The 5 am wake up call

For the last three weeks I have been waking up everyday at 5 am. Not because I want to or need to but because I am forced to. By the azaan that bellows into my ears through my window from the nearby mosque –

Initially it made me very happy. I woke up and said a little prayer… 
 and then either tried unsuccessfully to go back to sleep (on weekends) or on weekdays  sat upright in bed till 6.30 am when i could wake Kaveri up and get her ready for school. That first week i felt pious and religious and happy. New home, new beginings new awakenings.

Now the piety and spiritual high has been replaced by a sleep deprived crankiness that is making me edgy and irritable. I am a very secular person and  pray at temples churches dargahs and budhist monastries. When poeple ask me what religion i follow i tell them that i follow the religion of humanity.  We are a free nation and i revel and take pride in that freedom. Because i beleive that people should be allowed to follow their religious practices or abstain from it if they so desire.

Freedom to do or follow is as important and valid as the freedom to not do or abstain. And  freedom cannot be at the cost of imposing ones way of life on another.

Noise is noise-whether it comes from prayer or party music bellowing out of loudspeakers. Wether it is the sound of hindu bhajans, christian hymns or muslim azaan, at 5 am the world is entitled to silence. There should be a time limit imposed on it that applies to all communities and sects. Religion is a private matter and should not spill on to the streets-if it does it should do so at civil hours say 8 am to 10 pm or something.

 Like they do with dandiya celebrations or public shows where there is a spillage of sound that causes public disturbance

If it was bhajans or hymns that were waking me up at that unearthly hour I would have gone and met the head preist and initiated a dialogue on how one could figure out a way of inviting the beleivers into prayer while letting the others stay undisturbed. After all in a free world even prayer should be voluntary.  I would have done this with the confidence that whatever the outcome of the dialogue I would not have to worry about having my head blown off over a simple discussion. But in this instance I dont know what else to do but blog

While i understand that it is tradition and religion a very touchy issue I was wondering if there no way to make use of modern technology to transmit the sound of the 5 am azaan to homes that wish to recieve it? Like an alarm or bell or intercom facilty? or some mobile wireless technology that people can voluntarily install in their homes?So that the rest of the world can remain undisturbed?

Is there a rich Muslim patron who will provide this free of cost to those in his community that can ill afford it for themselves? Technology has permeated every aspect of our lives-made it so much better. Why not in religion? Is there a huge opportunity here for the communications industry?Is there a way to live around a mosque and still get a full nights rest?

37 thoughts on “The 5 am wake up call”

  1. awesome post suchitra. You have the guts to discuss things that most others are too afraid to bring up.

    It is time we stopped tiptoeing around things out of fear for having our heads blown off. A healthy dialogue will go a long way in making the world a better place for everybody

  2. I don’t know how loud is the noise.If it is heavy,you can talk to
    the police.If it is moderate,ignore it.The human brain is equiped
    to do it.
    If that were not possible,stuff your ears with cotton as soon as the
    prayers start.
    If you develop the will power,you can manage not to hear it.
    the human faculties have this capacity.
    Or learn to like it.sleep will follow.

  3. We are a secular country and a democracy that depends on
    votes!No politician will dare to stop this noise,if it is indeed
    of that magnitude.Government functionaries are slaves of the
    politicians and suo moto they won’t interfere.
    The way out is a public litigation in a court of law,preferably
    the high court,if it can do anything to curb this menace,
    But You expose yourself to violent goons.
    The petition to the court should carry a thousand signatures!
    Or the elders of the muslim community can be approached
    to make the sounds less loud.
    If the last aproach fails,Court is a good alternative.
    Never do it alone.

  4. One good thing about blogging is that we can say whatever we wish about anything under the sun. But India has lawyas been like this, we are a noisy lot. But be careful before complaining to them as it will not be received well and might get you into trouble.

  5. Complaints will be construed as religious intolerance,
    even if it were not so.
    5 o’clock is not such an unearthly hour if u retire to
    bed in proper time.
    Avoid making any complaint directly or indirectly.
    Remember dubai experience,
    Learn to accept this as a social gesture.

