Aisee Nimaz Se Guzar
There are numerous verses in Qur’an instructing silence and low tones in invoking Allah
I have a friend, my age and like a soul mate. He is from a decent lineage imbued in catholic religious Islam and has the required working knowledge of the religion, partly acquired and partly coming from personal experience. His upbringing has had a strong influence of tradition and modernity in thought and practices and has a somewhat literary disposition and philosophical approach to hazards of existence. As far as I know him he has not missed a nimaz in at least last forty years without a physical disability. He has been observing roza regularly as far as possible. I have a strong belief he offered Tahajjud, the late night or pre-dawn prayer for quite some time following the Prophet’s command sallu anninasi niyaam (pray when people are asleep). He has a generally good reputation for intellectual and moral honesty and has on a few occasions stuck his neck out for causes that he felt noble and in the face of odds and adversities.
Last year I happened to visit my friend during Ramadan. It happened to be evening and I just wanted to call on his parents while I thought Zaid (name changed) would be away in the mosque across the lane offering taraveeh. I inquired about his welfare and to my surprise was told he is at home, in the living room. My surprise turned into shock when I saw Zaid watching television with its high volume drowning out the sacred divine words blaring out of the masjid microphone. It looked as if zaid was in defiance of God and in competition with His loud mouthed agents. I found Zaid in a completely antithetical mould to his known personal traits. It looked I had discovered another social abomination that lives amongst us along with legions of them with a world of difference between their appearance and reality, practice and precept.
The shock meeting inevitably turned into a debate. Zaid, initially, refused to get drawn into it but detecting deep pain and anguish in his expression I decided to persist till I got into the soul of this deeply hurt man who felt his spiritual world was falling apart. He had passionately wanted a mosque near his home to carry on his tryst with the Creator and when an opportunity came he made his small contribution to it. Now he feels he is at the brink of apostasy and hell as he tries to neutralize the word of God recited by the maulvi in a shrill and loud voice by taking refuge of all the things in the anti God- the television. His inner conflict is clearly playing out in a bizarre, painful manner.
Zaid quotes extensively from Qur’an and tradition to explain his reticence in going out to bow along with those who bow and prostrate before Allah. “By using loudspeakers the mosque violates the fundamentals of all that Allah has ordained” is his take. And according to him it is not just a religious but a social issue as well. Here is the summary of what Zaid says in support of his reluctant withdrawal from the mosque.
Intention is the foundation of whatever one does according to Islam. If one declares that his salah is for Allah ALONE why should a mosque with not more than two dozen devotees use a microphone if it is not to impress the non-God (ghairallah)? In case of large gatherings like the Jamia Masjids this could be a required tool for internal communication but no mohalla masjid makes the grade for this facility.
For Muslims acoustic modesty has been prescribed by Qura’n in Sura Luqman; ‘And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys.’ It is a known fact that the Prophet (SAW) spoke in low attractive tone. Those of us, including this writer, who believe that our salutations are received by the Prophet (SAW) directly must bear in mind the emphasis laid on the modesty of voice. Imam Zainul Abidin the great grandson of the Prophet must be uncomfortable with the distortion of his famous na’at as one of its lines is indigenized by the loudest mouths in mosques as ‘antan shafi’ul muznibeen’ which traditionally Kashmiris down the generations recite in the dua-e-subh as an early morning submission directly to Prophet. There couldn’t be a worse disfigurement of a sensitive expression of love and devotion.
There are numerous verses in Qur’an instructing silence and low tones in invoking Allah. ‘And remember your Lord within yourself, humbly and with fear and WITHOUT LOUDNESS IN WORDS in the mornings and in the afternoons and be not of those who are neglectful’ (AL-A’raf). Mornings and evenings are the main victims of loudspeaker contests crowding out all space for connecting with God. Similarly in Sura Al-Asra Allah commands; ‘And offer your salat (prayer) neither aloud nor in a low voice, but follow a way between.’ Does use of a loudspeaker fit into this? ‘Invoke your Lord with humility and in secret. He likes not the aggressors’, says Allah in Al-A’raf.
