Ottawa

Mosques get noise exemption for call to prayer during Ramadan

The City of Ottawa is exempting mosques from local noise bylaws to allow them to play a five-minute call to prayer at sundown during Ramadan, as the pandemic prevents people from gathering and hearing it inside. 

Daily broadcast is a short recitation that reminds Muslims to worship God

Much like Toronto's Masjid Omar Bin Al-Khattab, Ottawa's mosques now also have permission to broadcast a call to prayer for up to five minutes at sunset to signal that the fast for the day has ended. (Angelina King/CBC)

The City of Ottawa is exempting mosques from local noise bylaws during Ramadan to allow them to play a five-minute call to prayer at sundown, as the pandemic prevents people from gathering and hearing it inside. 

Luqman Ahmed, an imam with Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at of Ottawa, said hearing the Adhaan (also spelled Azan or Azaan) while practising physical distancing will give comfort to many Muslims unable to attend their mosques.

"Muslims have an emotional attachment with it," he said. "That would bring back that joy ... that we usually feel in our mosques when we gather together."

During Ramadan, many Muslims would normally observe the holy month by praying, fasting and holding community feasts at sundown to break those fasts.

However, all gatherings of more than five people, including religious ones, are currently prohibited in Ontario.

Luqman Ahmed, an imam with Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at, said while his Cumberland mosque won't be broadcasting the call to prayer in order not to disturb neighbours, many Muslims will be comforted by hearing it. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

The Adhaan consists of standard spoken recitations delivered with a melody. In Muslim-majority countries, it's often played five times a day.

"It has a very simple message, and this is how Muslims are reminded of their daily prayers," Ahmed said. "Basically, it reminds Muslims that God should be the highest priority in their life."

Mosques in Ottawa are now able to broadcast the call to prayer each evening at sundown, until the end of Ramadan on May 23.

Ahmed said his mosque, the Baitun Naseer Mosque in Cumberland, will not be broadcasting the call to prayer as it is "entirely optional," and he worries it might disturb non-Muslim neighbours.

During Ramadan, Ahmed is observing the holy month online through a webpage called Virtual Ramadan.

Ottawa's noise exemption follows similar moves by Toronto and Mississauga, Ont., which also gave permission to mosques to broadcast a sundown call to prayer during the pandemic. 

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