Adhan/Azan is the Islamic call to worship, recited by the muezzin (a man who calls Muslims to prayer from the minaret of a mosque) at prescribed times of the day. The adhan recites the Takbir (God is great) followed by the Shahada (There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God). This statement of faith, called the Kalimah, is the first of the Five Pillars of Islam.
The information about Azan is crucial before we start talking about the recent controversy surrounding Sonu Nigam, when he tweeted, “God bless everyone. I’m not a Muslim and I have to be woken up by the Azan in the morning. When will this forced religiousness end in India”, “And by the way Mohammed did not have electricity when he made Islam… Why do I have to have this cacophony after Edison?” on 17th of April, 2017. Following these tweets, Sonu Nigam also tweeted, “I don’t believe in any temple or gurudwara using electricity To wake up people who don’t follow the religion. Why then…? Honest? True?”
There was a backlash on twitter against this tweet. People replied to the tweets, some supported it while many opposed it. But things turned serious when a Kolkata-based cleric, Syed Sha Atef Ali Al Quaderi issued a FATWA against him and offered Rupees ten lakhs to anybody who shaves Sonu Nigam’s head.
Few people with public reach and social status said things which cannot be termed as against Sonu Nigam, but certainly, the subtle support to Azan cannot be missed completely.
For example, Saif Ali Khan said, “Don’t know who you are offending. At one level, I agree, the lesser sound the better. There should be certain decibel levels allowed across religious practices. I also understand the amplification of the sound during Azan comes from insecurity,”
and Mika said this:
Big bro I respect u lot as a singer .. I think you should change your house and stay somewhere else instead of changing loud speakers. https://t.co/k83R1zftc0
— King Mika Singh (@MikaSingh) April 19, 2017
However, Journalists sprung right to their job, that is, give out unsolicited advice to people who go against their idea of India and version of secularism which dictates, not to utter anything against the “minority” which is more or less synonymous to Muslims in public discourse- The second largest religious majority of India.
Deputy Executive Editor of CNN-News18, Zakka Jacob “suggested” director Vivek Agnihotri to change home if he has problem with Azan.
Here, take a look:
— Vivek Agnihotri (@vivekagnihotri) April 17, 2017
To some, this may sound practical and to others, it may even sound vacuous. There are more than 3,00,000 active mosques in India as per some surveys, other reports put the number as 4,00,000. However, the question is should someone be asked to change their house instead of demanding for implementing the year 2000 SC order which says, “A loudspeaker or a public-address system shall not be used at night (between 10.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m. except in closed premises for communication within, e.g. auditoria, conference rooms, community halls and banquet halls.”
The judgment also reads, “Enjoyment of one’s rights must be consistent with the enjoyment of rights also by others. Where in a free play of social forces it is not possible to bring about a voluntary harmony, the State has to step in to set right the imbalance between competing interests. The Court also observed that a particular fundamental right cannot exist in isolation in a water-tight compartment. One Fundamental Right of a person may have to co-exist in harmony with the exercise of another Fundamental Right by others also with reasonable and valid exercise of power by the State in the light of the Directive Principles in the interests of social welfare as a whole.”
These points make it clear how Mr. Nigam expressed a genuine concern. While people like Mika Singh and Zakka Jacob ignored the SC judgment, the reality of the number of mosques spread throughout the country limits the choice of an individual to choose a “mosques-less” area for living in. Being a public figure and moreover a Deputy Executive Editor of a leading news organization, the anchors needed to shed ideological biases and support people when who raise critical issues that exist in the social sphere.