  6. Suchitra you said your religion is a HUMANITY but i did not see any humanity in you. Because you were disrespecting the AZAN, coz you said you to got DARGAS,TEMPLES,CHURCHES,BUDHIST TEMPLES. So you should know why MUAJJIN does AZAN everymorning, you are very disrespectful and arrogant but you think u speak truth and you are very straight forward. May God bless you.

  7. Tuli

    I dont think it is disrespectful what SUchitra has said nor is she dissrespectful of the azaan. She has said she would have got disturbed even if itwas bhajans or hymns. . She has also said she respects prayer and is wondering if there is a way of doing it more silently. Isnt discussion a healthy way to arrive at solutions?

  8. suchitra’s grievance is against the sound in the
    shrill early has nothing to do with religion.
    tuli u should pay more attention to the context before
    you judge any article.The Hindus disturb your early sleep
    during navratri.that noise is also disturbing.

  9. Nisha & Bernard
    Im not judging anyone in here, i said whatever i felt like at that moment. I m not muslim neither hindu im WAHABI who believes all kind of religion, and nothing bothers me i respect everything people do in religious wise.

  10. Wahabi
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Part of a series on
    Sunni Islam

    Wahabi (Arabic: Al-Wahhābīyya‎ الوهابية) or Wahhabism is a conservative form of Sunni Islam attributed to Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab, an 18th century scholar from what is today known as Saudi Arabia, who advocated a return to the practices of the first three generations of Islamic history. It was initiated to purge Islam of innovations and practices considered to be shirk in Islam.

    Wahhabism has predominantly influenced Saudi Arabia where people mainly follow Hanbali school of jurisprudence.It is often referred to as a “sect” or “branch” of Islam, though both its supporters and its opponents reject such designations. It has developed considerable influence in the Muslim world through the funding of mosques, schools and other means from Persian Gulf oil wealth

    The primary doctrine of Wahhabi is Tawhid, or the uniqueness and unity of God. Ibn Abdul Wahhab was influenced by the writings of Ibn Taymiyya a Hanbali Jurist and questioned medieval interpretations of Islam, claiming to rely on the Qur’an and the Hadith. He preached against a “perceived moral decline and political weakness” in the Arabian Peninsula and condemned idolatry, the popular cult of saints, and shrine and tomb visitation.

    The term “Wahhabi” (Wahhābīya) was first used by opponents of ibn Abdul Wahhab. It is considered derogatory by the people it is used to describe, who prefer to be called “unitarians” (Muwahiddun).

    The terms “Wahhabi”, “Salafi” (and also sometimes Ahle Hadith) are often used interchangeably, but Wahhabi has also been called “a particular orientation within Salafism”, an orientation some consider ultra-conservative.

  11. @Nisha. Wikipedia is by no means a source of legit information. If a follower of the religion says that they are wahabi and not muslim then I’d take their word over some nonsense written on wikipedia. Find a proper source but only to satisfy yourself because convincing people on matters of religion is a futile exercise. The “azan” ought to be silenced. I can pretty sure that most non-muslims wouldn’t want to wake up to a muslim call to prayer and since the country is secular while the individuals aren’t I can foresee the “azan” being a source of major discomfort for the majority of the people. If the established authorities fail at dealing with issues then it is the responsibility of the power-giving majority to assert itself and take matters into its own hands. A loud, disturbing AZAN or Bhajan in a secular nation is an obnoxious act, one that needs to be made punishable.

  12. Hats off to you for blogging on a subject most people are too afraid to bring up for fear of their heads being blown off or for fear of the political vote bank being washed away
    the azaan is a public nuisance -no doubt about it. Especially because it is not seasonal. unlike the dandiya or Xmas carols are we are being bombarded with the nuisance of the azaan day after day
    I have a suggestion that complements yours…why dont rich muslims do something for their community and society at large by seeing to it that something is done about it? Take shahrukh Khan for example who claims to be the spokesperson for Islam. Raking in crores of personal profit for a film called My name is Khan is hypocritical to say the least-how does it help society? Karan Johar is a chamcha of shahrukh Khan and these men are no better that corrupt politicians-because wether it is a gullible audience or an ignorant vote bank ultimately these guys are only looking after themselves.
    Something should be done about it and thank you for blogging about a very important issue in all our lives

  13. Let us not blow our heads off.It is possible to
    tell the announcers to make the call at very low volume.
    This can be done in a friendly way.Surely they will comply.

