The Madrasah Taleemuddeen Islamic institute in Isipingo beach in Kwazulu-Natal said it would fight tooth and nail to protect the sacred athaan (call to prayer). The institute has decided to appeal Friday’s Durban high court judgment that silenced the athaan, following an application by a resident, Chandra Ellaurie, who said the athaan disturbs his peace and the enjoyment of his property. Judge Sidwell Mngadi ruled that the madrasah (religious school) must ensure that calls to prayer made from its property are not audible within the buildings of Ellaurie’s property some 20 metres away. It comes as the Nural Hudaa Masjied in Leeuwen street Bo-kaap is being investigated for a second time following a similar complaint.
The Chairperson of the Isipingo Beach mosque and Isipingo Civic Safety and Security Forum, Hoosen Moolla described the verdict as belligerent.
“We find the decision by the judge very offensive and discriminatory to the muslim ummah as a whole and also to religious denominations and it is unfortunate that a judge has made this decision based on one person’s view that Islam is a racist and sexist religion,” explained Moolla.
Moolla said the issue for Ellaurie is more than the athaan.
“If you study the whole document and the number of issues that he raised it is tantamount to being islamophobic, it’s tantamount to hate speech against islam and the msulim ummah as a whole,” said Moolla.
Moolla further explained there are several other ambient sounds that could attribute to noise pollution but Ellaurie has chosen the Taleemuddeen Institute as his blot.
Moolla added many advocated have called out Judge Sidwell Mngadi as being irrational.
Pastor of the Isipingo Fellowship Church, Levi Emmanuel said he is appalled by the judgement.
“The judgement has shocked the fabric of the Isipingo neighborhood. As South Africans we should enjoy the right to undertake our own religious beliefs without anyone infringing on that right and it is distressing to see this happen within our own community,” stated Pastor Emmanuel.
“We all worship differently, we have our instruments and in the Islamic faith they have the athaan and I don’t think anyone has the right to complain it is enshrined in our constitution,” stated Pastor Emmanuel.
“I must say that the support from various sectors of the community even across various sections of religious denominations has been extremely overwhelming to us,” expressed Moolla.
Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos criticized the judgement on the athaan as “bizarre”, saying it is wrong in law and rewards religious prejudice.
The madrasah houses on its property a teaching institution for Islamic studies with about 340 students, a mosque and accommodation for staff and students. Another building is located between the Madrasah and Ellaurie’s home.
In his judgment, Judge Mngadi said the applicant, who is Hindu, was “unashamedly opposed” to the Islamic faith propagated by the madrasah.
Judge Mngadi said he had described it as a “foreign sound” which invaded his private space. He said Ellaurie had contended that the call to prayer gave the suburb a “distinctly Muslim atmosphere”.
He said the applicant had to prove interference and nothing more.
However, SA Muslim Network chairperson, Dr Faisal Suliman, said it was a “poor judgment, particularly because the call to prayer was not amplified”.
“The applicant produced no scientific proof, sound studies or the testimony of any sound engineer or recordings to show that the call to prayer was audible at a level in his house that would constitute a legal breach of his rights, or a ‘nuisance’ as he referred to it,” Suliman said.
“The call to prayer is not a nuisance. We believe this judgment needs to be appealed and will be, up to the Constitutional Court if necessary,” added Suliman.