Call to Prayer
(adhān, iqāma, nidāʾ ilāl-ṣalāt)
Call to prayer is an invitation to gather for a ritual prayer, one of the most fundamental acts of worship in Islam.
Definitions and Usage
Three terms denote the call to prayer:al-adhān, al-iqāma, and al-nidāʾ ilā l-ṣalāt:
- Adhān (lit. “announcement”) is a nominal form derived from the weak stem (al-mahmūz al-awwal)ʾ-dh-n, and from the derived second stem adhdhana in the sense of “announcing the time of prayer”. The “ritual call to prayer is performed with the well-known formula prescribed by Sacred Law at prayer times” (Ibn Qudāma, Muqniʿ and al-Sharḥ al-kabīr, al-Adhān wal-iqāma).Strictly speaking, “The linguists say the fundamental meaning of adhān is notification (iʿlām) and announcement, as in And a proclamation (adhānun) from Allah and His Messenger (Q 9:3); it can also be called al-adhīn and al-taʾdhīn. Al-Jawharī adds that the one who calls to prayer (muezzin, muʾadhdhin) may be called al-adhīn, that is, one who announces the prescribed prayertimes; this noun ison the faʿīl pattern,although in the agential sense of mufaʿʿil” (Nawawī, Majmūʿ,Bāb al-adhān). The place from whereadhān is called is themiʾdhana(synonym of minaret,al-manāra and ṣawmaʿa, which originally denoted a hermit’s cell; cf. Ibn ʿAṭiyya, Muḥarrar and Qurṭubī, Tafsīr, sub Q 22:40) (Zabīdī, Tāj).
- Iqāma (lit. “rising”) is a verbal noun derived from the root q-w-m, a stem IV (aqāma/yuqīmu/iqāmatan) “hollow verb”. It is the injunction to stand up for prayer, and in reciting this formula it is as if the muezzin has made the sitting Muslims rise to perform prayer, hence its name (Ibn Mufliḥ, Mubdiʿ, sub Bāb al-adhān).
- al-nidāʾ ilā l-ṣalāt (lit. “the call to prayer”) is a synonym of adhān (Zabīdī, Tāj, subʾ-dh-n), and is a derivation from the weak stem n-d-w, yielding the stem III forms nādā/yunādī/nidāʾanor munādātan (Ibn Manẓūr, Lisān, sub n-d-w), literally meaning“raising of the voice”. It may also be vocalized nudāʾ(as withduʿāʾ; see Jawharī, Ṣiḥāḥ). The “call to prayer” came to be designated by the expressions“adhān” and “iqāma” (Rāghib, Mufradāt).
The terms adhān, iqāma, and al-nidāʾ ilā l-ṣalāt do not appear in the Qurʾān in their nominal forms; the former noun appears in the meaning of “announcement”in (Q 9:3) and the latter two appear in verbal constructions.The general injunction to perform prayer is normally expressed using imperative forms of the verb IV stem aqāma, as in the masculine singular perform the prayer (aqimil-ṣalāta) (Q 11:114; 17:78; 20:14; 29:45; 31:17); the feminine plural (aqimna) (Q 33:33); and the masculine(aqīmū) (Q 2:43, 83, 110; 4:77, 103; 6:72; 10:87; 22:78; 24:56; 30:31; 58:13; 73:20). Other phrases include those who perform prayer (aqāmūl-ṣalāta) (2:277; 7:170; 9:5, 11; 13:22; 22:41; 35:18); so you lead them in prayer (fa-qamtalahum) (Q 4:102); if you perform prayer (la-in aqamtumu-l-ṣalāta) (Q 5:12); to perform prayer (yuqīmūl-ṣalāta) (Q 14:31, 37; 98:5); and who perform prayer (yuqīmūna l-ṣalāta) (Q 2:3; 5:55; 8:3; 9:71; 27:3; 31:4).
The phrase call to prayer appears in two verses: And when you make the call to prayer (nādaytum ilā-ṣ-ṣalāti), they take it as ridicule and sport. That is because they are a people who do not understand (Q 5:58) and O you who believe,when the call to prayer is proclaimed (idhānūdiyalil-ṣalāti) on Friday, hasten to the remembrance of Allah (Q 62:9). The mention of the Friday prayer has special significance, as it constitutes the weekly prayer at which believers assemblein congregation at mosques, on the day every creation was perfected (Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīr).
