NEW YORK — Mosques will no longer need a permit to publicly broadcast the Muslim call to prayer under a new rule announced by New York Mayor Eric Adams as part of an effort to foster inclusivity.
Adams said the guidelines, launched in conjunction with the NYPD, makes it easier for mosques to broadcast on Fridays, a traditional Islamic holy day, and at sundown during the month of Ramadan.
“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,” Adams said on Tuesday during a gathering with Muslim faith leaders.
The adhan is typically broadcast over the speakers of a house of worship to summon members of the Muslim faith to prayer. Under the new rules, a mosque or masjid can broadcast the call to prayer every Friday between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. as well as sunset prayers every evening during Ramadan.
With the arrival of Muslim immigrants and Black Americans converting to Islam in larger numbers, New York’s Muslim population began to flourish in the late 20th century. Approximately 9% of New York City residents are currently Muslim. Overall, nearly 1.5 million Muslims live in the New York metropolitan area. That same metro area is home to 275 mosques, the most of any urban center in the United States.
Officials in Minneapolis, a city with a large Muslim population, announced last year they would allow mosques to broadcast the adhan publicly.
“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 Imam Abdullah Salem, who heads the Muslim Community Center of Brooklyn. “I am so grateful to be able to hear it again here in my own city.”
Muslim faith leaders and police officials will work together in neighborhoods with mosques and masjids to communicate the new plans. The collaboration will ensure that that any device used to broadcast an adhan is set at appropriate decibel level and in accordance with noise codes.
NYPD commissioner Edward Caban said the police department is “proud embrace of this idea is at the heart of our robust community outreach, our crime-fighting efforts and our ongoing public safety mission.”
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the NYPD launched a spy program where it secretly surveilled the Muslim community by sending informants to mosques to watch sermons. Internal audits later showed the program failed to provide any criminal leads.
“As a principal of an Islamic school, I see my students struggling to maintain their identity as a Muslim,” said Somaia Ferozi, who serves as principal of the Ideal Islamic School. “Many are afraid to share it, and the rest are hesitant. For them to hear the call of prayer in public during our holiest days will affirm to them that this is their city, and they have the right to worship like everyone else.”