Azaan furore: Right wing Hindu prof told to use skills to ‘unite not divide’

A Durban professor who supports India’s right-wing Hindu nationalist paramilitary organization, the RSS, was taken to task after he wrote an article with false claims on the Azaan, writes an Al-Qalam Reporter.

A senior Durban lawyer, Advocate Mahomed Saleem Khan SC, has lashed out at Professor Anand Singh who wrote a newspaper article suggesting that the Azaan was outdated and replete with inaccuracies.

Singh, a professor of anthropology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, had lent his support to self-confessed Islamophobe, Chandra Ellaurie, who had won a High Court application to silence the Azaan at the Taleemudden Madrassa in Isipingo Beach – situated close to his home.

Singh wrote that Ellaurie had every right to complain about the loudness of the Azaan blaring from the speakers. He also said the Azaan was divisive.

Advocate Khan took him to task, pointing out (in a social media post) that there was NO voice amplification over the speakers at the Talimuddeen Madrassa as he falsely wrote. This false allegation was “shockingly inappropriate for an elderly and seasoned academic,” Khan said.

“Singh’s ignorance of basic Islamic principles is apparent on even a very cursory perusal of his article. He misinterprets and misunderstands the Azaan. Consequently, the very foundation for his complaint, characterized by misrepresentations and a misunderstanding is flawed. The Azaan is not divisive as he claims.”

He pointed out that when the trustees of the Madrassa attempted to engage with Ellaurie, he like Singh, declined to communicate and displayed “an intransigent and bigoted attitude.”

“The Azaan given through voice amplification systems, or otherwise, does not generally exceed the maximum sound level permitted by law, just as the Christian and Hindu sounding of the bell, the loud public chanting of Hindu Bhajhans, or the beating of the Zulu religious drum do not.

Khan said if one has to accept Singh’s misguided reasoning, this would mean that any other forms of invitations to prayer, some of which pre-date the advent of Islam, would be outdated.”

Khan asked: “What of other Hindu and other old religious rituals. Are those too ousted by the passage of time? Does Singh change his adherence to religious rituals with the passage of time?

Ignorance

Khan said Singh does not understand the true meaning of the words ‘religious tolerance’. Islam propagates religious tolerance and Singh’s claims to the contrary reflect his ignorance on the matter. Muslims demonstrate the same sensitivity to Hindu and other religious practices as they expect others to demonstrate to Islamic practices.

“Have you ever encountered any Muslim instituting legal proceedings to interdict the loud Hari Krishna chanting accompanied by the beating of a drum or the ringing of a Temple bell?

“Had there been a greater proliferation of the misguided Ellaurie and Singh mentality, our courts would be inundated with members of different religious groups interdicting religious practices of others which offend against the fabric of their religious beliefs”.

Khan said the professor’s notion that Islamic practices was outdated, must have been influenced by author Salman Rushdie’s misguided writings. He advised the professor to take note of the rapid conversion, if not reversion to Islam, by modernists. “It is reliably documented that Islam is the most rapidly spreading religion and this too substantiates my criticisms of Singh’s misguided opinions,” Khan said.

“We live in a world of both sound, and silence. Is this not a sign enough for Singh? A proper understanding of religious tolerance eludes Singh,” he added,

In his parting words, Khan warned: “Singh! Use any academic skill with which you might have been blessed to unite, not to disunite, lest you yourself become fuel for the inferno which you appear to seek to create.”

*After a High Court judge ordered that the Azaan be muted at the Taleemudden Madrassa following a complaint made by a resident, lawyers for the Institute filed an application for leave to appeal the “erroneous” judgement. They are now waiting for the Judge to give them a date for the appeal to be heard.

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