It is a pity that the fair name of Shah-e-Hamadan, Mir Syed Ali RA the greatest benefactor of Kashmir is often used to justify the noise in mosques. I don’t want to go into the undesirable territory of the debate over reciting loudly (bil jahar) or silently (Khaffi) which has been a highly fractious and divisive issue. Shah-e-Hamadan is believed to have approved of louder recitation of Aurad-e-Fathiyya keeping in view the peculiar traditions of Kashmir in the period preceding him. That may be true and I personally believe it has helped in transmitting things between generations. The mosques have served as the cradles for a faith that has the world over assumed local flavors around the core principles of Islam and Kashmir is no exception to this resilience. I would not have had the Aurad-e-Fathiyya imprinted on my mind if it had not been recited aloud in a manner that went into the soul straight. But if Shah-e-Hamadan allowed its recitation bil jahar, we his disciples have converted the approval into a license bil qahar. The blessed saint obviously did not recommend use of loud speaker to communicate with God. Syed Ali Hamadani (RA) was a great scholar, philosopher and poet. He has written scores of books among them the Risala-e-Zikriya. One wishes the Shah-e-Hamadan Institute of Kashmir University brings out those gems strewn across the world in museums and research libraries to put Islamic traditions in Kashmir in perspective.
One has a reason to believe that most people want to break the noise culture in places of worship in South Asia where it crosses religious lines. The hospices, mountain retreats and corners of personal dwellings, all have been taken over by the crowd and the din they generate. It is both commercial and non-commercial the later sparked off by religious or sectarian rivalry. The ignorant whether belonging to Islam, Hinduism or Sikhism are fed on the opium of competing noise to feel that the decibel level of their worship and not its soul makes itcount. This competition of ignorance and aggression has reached the small corner of Zaid’s home as well which he had set apart for nimaz. He is shouted even out of it. “Go to any one room of my house and see if you can concentrate on anything for a minute. What use is my sitting on the prayer mat? Now I am trying to avoid hearing the recitation to escape another Qur’anic directive ‘to stay quiet and listen when Qur’an is recited on you’. TV is the best help.” Of course a convoluted logic but indicates how Zaid’s soul is torn asunder by the uninformed religiosity of his mohalla committee. He seems to be living these immortal Iqbal lines with an excruciating misery
Tera imam bay huzoor, teri nimaz bay saroor
Aisee nimaz say guzar, aisay imam se guzar
We had an ancestor living in early part of the last century. He was a teacher when very few Muslims could achieve that distinction. Obviously a well groomed person who also had the desired knowledge of religion he is reported to have distanced himself from Nimaz. When his father a venerable peer reprimanded him the answer was a desperate query: “What nimaz do I offer dad? The same that is offered by Sultan Sheikh (a usurer), Habib galwan (the horse lifter) or Azim Draal (a pimp) in the first row of the mosque. He was the first to separate from his large well off family to live in a deserted place by the side of a famous stream. He would from the midnight itself sit on his prayer mat without offering nimaz ever.
I fear my friend is heading for the same unfortunate end.
Can we ever claim to be the followers of a Prophet who would shorten his recitation in nimaz on hearing the cries of a baby who might be missing its mom, or the one who ordered a contingent to stand guard around a bitch suckling its litter till his victorious army filed past the spot, lest they should be disturbed? The occasion was the conquest of Makkah, a day that falls in this holy month and the pulpit will blaze across Kashmir with fiery speeches on its significance, through day and night. My paralytic, bed-ridden mother who is left with only the faculty of hearing will be in direct line of fire. And I can do nothing.
Neither can Zaid.
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Lastupdate on : Thu, 26 Jul 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 26 Jul 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 27 Jul 2012 00:00:00 IST
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