India, that is Bharat, is known for its unity in diversity through its pluralistic society approach having numerous religious groups that practice diverse forms of worship and practice different religions, rituals, rites by keeping religious harmony by respecting one another. It is a country with the largest democracy in the world all because of its strong principles that are engraved in our Constitution i.e., Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic & Republic.
A country whose majority population is non-Islamic, notwithstanding their Right to Life, listens to the voice blown from the loudspeakers daily for at least five times a day and no one really makes a fuss over it despite numerous judgements already been passed against the use of loudspeakers as it is not an essential and integral part of Islam, but still the majority of this nation chooses to blindfold their eyes just to show their respect and understanding towards other religion in the name of Secularism.
Yes, we are talking about Azaan, an Islamic call to prayer, recited by a muezzin daily on loudspeakers for at least five times to propagate the principles and fundamental purpose of Islamic morality that is LOVE: love for GOD and love for God’s creatures. Azaan is a call of a reminder that one shall never forget the Islamic religious conception i.e., mankind must behave morally and treat each other in the best possible manner to please God. It is a call to prayer just to spread the teachings on morality, righteousness, good character and the body of moral qualities and virtues as prescribed in Islam. Despite the violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India for the use of loudspeakers, Azaan has become the biggest example of Secularism in this Nation.
Azaan on Loudspeakers,
Secularism or Theocratism?
Secularism has always been an elephant in the room in India since its integration in the Preamble by way of the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution in the year 1976. The objective of inserting the said word was to spell out expressly the high ideas of secularism and integrity of the nation on the ground that certain religious institutions are subjected to considerable stresses and strains. Secularism undoubtedly helps and aspires to enable every citizen to enjoy fully the blessing of life, liberty and happiness to profess their religion with equal mutual respect towards other religions.
It is a matter of thought - was Secularism able to put a full stop over the deeds of the religious institutions that were interested to promote their selfish ends in the name of religion, or has Secularism become a mere tool for the promotion of theocratism by these religious institution’s selfish deeds for the great detriment of the public good?
Azaan - an Islamic call to propagate morality, love and righteousness, that we all must have heard while being at our homes or while working in our office or while taking our evening /morning walks, but the sound from the loudspeakers never stops, because the non-Islamic population of this Nation always chose to stand on the Secular heights even if they have to sacrifice their own rights. But have we all ever wondered, what actually Azaan conveys daily for five times a day?
Let us know the exact meaning of Azaan in the language that majority of the population of this Nation understands, in order to understand the gravity of the situation.
TRANSLATION OF AZAAN IN ENGLISH & HINDI
1. Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar - Allah is the almighty and greatest.
अल्लाहु अकबर-अल्लाहु अकबर, अर्थात् ‘अल्लाह सबसे बड़ा है।’
2. Ash-hadualla ilaha ill-Allah - I bear witness that there is ‘NO ONE WHO SHOULD BE PRAYED OTHER THAN ALLAH’.
अश्हदुअल्ला इलाह इल्ल्अल्लाह, अर्थात् ‘मैं गवाही देता हूं कि अल्लाह के सिवाय कोई पूज्य, उपास्य नहीं।’
3. Ash-hadu anna muhammadar-rasulullah - I bear witness that Mohammad is a messenger of god.
अश्हदुअन्न मुहम्मदुर्रसूलुल्लाह, अर्थात् ‘मैं गवाही देता हूं कि (हज़रत) मुहम्मद (सल्ल॰) अल्लाह के रसूल (दूत, प्रेषित, संदेष्टा, नबी, Prophet) हैं।’
4. Hayya-as-Salah – Come for the prayer (Namaaz).
हय्या अ़लस्-सलात, अर्थात् ‘(लोगो) आओ नमाज़ के लिए।’
5. Hayya al-Falah - Come for success and prosperity.
हय्या अ़लल-फ़लाह, अर्थात् ‘(लोगो) आओ भलाई और सुफलता के लिए।’
6. As-salatu Kheyrum-Minan-nawm – Wake up and come for Prayer because (Namaaz) is better than sleeping. (Announced only in the morning Azaan)
अस्सलातु ख़ैरूम्-मिनन्नौम, अर्थात् ‘नमाज़ नींद से बेहतर है।’
7. Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar– Allah is the almighty and greatest.
