The Muslim call to prayer will soon be heard regularly in parts of Minneapolis.
Minneapolis mosques can now publicly broadcast the adhan, or call to prayer, over loudspeakers without acquiring a permit and so long as they abide by the city’s amplified noise ordinance.
Arabic words like “Allahu akbar,” which means “God is great,” will be heard ringing out from mosques around the city.
Minneapolis City Council Member Jamal Osman announced this week that mosques will be allowed to play the adhan several times between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily and all year round. The City Council unanimously supported the broadcasts and recognizing Ramadan, the month of daily fasting that begins April 2.
“For the faith of Christians in Minneapolis, the tolling of church bells is an affirmation of their faith and the comfort that brings that’s exactly the same purpose of adhan service for Muslims,” said Osman, who spearheaded the effort.
“Thousands of Muslims in Minneapolis now have their faith acknowledged the same as everyone else,” he said.
Devout Muslims pray five times a day between dawn and nighttime, each prayer lasting up to five minutes. The adhan signals the time for the prayers, and in Africa and Muslim majority countries it can be heard from afar. In Minneapolis, it’s heard inside Somali malls and mosques. Many even rely on smartphone prayer apps to notify them when it’s time to pray.
The approved time frame for broadcasts in Minneapolis means that the adhan for fajr, or dawn prayer, will not be called because it would be too early. And depending on the season, the timing of the call for night prayer could also be affected.
The time restriction violates Muslims’ constitutional rights, said a local representative of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN), a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization. The organization said it also wants to see formal language in the council’s resolution acknowledging that mosques have the right to call for prayers.
“The practice of religion is not constrained by the Constitution of the United States,” said Mohamed Ibrahim, CAIR-MN’s deputy executive director. “The … right to generally practice religion supersedes the city’s ordinance.”
Osman said he has been working on a permanent legislative solution since last year and he sees this as a big win for the Muslim community.
“If some mosques want to broadcast dawn prayers, we can advocate for that,” Osman said. “This is a moment to celebrate and a lot of people in the community are happy about this.”
The adhan can be heard in other U.S. cities with large Muslim communities. In Detroit most calls to prayer are broadcast inside mosques. In the Detroit suburbs of Hamtramck and Dearborn, though, some broadcasts are done publicly, according to CAIR national.
Minneapolis has at least 20 mosques and the state is home to more than 150,000 Muslims.
In 2020, the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood’s Dar Al-Hijrah mosque became the city’s first mosque to get a permit to publicly broadcast the adhan during Ramadan. The mosque has done it for two years without restriction, said Imam Sharif Abdirahman Mohamed. He said it’s heartening that the city has allowed mosques to play the adhan without permits, but he hopes the time limit gets lifted.
Yusuf Abdulle, executive director of Islamic Association of North America, who spoke at the council meeting this week in favor of the resolution, said the adhan is a spiritual call that represents inclusion and harmony, and will give Muslims the opportunity to connect and build bridges with their non-Muslim neighbors.
“This will add a great value to the city of Minneapolis,” he said.
Imam Sheikh Sa’ad Musse Roble, who’s one of the leaders of Karmel mosque, also echoed the same sentiments. He said he and other mosque leaders are meeting Friday evening to discuss how to engage their non-Muslim neighbors before moving forward with the plan.
“We want to be respectful of our neighbors and make sure they are OK with what we want to do before we do it,” Roble said. “Our neighbors need to know that we have permission to broadcast prayers.”