The Minneapolis Cedar-Riverside adhan is believed to be the first
publicly broadcast call to prayer in a major US city.
From loudspeakers on the roof of a Minnesota mosque, the Islamic call
to prayer echoed for the first time ever throughout a Minneapolis
neighbourhood late on Thursday as the Muslim community there prepared
to begin the holy month of Ramadan.
It echoed again on Friday morning and will continue five times a day
during the holy month.
The simple, short call – known as the adhan – marked an historical
moment for Minneapolis and major cities across the United States,
community members said. While the adhan is commonly broadcast
throughout the Middle East, North Africa and other places, for many
Muslims in the US, it is only heard inside mosques or community
“There’s definitely a lot of excitement,” said Imam Abdisalam Adam,
who is on the board of the Dar al-Hijrah mosque, from where the adhan
will be broadcast.
“Some people see it as historic,” Adam told Al Jazeera. “To the point
… that they’re not doing it, able to see it in their lifetime.”
Recited by different representatives from mosques around the city, the
call to prayer is expected to reach thousands in the Cedar-Riverside
neighbourhood in Minneapolis, according to Jaylani Hussein, the
executive director of Minnesota’s Council on American-Islamic
While Hussein says the community had discussed broadcasting the call
for years, it became even more pressing this year when the coronavirus
pandemic forced mosques to shut their doors and residents to stay
inside. The coronavirus has infected more than 870,000 people
nationwide and killed at least 50,000.
“We wanted to touch those individuals who frequent this mosque and
this community,” Hussein said. “If we cannot be physically together,
at least this echo, this voice, this call to prayer can be an
extension of us being together at this difficult time. To give some
people some solace.”
The Dar al-Hijrah mosque in the Cedar-Riverside neighbourhood of
Minneapolis, Minnesota [Courtesy of Abdisalem Adam]
Ramadan is traditionally a time when Muslims worldwide regularly
attend mosques for daily prayers and break their fasts together. But
this year, most have been told to pray at home and forgo community
iftars in favour of staying safe from the COVID-19 crisis.
Adam, the imam, said while the Muslim community is experience loss
this Ramadan, they hope the call to prayer broadcast will create a
“semblance of normalcy”.
“With the loss of Friday prayers and the regular congregational
prayers, we are hoping that this will give a sense of solace and
connection to the spiritual needs of community members,” he added.