An open letter to Sonu Nigam

This is what I have to say about Sonu Nigam’s rant about Azaan. 

“You’re right. What is the necessity of using mikes and electrical devices five times a day to call “Muslims” for prayer when there are people from other religions existing in a community.”…and yet you’re wrong.

Why Sonu’s rant dissappointed me

Sonu’s rant did not annoy me because I’m a Muslim. To be honest, living in a western country, the only way I hear the Azaan is if I have there is a software on my laptop or computer and it’s on loudspeaker. I’m very much aware that the Arabic tunes of Azaan or Sanskit tunes of bhajans are not very common in the western world. I sometimes hear the Azaan in designated areas where the majority population are Muslims, even then, the volume is kept at a minimum. I stop at Hindu temples when they are performing a puja, to hear the bhajans and dhols of Hindus. Even though I’m not a Hindu, hearing the dhol makes me nostalgic, it reminds me of my nani bari in India, which was a hindu dominant region.   

Sonu Nigam’s rant annoyed me because a creative artist of such high caliber is showing such ignorance to the history and culture of the Indian subcontinent. Growing up and buying all of Sonu’s albums, it’s disappointing to hear this kind of bigotry/prejudice from such a great artist whose music influenced my choice of genre. Especially at a time when a community of people don’t need such scrutiny. Isn’t multiple terrorist group doing enough to hurt the Muslim community?  

What makes India beautiful!

Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism has been co-existing in India for hundreds of years. History shows, over time, religions of all backgrounds in India have been tolerant towards each other’s rituals and culture. In fact, if you look at India from a Westerner’s point of view, India is a beautiful potpourri of colours , music, culture and food. Where do you think this potpourri originated from?  It’s the cultural influences of various religions, including Islam that makes Indian culture what it is today.

I will not go into the politics of how horrible the muslim Mughals were and how peaceful the hindu Maharaja’s were. It is true, Mughals were tyrants, and they also brought with them language, culture and architecture that India prides on today. Mughals were overturned by the British, who brought about the Western influence in India, many of which is still practiced today. If we overlook the politics, India has been exposed to a various cultural influences from all over the World. This includes reciting the Azaan,  rining a bell when entering a mandir, singing Church hymns and the list can go on. I would say it would be a difficult job to be an Indian / Bangladeshi / Pakistani or basically belong to any country of south east asia and say, ” ‘this’ is not my culture”

What’s the point? 

Just to set the record straight, a Muslim who prays fives times a day, do not need a reminder to pray. Normally, a Muslim who regularly prays don’t even wait for the Azaan; most of the time, they are already at a mosque socializing with fellow Muslims, or at home, buzzing around family members to pause their work and prepare the prayer mat. You see, praying is a habit of a person just like sleeping, or eating and the natural body clock kicks in to tell you what to do. This is not just for regularly praying Muslims , but also for regularly praying Hindu’s in the mornings and evenings and regularly praying Christians on Sundays.  On the other hand of the scale, there are some Muslims who don’t regularly pray, and won’t respond to the “religious” call. Hearing the Azaan is just something they have become accustomed to, just like many non-muslims in India. I’ve met many such non-muslims who enjoy the calming effect the Azaan’s tune has. I’ve met many non-muslims who respect this religious call and make way for a pious muslim to allow their prayer.

So what’s the point of Azaan?  It is a culture that should be allowed to co-exist with other public religious practices. If you’re criticising why not criticise all religious practices that makes loud noise and then ban them, instead of targetting one? 

The real issue

The issue here is not Azaan. Or a religious force to do something. The issue here proving you are intolerant and actually promoting hatred towards a singular community. The issue is your prejudice.

 If Sonu is claiming that the Azaan is disrupting his sleep, then question for him: where has he been all these years?  India wakes up with a myriad of noise not just the Azaan, e.g. chaiwalla screaming to sell chai, sabzeewalla and machliwalla screaming to sell their produce, doodhwalla knocking at 4 am in the morning, trucks and busses honking to their hearts content, mandir ghanti’s, church bells , etc.

Another question: Sonu is how old ? 50 , something. So for the last 50 years, had been deaf to all the noises including Azaan ? Or have India been disrupting his sleep for the past 50 years. Bechara…no wonder he’s grumpy!