Origin and Context
There was no formal call to prayer during the Makkan period and the first months of the Madinan era as per a report fromʿAbdullāh b. ʿUmar, Allah be well-pleased with him and his father, who said, “When the Muslims came to Madina, they assembled and estimated the time of the prayer, but no one called to it (wa laysayunādībihāaḥad)” (Muslim, Ṣalāt, badʾ al-adhān).
When the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, prayed with earlier prophets during the Night Journey (al-Isrāʾ) “at the Farthest Mosque (al-Masjid al-Aqṣā), where all [earlier] Prophets were assembled, an angel performed the call to prayer and the iqāma, and Messenger of Allah led them in the prayer; some say (qīla) that Jibrīl, upon him peace, descended with it. Kathīr b. Murraadds, Jibrīl called[to prayer] in the heavens and ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb, Allah be well-pleased with him, heard it [in Makka]” (Sarakhsī, Mabsūṭ, Bāb al-adhān; for Kathīr b. Murra, see Dhahabī, Siyar, sub Kathīr b. Murra, no. 11) (see Angels; Night Journey and Ascension).
Before the adhān was instated, Muslims used to simply say, “the prayer is assembled”(al-ṣalātu jāmiʿa) to announce the time of prayer. After the Prophet’s Hijra to Madina and the change of the direction of ritual prayer from Jerusalem to Makka (see Qibla), the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, reflected on how to gather believers to congregate. Certain Companions suggested the use of a trumpet (būq) (or: a horn, as practiced by the Jewish communities), and others a bell (nāqūs), as used by the Christians (Ibn Saʿd, Tabaqāt, Dhikr al-adhān; Qurṭubī, Tafsīr, sub Q 5:58; cf. Q 2:144; see also Ibn Mājah, Sunan, Adhān wal-sunna fīh). The historian and Prophetic biographer Ibn Hisham explains the emerging events:
While they were searching for a solution [for how to call Muslims to prayer], ʿAbdullāh b. Zayd (see al-Dhahabī, Siyar 2:375, no. 79), the brother of Balḥārithb. al-Khazraj,dreamt the call (al-nidāʾ). He went to the Messenger of Allah, upon him blessings and peace, and said: “O Messenger of Allah,this night a nocturnal visitor appeared to me in my sleep. A man passed by me wearing two green garmentsand carrying in his hand a bell. I said to him: ‘O slave of Allah, will you sell this bell?’ He asked me what I would do with it. I answered: ‘We can call [people] to the prayer by means of it.’ He asked: ‘Shall I show you something that is better than this?’” And he told him the wording of the adhān. As he (i.e.ʿAbdullāh b. Zayd) informed the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, he said: “Verily, this is a true vision, if Allah wills, go and tell Bilāl these words. He should call to prayer, since he has a more euphonious voice than you.”
(Sīra, Dhikr al-Adhān; see also Tirmidhī, Sunan, Mā jāʾa fī badʾi-l-adhān; for ʿAbdullāh b. Zayd, see al-Dhahabī, Siyar 2:375, no. 79; Ibn Ḥajar,Iṣāba, sub ʿAbdullāh, who identifies him as ʿAbdullāh b. Zayd b. Thaʿlaba b. Zayd b. al-Ḥārith b. al-Khazraj al-Anṣārī; and Ibn al-Athīr, Usd al-ghāba, Bāb al-ʿayn wal-bāʾ, who identifies him as ʿAbdullāh b. Zayd b. Thaʿlaba b. ʿAbd Rabbih b. Zayd, from BanūJusham b. al-Ḥārith b. al-Khazraj)
ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb (d. 23/644), Allah be well-pleased with him, saw the same dream at the same time but when he relayed it to the Prophet in the morning hours (Qurṭubī, Tafsīr, sub Q 5:58), he said, “Praise be to Allah for this,”and added, “The Divine Inspiration (al-waḥy) came before you” (Ibn Hishām, Sīra, Dhikr al-adhān).
Explaining Q 5:58 (And when you call to prayer, they take it for a ridicule and sport. That is because they are a people who do not understand), exegetes recount the story of a certain Madinan Christian who said, upon hearing the adhān, “may fire destroy the liar”—and that night he and his family were themselves consumed in a house fire lit by a spark from a torch borne by his servant (Ibn Kathīr and Ṭabarī, Tafsīrs). The unbelievers are also said to haveenviously accused the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, of inventing something unprecedented, a call they compared to the crying of a caravan (ṣiyāḥ al-ʿīr). Such allegations were answered by the verseAnd who is better in speech than him who calls to Allah… (Q 41:33), which some commentators gloss as referring to the muezzin (Ṭabarī, Tafsīr, citing Qays b. Abī Ḥāzim; Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīr, citing Ibn ʿUmar and ʿIkrima) and adduce as a Qurʾānic proof-text for the adhān(Ibn ʿĀdil, Lubāb, sub Q 5:58).
Four Companions, Allah be well-pleased with them (see Companions of the Prophet), were appointed by the Prophet as the first muezzins in the history of Islam (Ibn al-Qayyim, Zād, Fī muʾadhdhinīhi ṣallā-Llāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam):
- in Madina, Bilāl b. Rabāḥ (Ibn al-Athīr, Usd al-ghāba, al-bāʾ wal-lām);
- in Madina, Ibn Umm Maktūm al-Qurashī al-ʿĀmirī, known in Iraq as ʿAmr and in Madina as ʿAbdullāh b. Qays b. Zāʾida b. al-Aṣamm b. Rawāḥa (al-Dhahabī, Siyar, vol. 1, no. 77);
- in Qubāʾ, Saʿd b. ʿĀʾidh, known also as Saʿd al-Qaraẓ, the client of ʿAmmār b. Yāsir (Ibn al-Athīr, Usd al-ghāba(see Clients and Patrons); and
- in Makka, Abū Maḥdhūra Aws b. Miʿyar b. Lawdhān b. Rabīʿa b. Saʿd b. Jumaḥ al-Jumaḥī (al-Dhahabī, Siyar, vol. 3, no. 24).
Adhān and Iqāma
The Qurʾānitself does not specify the ritual formula of the adhān or iqāma. The adhān dreamt by ʿAbdullāh b. Zayd and attested by the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, is the following:
- Allāhu akbar(x4) (“Allah is the greatest”)
- ashhadu an lā ilāhaillā-Llāh (x2) (“I testify that there is no god but Allah”)
- ashhadu anna Muḥammadan Rasūlu-Llāh (x2) (“I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”)
- ḥayya ʿalā-ṣ-ṣalāt (x2) (“come to prayer”) (ḥayya meaning “approach it and devote yourselves to it with all haste: Zabīdī, Tāj, sub ḥ-y-y)
- ḥayya ʿalā-l-falāḥ (x2) (“come to salvation”)
- al-ṣalātukhayrunmin al-nawm (only for the dawn prayer; x2) (“prayer is better than sleep”)
- Allāhu akbar(x2) (“Allah is the greatest”)
- lā ilāhaillā-Llāh (“there is no god but Allah”) (see Nasāʾī, Sunan, Adhān, kayfa-l-adhān; Dhahabī, Siyar, vol. 2, no. 79; Ibn Hishām, Sīra, Dhikr al-adhān; Ibn Saʿd, Tabaqāt, Dhikr al-adhān; Ibn Qudāma, al-Kāfī, Bāb al-adhān; al-Shīrāzī, al-Muhadhdhab, al-Adhān wal-iqāma, Ibn Rushd, Bidāya, Fī ṣifat al-adhān).
The form of the iqāma, which immediately precedes the beginning of prayer, is provided in fiqh manuals and traditions:
- Allāhuakbar (x2)
- ashhadu an lā ilāhaillā-Llāh
- ḥayya ʿalā-l-ṣalāt
- ḥayya ʿalā-l-falāḥ
- qadqāmati-l-ṣalāt (x2, except in the Mālikī School:Ibn Rushd, Bidāya, al-Faṣl al-thānī fī-l-iqāma) (“the prayer begins herewith”)
- Allāhuakbar (x2)
- lā ilāhaillā-Llāh
Technical Terms and Legal Questions
The formulas employed in adhān and iqāma are referred to with distinct technical terms in Islamic literature. The phrase Allāhu akbar (i and vii above) is known as al-takbīr. The two testimonies proclaiming the oneness of Allah and the messengerhood of Muḥammad, upon him blessings and peace (ii and iii above respectively), are known as al-shahādatān. The phrases ḥayya ʿalā-l-ṣalāt and ḥayya ʿalā-l-falāḥ (iv and v above) are referred to as al-ḥayʿala (Zabīdī, Tāj, subḥ-y-ʿ-l). The phrase al-ṣalātu khayrmin al-nawm (vi in adhān above) is known as al-tathwīb (Zabīdī, Tāj, sub th-w-b).The phrase lā ilāhaillā-Llāh (viii above) is known as tahlīl (derived from stem II of h-l-l; hallala/yuhallilu/tahlīlan) (Zabīdī, Tāj, subh-l-l).
