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Adhan the Call to Prayer in Islam

For all Muslims Adhan (Announcement) is proclaimed daily five times signifying a call to prayer. The faithful are bound to this commitment because this routine is more than a daily ritual. Spoken aloud, a declaration is made to all who can hear the voice of the Mu’adhdhin. The act of following the path to prayer in duty and submission is a statement to the world, while the core of Islam is spoken in a clear and melodic presentation. All are meant to see that this is the path of life and freedom.

The Mu’adhdhin, often selected for traits of character, charisma, and voice, leads the call and daily prayers. A second call of Iqama summons Muslims to the line for prayer once they have assembled. The second is a personal affirmation of faith and conviction, relayed with less emphasis on elaborate presentation. Those who had headed the call have made a choice each time to renew concision and submit again to faith. At that time, those who may hear these words for the first time are able to solidity their journey in prayer and submission.

Prior to the introduction of minarets (loudspeakers), this call would have been made in the streets or from the roof of a mosque. Initially, the call was to gather all faithful together at a common time and place. Various methods such as bells and trumpets had been discussed, but this would not speak clearly to the rest of the world. It is said that the Adhan brings truth by silencing evil and temptation for all that it reaches. Bilal ibn Rabah is said to be the first Mu’adhdhin, called by Muhammad after a companion saw the Adhan in a dream.

Bilal ibn Rabah presents various important qualities. First, his voice was said to be very alluring and sweet. In this manner, the heart may clearly see truth and be called forth. Second, his foreign culture verified that all were free and called universally. Third, his language was not precise, yet Allah hears the purity of heart beyond the material acts of men. This is a key aspect of Muslim faith. Material acts are not a direct act of submission. In this same manner, the melody and beauty in those acts is a sign of truth and full submission.

The five calls of salah (prayer) are fajr (dawn), dhuhr (noon), asr (afternoon), maghrib (sunset), and isha’a (nightfall). These times are defined in the Qur’an along with the process of ritual cleansing and clean presentation. The Mu’adhdhin and faithful face toward qiblah (originally the Temple Mound and later Mecca).

The prayers are considered fard al-ayn (individual religious duty), still men are to take part in congregation. Such actions are opposed to fard al-kifaya, which is communal participation on behalf of all faithful believers. The Adhan began in Madinah, after fleeing Mecca because of persecution. Devotees still turned to offer prayer, which signified unyielding faith. There is a sense that all of life can be transplanted, yet faith is permanent as the only continued way of life. It also affirms that faith is part of freedom and liberation by looking back to the past and moving forward cleansed and renewed.

The adhan takes place as follows:

Allah-u Akbar
[both] God is great. (4x)

Ash-hadu an la ilaha illAllah
[both] I bear witness there in no God but Allah. (2x)

Ash-hadu anna Muhammadan rasul-Allah
[both] I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. (2x)

Hayya ‘alas-salah : La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah
[caller] Come to the prayer : (2x) [congregation] There is no power and no strength except Allah.

Al-salatu khayru min an-nawm
[both] Payer is better than sleep. (2x: morning prayer only)

Hayya ‘ala ‘l-falah : La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah
[caller] Come to success : (2x) [congregation] There is no power and no strength except Allah.

Allah-u Akbar
[both] Allah is great. (2x)

La ilaha il-Allah
[both] There is no God but Allah.

Upon entering the world, the adhan is the first thing that a child hears. The father whispers it into the child’s ear calling them to faith, just as the Mu’adhdhin calls to the people out of love and duty. With each devotion the followers are purified and called back forth to the world. Just as life begins with this act, faith is constantly renewed for those who are called and they answer this call to prayer. The father in submission gives confirmation and guidance for the child waking to hear and see truth for the first time.