Muslim community leaders from Minneapolis wait for city council members to vote on an ordinance expanding the allowance of the broadcast of the Islamic call to prayer. Credit: Minneapolis City Council

The Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted Thursday morning to pass an ordinance allowing the public broadcast of the Islamic call to prayer five times a day year-round.

Mosques were previously allowed to broadcast the adhan, or Islamic call to prayer, three to four times a day to comply with city noise ordinances. Mosques previously could not broadcast the adhan in the early mornings or in the evenings. Muslims pray five times throughout the day.

“It is really important for us at the city to approach all issues from a lens of ensuring equal access for all people, and that’s what we’ve really done here,” Council Member Aisha Chughtai said Thursday. “This is an item that benefits people of all faiths.”

Mayor Jacob Frey has said he will sign the ordinance into effect when it reaches his desk. Three Muslim City Council Members—Chughtai, who represents Ward 10; Jamal Osman, who represents Ward 6; and Jeremiah Ellison of Ward 5—wrote the ordinance.

In many countries, the adhan is broadcast publicly while a community leader recites it inside a mosque. The adhan is recited in Arabic throughout the world, and begins by saying God is great, there is no God but Allah, and tells Muslims: “Come to pray. Come to salvation.” 

The adhan was first broadcast in Minneapolis for Ramadan in 2020 at the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. 

Ellison recalled that he and Chughtai discussed how previous broadcasts of the adhan were limited to Ramadan.

“Councilmember Chughtai, I remember, pulled me aside and said, ‘Does it make sense that we’re asking all these folks to jump through these hoops, year after year?’” Ellison said.

Thursday’s decision came with a week left of Ramadan, a holy month in the Islamic calendar when Muslims fast from dawn until sunset. Prayer, especially praying in congregation at a mosque, is especially emphasized during the month. It is also a time for enhanced spiritual reflection, reading the Qur’an, and spending time with family.

“Many of the leaders you see today had started that conversation,” Jamal said, gesturing to a few mosque leaders and Jaylani Hussain, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations Minnesota, sitting in the audience. “We got nothing but support from the city of Minneapolis, including the mayor.”

The Minneapolis City Council passed a resolution last March allowing the broadcast of the adhan year-round. A noise ordinance disallowed broadcasting it over a loudspeaker during the early morning and late night. Islamic prayer times depend on the position of the sun, so the exact times of each prayer varies from day to day. 

All mosques in Minneapolis are permitted to broadcast the adhan, and Muslim community leaders expressed hope that more mosques will exercise that right by next Ramadan.

Hibah Ansari is a reporter for Sahan Journal covering immigration and politics. She was named the 2022 Young Journalist of the Year by the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists. She’s a graduate...