East London Mosques Allowed to Broadcast Call to Prayer for The First Time Due to Coronavirus Lockdowns06 May 2020
The Waltham Forest council has announced that nine local mosques could publicly broadcast the Adhaan (Muslim call to prayer) due to mosques being closed at this time. The decision, marking the first time the public broadcasting of the Adhaan has been allowed in the borough, was reached because Muslims are unable to pray communally due to mosques being shut due to the on-going coronavirus outbreak.
The Adhaan was first broadcast on Monday evening and will continue daily at sunset through the month of Ramadan, as well as for Friday prayers.
“This is history for us”
Arfan Abrahim, who is part of the Waltham Forest Council of Mosques that petitioned the council to allow the Adhaan, said that mosques in Whitechapel and other areas of East London have been allowed this for years, but that this is the first time Waltham Forest has allowed it to take place.
According to Abrahim, the group made the request because the closure of mosques has been a difficult affair for many people in the area as it is the focal point of the community. Especially when combined with the month of Ramadan, being unable to connect with community members has been especially challenging. For people like his elderly parents, hearing the Adhaan gave them a sense of reassurance that the community is still there.
“Overall it has been absolutely brilliant”
Abrahim said that prior to the first Adhaan, the community has posted leaflets to the surrounding community to explain what would happen. Abrahim says that although there were some negative reactions, the overall response has been positive. He said that the leafletting and information campaign has been great for breaking down barriers and to create talking points. He added that the British Muslim community often receives negative attention, and that this was a good opportunity to focus on other matters and change perceptions.
To ensure that the community would not be disturbed by the Adhaan, the Waltham Forest Council of Mosques said that it would only last five minutes, and expressed hope that people would find the Adhaan melodious and enjoyable. Like most instances of the Adhaan around the world, the one being broadcast in Waltham Forest has been altered to tell worshippers to stay in their home.
For her part, the head of the Waltham Forest Council, Clare Coghill, wished local Muslims a happy Ramadan. Coghill said that the Adhaan was chosen as a way to help locals remain connected and as an alternative to congregating, saying that it accepted the request as it was a way to worship responsibly during the lockdown.