thing.) Let the faithful subscribe and purchase those, and let the rest of us get some fucking sleep. If the imams won't respect the law or the human need for sleep and silence, the police ought to make them.
Update, July 23, 2010: This appears to be one of the most popular posts on my blog, and people frequently find it with keywords like mosque, loudspeaker, noise. Clearly, there's a problem, and it seems to be worldwide. I just noticed that a website called Pakistani Politics Journal has linked to this post. Welcome, PPJ readers! :)


Anonymous said...

Yes, 100% I do agree with you. No one is taking any action against this fucking people, they are just creating disturbance to others life, they are not doing pray.

Sorry for using some bad words, we are that much disturbed with loud speaker in the osque.

Anonymous said...

There is provision in law.

You can write to human rights. (up course they use to take care of minority).

Last way you also generate noise, be stupid with stupids.

Because religion developed in desert, "Maulvi" use to shout from "Minar". Situation has changed, they started using loud speakers.(Which is not required, but of they will not use loud speakers how others will come to know that they are religious people). Allah will never happy with such prayers and can not accept such prayers.

Anonymous said...

The situation has really gotten out of hand. Come to a muslim country like malaysia or indonesia. You will have no peace of mind. These muslim scum build their mosques near residential areas and broadcast their loud wailing monkey like howls through megawatt speakers with no care in the world whether someone's trying to take a nap or requires peace and solitude for study...etc. Bloody noise polluting islamic bastards. Truly an attention whoring religion that preys on other's misery.

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Anonymous said...

GET A LIFE.. losers.. ignorant off other religions, and there fore racist... respect muslims

Uma said...

Hello, visitors!

Even if I disagree with your comment, if your tone is within acceptable limits (acceptable to me, that is), I'll let your post be. I like it when readers leave comments.

But there's no point in the same visitor (I can tell if you're a returning visitor) posting the same comment twice, or posting a ranting comment even once, or posting just a one-line vituperation like "You're an idiot". Hence I've removed some posts above.

Do share your viewpoint relevant to the topic or to one of the comments.

And do not post anonymously -- at least give yourself user name, okay?


Anonymous said...

The invasive lying manipulative muslim populace would have you believe that their loud noisy azan nonsense is bearable because it is only done in 5 minutes. But in truth it is 5 minutes 5 times a day, that's 25 minutes of audible torture of their loud idiotic wailings. I'm not a racist, race is genetics, religion is propaganda and superstition. Even a child understands the difference (sigh).

Anonymous said...

Have you by any chance of luck managed to fight this off? I too am perturbed by this noise. I have stray dogs to deal with and the azaan. The 5-5:30am is the one that bothers me the most. Rest of the times i can give a deaf ear to. Do let me know if you have found a way to get these people to understand what it means to live in a civilized society. Are you from Andheri (w) area?

Anonymous said...

now Ramadan has started and its a torture.

Anonymous said...

From our area we have logged a written complaint from more than 10 buildings to Pollution Control Board. The board has directed it to local police station. Police instead of calling culprit called us and asked us what the problem is? Asked us that we will have a joint meeting. I really dont understand when someone is doing wrong, instead of calling the culprit we have been called to police station. God only knows what will happen to India if it goes same way. But one day will come when people will come on street and then govt. has to take action. Even the media knows everything but not interested to put it in newspaper or on tv. Only option will be a morcha by small children to the local police station in presence of media.

Uma said...

Guys, it would be great to know where you're posting from - please indicate your city or at least country. To the above poster who wrote to the Pollution Control Board, if you're in Mumbai, please contact Awaaz Foundation (if you haven't already, that is. And I think the person to contact there is Ms. Sumaira Abdulali) and tell them about your action. They will probably be interested in supporting you or at least in the information you can provide them about the noise. And do write to the press also - maybe nothing will come of it, but it costs little to try. Best if you write specifically to a reporter who covers pollution or urban issues.

Anonymous said...

I am posting from BTM layout bangalore, the howling from the mosque is a nuisance. 5 minutes of torture.....
Moreover in the mornings when the wailing starts, so do the street dogs in the area start synchronously....
I was standing at the roadside doing shopping, and suddenly the loud howl started, i just closed my ears till the howling stopped and within a minute, two teenagers just broke my headlamps and ran off...
God save this place....
Update: I am Rajath but posting from anonymous as i dont want to share my email ID

Anonymous said...

Not only are we Hindus divided, we are also passive par excellence. Perhaps, it is our million or so gods in whose hands we have entrusted the responsibility to take care of everything that goes wrong while we reflect, like arm-chair scholars, on all that is wrong with OUR country, without wanting to lift even our little finger to correct it.

