Table of Contents

Adhan (Call for Prayer)

Adhan literally means ‘announcement’, and in the Shari’ah it means the announcement made in specific words at the time of salat. It was introduced in the first year of the Hijrah at Madinah. The cause of its introduction, in the opinion of the Imamis, was that Gabriel came down with the adhan in a message from God to the Prophet (S). The Sunnis say that ‘Abd Allah ibn Zayd saw a dream in which he was taught the adhan by someone. When he related his dream to the Prophet (S), he approved it.

Adhan is a Sunnah

The Hanafis, Shafi’is and Imamis say: Adhan is a sunnah which has been emphatically recommended (mu’akkadah).

The Hanbalis observe: It is a kifa’i fard for non-traveling men in villages and towns to make the adhan for the five daily prayers.

The Malikis state: It is a wajib kifa’i in towns where the Friday prayer is held, and if the people of such a place abandon adhan they will be fought on that account.

Adhan is Invalid in Certain Cases

The Hanbalis observe: It is not valid to make adhan for a funeral prayer (salat al-janazah) or for a supererogatory prayer (al-salat al-nafilah) or for one performed to fulfil a vow (al-salat al-mandhurah).

The Malikis say: It is not valid for a supererogatory or funeral prayer or for an obligatory daily prayer performed after the lapsing of its time (al-salat al-fa’itah).

The Hanafis state: It is not valid for the prayers performed on the two ‘ids (‘idayn), for the prayer performed on the occurrence of an eclipse (salat al-kusuf), for prayers made for rain (istisqa’), and for tarawih and sunnah prayers.

The Shafi’is do not consider it valid for janazah, mandhurah and nawafil prayers.

The Imamis observe: The Shari’ah has introduced adhan only for the five daily salats, and it is mustahabb for them, whether performed as ada’ or qada’, with a group (jama’ah) or singly (furada), during journey or stay, both for men and women. It is not valid for any other salat, mustahabb or wajib, and the mu’adhdhin will call out "al-salat” three times on occasions of salat al-kusuf and ‘Idayn.

The Conditions for Adhan

The schools concur that the conditions for the validity of adhan are: maintaining continuity of its recital and the sequence of its different parts, and that the mu’adhdhin be a sane Muslim man.1 Adhan by a child of discerning age is valid. All the schools concur that Taharah is not required for adhan.

The schools differ regarding other aspects. The Hanafis and the Shafi’is say: Adhan is valid even without niyyah. The other schools require niyyah.

The Hanbalis consider making adhan in any language other than Arabic as being unconditionally valid. The Malikis, Hanafis and Shafi’is state: It is not valid for an Arab to make adhan in any other language, though it is valid for a non-Arab to make it in his own tongue, for himself and his co-linguals.

The Imamis observe: Adhan is not valid before the arrival of the time of salat except in the case of salat al-fajr. The Shafi’is, Malikis, Hanbalis and many Imamis permit the making of the adhan of announcement before the dawn. The Hanafis do not permit it, making no difference between salat al-fajr and other salats. This opinion is closer to caution.

The Form of Adhan

The following is the form of adhan:

Allahu akbar -- four times according to all the schools and twice according to the Malikis.

Ashhadu an la ilaha illallah -- twice according to all the schools.

Ashhadu anna Muhammadan rasul Allah - twice according to all the schools.

(It is Mustahabb (recommended) to also say at this point:Ashhadu anna Aliyyan wali Allah - twice according Imamis only.It means I bear witness that ‘Ali is protected by Allah (from any evil))

Hayya ‘ala al-salat -- twice according to all the schools.

Hayya’ala al- falah -- twice according to all the schools.

Hayyah ‘ala khayril-’amal -- twice according to the Imamis only.

Allahu akbar-- twice according to all the schools.

La ilaha illallah -- once according to the four schools and twice according to the Imamis.
The Malikis and Shafi’is permit repetition of the last line, considering it sunnah; that is the adhan, according to them, is not invalid if it is recited only once, as the Imamis hold.

The author of al-Fiqh ‘ala al-madhahib al-’arba’ah mentions a consensus among the four Sunni schools regarding ‘al-tathwib’ being mustahabb. Al-tathwib means reciting the words "al-salatu khayrun min al-nawm", (‘Salat is better than sleep’) twice after "hayya ‘ala al-falah ".The Imamis prohibit it.2

Iqamah (A call immediately before prayer)

For both men and women it is mustahabb to recite iqamah before every daily obligatory salat, with the salat immediately following it. The rules applicable to adhan, such as continuity, sequence, its being in Arabic, etc., apply to iqamah as well. Its form is as follows:

Allahu akbar - -twice according to all the schools except the Hanafis who require it four times.
Ashhadu an la ilaha illallah -- once according to the Shafi’is, Malikis and Hanbalis and twice according to the Hanafis and Imamis.

Ashhaduanna Muhammadan Rasulullah -- once in the opinion of the Shafi’is, Malikis and Hanbalis, and twice according to the Hanafis and Imamis.

Hayya ‘ala as-salat -- once in the opinion of the Shafi’is, Malikis and Hanbalis, and twice according to the Hanafis and Imamis.

Hayya ‘ala al-falah -- once in the opinion of the Shafi’is, Malikis and Hanbalis, and twice according to the Hanafis and Imamis.

Hayya’ala khayr il-’amal -- twice according to the Imamis only.

Qad qamat is-salat -- twice in the opinion of all schools, except the Malikis who recite it once.

Allahu akbar -- twice in the opinion of all the schools.

La ilaha illallah -- once in the opinion of all the schools.

A group of Imami legists observe: It is valid for a ‘traveler’ and a person in a hurry to recite each sentence of the Adhan and Iqamah only once.

  • 1. The Imamis observe: It is mustahabb for a woman to say adhan for her salat, though not as a call to prayer. Similarly it is mustahabb for women while holding their own jama’ah that one of them make the adhan call and the iqamah in a manner that men do not hear it. The four Sunni schools consider iqamah as mustahabb and adhan as makruh for women.
  • 2. Ibn Rushd in Bidayat al-Mujtahid (1935 ed.) vol.1, p.103, says: “Others have said: The phrase ‘al-salatu khayrun min al-nawm’ should not be recited because it is not a masnun part of the adhan, and this is the opinion of al-Shafi’i. The cause for the disagreement is whether it was said (as part of the adhan) during the time of the Prophet (S) or during that of ‘Umar.” It is stated in Ibn Qudama’s al-Mughni, (3rd ed.) vol.1, p.408: “Ishaq has said that this thing has been innovated by the people and Abu ‘Isa has said: ‘This tathwib is something that the learned (ahl al-‘ilm) have regarded with distaste. It is that on hearing which Ibn ‘Umar left the mosque.’”