अल्लाहु अकबर-अल्लाहु अकबर, अर्थात् ‘अल्लाह सबसे बड़ा है।’
8. La ilaha illa Allah – NOBODY ELSE SHOULD BE PRAYED OTHER THAN ALLAH.
ला-इलाह-इल्ल्अल्लाह, अर्थात् ‘कोई पूज्य, उपास्य नहीं, सिवाय अल्लाह के।’
Translated by: Firoz Bakht Ahmed (Chancellor, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad)
Most of the people don’t even know the meaning of Azaan. Taking advantage of it, over the years, some passages containing interpretation of core principles of Islam have been misquoted by radical Islamist institutions thereby rendering the said interpretations out of context. Now as we can see from the translation of Azaan, one thing is very clear from its second and eighth line that it is totally against the principles and fundamentals of Islam itself, because if we go by the Islamic religious conception i.e., mankind must behave morally and treat each other in the best possible manner to please God. But on the contrary, the second and eighth lines of Azaan are propagating otherwise. Various petitions were filed for prohibition on the use of loudspeakers for Azaan, as it started disturbing people’s peace, but when people really understand these misleading wordings of Azaan, it gets very derogatory and insulting to even listen to it, as it clearly states that
“NO GOD IS WORTH PREACHING EXCEPT ALLAH” –
“मैं गवाही देता हूं कि अल्लाह के सिवाय कोई पूज्य, उपास्य नहीं” ।.
This essentially means that all the Gods of the people belonging from other religions whose feelings and beliefs in their whole culture, tradition(s), ritual(s), festival(s) literally their whole existence of their entire civilization that revolves around their deity(s) are blatantly being challenged and openly being announced on loudspeakers that says God(s) of non-Islamic population are not even worthy to be preached. This is disgraceful and discriminating in nature towards the religious feelings and sentiments of the rest of the Indian population of this Secular nation and by using loudspeakers it does not remain just an act of insult but by allowing it to be repeated five times a day is like mocking daily on the faces of the people who introduced Secularism in our constitution in the first place. Isn’t this exactly why secularism was actually added to address this very situation in order to stop these religious institutions that are trying to promote their selfish ends to the great detriment of the public good?
Is Azaan On Loudspeakers Spreading
Hate Speech ?
Now intellectuals may think that if majority of the population doesn’t even know what Azaan says, then how come it can be a hate speech or can create an environment of religious differences? And how can Azaan incite people to create hatred on the basis of religion? Actually, it has already created an environment of religious differences by inciting its own people and leading them on the path of hatred. To remove this dogma, it is pertinent to note here that Islam is the second-largest religion practiced in India comprising of 14.61% entailing 204.54 million Muslims of the total population according to 2015-2016 census making India the third largest Muslim populated nation in the world. So even if the majority of the population is not able to understand the meaning of Azaan, it is important to note that 204.54 million people of the same nation are able to understand what is announced daily for five times and if they are able to understand then they are learning what they are hearing repeatedly.
To understand it further, we need to understand what psychologists call it -
‘The Illusory Truth Effect’; According to the illusory truth effect the tendency to believe false information to be correct after repeated exposure is the phenomenon was first identified in a 1977 study at Villanova University and Temple University of Philadelphia, U.S.A, where it was found that repetition makes statements easier to process relative to new or unrepeated statements, leading people to believe that the repeated conclusion is the only truth.
So, essentially the more you say something repeatedly, the more it sticks in people’s head and the dangerous part is, it doesn’t even have to be true and if such illusory believer’s beliefs are challenged or penetrated on the scale of facts and logic then it can trigger incitement among those believers due to those repeated statement(s) which have engulfed them to believe it to be the only truth. According to the UN,
“incitement is a very dangerous form of speech, because it explicitly and deliberately aims at triggering discrimination, hostility and violence, which may also lead to or include terrorism or atrocity crimes”
whose adverse effects were witnessed by all through the Macabre Tale of the Kashmiri Pandits massacre that took place on 19th January 1990, the day when the high morals of Secularism protected under our constitution were brutally murdered.
