JOHANNESBURG – The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has set aside a controversial order muting a KwaZulu-Natal madrasah’s call to prayer.
The Durban High Court in August 2020 found the call to prayer, or azaan, from the Madrasah Taleemuddeen Islamic Institute in Isipingo Beach, interfered with its neighbour, Chandra Ellaurie’s, private space and constituted a nuisance.
The madrasah was ordered to turn down the volume and make sure that it couldn’t be heard from inside Ellaurie’s home.
The ruling sparked widespread controversy, raising questions about freedom of religion and prompting the madrasah to turn to the SCA in an effort to have it overturned.
The SCA handed down its ruling on Thursday.
The SCA’s found that Chandra Ellaurie didn’t met the legal requirements for a final interdict.
In its judgment, penned by Judge Nambitha Dambuza, the appeals court found that he didn’t explain “what exactly the nature and level of the noise was, and how long it lasted in each instance” nor “what a reasonable azaan would be in the circumstances”.
Further, while the High Court found manifestations of religious freedoms were not guaranteed in the Constitution, the SCA disagreed.
It said that the Constitution “guarantees the freedom to observe and manifest the different religious beliefs”.
For effective observance or practice of these religious freedoms, it said that the Constitution sets an overarching standard of “equitable” conduct for the different religions; and it prohibits discrimination on the basis of religious belief, culture or affiliation.
Against this backdrop, the SCA said that “there can be no room for the conclusion that the Constitution provides no guarantee for religious practices”.