Rashid Paul

In the din of wicked loudspeakers, Islam loses its message of peace.

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Verse 205 of Surah Al-A'raf of the Quran says “Remember your Lord deep in your very soul in all humility and awe, without raising your voice….” .

The State action on loudspeakers in North, South and Western India has finally permeated to Jammu and Kashmir. The Civic body of Jammu a few days ago decided to act on unauthorized use of loudspeakers and public address systems from public places like mosques, temples, gurudwaras, churches, and community halls. The issue is whether the custodians of mosques and shrines (of saints) in Kashmir will readily endorse the government action if and when initiated.

The events unfolding in Kashmir since August 2019 when government of India abruptly and unilaterally ended the constitutional guarantees that ensured preservation of its unique ethnicity manifest that nobody has the nerve to come in the way of any government plan or action. Politics apart, being a practicing Muslim and a student of Islam, I find  Quran, Sunnah and al-salaf al-ṣaliḥin (the pious predecessors) undoubtedly guide us  in every matter of life including the prayers and Zikr.

Verse 205 of Surah Al-A’raf of the Quran says “Remember your Lord deep in your very soul in all humility and awe, without raising your voice….” .

Remembering God has to be an effort to feed our soul, attain God consciousness, proximity with Allah.

Zikr in Arabic means reminding oneself. The Qranic injunction on Zikr has been laid down with the intent to soften the hearts. Their hearts and minds should be overwhelmed with God’s majesty making them truly modest and fearful. Remembrance of God is to remind ourselves of our lord, our sustainer and our beloved.

Narrates, the Prophet’s companion Abu Hurairah “The similitude of someone who remembers his Lord and someone who does not is like that of the living and the dead.” (Al-Bukhari)

Evidence in the Sunnah supports making audible zikr after prayers. Says Ibn Abbas, the young and learned companion of the last Prophet, “During the Prophet’s lifetime, “it was the custom to raise voices in Zikr after the prescribed prayers” (Al- Bukhari and Al- Muslim).

But on the other hand we have many ahadith saying otherwise. Quoting mother of the believers Aaishah, Imam Abu Yala narrates that the Prophet of Allah said: ZikrQalbi, (silent, within the heart, Zikr), is seventy times superior to other types.

Imam Al-Tahawi, a 9th century Egyptian Hanafi jurist and muhadith maintains that it is more proper to make Zikr silently. Tahawi was a student of AḥmadibnAbi Imran. Ahmad had studied under Abu Yusuf and Muḥammad ash-Shaybani. The duos were the primary students of our great Imam, Abu Ḥanifa.

Imam Al-Tahawi reconciled the contradictory ahahadith on Zikr saying, the difference is due to the disparity between the people, the circumstances, time and the goals. He advises “it is better to make silent Zikr when one fears falling into hypocrisy or disturbing others”.

It is this essential point of “disturbing others” that needs to be critically considered and thought in the context of the emergent State action on the loud speakers in Jammu and Kashmir. Actions and initiatives by the regimes and States, whether authoritarian or democratic, fascist or liberal, majoritarian or the ones that also appreciate the concerns of its minorities, are generally driven by the motives of interest. But we need to examine the use of loudspeakers through the command of Allah which is “Remember your Lord within yourself humbly and with awe, below your breath,…”.

However scholars from the Barelvi School overwhelmingly support loud Zikr. They refer to the verse 114 of the Surah Al Baqarah “Who are more unjust than those who prevent the name of Allah from being mentioned in His mosques and strive toward their destruction”.

But this verse like every other verse of the Quran has a specific background to address a particular situation. The verse was revealed to Holiest of the Holy in respect of the Pagans of Makkah who prevented Muslims from prayer in Kabah and persecuted them.

Quran and the messenger of Allah are the absolute mercy up on universe. Both aim to provide peace within and outside our lives. Loudspeakers are anathema to this objective of peace. The amplified voice on loudspeakers is violence that disturbs patients, students, workers and those following intellectual or spiritual pursuits. Loudspeakers have made the Deen of Islam a dole tamasha exercise. Its message of peace is being lost in the din of wicked loudspeakers.

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