We should all ‘forgive but never forget’, when only one Islamic call of Azaan was being repeated with deliberate and malicious intentions only to insult the religious feelings of the non-Islamic population of this nation i.e., La ilaha illa Allah अल्लाह के सिवाय कोई पूज्य, उपास्य नहीं।’ through every loudspeakers of Masjids from all corners of the valley, not for prayer but to eradicate the non-muslims from Kashmir as the Valley had fallen prey to few power drunk head and ego inflated self-proclaimed ‘kashmiri Akaas’ whose satanic whims provoked the gullible and incited Kashmiris to wash their hands in blood of their own brothers in the name of Allah. In such a case Secularism will die a thousand deaths but the dream of a Secular nation will never be achieved since a large sect of this nation will never be able to develop an understanding and respect for the people of other religions if they continue to Listen or Speak on loudspeakers
La ilaha illa Allah -NOBODY ELSE SHOULD BE PRAYED OTHER THAN ALLAH, अल्लाह के सिवाय कोई पूज्य, उपास्य नहीं।’
The second and eighth line of Azaan are not just against the principles of morality under Islamic religious conception but are also against the high moral values that are protected under Article 25(1) of the Constitution of India as well, that clearly states; Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion, subject to public order, morality and health. On the other hand, much emphasis has been attached in Islamic tradition on developing strong moral values, where, according to the reformer of Islam from fifth century (Mujaddid) Al-Ghazali, Muslim’s Character, Chapter 2, said
“faith is considered incomplete without having sense of morality”.
So, is this the sense of "Morality” that Azaan is propagating by announcing ‘La ilaha illa Allah – NOBODY ELSE SHOULD BE PRAYED OTHER THAN ALLAH,’ on loudspeakers by insulting the faith and beliefs of more than 1 billion people of other religion(s) residing in this nation?
Legalities Of Hate Speech
On Wordings Of Azaan
Secularism means developing an understanding and respect for different religions. But, what Azaan is speaking on loudspeakers daily for five times is not only against the principles of morality protected under Article 25(1) but also against the principles of Secularism, isn’t it? As being Secular means equal status of all religions without any preference in favor of or discrimination against any of them. It was said in the judgement of;
Aruna Roy v. Union of India, Writ Petition (civil) 98 of 2002 that, ‘the essence of secularism is non-discrimination of people by the state on the basis of religious differences. Secularism can be practiced by adopting a complete neutral approach towards religions or by positive approach by making one section of religious people to understand and respect religion and faith of another section of people. Based on such mutual understanding and respect for each other’s religious faith, mutual distrust and intolerance can gradually be eliminated’.
His Lordship then quoted Gandhiji who said “the real meaning of secularism is “Sarva Dharma Sambhav” meaning equal treatment and respect for all religions”.
Do you think that announcing the second and eighth line of Azaan on loudspeakers daily for five times talks about giving equal treatment and respect to all religions? Religion is a private thing, rightly said by Tajamul Hussain, a Muslim representative from Bihar in the Constituent Assembly that;
“everyone attains salvation through his thinking or through his religion, no person is competent to say that attain salvation through my religion, because every religion is supreme for their followers, it should be practiced privately”.
Now intellectuals may further say that practicing and propagation of religion via medium of Azaan is well within the Right to Freedom of Religion protected under Article 25 of the Constitution. However, it is pertinent to note that it comes with a provisio that is called ‘Edification’ which means to instruct someone in a way that will uplift them morally, spiritually or intellectually. This can be traced from the following judgement of;
Rev Stanislaus vs Madhya Pradesh, 1977 SCR (2) 611- In this judgment the court held that, ‘Propagate means right to exposition of the tenants of its religion for the edification of others’.
