Saturday, August 13, 2022

Muslim call to prayer arrives in Minneapolis soundscape

MINNEAPOLIS ( Associated Press) — Rooftop loudspeakers chanted Arabic, drowning out both the noise of nearby interstate traffic and the chatter and clinking glass in the courtyard of the dive bar, which houses the oldest Somali mosque in Minneapolis. share the wall.

Dozens of men in fashionable ripped jeans or spotless shirtless tunics rushed to the Dar al-Hijra mosque. Teenagers were holding up smartphones, and some older devotees assisted pedestrians from the high-rise compound across the street where thousands of Somalians live.

This spring Minneapolis became the first major city in the United States to allow the Islamic Call to Prayer, or Azan, to be publicly broadcast by its two dozen mosques.

As more of them prepare to join Dar al-Hijra in doing so, the transformative soundscape is testament to the larger and increasingly visible Muslim community, which welcomes change with both celebration and caution. lest it cause a reaction.

“It’s a sign that we are here,” said Youssef Abdel, who directs the Islamic Association of North America, a network of more than three dozen East African mosques. Half of them are in Minnesota, which has been home to a rapidly growing number of refugees from war-torn Somalia since the late 1990s.

Abdulle said that when he arrived in the United States two decades ago, “the first thing I remembered was Aden. We drop everything and answer the call of God. ,

Aden declares that God is great and declares the Prophet Muhammad as its messenger. It encourages men – women are not required – to go to the nearest mosque five times a day for prayer, which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

Its rhythms are woven into the rhythms of daily life in Muslim-majority countries, but it’s a newcomer to the streets of Minneapolis, resonating with city traffic, practicing thundering snow in winter and tornado sirens in summer.

Americans have long debated publicly the place of religious soundness, said Isaac Weiner, a scholar of religious studies at Ohio State University, especially when communities are changed by migration.

“What we believe in and what sets us apart is informed by who we think of ourselves as a community,” he said. “We respond to sounds based on who is making them.”

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This is especially true when the sound is not a bell or horn, but rather spoken words, as in Eden.

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Abdisalaam Adam, who prayed frequently in Dar al-Hijra, said, “Having heard that voice, it is connected to God at work or even in the fields or classroom.” “It’s the balance of this world and the hereafter.”

Dar al-Hijra received a special permit to broadcast Mosque director Wali Diri said that in spring 2020 for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when Minnesota was under a pandemic lockdown, faithful could hear the azan from home.

Soon it was buzzing with speakers set up by Prince with the help of the famous nightclub First Avenue.

People thought they were dreaming and cried at their windows.

That community need recently led to a proposal to authorize broadcasting more widely. It establishes decibel levels and hourly limits in line with the city’s noise ordinance, meaning early morning and late night prayers are only broadcast indoors.

In Dar al-Hijra, elders pray three times a day, attracting youth like 17-year-old Mohamed Moo, who arrived just five months earlier. He said he wanted the broadcast to be as fast as before in Somalia, where early morning calls woke him up.

“I know it’s a little complicated because of society,” Mooh recently added after a packed prayer service.

As some Americans opposed church bells in the 19th century, the call to prayer from Duke University has sparked controversy over the years. For Culver City, Calif. In Hamtrac, a small town surrounded by Detroit, councilors at the request of a mosque exempt religious sounds from the noise ordinance. In the aftermath of 9/11, the amendment became embroiled in national controversy, but a referendum to repeal it failed.

In the predominantly Somali neighborhood of Cedar-Riverside, nestled between the city and two college campuses, Dar al-Hijra Mosque’s Aden has received no response.

In hopes of preventing that, the Abubakar as-Sadiq Islamic Center in South Minneapolis, which hosts about 1,000 men for Friday afternoon prayers, plans to hold meetings with neighbors before publicly broadcasting it this summer. Used to be.

“We care about the neighbours,” said Abdullahi Farah, the center’s director. “We have to talk to them, convince them and at least share our views on it.”

Abdullahi Mohamed recently stopped at Abubakar in the afternoon when he was driving and was alerted by a call-to-prayer app, which he and many others use in the absence of public broadcasts. He said he would love to hear the azaan everywhere because it would teach Muslim children to pray “automatically” – but also acknowledged that non-Muslim neighbors “may feel isolated.”

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Jayalani Hussain, director of the Minnesota chapter of the American-Islamic Council, said that amid tensions, technical complications and the challenges of arranging for someone with Arabic and vocal skills to make the call live, many mosques may decide not to broadcast. relations.

But other mosques are already eager to be allowed to broadcast all five prayers and hope Minneapolis will set an example for cities across the country.

“We want Muslims to be fully present here in America,” Hussain said. He said that Aden is the last piece of building this house. It is incredibly important for Muslims to know that their religious rights are never violated.”

Several neighborhood groups consulted by The Associated Press said that although there has not yet been any formal discussion, they expect the majority of residents to accept it.

“People will ask, What is that? And then say, It’s cool,” predicted Tabitha Montgomery, director of the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association.

In the two churches, founded more than a century ago by Scandinavian immigrants and now within the trial of Aden, the leaders also did not object.

Trinity Lutheran Congregation collaborates with Dar al-Hijra on charity and outreach programs. Pastor Jane Buckley-Farley said she loved hearing the call from her office.

“It reminds me that God is greater than we know,” she said.

Hirald Osorto, pastor of the predominantly Spanish-speaking St. Paul Lutheran Church near Abubakar and another mosque, also feared no scuffle with his flock.

In fact, he has long been thinking of bringing back the broken church bell to help congregate the congregation and make it more visible in the neighborhood.

“It allows us to know,” Osorto said.

Abubakar’s Imam Maulid Ali said that part of the purpose of broadcasting the azaan is a mixture of assertion of belonging and outreach.

“We hope that the public calling of the azaan will actually increase the interest of neighbors to learn about the religion of Islam,” Ali said.


The Associated Press religion coverage is supported by the Associated Press’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. Associated Press is solely responsible for this content.

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