MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Community and city leaders in Minneapolis are going the extra mile to make sure those who observe Ramadan are safe.
Ramadan is the holiest month for followers of the Muslim faith. It's a time of prayer and fasting – and those prayers typically happen inside a mosque, according to Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations.
"People are standing shoulder to shoulder and in lines, and so the social distancing is always very challenging," Hussein said.
Ramadan begins on Thursday, in the midst of the state's stay-at-home order. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey says the city worked with leaders in the Muslim community to have the "call to prayer" broadcast by speaker five times a day in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.
"We want to make sure that people can practice their religion, yes, but it can't conflict with the overarching public health guidelines," Frey said. "It allows people to stay together even when they're praying apart, and we want to make sure that we're doing proper social distancing and physical distancing in particular."
Cedar-Riverside has a large Muslim population. Leaders hope the sound to prayers will be a connector for all who feel isolated from community because of COVID-19. What the city does not want is people feeling obligated to run to the mosque for prayer.
"That will be a part of the call is to make sure that people pray at home," Hussein said. "We want to make sure people don't put the pressure on, 'I need to get back to the mosque and pray,' and so by having these calls to prayer, I think it just eases people from feeling that need to connect."
The broadcast will be generated from the Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque, and organizers expect it will reach thousands of residents from sunrise to shortly after sunset.
Typically, houses of prayer see an uptick in attendance during Ramadan. The five daily calls to prayer will let followers know that praying where you are, or at home, is what this action is all about.
Ramadan begins Thursday evening, and will last until sundown on Saturday, May 23.
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