Do you think that by announcing La ilaha illa Allah -NOBODY ELSE SHOULD BE PRAYED OTHER THAN ALLAH, अल्लाह के सिवाय कोई पूज्य, उपास्य नहीं।’ on loudspeakers, Azaan is propagating ‘Edification’ in the society or is it developing an environment of hate speech and inciting religious distress by insulting and developing differences by propagating a derogative approach towards the people of other religious classes?
Now how can a peaceful expression of religion like Azaan be a hate speech? To simplify it further we have to understand the gravity of the situation through these landmark cases. To start with, there was a famous case in U.S.A of free exercise of religion, where the court held that;
‘the government has no role in determining religious truth and that peaceful expression of beliefs, including religious views that might offend some listeners is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of US from infringement by the federal government as well as state government. The group in question was Cantwells who were Jehovah’s Witnesses, they believed they had a sacred duty to spread their message to others. They carried religious materials with them, including pamphlets, books and records. They also had a portable record player, which played an anti-Catholic message called “Enemies”. Jesse Cantwell stopped two Catholic men on the street. The men agreed to listen to the record, but reacted angrily when they heard it and were tempted to hit him and told him to leave. Thereafter, the Cantwells were arrested for solicitation without a permit and for inciting a breach of the peace’.
In another case of Raj Paul v. Emperor, 1927 Lahore 590 that was renowned by the name of ‘Rangila Rasul’, where in 1924 a publisher named Mahashay Raj Paul of Lahore published a blasphemous pamphlet of a book called ‘Rangila Rasul’, that was concerned about the marriages and sex life of Muhammad. A complaint was registered by the Muslim community and the publisher got arrested u/s 153A of IPC, but later got acquitted on 4th May 1927 by Justice Dalip Singh of the Lahore High Court, who acquitted Mahashay Raj Paul, on the ground that the accused had not intended to create hostilities or hatred between Muslims & Hindus within the meaning of section 153A, which is and was the gist of the offence under section 153A, although the judge admitted in his judgment that the attack was on the founder of the religion itself but had to give acquittal as there was no law against ‘Insult to a religion’.
Before moving forward with the Rangila Rasul matter, it is important to notice that earlier in the case of Kali Charan Sharma v. Emperor, AIR 1927 All 649 on 24th February, 1927, on the identical facts, the Full Bench of the Allahabad High Court convicted the accused, Kali Charan Sharma, for the offence under section 153A, for writing a blasphemous book entitled “Bichitra Jiwan”. On the ground that the book was promoting “Hindus feelings of hatred or enmity against their Muslim fellow-subjects”. Kali Charan filed a Criminal Revision Application against the order before the Single Judge of the Allahabad High Court. Rejecting his application, Dalal J in his order dated 23rd May, 1927 made pertinent observations. The learned Dalal J hit the nail on the top by saying;
“Speaking for myself, I look at such matter not as a somewhat learned Judge of a High Court, but as a common citizen of a town in India. I would place myself in the position of a Muhammadan who honors his Prophet, and then consider what my feeling would be towards a Hindu who ridiculed that Prophet, not out of any eccentricity (some vichitrin mind), but in the prosecution of a propaganda started by a class of persons who are not Muhammadans”.
Now coming back to the Lahore High Court’s Dalip Singh J acquittal order of Mahashay Raj Paul, the wide spread agitations erupted from the decision in Mahashay Raj Paul case. The acquittal order gave rise to firestorm of protests from Muslim community all across India. The then Punjab Governor, Malcolm Hailey, whom the delegation of Muslim leaders met, said that the Muslims were “justifiably offended” by the pamphlet and that “legal weapon by which its repetition could be prevented in the future” was required to be found. Later, to calm the Muslim community in British India, ultimately on 22nd September, 1927 the Indian Legislative Assembly approved an amendment to the IPC and inserted section 295A by Amendment Act 25 of 1927 that criminalizes the wanton acts of insulting any religion, religious feelings of any community or the prophets & deities of any community in India. Despite introduction of an all new provision in law, that is, Section 295A, Muslim extremist were still hell bent on taking revenge against the insult to their religion and continued to try to take Mahashay Raj Paul’s life. After several unsuccessful assassination attempts on him, Raj Paul was stabbed to death by a young carpenter, Ilm-ud-din, on 6 April 1929.