Uma said...

It seems that some anonymous commenters above are conflating their hatred of noise with a more generalized hatred of Muslims ("invasive lying manipulative Muslim populace"??? "we Hindus...OUR country"???) Goes to show how some people cannot control their hatred and stay focused on the topic, which here is mosque loudspeakers disturbing the neighborhood peace. This kind of commenter lacks basic mental discipline, in my humble opinion. People like them give Indians a bad reputation, with their inability to stay focused and think in a problem-solving or information-sharing way.

ASP said...

First of all, it would make sense for you to delete my commment since you have chosen to not publish my main comment without which the second comment is meaningless and placed without context.

Yes, India is a Hindu country. More than 80% of people in India are Hindus. This is a demographical fact, not a anti-secularist rant.

India is ALSO a secular nation which means that a person living in India has the right to follow any religious faith.

India has peacefully ACCOMMODATED minorities over the last several centuries and has allowed them to practice their faith without any hindrance whatsoever.

The Christian and Muslim minorities in India have been, and every single one of them, converted by force or by lure, individuals who were previously Hindus.

The topic under consideration is noise pollution due to Azaan by the Muslim community. However this topic can't be dealt in isolation because it is just one of the by-products of a much wider political dynamic of minority appeasement that has been prevalent in the country since 1947.

You can't solve the Azaan problem without challenging the existing political setup which is based on minority appeasement vote-bank politics.

Considering the amount hat you have blogged so far, I assume that you have lived in India enough to know how minority appeasement works.

You have already adopted a hostile stance towards me. That is understandable since being Hindus(correct me if you aren't), I won't be surprised if we end up indefinitely arguing with each other while the Mullas continue to blare their Azaans, and unitedly so!

Listening to the Azaans five times a day and being made to wake up after only four hours of sleep everyday has taken a toll on my mental discipline. Can you do something so that 8 out of 10 people in the country do not suffer because of the 9th person? We are a democracy, aren't we?!

Indians or Hindus already have a bad reputation. And Indians all over the world are associated with Hinduism and Hindus. No body abroad thinks of Mullas and Catholics when the word "Indian" is used. But out here in India, the intelligentsia finds it unfashionable to accept the overwhelming majority of the Hindu demographic and rightly understand India as a primarily Hindu country.

Personally I believe that the Hindu intelligentsia in India is at some unacknowledged level deeply ashamed of their Hindu-ness, something that was systematically denigrated and ridiculed by the British. And so this intelligentsia, still plagued by the toxic psychological remains of the British Raj, instead of showing India the light towards finding its lost glory, runs away from its own self. It clings to pseudo-secularism to deny India its fundamental Hindu character. It does not even properly understand who is a Hindu, or what is Hinduism.

Coming back to reputation, Hindus already have a bad reputation. We are a nation run by corrupt illiterate politicians with a scam that comes to light every third day. We are plagued by poverty, we have little or no accomplishments in sports, Science, and Technology as compared to the West. Even our tremendously profound art forms find more connoisseurs and respect in the West than in their own home country. We have an appalling bureaucracy and an inefficient marketplace.

We are a laughing stock for the western world. Indian urbanites are currently attempting to hide behind their newly constructed glitzy malls and feel ashamed when the slum reality of India is exposed in global cinema.

We sucked white cock for more than two hundred years. I am sorry if my language hurts you but that is PRECISELY what we did.

Uma said...

ASP, thanks for your response. I will say that your comments have been more reasoned than many that I have deleted, even if I disagree with some of what you say (no, I don't disagree with the demographic nor the argument that India is culturally predominantly Hindu, nor that minorities - especially Muslims - are appeased in many disputes). But I am acutely conscious that an Indian who belongs to any minority (Muslim, Christian, and in many places low castes and adivasis, and women nearly everywhere although they aren't numerically a minority) is less of a citizen in practice, with fewer rights, less likelihood of a job or equal pay for equal work, less physical safety, etc. Therefore I resist Hindu-centric normative comments. I also do appreciate general civility in dialog. I reject the idea that India has accommodated any outsider as a favor - business and war are the same everywhere. More foreign infuences in India are the result of trade than we care to acknowledge in India - too many people equate Islam with invasion a bit too hastily, and therefore (wrongly) Muslims with outsiders. Anyhow, thanks again for your comments. If you have tips on how to stop the loudspeaker menace, do share.

ASP said...
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Uma said...

ASP wrote: "I don’t quite understand what is it with you that you publish my comments in part."

