The call to prayer

source :Osoul Global Center


Being a caller to prayer is an honor that shouldn't be granted to anyone. The one who recites Adhan and iqamah to remind all Muslims of their prayers must be honest, sane adult, trustworthy, and have a loud voice.

The call to prayer

The Arabic term adhan, originally means ‘making an announcement’, and it is used in this sense in verse 9: 3 of the Qur’an. In an Islamic context it means ‘an announcement in specific wording at designated times informing people that prayer is due,’ while iqamah informs people in specific wording given by the Legislator that they should rise to pray.[1]


Both the adhan and the iqamah are collective duties, which means that when they are performed by some people, the rest are not accountable. Both are clearly apparent Islamic rituals and, therefore, it is not permissible to neglect them.[2]


1-They must be done by a sane Muslim man. If they are done by an unbeliever, a mad or drunken person, or one who is too young then they are invalid. These are common requirements for all types of Islamic worship.

2-The adhan must be done at the time when the prayer falls due. If it is done earlier, it is invalid. The iqamah should be done just before starting the prayer.

3-Both should be done in the right order, without gaps.

4-Both should be done in Arabic and in the specific wording explained in the Sunnah.

Women are not required to do either of these duties, but a number of eminent scholars, such as al-Shafi'i and Ahmad ibn Hanbal say that it is perfectly acceptable if they do or not.

:A’ishah reports

‘that she used to ‘call the adhan and the iqamah and then lead the women in prayer, standing in the middle of the first row.’

Related by al-Bayhaqi. Sabiq, Fiqh al-Sunnah, vol. 1, p. 120

Qualities the caller to prayer should possess

1-He should be an honest, trustworthy person, because he is referred to in the matter of prayer and fasting.

2-He should be a sane adult. However, if a boy who is aware of his actions calls the adhan, his action is valid.

3-He should know the times for prayer, so as to make sure to call the adhan on time. If he is not fully aware of the relevant times, he may be in error.

4-He should have a loud voice.

5-He should purify himself after any discharge that invalidates ablution.

6-He should say the adhan facing the qiblah.

7-He should place his forefingers in his two ears and turn his face to the right when saying hayy 'ala al-salah and to the left when saying hayy 'ala al-falah.However, if he is giving the Athan via loudspeakers as in the case of modern mosques, turning left and right wold weaken the sound and hence one shouldn’t do it.

8-He should elongate the adhan and be quick with the iqamah.

What is to be said: 

:It was narrated that ‘Abdallah ibn Zayd said

‘When the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) ordered that a bell should be made so that it could be struck to call the people to prayer, a man walked around me whilst I was sleeping [i.e., in a dream], carrying a bell in his hand. I said, “O slave of Allah, will you sell this bell?” He asked, “What will you do with it?” I said, “We will call the people to prayer.” He said, “Shall I not tell you of something better than that?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Say: Allah-u akbar (four times); Ashhadu an la ilaha illa Allah (two times); Ashhadu anna Muhammadan Rasul Allah (two times); hayy [ala al-salah (two times); hayy [ala al-falah (two times); Allah-u akbar Allah-u akbar; La ilaha illa Allah.Then he went a short distance away from me and said: “And when the prayer is about to begin (iqamah), say: Allah-u akbar Allah-u akbar; Ashhadu an la ilaha illa Allah; Ashhadu anna Muhammadan Rasul Allah; hayy [ala al-salah; hayy [ala al-falah; Qad qamat al-salah qad qamat al-salah; Allah-u akbar; La ilaha illa Allah. The following morning, I went to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and told him what I had seen. He said, “This is a true dream, in sha Allah. Get up with Bilal and teach him what you saw, for he has a more melodious voice than you.” So I got up with Bilal and taught him, and he gave the call to prayer. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab heard that in his house and he came out, dragging his lower garment and saying, “By the One Who sent you with the truth, O Messenger of Allah, I saw the same as he saw!” The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “To Allah be praise.’

Related by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood, hadith No. 469

The wording means: ‘Allah is supreme; I bear witness that there is no deity other than Allah; I bear witness that Muhammad is Allah’s messenger; come to prayer; come to success; Allah is supreme; there is no deity other than Allah.’

:Anas reports that

‘Bilal was instructed to repeat the wording twice in adhan and once in iqamah, with the exception of the phrase denoting readiness to start the prayer.’

Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 605; Muslim, hadith No. 378

These are the preferred forms of adhan and iqamah, but if in adhan one repeats the phrases testifying Allah’s oneness and the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) message, or repeats the phrases of iqamah twice, there is no harm because this is  an acceptable difference between scholars. In the adhan for Fajr (i.e. dawn) prayer, it is mandatory to add the phrase assalatu khayrun min al-nawm, which means ‘prayer is preferable to sleep’,

:as Abu Mahdhurah mentions that

‘the Prophet (peace be upon him) instructed him to do so.’

Related by al-Nassa’i; hadith No. 628


  1.  Al-Shawkani, Nayl al-Awtar, vol. 2, p. 31; A. al-Ghunaymi, Al-Lubab fi Sharh al-Kitab, vol. 1, p. 62; al-Bahuti, Kashshaf al-Qina', vol. 1, p. 266.
  2. Al-Bahuti, Ibid., vol. 1, p. 278; Ibn Qudamah, Al-Mughni, vol. 1, p. 417; al-Nadawi, Al-Fiqh al-Muyassar, p. 45.



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