Call to Prayer, as the name suggests, invites all the listeners to come for the prayer. It is an announcement that the time for prayers is approaching, so one has to proceed to offer the Prayers.

In Arabic, the specific word used for this activity is “Adhan,” which means “to listen.” Different variants of this Arabic word are in practice in different parts of the world, such as “Azaan” in South Asia, “Ezan” in Turkey, and “Adzan” in Indonesia and other nearby Countries. Call to Prayer or Adhan is recited in every Masjid to invite the Muslims to come for prayers, invariably five times a day. It is a Sunnah that dates back to the earlier days of the emergence of Islam.

Historical Background of Adhan (Call to Prayers)

Adhan is a way of Muslim Call to Prayer. After the migration of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ from Mecca to Medina, this practice was started. During the earlier days, Muslims were not at liberty to offer Prayers openly due to the strong opposition of the Quraysh tribe. Once settled in Medina and the first Islamic place of worship (Masjid) built there, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ consulted his companions (Sahaaba) on how to call the people to gather at the Masjid for Prayers.

Some of them opined using the tradition of Christianity, which used to ring a bell announcing the commencement of the religious rituals. Some others were of the view of using Horns for this purpose, as Jews used to do. However, the Prophet did not agree with any of these methods.

Meanwhile, Hazrat Umar Bin Khattab رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ stood up and shared his dream with the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, where he saw a man, most probably an angel, who asked him to call the people for prayers in a human voice. The angel also shared the words of that call with Hazrat Umar Bin Khattab رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ. Another companion of the Prophet ﷺ, Hazrat Abdullah Bin Zayd رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ, also told that he also had a similar dream, where an angel taught him the same words to be used for the Muslim Call to Prayers.

Hence, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ asked his companions to call Hazrat Bilal رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ, an African slave, whom his master freed. Then the Prophet asked Hazrat Umar رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ to teach him this Muslim call to prayer words. So, Hazrat Biilal رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ recited the first ever Adhan, the Islamic call to prayer and eventually, he became the first Moazzin (Moadhdan in Arabic) in Islam.

Since then, these azan words have invariably been recited from every Masjid five times daily to call the people for five regular prayers.

Words of Adhan

The basic words of Adhan are the same for all five regular prayers. However, two additional lines are added in the Fajr Adhan.

Arabic Text of Adhan

اللهُ أَكْبَرُ, اللهُ أَكْبَرُ

اللهُ أَكْبَرُ , اللهُ أَكْبَرُ

أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَّا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا اللهُ

أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَّا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا اللهُ

أَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَّسُوْلُ اللهِ

أَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَّسُوْلُ اللهِ

حيَّ عَلَى الصَّلَاة

حيَّ عَلَى الصَّلَاة

حَيَّ عَلَى الْفَلَاح

حَيَّ عَلَى الْفَلَاح

اللهُ أَكْبَرُ , اللهُ أَكْبَرُ

لَا إِلٰهَ إِلَّا اللهُ

In Fajr Adhan, the following additional lines are also recited before the last two lines

الصلوۃ خیر من النوم

الصلوۃ خیر من النوم

Transliteration of Adhan

Here is the Transliteration of Adhan in English

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar.

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar.

Ash-hadu alla ilaha illa-llah.

Ash-hadu alla ilaha illa-llah.

Ash-hadu anna Muhammadar-Rasulullah.

Ash-hadu anna Muhammadar-Rasulullah.

Hayya ‘ala-s-Salah, hayya ‘ala-s-Salah.

Hayya ‘ala-s-Salah, hayya ‘ala-s-Salah.

Hayya ‘ala-l-falah, hayya ‘ala-l-falah.

Hayya ‘ala-l-falah, hayya ‘ala-l-falah.

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar.

La ilaha illa-llah.

Additional Lines in Fajr Adhan (Recited Before the Last Two Lines)

As-Salatu khairun min an-naum,

As-Salatu khairun min an-naum.

Translation of Adhan

Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest.

Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest.

I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah.

I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah.

I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah

I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah

Hasten to the Prayer, hasten to the Prayer.

Hasten to real success, hasten to real success

Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest.

There is none worthy of worship but Allah.

Additional lines in Fajr Adhan

Prayer is better than sleep

Prayer is better than sleep.

Responding to Adhan

It is a Sunnah to respond to the words of Adhan. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ told his companions to repeat the same words, which Moazzen recites, as narrated in Hadith Book Sahih Al-Bukhari, at Vol. 1, Book 11, Hadith 585

Translation

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Whenever you hear the Adhan, say what the Mu’adh-dhin is saying.

However, when the Moazzen said, “hayya ‘ala-s-Salah and Hayya ‘ala-l-falah,” it was advised Prophet Muhammad to respond by saying “La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah.”, as narrated in Vol. 1, Book 11, Hadith 587 of Sahi Al-Bukhari.

Translation

“Some of my companions told me that Hisham had said, “When the Mu’adh-dhin said, “Haiyi `alassala (come for the prayer).” Muawiya said, “La hawla wala quwata illa billah (There is neither might nor any power except with Allah)” and added, “We heard your Prophet saying the same.”

