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What is the Adhan? The Muslim Call to Prayer

The call to prayer (adhan) rings from mosques throughout the world everyday five times a day. When the early Muslims migrated from Makkah to Madinah, they used to assemble for the prayer, and used to guess the time for it.

During those days, the practice of adhan for the prayers had not been introduced yet. Once they discussed this problem regarding the call for prayer.

Some people suggested the use of a bell like the Christians, others proposed a trumpet like the horn used by the Jews, but Umar was the first to suggest that a man should call the people to prayer.

So, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ordered the companion Bilal to get up and pronounce the call for prayers.

Adhan’s Message

The captivating message of the adhan is amplified by the skill of the person who recites it: the more melodious and clear the voice, the more powerful the adhan is.

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Muslims repeat the words after the caller as they listen to the adhan. The translation of the call to prayer is as follows:

Allah is greater. Allah is greater. (2 times)
I bear witness that there is no God except Allah. (2 times)
I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. (2 times)
Come to prayer. (2 times)
Come to success. (2 times)
Allah is greater. Allah is greater.
There is no God except Allah.

The daily life of a Muslim punctuates and revolves around the prayer. The call to prayer testifies to God’s oneness and denies all partners associated to God. It also affirms the prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and highlights the importance of prayer.

These are all characteristics of what is means to be a Muslim.

God is Greater Than

The call to prayer is a reminder of what is important in life. One notices that the call to prayer does not state that God is greatest, but greater. This is because regardless of what one might be doing at the moment, they are to remember that God is greater than that thing.

Muslims must put aside what occupies them at the moment and respond to God’s call. In the Muslim world, many shops temporarily close so that owners and workers can go to prayer.

One might notice that many people are walking in the same direction to answer the call to prayers. This is similar to the day of judgment, when God will call people to be resurrected and they will all answer and come out of their graves.

Similarly, when they gather in large groups for the prayer, they are to remember the gathering of the day of judgment. It is a day when no one can speak except by God’s permission and all are praying and begging Him to be saved.

A Call to Success

The adhan (call to prayer) also consists of a call to success. The Islamic definition of success is not in having or not having, but in obeying God.

This life will ultimately come to an end and all of the materialistic things used to define success will wither away. What remains is the good one did and their connection to God.

Success is found in prayer because prayer is what softens the heart and makes one a better person. Prayer reorients and refocuses one’s mind and heart on what is most important in life.

The call to prayer is always recited in every newborn’s ear. It is the first thing a newborn hears because the newborn is to live their life while always keeping in mind that God is greater than all else. Their life is to revolve around what God wants and not their personal desires or whims. It also amplifies the importance of prayer in life, that each of us was born not to have fun or hoard wealth, but to be servants of God.

A Symbol of Islam

The call to prayer is a symbol of Islam that is respected throughout the Muslim world. It is a short call to prayer that interjects itself into the entire civilization five times a day. And it serves as a constant disruption to help people break free from the chains of this world and reconnect with their hereafter and their Creator.

It implies the loss of the one who hears it and does not respond. It is for that reason that many Muslim scholars consider it mandatory to answer the call to prayer.

The adhan infers that those who do not answer God’s call, those who do not pray, are unsuccessful. They may have all the materialistic toys and gadgets of this world, but without God, one is indeed in loss.