Well, ASP, your comments arrived in parts. 13 or 14 parts, to be precise. I really can't be bothered to read through entire essays on commenters' personal beliefs. I just blog in my spare time, and while I'm patient enough to publish comments with which I disgree (civilly and concisely, I might add), I'm not obliged to parse theses and/or rants (I won't post a comment before reading it).

So thanks for your interest, but if you feel so strongly that you want to write at great length, you should start your own blog. It's free!

SS said...


I am presently suffering because of loudspeaker abuse by a Mosque which is situated right next to the society in which I live. The abuse is hardest to deal with when I get sick, because that is the time I need a long, peaceful sleep which these azaans deprive me of.

To the author:

How close is the mosque to your bedroom? And how loud is the noise? Are you still facing this problem? And what are you doing to cope with it?

Others also please share any steps you might have taken or are contemplating to deal with this problem at a personal, social, possibly even at a legal level.

Anonymous said...

I am launching an initiative to tackle the menace of Azaans delivered using loudspeakers in the city of Bombay. If like me, you too are a sufferer of this violation of your fundamental right to a peaceful life, I urge you to join hands with me in this initiative.

I have started a blog specifically to tackle this menace in the city of Bombay from the grass-root level upwards. The link to my blog is :

Uma said...

To all those who have asked me whether I know of any efforts to combat the mosque loudspeaker menace, I should point out that if you really wanted to know, all you had to do was click the links to "Rules" and "Court orders". They take you to the website of Awaaz foundation, where you can find more information about noise pollution in Mumbai, and help curbing it. Awaaz has done some great work mapping high noise levels (important for enforcing silence in residential, school and hospital zones). Lend them your support so you can benefit from their work.

Anonymous said...

Hello Blogger,

Are you currently plagued by the Azaan noise in your neigbourhood, especially the morning call?

Uma said...

Dear Anonymous who posted last above, no, I am not currently plagued by azaan on loudspeakers. That is an old blog post, and I have since moved to another city. I am currently plagued by (a) sounds of ordinary conversation echoing off excessive amounts of concrete where gardens or woods used to be, (b) security guards thrashing about every hour in the middle of the night, supposedly doing their duty by repeatedly beating a large stick on the ground, (c) frikkin wedding loudspeakers in residential grounds, and (d) retards listening to ghastly squawky offensive music on their FM cellphones in public places. The problem is not just mosques, but Indians in general. We are not evolved enough to handle amplification, and we don't understand the value of silence.

Anonymous said...

Yes, noise pollution is a general problem in India and mosques are by no means the only entities which are causing noise pollution.

Having said that, there is stuff that is unique to the mosque problem.

a) It's a global problem. Countries like France, Switzerland have banned the use of loudspeakers and even the construction of new minarets. India will do well to follow suit, but that won't happen easy or anytime soon given the amount of pseudo-secularism floating around.

b) It's a daily problem. This is what differentiates the mosques from wedding revelations and other noise polluting events which are usually temporary in nature. For example Ganapati loudspeaker violations, Navaratri, Diwali etc are definitely very annoying but for me the respite lies in the fact that they will get over after a few days! But in the case of the Azaan, you have no option but to listen to it day in and day out and wake up every morning by an alarm clock over which you have no control!

Anonymous said...

Mornings 5:30 - Evenings 6:30 and 8:00 - real nuissance ... not able to sing our own prayers at home ... even the tele-conference from homes are interupted for a full 5 minutes ... Rest of the times in a day ... its ok. and If IF ... IF THERE IS A POWER CUT ... Wooww ... not only we barely manage to sleep, but we are rudely awaken by this howl ... this is the time when one really hates Generators and batteries ....
I do not believe that its said in kooran that one should howl via mic's - atleast if there was someone who is educated .. to educate them about personal spaces etc ..
Muslims themselves make others hate them.

Anonymous said...

thus muslims make the entire world hates them.I just don't understand them I mean they also love GOD so much but even God seems not to care about them.

Uma said...

Many people say that Muslims make others hate them, by blaring the azaan on their loudspeakers. I want to remind everyone that such logic is dangerous - all Muslims are not the same, all are not fanatical, all are not even orthodox. I'm no scholar, so what would I know, but I'm willing to bet there is nothing in the Koran that says azaan must be amplified through loudspeakers :)

Bottom line: yes, mosque loudspeakers suck, and in Mumbai at least they are nearly all illegal, but do not hate "Muslims". If you haven't called your local police station demanding they stop the commotion, or called the Awaaz Foundation to ask them what they can do about your local mosque loudspeaker, you haven't done your part as a responsible citizen. Let your anger provoke you to do something constructive, or stop whining. Or leave Mumbai - as I did. I didn't leave it because of the mosque noise alone - I think the whole city is dysfunctional and disgusting, with its stupid paan-spitting, self-interested law makers and law enforcers.

karikari said...