The additional phrase for the fajr prayer adhān (tathwīb: al-ṣalātukhayrmin al-nawm, “prayer is better than sleep”) is attested by the report of Bilāl, Allah be well-pleased with him, the muezzin of the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace: “Allah’s Messenger, upon him blessings and peace, ordered me to include the tathwīb in the early morning prayer and not to include it for the late night prayer” (Ibn Qudāma, Sharḥ, Adhān; another report, also from Bilāl: “You must not include the tathwīb before any prayer except the early morning prayer,” in Tirmidhī, Sunan, Ṣalāt, mājāʾ fī-l-tathwīb fī-l-fajr).
The adhān is recited deliberately (tarassul) but the iqāma more rapidly (ḥadr). Commentators explain that tarassul is a synonym of ittaʾada, meaning “to act slowly and to proceed deliberately” (Zabīdī, Tāj, subr-s-l), or more specifically “slowness, deliberateness (al-tamahhul), and leisureliness (al-taʾannī), as it is said that ‘someone came slowly’ (jāʾafulān ʿalā rislih)” (Ibn Qudāma, al-Sharḥ, Iqāma, masʾala wa yustaḥabb an yatarassal). Jābirb. ʿAbdullāh (d. 78/697) transmitted that the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, said, “O Bilāl, when you call the adhān, pronounce your call slowly. And when you call the iqāma, pronounce it more quickly. And leave between the adhān and iqāma as much time as is sufficient for someone eating to finish his meal and for someone drinking to finish his drink” (Tirmidhī, Sunan, Abwāb al-ṣalāt, mājāʾ fī-l-tarassul wal-adhān). ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb, Allah be well-pleased with him, instructed the muezzin, “When you make the adhān, pronounce it slowly, and when you make the iqāma,be quick (cf.Zabīdī, Tāj, subḥ-dh-m); the reason for this is that the adhān is an announcement to those who are not close by and [pronouncing it] in a leisurely fashion enables it to reach more [people]; whereas the iqāma is an announcement to those present” (Ibn Qudāma, al-Sharḥ, Iqāma, masʾala wa yustaḥabb an yatarassal).
The legal schools discuss whether ritually calling the Muslims to prayer is an individual duty (farḍʿayn) or a collective duty (farḍkifāya).The Ḥanafī School considers it a “confirmed practice”(sunnamuʾakkada) for the five daily prayers and the Friday prayer alike (Kāsānī, Badāʾiʿ, Kitāb al-ṣalāti fī wājibāt al-ṣalāti; Marghīnānī, Hidāya, Kitāb al-ṣalāt, Bāb al-adhān;Ibn al-Humām, Sharḥ Fatḥ al-qadīr, Bāb al-adhān). The Mālikī School holds that it is obligatory at great communal mosques (masājid al-jamāʿāt), another opinion being that it is aconfirmed practice (Ibn Rushd, Bidāya, Adhān, al-qism al-thānī). The Shāfiʿī School has three positions: the majority hold that it is a recommended practice (sunna); a minority holds that it is a collective obligation; and a third, conciliatory position holds that it is a collective obligation for the Friday congregational prayer but a sunna in all other cases (al-Rāfiʿī, al-ʿAzīz, Fīl-adhān; al-Ramlī, Nihāyat al-muḥtāj,Faṣl fī bayān al-adhān wal-iqāma;see also Ibn Rushd, Bidāya, Adhān, al-qism al-thānī). The Ḥanbalī School holds it to be a collective obligation (Ibn Qudāma, al-Kāfī, Bāb al-adhān; al-Buhūtī, Kashshāf, al-Adhān wal-iqāma). Ibn Rushd (d. 595/1198) defines its legal status as a confirmed practice (sunna muʾakkada) for both individuals and groups (Bidāya, al-Faṣl al-thānī fī-l-iqāma).
