The call to prayer is a prayer for the future, a call to those in times of despair

Source: The Star

By Mustafa Farooq

“Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar.”

The delivery room at the Grey Nuns Hospital in Edmonton is dark, but on May 5, 2015, at 6 a.m., I was jumping up and down as my newborn son came into the world.

The Muslim tradition is to whisper the call to prayer — the adhaan — in the ear of the newborn child after birth; but I was so filled with adrenalin in the moment, that I began to loudly chant the call to prayer even as I held him in my arms for the first time.

Five years on, almost to the day, we in the Canadian context are having a public discussion about the place of the adhaan — the call to prayer — as numerous municipalities, including Brampton, Missisauga, and Edmonton have amended their noise bylaws to permit Canadian Muslims to make the public call to prayer during the COVID-19 crisis.

I am a lawyer by training — so by nature I am inclined to want to draw out arguments before you about treating citizens equally (church bells are allowed, so why shouldn’t the Muslim call to prayer?) or around the need of citizens to adequately study the changes to the bylaws (many of the changes roll up in the next two weeks as Ramadan comes to an end), but in this case, I wish to tell you what the adhaan means to me, and what it means to me today, in the context of COVID-19 and in the context of life, birth, and death.

I cannot help — even as Nazis make bomb threats to mosques because they had the audacity to recite a five minute prayer at dusk — but think of the worshippers at the Quebec City Mosque, who reportedly heard Alexandre Bissonette state the opening words of the adhaan, “Allahu akbar” before opening fire in the bloodiest attack on a religious institution in Canadian history.

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