Azaan app: Mumbai’s Jama Masjid goes hi-tech amid row of loudspeakers

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The ‘Al Islah’ app will be used to initiate a live call for prayer (azaan) directly to a person’s mobile phone as well as to deliver messages from the mosque to people.

Bombay Jama Masjid | Photo Wikimedia

A 17th-century mosque in Mumbai’s bustling Kalbadevi district has taken a 21st-century step to livestream the azaan directly to people’s homes via a mobile phone app.

The iconic Jama Masjid has teamed up with tech experts from Maharashtra College’s incubation department and is currently working to create an app called “Al-Islah” that will not only sound the Islamic call to prayer , but will also convey important announcements and social messages from the mosque, as well as combat misinformation. The application is currently under development for iOS and Android and has already been tested in a closed circuit; its beta testing will begin next week and the app is expected to be available to the public within the next month.

The use of loudspeakers to sound the azan, the Islamic call to prayer (namaaz), has become a political issue in its own right after it first angered MNS leader Raj Thackeray a year ago. two months. In his Gudi Padwa speech, Thackeray threatened that if the practice of using ‘illegal’ loudspeakers was not ended after the end of the holy month of Ramadan (May 2), he would retaliate by playing the Hanuman Chalisa (in an even louder tone). volume than azan) outside mosques.

Although the azan is sounded five times a day, it is the early morning call to prayer sounded near dawn – commonly known as Fajr – that has been presented as problematic and a “social problem” ever since the Supreme Court in 2005 banned the use of sound amplifiers (including trumpets and drums) between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. The only exception to this rule is for “public emergencies.”

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Al Islah App

“Al-Islah” aims to circumvent the ongoing debate over the use of loudspeakers by live-streaming a cleric’s call to prayer directly to the app.

Speaking to The Federal, Professor Saima Shaikh, Director of the Maharashtra College Incubation Center said: “Since almost everyone uses a smartphone these days, we thought why not create a mobile app who helps us to make the azaan directly reach people’s homes?

“It (the app) has two modes that can be toggled in its settings. The first is a push notification feature that will display one or more notifications on the person’s mobile phone that the azaan is in progress, while the other feature will directly enable azaan live streaming directly to your phone.People who don’t want to be woken up early (for Fajr) can opt for the first setting.

Read also : Many mosques in Maharashtra turn off the loudspeakers; MNS workers detained

Shaikh says the USP of the mobile app is its live streaming feature. “Sometimes the news circulating on social networks or on Whatsapp needs to be clarified. This can be achieved by the application in real time. It prevents the dissemination of false information. The push notification setting can also be used to make announcements.

“We have already tested the app among ourselves (developers) but its beta testing will start in the next 8-10 days,” Shaikh said.

Jama Masjid of Bombay Trust (JMBT) Chairman Shuaib Khatib hailed the move as a use of technology.

“There is a dhaarmik (religious) problem prevailing at the moment. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land and it has rules against noise pollution that we must follow. On the other hand, we still have to fulfill our religious responsibilities; we can’t leave that. So, staying within the law and the guidelines set by the SC, if we find another way, we have to do it. There were no loudspeakers 500 years ago when the call to prayer was given only by voice. But as technology advanced, speakers began to be used for azaan. So why not reuse the technology now? he told the Federal.

Khatib said the azaan will be heard live on the app at the same time as it is held in the mosque, thereby informing people that it is time to pray.

“It (the app) can be used to convey messages about mosque-related activities and also help administrators to deliver social messages to the public,” he said.

He also said that although the app is currently only created for Jama Masjid, if administrators of other mosques want to customize the app according to their needs and use it, his technical team will develop it for them.

“We don’t want to promote this app as an alternative to the traditional azaan that we hear ringing from the mosque,” Shaikh said. “It’s just that we have a situation right now and we are trying to overcome it. We will definitely miss the sound of the azaan in the morning as it is part of our childhood…but you always have to adapt to the situation current.

Khatib, however, said the culture of traditionally playing the azaan on loudspeakers will not end. “We don’t have to put an end to this culture… it will always be in its place. The SC did not say anywhere that it was forbidden to play the azaan over a microphone or speaker. He only said that no religious place can use loudspeakers between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Azaan has not been arrested by any court.


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