Updated: April 23, 2020 06:25 PM
Created: April 23, 2020 06:11 PM
Thursday night marks the start of the month-long Ramadan observance for Muslims.
Earlier this week, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey granted a permit for Dar Ul Hijra Mosque to perform the call to prayer publicly five times a day during the month of Ramadan and, with mosques closed, Minneapolis is allowing a broadcast of the call to prayer. It will sound from a loudspeaker outside of the mosque on Fifth Street and Cedar Avenue.
The Cedar-Riverside neighborhood is home to one of the largest populations of Muslims in Minnesota. The effort came together after the Dar Ul Hijra Mosque, with the support of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN), requested a permit for the call to prayer. "First Avenue" provides technical support and provided audio equipment to make the call to prayer possible.
"In this time, in particular, where people who come to the mosque every single day, really feel a sense of loss," said Jaylani Hussein, CAIR-MN executive director.
The pandemic has made it difficult for Muslims to gather for their daily prayers.
"Large gatherings every night at the mosque for 30 days is completely now gutted during this pandemic," said Hussein. "So we have to find some solace."
The loudspeaker will project the prayers toward the Riverside Plaza apartments, which is a largely Muslim community. The sound will not be directed toward the businesses or other residences in this area, and with the street and highway noise, Hussein doesn't expect it will be heard by many beyond those living in the apartments.
"While this would take up about 15 minutes of each day, there has been some pushback from those who don't think the prayer should be played in a public space.
But Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey disagrees.
"There's no right out there that says that you don't have to hear church bells; there's no right out there that says I don't have to hear Christmas carols. And similarly, there is no right that people should not be able to hear their call to prayer in the Muslim faith," Frey said on Thursday.
"For this neighborhood, this call to prayer is another form of giving this connection back to them," said Hussein.
The broadcast of the call to prayer in Arabic is not funded by the city of Minneapolis and doesn't cost any taxpayer dollars.
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