I live in Jakarta, and most of Indonesians are Muslims. I am, of course, not a Muslim and to be honest I dont take part of any religion.

Just about 5 meters from my house is a Musalla. It is not a Mosque, but a Musalla. But they have a real speakers all over with real bad sound system. Not to mention the prayers they chant, sometimes the speakers buzz and screech, it literally hurts my eardrums.

Now is already Ramadhan, and since most of my neighbors are Muslim, even the ones like us who are not Muslims, had to wake up for Suhoor because they wakes everyone up with drums and, just say, like a marching band. It is a real menace. Like, I have to get enough sleep so I can go work, but then my peaceful sleep always get distracted because of Suhoor call and even at 8 PM they are still chanting prayers through the night.

Beforehand, I am sorry if my comment is offending, but I dont disrespect Muslims. For people like my family, we are minorities. We are the ones who often get problems because of our faith and religion. Like, some churches had been forced to close down because they say the churches were public menace. And even a great Buddha statue somewhere in the country had been forced to move somewhere else just because the statue was between the mosque and Kiblat.

I think it is way better to be an atheist than to be a fanatic religion believer who causes vandalism and such. This is just my thought, though.

sendal jepit said...

It's curently 03:26am. I am not and will not be getting any sleep at all. The prayers or more like some kinda hollering battle betwen several mosques have started since 5pm today, and of course this is aside from their daily routine of singing, praying, shouting sermons and the occasional announcements regarding neighborhood events, koran reading lessons, and whatever else they are using those megaphones and 4 directions of the wind loudspeakers for. Today's a really special day. It's new years eve. Well happy new year :-) I shall celebrate it along by staying up all night w a splitting headache and throbbing ears.......

I am not a muslim however i respect people of all religions, but since when does practicing religion involve blaring speakers. There are currently more than 4 mosques shouting almost incoherently cuz I'm pretty sure at this point they dont even know what they are saying anymore.

I am stressed. My ears hurt. I am sleep deprived. But I cant do anything about it cuz i live in a predominatly muslim country.
Sometimes I just wanna shout out loud "shut the f upppppppppp!" from top of my lungs.

Shweta said...

I really don't get thew point of things like this, if anything, its making us anti-religious. I'm a student in delhi and have exams starting monday, the gurudwara here runs for more than 4 hours in a day, starting 5 in the morning. Now 5 mins i can bear but 5 hours a day, everyday, is just too much to handle. I'm sleep deprived, energy deprived, and mostly irritated.Sadly at the same time i can promise the fact that if i start playing rock/rap country/pop (any loud non religious music) i shall be penalized for sure. That's just the way we work, individuals are easy to bug, organisations are not. Religion above all, is a big deal in india and i doubt that anyone will be able to do anything about it.If anyone as any implementable ideas, please let me know.I'm from Delhi

Anonymous said...

Can i get the rules document.. both the PDF does not open ?

Uma said...

To the last anonymous commenter - thanks for alerting me to the dead links. I have updated them. The Awaaz Foundation site had them. Good luck!

Shweta, I'm sorry you are having so much trouble studying. It's really unfortunate that our country can't seem to progress in a sensible way. I have been through your frustration, where I found it difficult to function in my everyday life because of sleep deprivation caused by mosque loudspeakers.

Wouldn't it be great if a bunch of school and college kids and their parents and teachers could make a bunch of signs and have a silent demonstration outside your local police station or somewhere, demanding that the noise rules be enforced strictly? You could invite the newspapers in advance, to send a photographer and reporter to cover your demonstration. I think it would make a great city news story.

Anonymous said...

Same issue with the NOORANI MOSQUE in Jayanagar T Block in Bangalore Recently they have increased the speaker gain to such a high level that even the road side noise gets picked up and amplified to a very great level. It hurts my eardrums...i have heard of great recitations on youtube which are soulful to hear....but this one is really painful. The corporator of that area also stays close by the mosque and no wonder why he is silent......the whole and sole point of using an amplifier itself is diluted considering the loud shouts in front of the microphone....i wonder who gives them the right to disturb others sleep in the name of god. Do they care...?? does not seem so.

Anonymous said...