Likewise, in the case of Azaan, by announcing ‘no god is worth preaching except Allah’ on loudspeakers, isn’t it in sheer violation of section 153A, 295A, 505(C) & 505 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, as it not only generates a feeling of hatred or ill-will between different religious classes of the society, but by repeating it five times daily despite numerous judgements against the use of loudspeakers (as it is not an essential part of Islam) depicts an inciteful act with deliberate and malicious intention to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of the non- Islamic population of this nation ?
Even according to the United Nations (UN), hate speech is understood as,
‘Any kind of communication in speech, writing or behaviour, that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language with reference to a person or a group on the basis of who they are, in other words, based on their religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, colour, descent, gender or other identity factor. This is often rooted in, and generates intolerance and hatred and, in certain contexts, can be demeaning and divisive’.
Now as we all have already stated above how the wordings of Azaan is completely in violation of the basic structure of the Constitution of India being in violation of the principles of Secularism, against the mindset of Morality under Article 25 and is in contradiction with Section 153A, 295A, 505(C) & 505 of IPC, 1860 for propagation of enmity between different religious groups by insulting their religion and their religious beliefs therefore it does not fall in the definition of ‘Edification’, but the big questions still stands.
CAN STATE INTERVENE TO STOP THE HATE SPEECH PROPOGATING IN THE NAME OF RELIGION, BECAUSE RIGHT TO PROPOGATE RELIGION IS A RIGHT GUARANTEED UNDER ARTICLE 25 OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION?
So, State can definitely intervene in this, to promote and to safeguard the foundation of secularism from being destroyed and it will not affect their freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion guaranteed under Article 25 of the Indian Constitution because, according to;
Article 25 (2) (a) - State has the power to regulate or restrict any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice,
that means; States can intervene in religious activity associated with any other community to promote secularism.
Further, it was clearly said in the;
State Of Bombay vs Narasu Appa Mali, AIR 1952 Bom 84, (1951) 53 BOMLR 779, ILR 1951 Bom 775 that “If religious practices run counter to the public order, morality and health or a policy of the Government to uphold the sovereignty and integrity and unity of the Nation then the said religious practices must give way for the benefit of the people and the nation as a whole”.
It is to be deeply understood that, every religion that takes humanity on the path of edification shall be respected, and every God associated with its respectable religion that teaches mankind about righteousness should be honored. Because it is not the Gods who form these religion(s) or ask people to worship them, it is the consolidation of the people’s feelings and beliefs towards their deity(s) upon which their whole culture, tradition(s), ritual(s), festival(s) revolves around.
So, announcing NO GOD IS WORTH PREACHING EXCEPT ALLAH in Azaan does not remain just a religious doctrine for adherents of Islam to propagate but it actually challenges the entire religious existence of the non-Islamic population of this nation which is in sheer contradiction of principles of public morality protected under Article 25 of the Constitution of India, by disrespecting the very principle of Secularism of our Constitution of keeping ‘positive approach by making one section of religious people to understand and respect religion and faith of another section of people’. It is also in sheer contradiction of Islamic principles whereby according to chapter 2 of Al-Ghazali, ‘faith is considered incomplete without having sense of morality’.
It was also rightly said by Tajamul Hussain that “everyone attains salvation through his thinking or through his religion, no person is competent to say that attain salvation through my religion, because every religion is supreme for their followers”. Even the father of the nation agreed to this principle that for the benefit of the society and the nation as a whole;
“I reject any religious doctrine that does not appeal to reason & is in conflict with morality”.
- Mahatma Gandhi
This article is purely based on legal research undertaken exclusively by LawStreet Journal. The objective and intention is not to hurt religious feelings or sentiments of any particular religion.