۲۹ مهر ۱۳۹۹ | Oct 20, 2020
Toronto mosques to broadcast call to prayer during Ramadan amid COVID-19 restrictions

That's why the city is 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.

Hawzah News Agency (Toronto - Canada) - 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 nearly half a million people who follow Islam in Toronto.

That's why the city is 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.

"The reason why this time it's so important for us [is] because the [city] is allowing us to say the Azan publicly," said Alhaj Abubakar, the imam at Masjid Omar Bin Al-Khattab, a mosque on Parliament Street just south of Dundas Street East that broadcast its first call to prayer on Wednesday.

"We are very, very happy."

The call to prayer will be broadcast for several minutes at Masjid Omar Bin Al-Khattab, starting at sunset, for the rest of Ramadan, signalling that the fast for the day has ended.

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.

Despite this exception, Robbinson said, physical distancing measures are still in effect, even during the broadcasts.

"Everyone is urged to follow provincial orders to close places of worship and restrict gatherings, and follow public health recommendations for physical distancing, to remain at home, leaving only for essential reasons," she said.

During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until dusk. That time is used instead to focus on prayer and charity.

Typically, families and friends gather each evening to reflect and break their fasts together, then head to the mosque to pray — but now, due to physical distancing due to the pandemic, most of that is being done virtually.

Those who have helped organize the call to prayer broadcast say it's not only about letting people know the exact time to pray, but about creating a sense of unity and comfort and sharing the religion with others.

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