  14. I think Wikipedia is a fairly reliable resource though not the be all end all. And ofcourse Tuli’s religion and reaction is incidental to this discussion. I think the moot point is, in a secular society where do we draw a line between freedom to live your own way of life and step on another’s toes. The problem is very real. I remember being disturbed during exams in Delhi thanks to the all night ‘माता का जग्राता’ in Delhi. I think we need to have a law on subjects like these. You want to keep up all night? Do so by all means but only in designated areas. Places of worship should have a rule against loudspeakers. Esp. those that are in thickly populated neighbourhoods.

    But then there is a flipside to it. There are areas like say the area around Jama Masjid in Delhi where that call of the azaan is a part of the daily life of 90% of the people and an essential element of a tradition and culture centuries old. Would we want to put that spontaneity under the shackles of a clinical law?

    It is a difficult question and a tight-rope walk. Thanks Suchitra for bringing up the topic for debate though!

  15. It isn’t a difficult question at all. Secularism should solve the issue. Religion is downgraded in secularism and its importance is beneath the comfort of majority. People make it a difficult question by refusing to downgrade religion but maintaining value for secularism.

  16. If one believes one is “secular” then there should be more tolerance than this. I can imagine it must be diff to be woken up at 5am, but its also not fair to expect the “azaan” to stop just to for this reason.

    I feel that you should either talk to them and have them broadcast it at a low volume or you can learn to sleep thru it, its just a matter of time before your mind and body adjusts to the noise. And no one is going to blow anyone’s head off just bcos u brought it up, u can get “blow away” even if u raise your voice against a Hindu ritual. Lets be more fair and tolerant towards each other, irrespective of color, race, religion…thats being secular, not just visiting temples, churges, dargas etc.

    I come from a most conservative Hindu brahmin family.


  17. Like the post here but the comment section discussion is going in an even more interesting direction, of coz all due to the post.
    But I see the bottom line is tolerance..
    … on both ends.

  18. Hey Suchitra…

    read this on this happnd out here in Phenoix AZ…. Can u belive that … thought will give u sme relife over ur issue !! thought this can nver happn in India …. it can in the US…

    “Bishop sentenced over noisy bells
    A church leader in Phoenix, Arizona has received a suspended 10-day jail
    sentence because his church bells were too noisy.

    The bells at the Cathedral of Christ the King in northwest Phoenix normally
    chime at the top of every hour from eight in the morning until eight at

    Neighbors say the bells are too loud and ring too often.

    Bishop Richard Painter says he’ll appeal, according to local station KNXV-TV.

    In addition to Painter’s sentence, the judge on Wednesday restricted
    chimes at the church to no more than 60 decibels for two minutes on
    Sundays and specific religious holidays. ”


  19. Suha

    a 10 day jail sentence is a bit harsh but its heartening to know that people took notice of the noise disturbance and did something about it.
    maybe we can all appeal to just have the volume of the azaan, bhajans carols etc reduced. So that those who want to hear it can still hear it but it dosent pop ones eardrums with its loud volume

  20. nisha sunni,shia,wahabi they dont follow the samething. Wikepedia said wahabi is a part of sunni islam????? Sunni follow everything what HOlY QURAN and prophet

  21. Nisha shia,wahabi they dont belong to sunni, sunni they believe everything written on holy QURAN and prophet Muhammad. Wahabi and shia’s points of view is different than sunnis??? Everything you read in internet not always accurate.

