Shirdi's Muslims want Sai Baba aartis on loudspeakers

Amidst furious debate over the playing of azaan on loudspeakers in Maharashtra, the Muslim community in Shirdi has taken not one but two steps towards peace

Representative Photo
Representative Photo

Gautam S. Mengle / Mumbai

Amidst furious debate over the playing of the azaan on loudspeakers in Maharashtra, the Muslim community in Shirdi has taken not one but two steps towards peace. Not only have the loudspeakers on the Jama Masjid in Shirdi been switched off, the Masjid’s trustees have also asked the authorities to allow the Shirdi Sai Baba temple to play its morning aartis on loudspeakers.

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray had earlier this year issued an ‘ultimatum’ to the Muslim community, asking them to stop playing their daily azaan - the Islamic call to prayer - on loudspeakers. Thackeray had said that if this practice does not stop by May 4, MNS activists would play the Hanuman Chalisa on loudspeakers outside mosques in the State. The issue soon turned into a political battleground, with parties launching scathing attacks against each other.

Meanwhile, the issue also brought the Supreme Court’s existing guidelines for the use of loudspeakers into focus. In a verdict delivered in 2005, the apex court had ruled that loudspeakers or public address systems could only be used between 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The Shirdi Sai Baba temple has two aartis every day, one at dawn which is known as the kakad aarti and the other at 10.30 p.m., called the shezaarti. From Wednesday, in keeping with the SC guidelines, the Temple authorities started performing both the aartis without loudspeakers.

On Thursday, the Jama Masjid Trust in Shirdi submitted written requests to the Tehsildar’s office as well as to the Shirdi police station.

“We shall not use loudspeakers while giving out the morning azaan. However, it is our request that the Sai Baba temple be allowed to use its loudspeakers during the kakad aarti and shezaarti,” the letter, signed by the Masjid’s trustees, stated.

The move has been received with great warmth and appreciation across the state of Maharashtra, and is also being seen as a fitting reply to vested political interests seeking to create communal disharmony.

“Shirdi is a symbol of religious equality. The issue of loudspeakers is currently a hot topic in the state. We are more than happy to not use loudspeakers but it is our heartfelt wish and humble appeal that the Sai Baba Temple be allowed to use them for both its aartis,” Shamsuddin Inamdar, one of the trustees of the Masjid, said.

Police Inspector Gulabraoo Patil, Shirdi police station confirmed that the Trust’s letter had been received by the police station.

“The Masjid has also stopped using its loudspeakers. As for their appeal, we are bound by the honourable Court’s directions and will enforce them as per the letter of the law,” Patil said.

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