Controversy Over the Call to Prayer Reverberates Across the Nation

April 26, 2004

Source: The Detroit News

On April 26, 2004 The Detroit News reported, "Next month, Hamtramck will become one of the few cities in the United States where the Islamic call to prayer is broadcast onto public streets. The impact of that decision is reverberating across the nation. Loudspeakers on an old brick building in Hamtramck have become a symbol of the struggle between tolerance and tradition, and raise questions about what it means to be American. Bisera Vlahovljak, a Muslim who moved to Hamtramck 10 years ago from Bosnia said the call to prayer is about religious freedom. 'This is why I came to America,' she said. 'I think more people should be respectful of others’ traditions.'... Tuesday night, the five-member City Council is expected to give final approval to an amendment to Hamtramck’s noise ordinance that will regulate the calls to prayer. Twenty days later, the amendment will go into effect, and the al-Islah Islamic Center will be allowed to broadcast its call to prayer over loudspeakers... Most mosques even in heavily Muslim Dearborn do not broadcast calls to prayer. Imam Hassan Qazwini, spiritual leader of the area’s largest mosque, the Islamic Center of America in Detroit, said his mosque has a call to prayer inside the mosque. 'The reason we don’t do that is because our neighbors are not Muslim,' Qazwini said.'Raising the call for prayer outdoors would be purposeless. The point behind raising the call for prayer is to invite neighbors to come and pray.'"