Question 7: Why do Shi’a Add Ashhadu anna ‘aliyyan waliyyullah” in the Call to Prayer?

In adhan {call to prayer}, why do you say, “Ashhadu anna ‘aliyyan waliyyullah” {“I bear witness that ‘Ali is Wali of Allah”} and give testimony to the wilayah {guardianship} of ‘Ali (‘a)?

Reply: In order to reply to this question, let us consider the following points:

1. In their books on jurisprudence, all the Shi‘ah jurists {fuqaha} stress that to say: “I bear witness to the wilayah of ‘Ali (‘a)” is not part of adhan or iqamah, and no one has the right to say that it is part of any of the two.

2. From the viewpoint of the Qur’an, ‘Ali (‘a) is one of the awliya’, and the following verse explicitly points to his wilayah over the Muslims:

﴿ إِنَّمَا وَلِيُّكُمُ اللّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ الَّذِينَ يُقِيمُونَ الصَّلاَةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَهُمْ رَاكِعُونَ ﴾

“Your guardian is only Allah, His Apostle, and the faithful who maintain the prayer and give the zakat while bowing down.”1

The Sunni Sahihs and Musnads include narrations that highlight the fact that the noble verse was revealed to praise ‘Ali (‘a) who, while doing ruku‘ {bowing down in prayer}, gave his ring to a poor person.2 When this verse which refers to ‘Ali (‘a) was revealed, Hassan ibn Thabit versified this event in the following poem:

فأنت الذي أعطيت إذ أنت راكع

فدتك نفوس القوم يا خير راكع

فأنزل فيك الله خير ولاية

وبينهما في مُحكمات الشرائع

You are the one who donated, while doing ruku‘. May the souls of the folk be sacrificed to you, O the best of those who bow down!
Thus, God has sent down the best wilayah to you, and explained it through the decrees of the Shari‘ah.

3. The Holy Prophet (S) said:

إنما الأعمال بالنّيات.

“Verily, actions are (judged) by intention.”

Since the wilayah of ‘Ali (‘a) is one of the principles stipulated in the Qur’an, and the said phrase is not regarded as part of the adhan (or iqamah), what is wrong about uttering it alongside the testimony to the apostleship of the Prophet (S)?

Here, it is necessary to mention that if due to adding a sentence to adhan, the Shi‘ah must be castigated, how could the following two cases be justified?

1. Authentic historical references confirm that the following phrase:

حيّ على خير العمل

Hayya ‘ala khayr al-‘amal
“Come to the best of deeds”

was part of adhan,3 but during the caliphate of the second caliph, this phrase was omitted under the pretext that when people hear the words “the best of deeds” they will think that praying is better than jihad and cease taking part in jihad. And things remained as such.4

2. The sentence,

الصلوة خير من النوم

As-salatu khayrun mina ’n-nawm
“Prayer is better than sleeping”

was not part of the adhan during the time of the Holy Prophet (S) but has been included therein later on,5 and as such, in the book, Al-Umm, Imam ash-Shafi‘i says:

"أكره في الأذان الصلوة خير من النوم لأن أبا محذورة لم يذكره."

It is not pleasing for me that we say in the adhan: ‘as-salatu khayrun mina ’n-nawm’ because Abu Mahdhurah (one of the narrators and muhaddithun) has not included it (in his compilation of hadiths).6

  • 1. Surah al-Ma’idah 5:55.
  • 2. The references concerning the circumstances related to the revelation of this verse on the said case is more than what have been enumerated here. Anyway, below are some of these ample references:
    Tafsir at-Tabari, vol. 6, p. 186;
    Ahkam al-Qur’an (Tafsir Jasas), vol. 2, p. 542;
    Tafsir al-Baydawi, vol. 1, p. 345;
    Ad-Durr al-Manthur, vol. 2, p. 293.
  • 3. Kanz al-‘Ummal, “kitab as-salah,” vol. 4, p. 266, an at-tabrani, “kana Bilal yu’dhdhin bi’s-subh fayaqul: hayya ‘ala khayr al-‘amal”; Sunan Bayhaqi, vol. 1, pp. 424-425; Malik, Al-Muwatta’, vol. 1, p. 93.
  • 4. Kanz al-‘Irfan, vol. 2, p. 158; Sirat al-Mustaqim wa Jawahir al-Akhbar wa al-Athar, vol. 2, p. 192; Qawshachi, Sharh at-Tajrid, mabhath imamah, p. 484, “sa‘ad al-minbar wa qal: ayyuha ’ n-nas thalath kann ‘ala ‘ahd rasul Allah ana anhi ‘anhum wa aharramahunna wa hiya mut‘ah an-nisa’i wa mut‘ah al-hajj wa hayya ‘ala khayr al-‘amal”.
  • 5. Kanz al-‘Ummal, “kitab as-salah,” vol. 4, p. 270.
  • 6. Quoted in Dala’il as-Sidq, vol. 3, “al-qism ath-thani,” p. 97.