  22. Hey u know what even where we stay the mosque sound is pretty clear, from the market it comes at 5 in the morning and in the evening. Dont think technology can go to that level where it could reach only homes where they appreciate it or want it. What I’d really wish you’d take as sound advice is how you tolerate some people talking non-stop near your ears, all sorts of inane stuff and just grin and bear because of politeness. Do the same with the noise, or the chanting call it whatever. Like in the school where I was working a fellow colleague asked me, “You really dont like noise do you? ” I’d say no dont like it. He’d say but sometimes when I walk into your class to just study the children, he was the counsellor at school, you are very alright with it. Then remember one thing with sound its always ok, only when you think its not ok it becomes not ok. Well hope you didnt think I was preaching. Even stray dogs barking in the night can sometimes disturb your sleep one time I repeatedly woke up, now even if I hear it just sleep. Its called conditioning.

  23. I totally agree with sonu chandra.It is your reaction that
    causes the misery and lack of sleep.Like people who
    live next to railway tracks, u should ignore the sound,noise or
    disturbance in the eerie hours of the morning.Once
    you do it,it may seem strange,you may not hear it
    later on at all!In my early childhood, the boat mail or
    indo ceylon express, while crossing our village had
    to negotiate a blinding curve and the engine will toot
    a long whistle and go.We would think it is 3 a,m, and continue
    to sleep!

  24. I so-totally-agree with this post!

    My first apartment was in Juhu near the ISKCON temple… Every morning at 5 I would hear shrill Hindu bhajans and hymns accompanied by the beating of the drums! After a point of time I just gave up trying to block out the sounds! I just changed apartments to an area where there was no mosque and no temple!

    I was very happy staying in a Heathen area :-))

  25. Brilliant post, all concerns have been questioned here. We need to develop a responsible society that respects others’ rights for better living. And definitely your ideas here can open up doors for innovation, opportunities and income. And in a slow economy we need more such ideas…

  26. really nice subject. Yes, i also agree that the same rule should be applied to noise – early morning or late night doesnt matter.
    Totally cool post. and all teh best with the noise. I hve been thru that too during my Mumbai stint. Moved house.

  27. Cummon dear, juz change ur residence, instead of trying to change da age old tradition involving sentiments of ppl n tenets of religion or hoping for a rich muslim patron 2 do miracles. If u do that, it will end all miseries.. at the same time, may be there is sum1 who may be longing to be in a place like da 1 u live in, a pious muslim or ne one who doesn’t have such strong allergies 2 sound.. Wat say.??

  28. sometimes acceptance can help… when u cant change things around you, changing one’s own self is wiser.

  29. I entered your blog from google search. You really have done a good effort. Thanks for the wonderful blog.

  30. Loud? Noise ? Howling ? …………..Complain !!!!!! ??? thats what we did not so long ago instead they turn the volume UP and installed more powerful sound system and even add an echo effect to the broadcast!!!! they are Not praying to please their god they are doing this in complete and total defiance to those who do not believe in the religion

  31. My house in India is around 1 km from a house-converted-to-a-mosque , so the sound from loud speaker was less audible and manageable. I left India around 15 yrs back and went back in 2009 for a month vacation to catch up on all the things that changed. The worst thing i noticed was, now even the Christians started doing the same. Four house down from my house, they have a house-converted-to-a-church and equipped with loud speakers..and every freaking hour…it screams with the bell sound ( its so loud and i can swear that a heart patient standing under it would collapse or a pregnant lady standing under it might harm her kid in the womb ) and recites some garbage. So, now at 5:00 am… we have two loud speakers.. a mosque and a church .. screaming to compete each other… what non-sense is this ?? For the first time i wondered what these guys are doing to my country and others living around these make-shift worship places.

    Like Suchitra said…install somekinda electronics in your house.. and let the Mosque / Church broadcast to your house 24 hrs a day and let everyone else live a peaceful life.

  32. I am launching an initiative to tackle the menace of Azaans delivered using loudspeakers in the city of Bombay. If like me, you too are a sufferer of this violation of your fundamental right to a peaceful life, I urge you to join hands with me in this initiative.

    I have started a blog specifically to tackle this menace in the city of Bombay from the grass-root level upwards. The link to my blog is :

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *