For the first time in its history, the oldest mosque in Vancouver will begin broadcasting its evening call to prayer over loudspeakers for the remainder of Ramadan, in order to provide a sense of community during the pandemic.
The azan, or Adhan — which summons the faithful for prayers five times a day — will be broadcast from Al Masjid Al Jamia at sundown until May 23. The sunset Adhan also signals to those fasting during daylight hours that they can break their fast for the night.
During the pandemic, the call will hold another meaning.
“We are broadcasting the Adhan to give hope to our community and all communities that, one day, we’ll all be able to gather in our place,” said Haroon Khan, a trustee at the mosque.
“It doesn’t matter what your race is, it doesn’t matter your religion or where you stand, publicly or privately. We’re all brothers and sisters together and we’re all in this COVID-19 fight together,” he added.
“That said, this is not for people to come over and pack the place out.”
Daily prayers and gatherings have been suspended at the mosque for weeks to prevent large gatherings during the pandemic. The mosque would usually be a place of community during Ramadan, packed “floor to ceiling” with people praying, feasting and gathering together — especially for Maghrib, the sunset prayer.
“We miss it very much,” said Khan.
Khan said the mosque worked with city officials to ensure they were in compliance with noise bylaws and regulations.
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said he was “pleased” an agreement was reached quickly, in time for the final days of Ramadan.
“Broadcasting the call … gives our friends and neighbors in the Muslim community, and all communities, faith that the time will come soon when we can all gather at our chosen public places once again,” the mayor wrote in a statement Monday.
“I have had the occasion to attend the Al Jamia Masjid Vancouver soon after I took office as mayor in the aftermath of the New Zealand Christchurch mosque shooting [in 2019],” he added.
“The gathering of all faiths under the roof of this mosque gave peace, hope and inspiration to all those who attended and is emblematic of the place our mosques have in the fabric of what makes Vancouver a special place to live.”
Mosques in Alberta, Ontario and other jurisdictions around the world have broadcast Adhan at sundown during the pandemic. Khan said Al Masjid Al Jamia, founded in 1963, will be the first mosque in the city to do the same. “We’re joining a movement,” Khan said.