Michigan has long been a haven for Muslim culture. Since the early 1900s, one of the largest populations of Arab people have resided in the Detroit area, specifically Dearborn, and have grown to become the largest center of Muslim culture in the country.

But there's something unique about Dearborn that until recently, was extremely rare to hear in the U.S., and that's open prayer call from the mosque. In fact, the Dearborn Mosque was the first in the country that was allowed to do so.

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Right now, it's Ramadan for our Muslim friends, and many of them are deep in recognizing the holy holiday. They participate in fasting from sun up to sun down, and take part in regular prayers. It's especially noticeable in parts of Michigan.

The American Moslem Society, considered to be one of the oldest, and largest Mosques in the country, was built in 1937 by the nascent Islamic community. At the time, they were mostly Sunni Muslims from Lebanon who moved to the Detroit suburb to work in the Ford factories in the early 1900s. It is officially the second mosque built in America, behind Al Sadiq Mosque in Chicago, Illinois, which was built in 1922.

As the Muslim community grew, especially from the 1960s to the 1980s, it was becoming more and more important to the religion's followers to have an open call for prayer. So in the early 1980s, the mosque applied for, and was granted a court approval to broadcast the call to prayer using loudspeakers.

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The initial ruling was not popular with some neighbors who were non-Muslim and still lived in Dearborn. However, the court ruled that the broadcasting of prayers from the mosque, was no different than the ringing of church bells at a Christian church. So the order stood, and continues to stand to this day.

Since then, the adhan (hear above) was also legalized by local government in nearby Hamtramck after a noise ordinance change was put to a citywide vote regarding the call to prayer.

Other cities in the country have begun to broadcast as well. Paterson, New Jersey allowed it in 2020, and in 2023, several mosques in Astoria, New York received permits to broadcast the five calls to prayer during Ramadan. Similarly, a small mosque in Occoquan, Virginia, was also invited by the local mayor to broadcast the adhan on two occasions to mark Ramadan.

It's encouraging to see so many communities now accepting the customs of other religions and faiths in public, and as I saw in one research article on the topic, it's a sign to our Muslim American friends that they ARE welcome in our country, and they can freely call this home.

Assalamu Alaikum to our Muslim friends, and Happy Ramadan.

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