By consensus,the adhān cannot be performed before the prescribed time of the prayer it annnounces. The Mālikī and Shāfiʿī Schools make an exception for the dawn prayer (fajr), but Ḥanafīs rejected this view: “If the call to prayer is pronounced before its proper time… for if the call were permitted before its time, one could perform all five times calls before the dawn prayer for all five daily prayers. No one allows this…Abū Yūsuf said that it was acceptable to pronounce the call to the dawn prayer at any time in the second half of the night, based on the practice of Bilāl, who would call to the dawn prayer during the night” (al-Sarakhsī, al-Mabsūṭ, Bāb al-adhān, wa-in adhdhanaqabldukhūl al-waqt; see also Ibn Rushd, Bidāya, al-Qism al-thālith, fī waqtih). Al-Qurṭubī (600-671/1204-1273) writes, “the exception is in the case of the dawn prayer; the adhān may be called before dawn according to the opinion of Mālik, al-Shāfiʿī, Aḥmad, Isḥāq, and Abū Tawr. Their proof is the saying of Allah’s Messenger [regarding fasting]: ‘Bilāl performed the adhān by night, and eat and drink until Ibn Umm Maktūm performs the call (i.e. the iqāma)”(Tafsīr, sub Q 5:58).
The basic requirements for the performance of adhān, as based on various hadiths, include that one be standing (qāʾiman) (since the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, told Bilāl, Allah be well-pleased with him, “arise and sound the adhān” (qum fa-adhdhin)); in a state of ritual purity (mutaṭahhiran) (based on the hadith, “only a person in a state of ablution (mutawaḍḍiʾ) can make the call to prayer”)—except for the Ḥanafī School: Kāsānī, Badāʾiʿ, Kitāb al-ṣalāti, fīmāyarjiʿu ilā ṣifāt al-muʾadhdhin; standing in an elevated place(ʿalā mawḍiʿʿālin) (see Abū Dāwūd, Sunan, Bāb al-adhānfawq al-manāra); and facing the qibla (Ibn Qudāma, Muqniʿ, Masʾalayuʾadhdhinuqāʾiman).
Despite Abū Ḥanīfa’s early position, which became a minority view in the Ḥanafī School, allowing adhān to be given in Persian in communities where an Arabic adhān would not be understood, scholarly opinion does not permit pronouncing the adhān in any other language (Nawawī, Majmūʿ, al-Adhān, farʿ, al-thāmina). The formula is juridically prescribed in its “specific form (ʿalā wajh makhṣūṣ) and in specific words…in the form presented by the Angel descending from heaven” (Ibn Ābidīn, Radd al-Muḥtār, Kitāb al-ṣalāt, bāb al-adhān). From 1932 to 1950, the Turkish Republic of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938) outlawed the use of Arabic and adhān was called in Turkish during this time.
New forms of the call to prayer appeared in Egypt under the Shīʿite Fāṭimid caliphate (r. 362-566/973-1171). The historian and geographer Aḥmad b. ʿAlī al-Maqrīzī (765-845/1364-1442) writes:
Egypt used the form of the People of al-Madīna in the mosque of ʿAmr in Fusṭāṭ, in the mosque of al-ʿAskar, in the mosque of Aḥmad b. Ṭūlūn, and in other mosques as well, but when Jawhar [b. ʿAbdullāh Abūl-Ḥasan al-Rūmī] al-Qāʾid (d. 381/992, general of the Fāṭimid Army; cf.al-Dhahabī, Siyar, vol. 16, no. 342) entered Egypt leading the army of al-Muʿizz li-Dīn Allāh, on Friday, 8 Jumādā al-ūlā, 359, the Muslims prayed in the Mosque of Aḥmad b. Ṭūlūn and the following words were added to the call to prayer: “Come to the best of deeds!” (ḥayya ʿalā khayr al-ʿamal)…In Aleppo during the reign of Sayf al-Dawla b. Ḥamdān, in the year 347, for the first time the phrase “And Muḥammad and ʿAlī are the best of humankind!” (wa Muḥammad wa ʿAlī khayr al-bashar) were also added to the call to prayer. (Khiṭaṭ, Dhikr al-adhān bi-Miṣr)
The phrase“Come to the best of deeds!” is still used by Shīʿite Muslims in their call to prayer.
