بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم

اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْن،وَالصَّلاۃ وَالسَّلامُ عَلَی النَّبِیِّ الْکَرِيم وَعَلیٰ آله وَاَصْحَابه اَجْمَعِيْن۔

Adhan: a sound that attracts Divine mercy and not a disturbing cry

On November 13, 2016, a bill was introduced in the Israeli Parliament to bar mosques from using loudspeakers for the call to prayer in Masjid Aqsa (the first Qibla for Muslims) and other mosques across Palestine under the pretext of Jewish people residing in Al-Quds and surrounding areas who were allegedly getting disturbed by the sound of Adhan and demanded to bar mosques from using loudspeakers for calling out the ritual. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel is committed to freedom for all religions, but is also responsible for protecting its citizens from noise. On the other hand, the Muslims and the Christians residing in the area condemned the bill as a blatant violation of freedom of religion.  The Christian clerics argued that such a bill may later be used to ban on the ringing of church bells.  As it was against freedom of religion and might affect other communities in future, some religious Jewish groups also opposed the bill and thus the parliament had to take it back.  Though the controversial bill failed to gain thesupport it was brought into force and Shaykh Mahmood al-Far, the mu’adhdhin of a mosque in al-Ludd (Lod in the Occupied Palestine) was fined to pay $97 for using aloudspeaker to call out Adhan in the morning. The Israeli president Reuven Rivlin visited India immediately after the controversial bill was proposed in the Israeli Parliament.  Indian has always been an open supporter of the Palestinian cause but things changed after Mr. Narendra Modi became Prime Minister of India and relationships between India and Israel grew as never before.  What Mr. Modi said after the surgical strike that took place on 29 September 2016 says it all. He linked the strike to the Israeli strategy of dealing with its enemies and was proud to say that India had followed Israel in this regard. The growing friendship between India and a tyrant state like Israel has been a big blow to the India of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawahrlal Nehru and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and very disheartening for the common Indians.  Hence it doesn’t surprise us much when we see many so-called proponents of Hindu nationalism and Bhagwa brigade playing vicious to poison people’s mind and demanding a ban on Adhan. It is this appalling situation that we all are living in and this made me touch the issue and enlighten our brothers and sisters about the importance of Adhan in Islam and what message the wording of the ritual contains so that we may communicate the same to our non-Muslim brothers. We may tell them that Adhan, in a nutshell, is a form of glorifying the Creator, testifying to His absolute oneness and the prophethood of Muhammad the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and calling people to attend the prayer to be held.

The beginning of Adhan in Islam: As some historical records suggest, the Messenger of Allah heard the angels calling out Adhan during his Journey to the Heaven (Meraj).  That is to say, he was made to hear the Adhan during the journey but was not given any instruction regarding the ritual. Therefore, Adhan had never been a practice during the Makkan period. However, after his migration to Madinah, the need to find a way to inform people about the payer timing was felt.  Many suggestions were put forth but before they could agree to any of them a Companion named Abdullah ibn Zaid (RZ) came and narrated to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) his dream in which he heard the famous wording we recognize today as Adhan then Umar al-Farooq (RZ) also mentioned that he saw a similar dream.  Thereafter, Bilal al-Habshi (RZ) was asked by the noble Prophet (PBUH) to stand up and call out the Adhan for the first time in the history of Islam. The incident took place in the first year of Hijrah and then as a regular practice Muslims have been inviting and reminding their co-religionists to answer the call and come to pray taking a break from everything else. Salah is the only obligation in Islam to which people are invited and reminded of five times a day through Adhan.

Adhan across the globe: The Adhan of Fajr first starts in the eastern counties (like Indonesia) and then advances to Malaysia, China, Bangladesh, Indian, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Europe and America.  Before the Adhan of Fajr stops in any part of the globe the time of Zohr enters in Indonesia and the Adhan of Zohar Salah starts echoing in the air from the minarets.  Thus Adhan is continuously being called out every moment for all the five prayers in some or other parts of the world. Not a single moment passes by in which people are not invited to testify to the absolute oneness of Allah and the prophethood of His Messenger (PBUH). This is undoubtedly an astonishing fact and a strong proof of Islam being the true religion of God.

Masjids are educational centres for the Muslims: Masjids are the most beloved of all places to Allah, the Exalted. They shine as bright for the dwellers of the heavens as stars shine for us. Muslims are emphatically advised to keep them alive by prayers, recitation of the Qur’an and other invocations, education and learning Islamic manners and other forms of worship they do. The decline of the Muslim Ummah is closely related to their negligence towards masjids. We as Muslims should strengthen our association with masjids because they are not merely places of worship but also represent where a Muslim society stands in their religion. The first ever House of Allah on the earth is situated in the middle of Masjid Haram which we are asked to face while performing Salah, the most important ritual of Islam after affirming belief in Allah. The Messenger of Allah(PBUH)constructed a masjid in Quba in the vicinity of Madinah during his migration and then the first masjid he built after reaching Madinah was what came to be known as Masjid Nabawi or the Prophetic Mosque and became a centre for the propagation of Islam to different parts of the world. Masjids not only enhance our spirituality and help us follow the Divine and Prophetic guidance shunning all the evil ways but they also help us strengthen our social bond as meeting five times a day keep us informed about the wellbeing and problems of others. We greet each other, meet them especially on Fridays and on the occasions of Eids, we come to know about the sick and visit them, participate in funerals, and help if we see anyone having a hard time. Thus, masjids play a crucial role in reminding us of our duties towards fellow human beings and in over all reform of the society.