I have the same issue here in Chandivali. I am gathering print outs of the law, decibel chart, etc and taking them to the police to file an FIR. But what is this you say about anonymous reporting? I wouldn't want to be found dead the day after I file a report with my name on it. Pls lemme know.

Anonymous said...

While any sound coming under noise category is annoying, noises that emanate at specified time on all days will have deep psychological implications for those who are averse to such noise. I am one of those who is in the brink of psychological break down hearing mosque noise for years together. It has also been one of my unresolved issues. I have sent polite letters to Chennai Police to find a way out but in vain. Our people lack concern for others - cutting across all sections of them. Politicians, road users, vendors, mosque goers, temple goers, church goers, etc, simply lack decency when it comes to respecting privacy of fellow human beings. Therefore, there is a total break down of social order.
A person like me hates blaring noise from local Mariamma temples, Iyappa poojas as much as from a mosque or a church. I wonder how nice it would be to live in peace doing just what one likes to do without disturbing others!.
I also need to point out here that I never shy away from immediately telling temple authorities to reduce volume or telling the auto drivers to stop playing songs during Ayutha Pooja, I have no guts to tell similarly to mosque people. Somehow I have a feeling that their sensitivity to other believers is not adequate.
There seems to be a solution. Like me, there must be some mosque goers too who do not like blaring noise day in day out coming from their neighborhood. A forum of such people from that community could interface between general public and mosque administrators. India needs to progress. Religion can longer be a social force, it can at best be comforting at personal level. Let ALL Indians understand this.

Anonymous said...

Thats correct....We as Indians should understand and respect the sensitivities of the fellow neighbors as well as consdier the fact that there are lot of people who are averse to noise. I wonder how those who shout over the microphone would feel, if those loudspeakers face their own residences.....but I have nevery heard of loudspeaker noise from temples or those days when there used to be no loud speakers, the faithful used to be called for prayers by shouting from the top of the minarets of the mosques (correct me if I am wrong)...but now a days, we are being dictated terms and the noise from mosques are getting annoyingly troublesome....who are these people to dictate terms to us to adjust and live to their noisy conditions....irrespective of whether it is a church or mosque or temple....but all said and done...mosques have become the most noisiest...sorry no offence meant.

Acharya said...

I live in a small mountain town of India's Uttarakhand. The population of the town is less than five thousand.
There are two mosques here, which one was not even aware of till recently. Just after the change in govt. we started hearing the loud speaker of Azaan. The most disturbing aspect is in the absolute stillness of the night at 4.15 am and 4.25 am the two mosques conduct the azaan. It shocks many elderly and children out of their sleep. Many people have reprted high bp and head aches.
I have no issues with Muslims or Islam and have indeed gone with Muslim friends in Hyderabad , south India, to offer Namaaz as well.
But this is intolerable.
I spoke to the mosques office bearers, who ignored this.
I have personally spoken to the Police SO of the town and told him of the Supreme court ruling on no loud speakers till 6 0r 7 am. The SO asked me to get his higher up to order him. I spoke to the DIG as well as the District Magistrate, Collector. They showed unease at being asked to intervene.
I do not know what to do ? I had great hopes when I saw this blog, that maybe some solution may be in sight, but sadly no solution is there. If someone reads this and can suggest solution, besides asking to leave India, I should be grateful.

Anonymous said...

I am so damn frustrated because of the noise pollution caused by a mosque near my house in Powai Chandivali. When the mosque disrupts my morning sleep every single day and I spend the day in a bad mood, I do not even care what religion I follow or what religion the loud-speaker using people are following - whether it is the same or whether it is different. Why can we Indians not respect this basic fundamental right to a peaceful life? Please please get a life, you clerics. Some excellent suggestions are there in this blog - of using SMSes or Islamic clocks. Please use those and spare the rest of the population.

Anonymous said...

Keep it on this initiative. the law is here in india and judgement also passed by Supreme Court. but no one wants to keep these judgement on. lot of gurdwaras and temple, mosque are still mkaing noise government know about it but political view behibnd it again stands...... nothing has been done in this country where political parties are stand agaianst the rules

Anonymous said...

Loudspeakers should be banned for everybody except the police, army, and rescue workers who might need them during a natural disaster. Stop their production and sales for the general public, and seize the existing loudspeakers from all mosques, temples, gurudwaras, etc. They are a modern invention, therefore nobody can claim that they are an essential part of their religion. Plain and simple!

Why doesn't our pathetic government impose a complete ban on them? Do the ministers live in soundproof castles away from religious institutions or do they support the loudspeaker nuisance?

Anonymous said...

File contempt of court case against police commissioner in high court.