You cannot silence our Azaan’

An order granted by a High Court judge to mute the sound of the azaan at a Madrasah in Isipingo has raised consternations, writes an Al Qalam Reporter.

A Durban law firm acting for Madrasah Taleemuddeen Islamic Institute in Isipingo has applied for leave to appeal against a High Court judgment that prohibits the Madrasah from laudably calling out the azaan – and they are confident that the verdict would be overturned.

The application against the Institute has made international news after a Hindu neighbour, Chandra Giri Ellaurie, filed an application to have the sounds of the azaan muted further, even though the azaan was not amplified.

Judge Sidwell Mngadi issued a court order against the madrasah to ensure its call to prayer is not audible inside the neighbour’s house across the street.

Ellaurie, who denied he was an Islamophobe, however, believes Islam to be racist and sexist religion. He argued the call of prayer “deprived him of the enjoyment of his property rights”.

Meanwhile, M.Y. Baig, a former councilor, laid a charge of against Ellaurie for crimen injuria, blasphemy and hate speech and called for the matter to be handled by the Equality Court which has jurisdiction in a case such as this.

Attorney Aslam Mayat, acting for the Madrasah said they were hopeful that the leave to appeal would be granted soon and its case put forward.

In a press statement yesterday, Mayat said Hindu neighbours of Ellaurie had filed affidavits supporting the Madrasah that there is no sound disturbance.

The basis of the applicants’ case is that he must not hear the azaan because he found Islam to be offensive. He contended that Hindusism, Christianity and Judaism are true religions because they accept the divinity of man and Islam is a false religion because it does not,” Mayat said.

Nevertheless, the judge granted the order that the azaan from the Madrasah not be heard by Ellaurie in the confines of his home.

The Madrasah believes the judgment is wrong and is vigorously fighting the order.

On hearing of the restrictions placed on the azaan, a non-Muslim group, The Tactical Shooting Team, headed by Rivaaj Ramdas, were so incensed by the “banning of the azaan,” they decided to drive past the Madrasah and past Ellaurie’s house, playing the azaan on loudspeakers.

Ramdas said the attempt to ban the azaan was the “work of the devil”. It goes against the constitution and basic human rights. He said “we are not prepared to accept this high court order”. Muslims were suffering pain and hurt, and this must be challenged. “My heart is bleeding for the Muslim community. This is the work of the devil, and the devil must be destroyed. This is a fight against evil,” he added.

He said the azaan would never be stopped and he and his team were prepared to go to jail for their stand.

This act of standing with Muslims touched the hearts of people around the world who praised the group’s leader for his stance.

Al Qalam contacted Ellaurie for comment, but he declined to make a statement. Asked whether he was aware that another Hindu neighbour had allegedly sent a whatsapp message backing him in his claims, saying people must understand there was “two sides to a story, Ellaurie said he was not aware of the whatsapp message. Al Qalam asked him to check with his neighbour whether the message floated about was authentic or not. He contacted Al Qalam later to say his neighbour did not wish to comment.

The whatsApp message read: “The call is for the azaan to be turned down, not off…and I second that because I live very near the mosque and am disturbed every time I need to pray or meditate,” the message read.

Meanwhile, Thomas Coggin, in his opinion piece in Daily Maverick said Judge Mngadi appeared to be oblivious to the diversity of the South African neighbourhood.

Meanwhile, Jamiatul Ulama (KZN) said in a press statement that the applicant did not conceal his opposition to the Islamic faith and said he considers Islam to be a false religion.

“The judgement, which we believe to be ill-conceived and a stain on the South African judiciary bodes ill for religious expression of the Islamic faith, but sets a dangerous precedent for curtailing the religious expression and freedom of practice of all faiths,” the statement said.

The Jamiat also thanked the non-Muslim community at large for standing with the Isipingo Muslim community on this issue.

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