So, responding to Adhan in the above style is a Sunnah, which every Muslim needs to follow.

Dua After Listening to Adhan

Recitation of a specific Dua is also taught by the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, as narrated in Hadith Vol. 1, Book 11, Hadith 588 of Sahi Al-Bukhari

Translation

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Whoever after listening to the Adhan says, ‘Allahumma Rabba hadhihi-dda` watit-tammah, was-salatil qa’imah, ati Muhammadan al-wasilata wal-fadilah, wa b`ath-hu maqaman mahmudan-il-ladhi wa`adtahu’ [O Allah! Lord of this perfect call (perfect by not ascribing partners to You) 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”.

Arabic text of Dua After Listening the Adhan

اللَّهُمَّ رَبَّ هَذِهِ الدَّعْوَةِ التَّامَّةِ وَالصَّلاَةِ الْقَائِمَةِ آتِ مُحَمَّدًا الْوَسِيلَةَ وَالْفَضِيلَةَ وَابْعَثْهُ مَقَامًا مَحْمُودًا الَّذِي وَعَدْتَهُ، حَلَّتْ لَهُ شَفَاعَتِي يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ‏”‏‏

Other Types of Adhan

Apart from reciting the Adhan to call people for five regular prayers, there are other types of Adhan. Here are those:

One Additional Adhan is recited well before the Jumma Prayers. This is the same Adhan, which is recited for five regular daily prayers. But this Adhan is in addition to the normal Dhuhar Prayers. After this Adhan, the Imam delivers a speech, followed by a regular Adhan. After this regular Adhan, the Imam delivers Khutba, and the Jumma Prayer is offered. The tradition of this additional Adhan is most probably derived from verse number 9 of Surah Al-Jumu’ah.

Translation

O believers! When the call to prayer is made on Friday, then proceed ˹diligently˺ to the remembrance of Allah and leave off ˹your˺ business. That is best for you, if only you knew.

It is believed that this additional Adhan is recited to call the people for Jumma Congregation in the light of the referred verse of the Quran.

After every regular Adhan, which is recited five times a day, Iqamat is recited just before the start of the Salah (Namaz). The words of the Iqamat are also the same as of the regular Adhan. However, it comprises two additional lines before the last two lines. These are “Qad qamati-s-Salah, Qad qamati-s-Salah” Translation (Prayer is ready, Prayer is ready). Immediately after this Iqamat, the Imam starts the prayers.

Another type of Adhan is that which is recited near the ears of the newborn baby. The words of this Adhan are the same as those of the regular Adhan. Traditionally, regular Adhan is recited in one ear of the newborn, whereas Iqamat is recited in his other ear.

It is also worth mentioning here that there are some Prayers where no Adhan is recited. These are the Funeral Prayers (Namaz-e-Janaza) and the special prayers offered on the Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha.

Timings of Adhan

Adhan timings are not fixed, as these are linked with the actual timings of a particular prayer. Since the Prayer times keep changing throughout the year, with the change in sunrise and sunset timings, the Adhan timings also change accordingly.

However, as per tradition, Adhan is recited for the following different prayers:

  • Adhan for Fajr (dawn prayer) is normally recited 30 minutes before Collective Prayer (Namaz Ba-Jamat) in a particular Masjid.
  • It is recited 15-20 minutes before the time of Dhuhar (midday prayer), Asr (afternoon prayer), and Isha Prayer (night prayer) in that particular Masjid.
  • For Maghrib (evening or sunset prayer), Adhan is recited just a few minutes before the start of prayer in that Masjid.
  • Jumma Prayers is somewhat a special occasion in Muslim Culture. Traditionally, the Imam delivers a speech in the local language, highlighting the teachings of Islam, before the actual Juma Prayer. The additional Adhan is therefore recited well before the scheduled time of Juma Prayer. After this motivational speech, regular Adhan is recited, after which the Imam delivers Khutba.

Adhan – From Minarets to Loudspeakers

In the earlier days of Islamic history, Adhan used to be recited on the rooftop of the Masjid so that a maximum number of people could hear the voice of the Moazzen. Later on, with the addition of Minarets in the Mosques, Moazzen used to go on top of the Minarets to recite Adhan, with a view that his voice may also reach the far-off people.

However, after the invention of electrical sound systems, the tradition of reciting Adhan on the rooftop or Minarets almost vanished. The loudspeakers replaced it. The first such sound system was believed to be used in 1936. Since then, the Adhan is recited using the latest sound systems, including loudspeakers.

Conclusion

Adhan is a sort of announcement or reminder for the people that the time of prayer is approaching, so they need to rush to the place of worship (Masjid). This is also an act of following the Sunnah, as it was started on the orders of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, during the early days of Islam in Medina.

So, every Mosque has appointed a specific person to carry out this religious duty, invariably five times a day. This person is referred to as Moazzen, the reciter of the Adhan. The first Moazzen in Islamic history was Hazart Bilal رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ, to whom Prophet Muhammad ﷺ assigned this duty.