Mosques in New York City will no longer be required to obtain a special permit for the public broadcasting of the Islamic call to prayer on Fridays and at sunset throughout the holy month of Ramadan.
Under directives unveiled by New York City Mayor Eric Adams on August 29, mosques in the Big Apple are now permitted to broadcast the call to prayer, known as adhan, on Fridays from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., even without obtaining prior approval. The allowance applies irrespective of the noise regulations in the city’s neighborhoods.
Friday is a sacred day in Islam, and during Ramadan, Muslims conclude their fast at sunset.
The guidelines are a reflection of Adams’ ongoing endeavors to cultivate a city that honors different beliefs, enabling individuals to observe their traditions securely and without encountering disturbance. Last June, the mayor designated Diwali, the South Asian Hindu Festival of Lights, as a public school holiday, along with other celebrations such as Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Christmas and Lunar New Year.
“For too long, there has been a feeling that our communities were not allowed to amplify their calls to prayer,” the mayor said at an August 29 news conference at City Hall.
With local Muslim leaders standing on either side of him, Adams added, “We want our brothers and sisters of Muslim faith to know that they are free to live their faith in New York City because, under the law, we will all be treated equally.”
A news statement issued by New York City described the Muslim call to prayer as “a succinct message—usually broadcast publicly over the speakers or public address system of a house of worship—summoning members of the Muslim faith for prayer.”
The Islamic practice affirms the greatness of God and acknowledges the Prophet Muhammad as his messenger. While women are not obligated to heed the call, it encourages men to visit the nearest mosque five times a day for prayer, a fundamental practice known as one of the Five Pillars of Islam.
The New York Police Department Community Affairs Bureau and leaders from the Muslim faith are expected to join forces across neighborhoods containing mosques, according to the news statement issued by the city.
Their joint effort aims to effectively convey the updated adhan arrangements to community leaders and relevant stakeholders. Additionally, they will strive to guarantee that any sound equipment employed for broadcasting the call to prayer adheres to suitable decibel standards and aligns with the noise regulations outlined in the city’s administrative code.
In countries that have predominant or sizable Muslim populations, the adhan, also called azan, is a common sound. The U.S. is beginning to warm to this tradition. Officials in Minneapolis drew considerable attention in 2022 by taking steps to permit mosques to publicly broadcast the call to prayer.
“As someone who grew up in Egypt and hearing the call of prayer my entire life, I truly missed its beauty and peaceful reminder to take a moment and appreciate what you have,” said Abdullah Salem, an imam at the Muslim Community Center of Brooklyn. “I am so grateful to be able to hear it again here in my own city.”