The adhan is a call to inform others in specific words that the time for a prayer has begun. It is a call to the congregation, and is an expression of the Islamic practices.
It is obligatory or highly preferred. Al-Qurtubi and others have said that the adhan, although it has very few words, covers all essentials of the faith. It begins by proclaiming the greatness of Allah, pointing to His existence and perfection. It mentions His oneness and the denial of polytheism, and it confers the messengership of Muhammad (peace be upon him).
It calls to specific acts of obedience after testifying to Muhammad’s messengership, and it calls to a prosperity which is everlasting, pointing to the return to Allah. Then, in a manner of emphasis, it repeats some of what was already mentioned.
Virtues and Excellence of Adhan
Many hadiths describe the virtues of the adhan and the one who calls it. Such hadiths include the following:
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet said, “If the people knew what was in the adhan and the first row (of the prayer in virtue), and that they could not get it save by drawing lots, they would draw lots.
If they knew the reward for praying the noon prayer early in its time, they would race to it. And if they knew the reward for the night and the morning prayers in congregation, they would come to them even if they had to crawl .” (Al-Bukhari and others)
Mu`awiyyah reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him ) said, “The callers to prayer will have the longest necks of all people on the Day of Resurrection.” (Ahmad, Muslim, and Ibn Majah)
Al-Barra’ ibn `Aazib reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Allah and His angels pray upon those in the first rows. And the caller to prayer is forgiven, for as far as his voice reaches and whoever hears him will confirm what he says. He will get a reward similar to those who pray with him.” (An-Nasa’i)
Abu Ad-Darda’ reported that he heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) say, “If three people do not make the adhan and establish the prayer among themselves, Satan gains mastery over them.” (Ahmad)
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The imam (prayer leader) is a guarantor, and the caller to prayer is one who is given the trust. O Allah, guide the imam and forgive the caller to prayer.”
`Uqbah ibn `Aamir said he heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) say, “Your Lord, the Exalted, is amazed (and pleased) by one who is watching sheep in his pasture, then goes to the mountain to make the call to prayer and pray. Allah (the Exalted) says, ‘Look at my slave there who makes the call to prayer and establishes the prayer out of fear of Me. I have forgiven my slave and have allowed him to enter Paradise.’” (Ahmad, Abu Dawud and An-Nasa’i)
The Event Behind the Legislation of Adhan
The adhan was made part of the Shari`ah during the first year after the migration to Madinah. The hadiths clarify what led up to its institution.
Nafi` related that Ibn `Umar said, “The Muslims would gather and calculate the time of prayer, and no one would call them. They spoke about that one day. Some said, ‘We should have a bell like the Christians.’ Others said, ‘We should have a horn like the Jews.’ Suggested `Umar, ‘Why don’t we have one person call the others to prayer?’ The Messenger of Allah said, ‘Stand, Bilal, and make the call to prayer.” (Ahmad and Al-Bukhari)
Reported `Abdullah ibn (Zaid ibn) `Abd Rabbih, “When the Prophet was to order the use of a bell to call the people to prayer, he disliked it because it resembled the Christian practice. While I was sleeping, a man came to me carrying a bell. I said to him, ‘O slave of Allah, will you sell me that bell?’ Said he, ‘What would you do with it?’ I replied, ‘I would call the people to prayer with it.’ Said he, ‘Shall I not guide you to something better than that?’ I said, ‘Certainly.’ Said he, ‘You should say,
‘Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar. Ashhadu alla ilaha illa Allah, ashhadu alla ilaha illa Allah, Ashhadu anna Muhammad Rasulu Allah, Ashhadu anna Muhammad Rasulu Allah, Hayya `ala as-salah, hayyah `ala as-salah. Hayya `ala al-falah, hayya `ala al-falah. Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar. La illaha illa Allah.’
Then he went a short distance away and said, ‘When you stand for the prayer, say, ‘Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar. Ashhadu alla ilaha illa Allah, Ashhadu anna Muhammad rasulu Allah, Hayya `ala as-salah, hayya `ala al-falah. Qad qamat as-salah, qad qamat as-salah. Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar. La ilaha illa Allah.’
When the morning came, I went to the Messenger of Allah to tell him what I had seen. He said:
“Your dream is true, Allah willing. Go to Bilal, tell him what you have seen, and tell him to make the call to prayer, for he has the best voice among you.’ I went to Bilal and told him what to do, and he made the call to prayer. `Umar was in his house when he heard it. He came out with his cloak, saying ‘By the One who has raised you with the truth, I saw similar to what he saw.’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘To Allah is the praise.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, Ibn Khuzaimah and At-Tirmidhi)
Source: The article is excerpted from the book “Fiqh Us-Sunnah” by As-Sayyid Sabiq