Answering the Call
Exegetes, hadith scholars, and jurists agree that one who hears the call to prayer (adhān and iqāma both) should answer it according to a set formula (Ibn Rushd, Bidāya, Adhān, al-qism al-khāmis). According to the first of two opinions regarding the adhān, one should repeat its phrases, as based on a hadith report transmitted by Abū Saʿīd al-Khudrī (d. ca.65/684), Allah be well-pleased with him: “When you hear the call to prayer, say the like of what the muezzin says” (Bukhārī, Mā yaqūlu idhā samiʿa al-munādiya; Muslim, istiḥāb al-qawl mithl qawl al-muʾadhdhin). Thus, al-Khiraqī (d. 334/945), an early Ḥanbalī authority, says, “It is preferable that he who hears the call to prayer say the same words as in the call to prayer” (Mukhtaṣar, Bāb al-adhān).
The second opinion, accepted by the vast majority in the four extant Sunni legal schools, is based on other hadiths. ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb (d. 23/644) reported:
Allah’s Messenger, upon him blessings and peace, said: When the muezzin says“Allah is the greates, Allah is the greatest,”let all of you say,“Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest”. Then he says “I testify that there is no god but Allah,” and you say “I testify that there is no god but Allah”. And when he says,“I testify that Muḥammad is the messenger of Allah,” you say“I testify that Muḥammad is the messenger of Allah”. When he says “come to prayer,” you say “there is no ability or power except with Allah”. And when he says “come to salvation,” you answer by saying “there is no ability or power except through Allah”. He says, “Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest,” and you say “Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest”. And he says “there is no god but Allah,” you answer the call by [saying] “there is no god but Allah”)—[anyone of you who does this]from his heart will enter Paradise. (Muslim, Ṣalāt, istiḥbāb al-qawl mithl qawl al-muʾadhdhinlimansamiʿahuthummayuṣallī; Nawawī, Majmūʿ, Adhān; Ibn Qudāma, Muqniʿ, Adhān, masʾala wa yustaḥabb li-man samiʿa al-muʾadhdhin)
Regarding the iqāma’s singular phrase “the prayer begins henceforth”, those present are recommended to follow the Prophet’s practice as in the hadith transmitted by Abū Umāma, Allah be well-pleased with him: “Bilāl began the iqāma, and when he pronounced these words qadqāmatil-ṣalāt, the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, said, ‘May Allah establish it; and may He make it endure’ (aqāma-hā-Llāhu wa adāma-hā)” (Abū Dāwūd, Sunan, Mā yaqūluidhāsamiʿa al-adhān).
Regarding what to say after the adhān has been called, as transmitted by Jābir b. ʿAbdullāh (d. 78/697), Allah be well-pleased with him,the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, said:
Whoever pronounces this supplication when he hears the call to prayercan expect my intercession on the Day of Resurrection: “O Allah, our Lord! Lord of this perfect call and of this imminent prayer. Give Muḥammad intercession and surpassinglyhigh rank (al-martabat al-zāʾida, as interpreted by Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī (773-852/1371-1449); see al-Suyūṭī,Sharḥ Sunan al-Nasāʾī, al-Duʿāʾʿindal-adhān) [some versions add: and the praiseworthyrank] and raise him to the blessed position that You promised Him. Verily, You never breakYour promise” (AllāhummaRabbahādhihi-l-daʿwati-l-tāmmati wa-ṣ-ṣalāti-l-qāʾimatiātiMuḥammadan al-wasīlata wal-faḍīlata [wa-l-darajata al-rafīʿata] wa-bʿathhuma qāman maḥmūdan alladhī waʿadtahu. Innaka lā tukhliful-mīʿād). (Bukhārī, Adhān,al-duʿāʾʿindal-nidāʾ; Ibn Qudāma, Muqniʿ, Adhān)
Merits and Commentary
The five daily prayers constitute one of the most fundamental acts of worship in Islam. The Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, said: “What stands between a person and idolatry and disbelief is not neglecting the prayer” (Muslim, Ṣaḥīḥ, Bayāniṭlāq ism al-kufr ʿalā man taraka al-ṣalāt). The call to the prayer itself takes on something of the former’s momentousness, as Hadith and commentaries indicate.
In a hadith transmitted by Ibn ʿAbbās (3bh-68/619-688), Allah be well-pleased with him, the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, said, “He who performs the call to prayer for seven years, making his efforts in anticipation of Allah’s reward in the Hereafter, exemption from Hellfire will be decreed for him” (Tirmidhī, Sunan, Ṣalāt, mājāʾa fī faḍl al-adhān).