Mention of Adhan in the Qur’an:  The Ummah is unanimous that the Qur’an basically lays down principles without delving into details so much that even the fundamentals of Islam (Salah, Sawm, Zakah and Hajj) have not been discussed in detail therein.  However, the glorious Qur’an at numerous places called upon people to follow Allah and His Messenger (PBUH) and that the Prophet (PBUH) was tasked to explain the Divine injunctions through his words and actions. Moreover, according to the Qur’an whoever follows theexample of the Messenger (as shown in the Ahadith) actually follows Allah the Exalted. (Surat al-Nisa: 80)In fact, it is not possible to follow Allah the Exalted without following the noble Prophet (PBUH). However, the Adhan finds a mention at the following two places in the Qur’an:

  1. “O you who have believed, when [the adhan] is called for the prayer on the day of Jumu'ah [Friday], then proceed to the remembrance of Allah and leave thetrade. That is better for you if you only knew.” (Surat al-Jumu’ah: 9)

As clear, all that the verse instructs is what one should do when the Adhan for Jumu’ah prayer is called out. As for the wording or method of the call, the Qur’an is completely silent about it. However, when we resort to Hadith we find therein all the details and related rulings. Similarly, it is the Hadith corpus transmitted to us from the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) that provides us with sufficient details concerning the prescribed time for each of the five prayers, their names, the number of units each contains and the overall method to be followed while offering prayer. This makes it again clear that it is practically impossible to understand the Qur’an in isolation from the Hadith.

  1. “And when you call to prayer, they take it in ridicule and amusement. That is because they are a people who do not use reason.” (Surat al-Ma’idah: 58)

Merits of Adhan in the Hadith:

  1. “The Mu’adhdhineen will have the longest necks (most distinguished) on the Day of Resurrection.” (Sahih Muslim)
  2. “Whoever hears the Adhan, whether a human being, a jinn or any other creature, will be a witness for him on the Day of Resurrection.” (ibn Khuzaimah)
  3. “Whoever calls the Adhan for twelve years, he will be guaranteed Paradise.” (Hakim)
  4. “The terror will cause no fear for those who call people to prayer on the Day of Resurrection and there will be no accountability for them. They will be seated on hillocks of musk.” (Tirmidhi, Tabarani, Majma’ al-Zawa’id- Chapter: Virtues of Adhan)
  5. "Whoever after listening to the Adhan says, 'Allahumma Rabba hadhihi-dda` watit-tammah, was-salatilqa'imah, ati Muhammadan al-wasilata wal-fadilah, wa b`ath-hu maqaman mahmudan-il-ladhi wa`adtahu' [O Allah! Lord of this perfect call and of the regular prayer which is going to be established, give Muhammad the right of intercession and illustriousness, and resurrect him to the best and the highest place in Paradise that You promised him (of)], then my intercession for him will be allowed on the Day of Resurrection". (Bukhari, Chapter: Invocation at the time of Adhan)

Wording of Adhan and its meaning: The Adhan starts with pronouncing the phrase ‘Allah-u Alkbar’ (Allah is the greatest of all) four times then it contains two phrases (each repeated twice) bearing witness that Allah is the one and only God and that Muhammad(PBUH) is His Messenger. Then the phrase ‘Hayya ala al-Salah’ is pronounced twice that literally means ‘come to the prayer’ hence an invitation to the prayer for all Muslims. Thereafter, another phrase precisely ‘Hayya ala al-Falah’ is repeated twice which means ‘come to success’ proclaiming that real success lies in prayer. Then the phrase ‘Allah-u Akbar’ is again repeated twice and finally the Adhan ends with pronouncing the phrase ‘La ilaha illa Allah’ (There is none worthy of warship but Allah) once. However, the Adhan for Morning Prayer includes an additional phrase ‘Al-Salat-u Khair-un min al-Nawm’ (Prayer is better than sleep) repeated twice as well. As clear from its meaning, Adhan is a solemn call to prayer and a form of glorification of the Creator Whom people of different faiths call by different names as such Allah, God, Khuda, Bhagwan etc. and a testimony to His oneness and the prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH). Adhan does not criticize any individual or religion nor does it stand for any political tool.

Conclusion: Every adult Muslim, man and woman, is religiously bound to offer Salah five times a day. Men are required to join the congregation held in the masjid while women are encouraged to offer their prayers at home. Adhan was introduced in the very early days of the Medinan period i.e., in the first year of the Hijra when the fast-growing community felt the need. Adhan was decided as a means of reminding people of the prayer time. In the serene atmosphere when there was no noise pollution caused by vehicles and other machinery, Adhan called out at an elevated place could be heard from far and wide. But we are living in a different era packed in our houses and office rooms and apparently, Adhan called out without loudspeaker can hardly reach there. Therefore, calling out Adhan without loudspeaker in the present situation will fail the very purpose it is meant to serve. Using loudspeaker is not limited to Adhan. Brothers from other faiths also use the device for their religious rituals and different announcements. Therefore, singling out Adhan and makingunnecessary hue and cry over the issue or demanding to bar mosques from using loudspeakers contradicts the freedom of religion assured by the constitution to all.

Dr. Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi