The Minneapolis City Council on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the Islamic month of Ramadan and supporting the year-round public reading of the call to prayer, a first in the city’s history.
Minneapolis Ward 6 council member Jamal Osman introduced the resolution, which also informs mosque leaders that they are permitted to broadcast the Islamic call to prayer, or adhan, in their neighborhoods during the day. The adhan, which usually lasts about five minutes, invites Muslims to pray five times during the day.
“It’s a wonderful honor — the city’s first recognition of Ramadan — and to recognize that the call to prayer can be broadcast in Minneapolis,” Jamal said at the meeting.
Inside a mosque, a community leader recites the call to prayer. Outside a mosque, Muslims have usually heard a pre-recorded adhan on their phone or alarm clock. For the first time, residents of Minneapolis can hear the adhan played year-round from a speaker at their local mosque.
Jamal led the council’s new Muslim caucus, which includes Ward 10 council member Aisha Chughtai and Ward 5 council member Jeremiah Ellison, to push the resolution forward.
“Muslims have been part of the fabric of America for more than 400 years, since America’s first Muslims arrived as slaves,” the resolution reads in part. “Minneapolis has become home to one of the largest populations of Somalis and East Africans in the country, and their Muslim faith is welcome here.
“Mosques around the city can celebrate this Ramadan, and every day with the age-old call to prayer observed by Muslims around the world.”
This year’s Ramadan begins on the night of April 2 and lasts for 30 days. Muslims who are able to do this quickly from dawn to dusk, refraining from consuming food and water. It is also a time for spiritual reflection, prayer, reading the Quran and spending time with family.
“Our city recognizes and respects people of the Muslim faith as leaders,” Ellison told the Sahan Journal ahead of Thursday’s meeting. “It reflects on our city council. This is reflected in my father’s election [Keith Ellison] back in ’06. This is reflected in the Congressional leadership we now have with Ilhan [Omar]. But we still have people in our community who really feel invisible. I hope it’s one of those many actions that make people feel seen.
Chughtai became the first Muslim woman elected to the Minneapolis City Council in November and said she looks forward to expanding politics to meet the needs of the city’s Muslim community. Estimates place Minnesota’s Muslim population at nearly 200,000. Much of the community lives in the Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs.
“We frequently talk about Ramadan as a time for reflection, a time for us to look within,” Chughtai said at the meeting. “It is also a moment of reflection as a community.
Yusuf Abdulle, director of the Islamic Association of North America, joined the meeting to talk about the importance of Ramadan, especially to the congregation at his Minneapolis-based mosque.
“It is very important for us as Muslims to commemorate and remember those who have less to eat, those who are thirsty, those who suffer,” Yusuf said. “I am very excited and thrilled that we are hosting this Ramadan with the support of the City of Minneapolis.”
The Council confirms that the broadcasting of the adhan is authorized
The resolution says that playing the adhan is legal. According to a previously passed city ordinance, sounds associated with religious worship that last no more than 10 minutes per hour between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. are exempt from noise violations. It does not specifically designate a time of year, such as Ramadan, nor does it name holidays or religions.
The ordinance allows the adhan to be played year-round, which is practiced only in three other US cities: Paterson, New Jersey; Hamtramck and Dearborn, Michigan. In Muslim-majority countries, the adhan is usually heard over a loudspeaker all year round.
Muslims pray five times during the day in the early morning, around noon, in the afternoon, at sunset and in the evening. The adhan is recited in Arabic all over the world. He begins by saying that God is great, there is no God but Allah, and says to the Muslims: “Come and pray. Come to salvation.
Yusuf said the ability to play the adhan gives his congregation an opportunity to build bridges with neighbors.
“It harmonizes the community of our beautiful city and it contributes to mutual understanding of people of different faiths,” he said.
The Islamic call to prayer was heard for the first time citywide in 2020. The city partnered with the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Minnesota and a local mosque to play it on a loudspeaker during Ramadan in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, which has a large East African population. As mosques were closed at the time due to COVID, Muslims in the region could hear the adhan while celebrating Ramadan from home.
Chughtai emphasized the importance of the adhan during the city council meeting. She added that she looks forward to expanding the state‘s definition of daytime hours, which does not allow the adhan to be played before sunrise for morning prayers.
“When Muslim children are born, the first thing we do is read the adhan to them. And when they die, we do the same,” Chughtai said. “We come into this world with a call to prayer. We leave this world with a call to prayer. We start each morning at Fajr, the morning prayer, with this same call. And we end each night in the same way.