New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Edward A. Caban have launched a new NYPD initiative to support and facilitate the Islamic call to public prayer, Adhan, at regularly prescribed times each Friday and during the holy month of Ramadan. The effort represents a historic step forward in Mayor Adams’ continued efforts to foster a city that respects all faiths and allows people to practice their traditions safely and free from harassment.
New York City is home to close to 300 mosques across the five boroughs. The city has one of the largest concentration of Muslims in the nation.
“For too long, there has been a feeling that our communities were not allowed to amplify their calls to prayer,” a statement released by the Mayor’s office quoted Adams as saying. “Today, we are cutting red tape and saying clearly that mosques and houses of worship are free to amplify their call to prayer on Fridays and during Ramadan without a permit necessary. 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. Our administration is proud to finally get this done.”
“This important work, being led by our NYPD Community Affairs Bureau, is a fundamental service to the ideas of religious freedom, understanding, and sustained peace and prosperity for all,” said NYPD Commissioner Caban. “Our hardworking police officers know that our diversity — our rich blend of varying backgrounds and experiences — is what often makes us stronger. The NYPD’s proud embrace of this idea is at the heart of our robust community outreach, our crime-fighting efforts, and our ongoing public safety mission.”
The Adhan, also spelled Azan, is a succinct message — usually broadcast publicly over the speakers or public address system of a house of worship — summoning members of the Muslim faith for prayer. The NYPD’s new legal guidance clarifies for mosques and masjids that the call to prayer is allowed in New York City and not prohibited despite sound restrictions in city neighborhoods.
The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, was among several Muslim organizations and leaders who applauded Mayor Adams decision to publicly support the adhan, to be freely heard throughout the city on Fridays and during Ramadan without a sound permit.
This support clarifies and removes obstacles previously experienced by some mosques despite the New York City administrative code allowing houses of worship to amplify sound for religious purposes.
Under the new guidance, a mosque or masjid can broadcast the call to prayer every Friday between 12:30 PM and 1:30 PM as well as during the sunset prayers every evening during Ramadan — a holy, month-long period of fasting, prayer, reflection, and community observance that arrives in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.
The NYPD Community Affairs Bureau and Muslim faith leaders will work collaboratively in every neighborhood with mosques and masjids to communicate the new plans for Adhan to local community leaders and stakeholders. They will work to ensure that any sound device used to broadcast an Adhan is set at appropriate decibel levels and in accordance with the rules of the noise code within the city’s administrative code.
“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, Muslim Community Center of Brooklyn. “I am so grateful to be able to hear it again here in my own city.”
“As a principal of an Islamic school, I see my students struggling to maintain their identity as a Muslim. Many are afraid to share it, and the rest are hesitant,” said Somaia Ferozi, principal, Ideal Islamic School. “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.”