Jābir, Allah be well-pleased with him, said, “I heard the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, say, ‘Verily, the Devil runs away when he hears the call to prayer, and does not stop until he reaches the place called al-Rawḥāʾ (a place 36 miles from Madīna: Yāqūt, Buldān, al-Rawḥāʾ)’” (Muslim, Faḍl al-adhān wa harab al-shayṭānʿindasamāʿih).
Prophetic traditions also praise those who call to prayer: “The muezzins will have the longest necks on the Day of Resurrection” (Muslim, Faḍl al-adhān wa harab al-shayṭānʿindasamāʿihi). Abū Bakr b. Abī Dāwūd reported from his father that this hadith means that muezzins’ necks will not shrivel for thirst on the Day of Resurrection (Bayhaqī, Sunan, Targhīb fī-l-adhān).
Kaʿb reported the hadith, “For the one who performs the adhān, seventy good deeds will be recorded; but if he performs iqāma[instead], it is even better” (Ibn Abī Shayba, Muṣannaf, al-Ṣalāt, fī faḍl al-adhān wa thawābih).
Abū Hurayra, Allah be well-pleased with him, said, “Allah’s Messenger, upon him blessings and peace, said: the imam is a guarantor (ḍāmin) and the muezzin is one entrusted (muʾtaman). O Allah, our Lord, guide the imams and forgive the muezzins” (Abū Dāwūd, Sunan, Mā yajib ʿalā l-muʾadhdhin min taʿāhud al-waqt).
Ibn ʿUmar said, “Allah’s Messenger, upon Him blessings and peace, said,‘Paradise is decreed for the one who performs adhān for twelve years; and every day, sixty good deeds will be recorded for him for his calling to prayer, and for every iqāma thirty good deeds’” (Qurṭubī, Tafsīr, sub Q 5:58; Ibn Mājah, Sunan, Adhān wal-sunna fīhi, man adhdhanathintayʿashratasana).
The jurist and hadith scholar al-QāḍīʿIyāḍ (471-544/ca.1078-1149) comments on the components of the call to prayer:
One should know that the adhān is a formula that sums up in full (kalāmjāmiʿ) the creed of faith. It comprises components known by intellect and by transmission. The introductory section is affirmation of the Essence and of all the attributes of perfection that are of His nature, and His being free of attributes that constitute their contraries, expressed by the words Allah is the greatest. This expression, despite its concision, refers to all we mentioned. Then it expresses the unity and oneness [of Allah] and denies the partnership that is impossible with regard to Him, be He exalted. This is the pillar of faith and of monotheism, placed above all other religious duties. Then it announces the affirmation of the prophethood and the testimony to the message of our Prophet, upon him blessings and peace; this is an outstanding principle following the confession of [Allah’s] oneness; its place is right after the confession of monotheism. These premises belong to the obligatory category. By these principles the articles of creed known by reason are completed, concerning what is binding, impossible, or permitted with respect to Him, be He exalted. Then it calls to other acts of worship; it calls to the prayer, which is placed after the corroboration of prophethood, since we know of the obligatory nature [of the prayer] from the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, not by rational means. Then, it calls [us] to salvation and deliverance, meaningtriumph and abiding in perpetual bliss; this contains indications of the Hereafter, Resurrection, and Reward…It ends by the repetition of His name at the moment one begins performing the prayer in his heart and with his tongue. By the adhān, the believer enters his prayer with firm proof of and clarityin his faith. He feels the significance of his act, the exaltedness of Him Whom he is worshiping, and the abundant reward He gives. (Nawawī, Majmūʿ, Bāb al-adhān; see also hisSharḥ Muslim, Kitāb al-ṣalāt, bābistḥbāb al-qawl mithl qawl al-muʾadhdhin li-man samiʿah)
Ibn Ḥajar elucidates merits of the adhān:
Despite being only a few words, the call to prayer comprises many aspects of creed. It begins with confirming the superlative greatness [of Allah] (al-akbariyya), which includes the existence and perfection of Allah. This is followed by [the declaration of His] Oneness and by rejecting [the possibility of a] partner, followed by the affirmation of the prophethood of Muḥammad, upon him blessings and peace. Then, after the two testimonies, it calls to obedience which is specified in the message [of Islam], since this [obedience] can be known only from the Prophet. Then it invites to the salvation that lies in abiding forever and this points to the place of return (al-maʿād, namely Paradise). (Ibn Ḥajar, Fatḥ al-bārī, Adhān, badʾ al-adhān)
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