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Minneapolis to allow loudspeaker broadcasts of Islamic call to prayer

In Muslim countries, the call to prayer, or adhan, projects through communities five times a day.
Posted at 4:08 PM, Jul 04, 2023

In Jaylani Hussein's story of America, the fight for freedom of religion can be found in the mosques of Minneapolis. Hussein runs the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and represents a mosque that is making history.

"This was the story we tell about America," Hussein said. "We tell this story about the pilgrims and about freedom of religion. But sometimes we forget that freedom of religion means for all people, not just the predominant majority."

In Muslim countries, the call to prayer, or adhan, projects through communities five times a day. In the U.S., that call typically isn't allowed beyond the mosque.

"We forget when we talk about the call to prayer that, in this country, church bells have been ringing all over parts of America for a very long time," Hussein said. "It's almost part of the existence of our noise world. But it's a practice of faith."

In contrast, he said, "People hear the call to prayer, and they immediately react, 'Why are they doing that?'"

In 2020, when COVID-19 kept everyone in their houses and away from houses of worship, Hussein and others pushed the city to allow the call to prayer outside during the month of Ramadan.

Two years later, they pushed to make it permanent. In 2022 the Minneapolis City Council approved the adhan between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. This year, Minneapolis became the first major American city to allow it at all times — and with amplification.

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"People close to here, they all come to hear the prayer," said Abdulahi Nuur, who was 13 when, he says, he first led the call to prayer at Dar Al-Hijrah. Back then, there weren't speakers. That has since changed.

For Nuur and Hussein, it's a victory, but not in a vacuum.

"We've had nine attacks against mosques in 2022," Hussein said. "So far, now in mid-May, we have had five attacks against mosques in 2023."

In one incident, a person in a hoodie and mask threw a large rock at the front door of a mosque in St. Paul.

"It shows that freedom of religion is something that we have as a right, but it's something that we have to still fight for," Hussein said.

But five times a day, it's a fight they've won.

"Just to hear the call to prayer is an indication and a reminder to fulfill the promise that you made to God to be a great human being," Hussein said. "I'm proud of the fact that our city is going to set the example for other cities across the country."