New York City is changing its rules to allow Muslim houses of worship to broadcast their calls to prayer at designated times each week without a permit, Mayor Eric Adams announced Tuesday.
The NYPD rule change will clear the way for mosques to project their calls to prayer — a one-to-two-minute chant played over a loudspeaker known as an Adhan — between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. every Friday throughout the year and each evening at sunset during the holy month of Ramadan. The Adhan must be kept at a “reasonable” noise level, according to the mayor.
“For too long there has been confusion about which communities are allowed to amplify their calls to prayer, today, we are cutting red tape and say clearly, ‘if you are modest or house of worship of any kind, you do not have to apply for a permit to amplify your call to Friday prayer,’” Adams said during a Tuesday City Hall press conference announcing the change alongside Muslim faith leaders.
The mayor said the announcement comes in response to the Muslim community long advocating for a designated time when it could broadcast Adhan without being in violation of any city laws.
“There was no real clarity on if you could, if you couldn’t, and the Muslim community wanted to make sure they abide by the law and we brought clarity,” he said.
Mohamed Bahi, a senior liaison with the mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, said the Islamic call to prayer bears a great deal of religious significance to Muslims and creates a “meditative atmosphere,” spurring individuals who hear it to “pause and reflect.”
“Whether heard in busy streets, or in the quiet corners of a serene village, the Adhan has the power to stir the soul and strengthen the bond between the worshiper and their creator,” Bahi said. “In essence, the Adhan stands as a timeless and cherished tradition, carrying centuries of devotion, faith and reference. It embodies the essence of Islam, calling believers to prayer, offering a moment of connection with the divine in the midst of their daily lives.”
New York is not the only American city to start allowing adhan broadcasts. Earlier this year, the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to allow adhan broadcasts five times per day all year long.
When asked by a reporter why New York is only allowing adhan once a week, Adams said he likes to “hear from the community” and that’s what Bahi had “presented” to him.
The mayor, who last week took a multi-day trip to the Jewish state of Israel, often speaks about his own Christian faith and the need to embrace the various religions practiced across the five boroughs in his administration. He has even said that God told him 30 years ago that he would become mayor on the exact day that he took office.
Adams touted how City Hall has gone out of its way to open its doors to Muslims by hosting a celebration of the holiday Eid al-Fitr and an Arab Heritage event at Gracie Mansion, as well as appointing Hassan Naveed as the first Islamic executive director of the Mayor’s Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes.
Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid, chairman of the Association on African American Imams, said it has “amazed” him that people “pushback” against the mayor’s embrace of religion, considering the city has the largest major faith communities in the country.
“It’s amazing when one considers that the largest Catholic community in America is in New York City,” he said. “The largest Jewish community in America is in New York City. And the largest Muslim community in America is in New York City. So it’s not only a matter of good spirit, it’s a matter of the mayor’s good politics.”