KARACHI: I am fortunate to be living in a spiritually blessed area. There are five mosques, each located within half to one kilometre of the epicentre that defines my current address. While the mosques’ managers violently disagree with one another on every matter of faith, their unanimity on the issue of inconvenience to mankind is exemplary. While the law allows for azan and the khutba for Friday prayers to be aired via loudspeakers, all these mosques follow it in the breach. They use their loudspeakers many hours during daytime and throughout most Ramazan nights as well.One knows that no sound amplification devices were used in the early days of Islam — traditionally accepted as an era to be followed and emulated as one of ‘best practices’. So how come we switched over to using sound amplification equipment? The law on this subject says: “No person shall operate or use a loudspeaker or a sound amplifier in a mosque, church or temple in a manner or at a volume whereby any sound from such loudspeaker could be heard outside the immediate precincts of such mosque, church or temple.”
Additionally, the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (PEPA) defines that the noise levels in residential areas must be limited to 55 decibels during the daytime and 45 decibels during the night. Presumably, since the PEPA has in all likelihood not heard of an instrument called a ‘decibel meter’, it has never bothered to use one and find out the results for itself. A quick survey would suggest that noise levels exceed 85 decibels wherever loudspeakers are used.
To further add to one’s misery, a few minutes after Sehri is over, construction workers working in the house next to ours begin their work, complete with industrial saw machines, power drills and pneumatic hammers!
The government and the authorities concerned need to follow and implement the rules for maximum levels of sound or noise in residential areas, especially since the government’s law does not make any distinction in case the nature of the sound is religious or secular.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2012.
More in LettersQuestion of supremacy