The Mu’adhin, the Adhān and the Iqāmah: The Call to Prayer: Islam 3.4 

Objectives: Know and understand the role of the Mu’adhin and the use and significance of the adhān.

Sunset approaches in the Prophet’s City of Madinah, Saudi Arabia. The Mu’adhins prepare to call the Adhān.

Mu’adhin: The mu’adhin is the person who calls Muslims to prayer and the adhān is the call to prayer itself. The only qualifications needed to be a mu’adhin are: to be a good Muslim who knows the rulings surrounding the adhān, good pronunciation and a strong voice. In the Prophet’s (ﷺ) time, the mu’adhin would stand outside the Mosque, on a wall or a roof and call the worshippers to prayer five times a day. In later times, it would be called from the minarets and nowadays from microphones amplified with speakers that are placed upon the minarets or tops of mosques. That means that regardless of where the people are in the city of a Muslim country, they can hear the adhān. In non-Muslim countries, the adhān is called in the mosque or just outside it. The Sunnah is to call it outside the mosque, and not inside. In our times, mu’adhins have become ‘celebrities’ and countries like Turkey have adhān competitions – this is frowned upon by Muslim scholars because many of these mu’adhins elongate words of the adhān or even sing them which is not from the Sunnah. Smartphones apps can now play the adhān for each prayer.

Note: Do not get the word mu’adhin mixed up with the word adhān.

The Adhān: The Arabic words of the adhān itself are a reminder of some of the most important truths of Islam. They also remind Muslims that they should stop whatever they are doing and answer the call of Allah to worship Him. We can see this in the dawn prayer which includes an extra phrase: “prayer is better than sleep” (as-salātu khairun minan-nawm). Any visiting traveller will know that they are in a Muslim country when they hear the adhān; it is a sign of the people’s Islamic faith.

The Mu’adhin in action: 4.30am, Cairo, Egypt. As in other Muslim countries, in the silence of the early morning at dawn before sunrise, a simple voice starts in the distance. Rising and falling with repeated phrases, it begins to echo around the town. It is picked up by other voices left and right, near and far, until the whole sky is full of sound. In the UK, the same sound comes from an alarm clock at the side of a sleeping Muslim waking her with a start. She gets out of bed and goes to the bathroom to perform wudoo, then offers the first prayer of the day. Mu’adhins from hundreds of Mosques around the country also call out with the adhān at this early hour, and devoted worshippers make their way to the Masjid.

The words of the Adhān:

Recital Transliteration Translation
4x Allāhu akbar

ٱللهُ أَكْبَر

Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest.
2x Ash-hadu an-lā ilāha illā allāh

أَشْهََدُ أَنْ لاَ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللهُ

I bear witness that there is no diety worthy of worship but Allah.
2x Ash-hadu anna Muhammadan-Rasool ullāh

أَشْهََدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رُسُولُ ٱلله

I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.
2x Hayya ‘alas-ṣalāh

حَيَّ عَلَىٰ ٱلصَّلاة

Hasten to prayer (salah).
2x Hayya ʿalal-falāḥ

حَيَّ عَلَىٰ ٱلْفَلاَح

Hasten to success.
2x As-salatu Khayrun Minan-nawm

ٱلصَّلاَةُ خَيْرٌ مِنَ ٱلنَّوم

Prayer is better than sleep (only in fajr adhān)
2x Allāhu akbar

الله أكبر

Allah is greatest.
1x Lā ilāha illā-Allāh

لا إله إلا الله

There is no god worthy of worship but Allah.

Some people speak the adhān into the ears of a new born baby, however the narration attributing that to the Prophet (ﷺ) is not authentic, so the people of knowledge do not recommend it – and therefore it is not a Sunnah (a Prophetic tradition).

There is another call to prayer that is made which is called the iqāmah. This is made when the Imām is ready to lead the prayer. The words of the iqāmah are very similar to the words of the adhān and are recited as follows:

Recital Arabic Transliteration Translation
1x الله أكبر الله أكبر allāhu ʾakbar, allāhu ʾakbar Allah is Greatest, Allah is Greatest,
1x أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله ashhadu ʾan lā ilāha ʾillā-llāh I bear witness that there is no diety worthy of worship but Allah.
1x أشهد أن محمدًا رسول الله ashhadu ʾanna muḥammadan rasūlu-llāh I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.
1x حي على الصلاة ḥayya ʿala -ṣ-ṣalāh Hasten to prayer
1x حي على الفلاح ḥayya ʿala -l-falāḥ Hasten to success,
2x قد قامت الصلاة qad qāmat aṣ-ṣalāh Prayer has started,
1x الله أكبر الله أكبر allāhu ʾakbar, allāhu ʾakbar Allah is Greatest, Allah is Greatest,
1x لا إله إلا الله lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāh There is no god worthy of worship but Allah.

Once the iqāmah is made the imām begins the prayer, and the worshippers behind him follow his motions in the worship of their Lord, Allah.

Questions and discussion:

  1. Discuss whether Muslims should be allowed to broadcast the adhān from mosques in Britain. Give your reasons and be prepared to discuss your ideas with the class.
  2. Find three Muslim beliefs in the adhān and write them down.
  3. Write each of the lines of the adhān (in English transliteration or better still in Arabic, if you can) after memorising the words.
  4. What is a Mu’adhin? What is the adhān?
  5. What is the extra wording added at dawn into the adhān?
  6. When is the iqāmah called?

NOTE:

I initially compiled these worksheets for my students at the Redstone Academy (aged between 13 and 16 years), Moseley Road, Birmingham, UK who were working towards their General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). I felt that others who do not attend the school could also benefit from these topics since they are presented in simple bitesize chapters. I have relied upon GCSE text books and adapted them for my classes.

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