For the 1st time, Mosques to broadcast Call to prayer in some Canadian cities

Ramadan is looking a lot different for Muslims across the globe due to physical distancing restrictions placed upon the holy month by the COVID-19 pandemic. And things are no different for the people who follow Islam in Canada.

That’s why the cities like Ottawa, Toronto, and Mississauga, Ont., are helping the community cope with the crisis by granting all local mosques permission for the first time to broadcast the call to prayer, called the Azan, over speakers at sunset every day during Ramadan. 

Luqman Ahmed, an imam with Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at of Ottawa, said hearing the Adhaan (also spelled Azan or Azaan) while practicing 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.

In some countries where Ramadan is widely celebrated, the call to prayer is often broadcast over a loudspeaker. In Canada, and more specifically Toronto, prayers are usually done at sunset without a call. 

That’s because amplified sound in public areas is prohibited under the Toronto Municipal Code, city spokesperson Tammy Robbinson told CBC News. 

But Robbinson says the city is making an exception to the rule during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Spiritual, emotional, and mental well-being is important during these difficult times,” she said. 

Some people who go to the mosque said even if they can’t hear the call over the speaker, just knowing it’s happening brings them a sense of comfort.

“This is historic for me,” said Sureya Ibrahim, who is on the committee that helped push for the city to allow the broadcasts. 

“We don’t have that connection because of the physical distancing. I didn’t know how I’m going to do it. It was a very emotional time.”