Five times a day, melodious sounds, beautifully sung by skillful voices and called out from minarets, fill the air.
The voices are marvelous and the words are stirring.
When the Adhan is recited, it ignites the spiritual side within me. I find myself lost in those words and I wish to hear them again and again. I feel relaxed and peaceful.
I live in a place that gives extra attention to the Adhan. They even have special schools to prepare skillful callers to prayer.
The Adhan is sung in different melodious ways, called maqams, that go in harmony with the specific time of the prayer.
When it’s time to pray Fajr, the Adhan is called out in a smooth tone, waking me up after long hours of sleep, calling me to what’s better than sleep. I start my day anew.
Then, at noon, it is Dhuhr time. The caller to prayer says the Adhan in a quick and vibrant voice that makes me alert and more energetic to continue my day. It calls me to leave all the distractions of life behind and connect with my Lord.
Likewise, when Asr time comes, the humming sound of the Adhan refreshes me and gives me strength after the hectic workday.
When they make the Adhan for Maghrib, the soothing sound makes my heart tremble and makes me feel relaxed.
Lastly, hearing the Adhan for Isha prayer helps me end my day with peace and contentment.
A Constant Reminder
The words of the Adhan constantly remind me, and the whole world, of my real purpose in this life. They keep me focused and motivated. They keep reminding me of God and His presence.
The words of Adhan
When the caller to prayer says “Allahu Akbar,” this reminds me that there is nothing that is greater than God, so I leave all else behind and connect with my creator.
Whe he says “Ash hadu an la ilaha illal Allah,” I remember my purpose in this life i.e. to worship God Alone.
“Ash hadu anna Muhammadan rasulul Allah,” I remember the Prophet who brought the message and made it reach us.
“Hayya ‘ala salah,” invites me to leave everything and turn to God.
“Hayya ‘alal falah,” reminds me that this life is not real, and invites me to work for the next life.
“Allahu Akbar,” Allah is Greater than everything else.
“La ilaha illa Allah,” and I remember that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah.
An additional phrase is included twice in the adhan for Fajr: “As-salatu Khayr min an-nawm” (Prayer is better than sleep) encourages me to leave my warm bed to do what is better.
The Story of the Adhan
But then I think, “Where do these words come from? Were they revealed from God Almighty? Are they words of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)”?
The story of the Adhan goes back to the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
When he arrived in Madinah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was anxious about how to gather people for prayer.
Some companions suggested hoisting a flag or using a horn or a bell. But a companion named Abdullah ibn Zaid saw a dream about the way to gather for prayer.
I leave you with the full hadith:
It was narrated from Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah bin Zaid that his father said that the Messenger of Allah was thinking of a horn, and he commanded that a bell be made and it was done.
Then ‘Abdullah bin Zaid had a dream. He said:
“I saw a man wearing two green garments, carrying a bell. I said to him:
‘O slave of Allah, will you sell the bell?’
’What will you do with it?’
‘I will call (the people) to prayer.’
‘Shall I not tell you of something better than that?’
‘What is it?’
‘Say: Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar; Ash-hadu an la ilaha illallah, Ash-hadu an la ilaha illallah; Ash-hadu anna Muhammadan Rasulullah, Ash-hadu anna Muhammadan Rasulullah; Hayya ‘alas-salah, Hayya ‘alas-salah; Hayya ‘alal-falah, Hayya ‘alal-falah; Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar; La ilaha illallah.’
(Allah is The Most Great, Allah is The Most Great; Allah is The Most Great, Allah is The Most Great; I bear witness that none has the right to be worshiped but Allah, I bear witness that none has the right to be worshiped but Allah; I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; Come to the Prayer, Come to the Prayer; Come to the prosperity, Come to the prosperity; Allah is the Most great, Allah is the Most Great; None has the right to be worshiped but Allah).
‘Abdullah bin Zaid went out and came to the Messenger of Allah, and told him what he had seen. He said:
‘O Messenger of Allah, I saw a man wearing two green garments carrying a bell,’ and he told him the story.
The Messenger of Allah said:
‘Your companion has had a dream. Go out with Bilal to the mosque and teach it to him, for he has a louder voice than you.’
I (‘Abdullah) went out with Bilal to the mosque, and I started teaching him the words and he was calling them out.” (Ibn Majah)
Since that time until the present day, the Adhan has been said to gather people for the congregational prayer five times a day.