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Adhan (أَذَان) is the Islamic call to prayer. It is broadcasted daily preceding each of the five daily prayers to announce that window of time dedicated to each of them has begun. The root of the Arabic word Adhaan means "to hear" or "to be informed". In modern times, loudspeakers have been adopted for the use of broadcasting the call to prayer publicly so that, in Muslim-majority nations, a person living within or near any city or population center is able to hear the adhaan from within their home, five times a day.

Generally, the adhaan is recited melodically.

The text

The Shias add one verse about Ali and they utter the last sentence 2 times.

rep. Arabic Transliteration Translation Explanation
4x ٱللهُ أَكْبَر Allahu Akbar Allah is the greatest He is greater than the other gods worshiped by polytheists in Mecca in the 7th century.
2x أَشْهََدُ أَنْ لاَ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا ٱللهُ Ashadu an la ilaha illa Allah I testify that there is no god but Allah Muslims testify Allah exists.
2x أَشْهََدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رُسُولُ ٱلله Ashadu an Muhammad rasul Allah I testify that Muhammad is a messenger of Allah Muslim today testify about Muhammad.
2x أَشْهََدُ أَنَّ عليا ولي الله Ashadu Anna Aliyan wali-ullah I testify that Ali is a vicergent of Allah This is recited only by Shia Muslims.
2x حَيَّ عَلَىٰ ٱلصَّلاة Hayya 'ala salah Hasten to prayer Missing a prayer is considered a major sin.
2x حَيَّ عَلَىٰ ٱلْفَلاَح Hayya 'ala falah Hasten to victory Practicing Islam gives you victory in this world (over the disbelievers) and in the next life (paradise full of virgins).
2x ٍٱلصَّلاَةُ خَيْرٌ مِنَ ٱلنَّوم As-Salatu khayrun min an-nawm A prayer is better than sleep. This is recited only in the early morning prayer as a warning for Muslims who would rather sleep instead.
2x الله أكبر Allahu Akbar Allah is greater This phrase is repeated again here, and is also repeated at regular intervals as part of the Salah litany, generally signaling the transition from one prayer pose to another (e.g. standing -> prostration)
1x لا إله إلا الله La ilaha illa Allah There's no god but Allah It is often said to mean "There is no other god, worthy of worship, than Allah". Shias say this two times.

What is Falah?

The word falah (فلاح) is derived from the root f-l-h (فلح). There are a lot of words derived from this root in the Quran. It means success or victory.[1]

The Quran talks about falah in the context of jihad. Those who do jihad (physical fighting) against disbelievers are better than those who remained home and refused to participate in the Islamic imperialism.

They preferred to be with those who remained behind, and a seal is set on their hearts so they do not understand.

But the Messenger and those who believe with him strive hard (جَاهَدُوا, jaahadoo) with their property and their persons; and these it is who shall have the good things and these it is who shall be successful (الْمُفْلِحُونَ, al-muflihoon).

The word jaahadoo is from the same root as jihad and the word muflihoon is from the same root as falah. So the promised success (falah) is not only the paradise with virgins, but also the spoils of war.


Sunni belief

Sunnis maintain that a companion of Muhammad's named Abdullah ibn Zayd had a dream wherein the words of the adhaan were revealed to him by God. After sharing the dream's contents with his friends, the news of ibn Zayd's dream reached Muhammad, who then endorsed it.

It was narrated from Muhammed 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?' He said; 'What will you do with it?' I said, 'I will call (the people) to prayer.' He said, 'Shall I not tell you of something better than that?' I said, 'What is it?' he said, '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 worshipped but Allah, I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah; I bear witness that Muhammed is the Messenger of Allah, I bear witness that Muhammed 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 worshipped 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. 'Umar Al-Khattab heard the voice and came out saying, "O Messenger of Allah! By Allah, I saw the same (dream) as him." (Hasan)Abu 'Ubaid said: "Abu Bakr Al-Hakami told me that 'Abdullah bin Zaid Al-Ansari said concerning that: 'I praise Allah, the Possessor of majesty and honor, A great deal of praise for the Adhan. Since the news of it came to me from Allah, So due to it, I was honored by the information. During the three nights. Each of which increased me in honor.'"

Seen in this light, the revelation of the adhaan is believed to be one of many instances where the ideas of Muhammad's companions are confirmed, or perhaps re-imagined, by Muhammad as the revelations from God. Other famous examples of this include: Muhammad took Omar's idea for the hijab and confirming it as revelation upon Omar's insistence[2], and an instance where Muhammad incorporated the suggestions of his scribe into the Qur'an as he dictated some verses.

Shi'ite belief

Shi'ites maintain that the adhaan was revealed directly to Muhammad and that his companions made no contributions to it whatsoever.[3]

See Also


  2. See also Sahih Bukhari 6:60:10: Narrated Anas: Umar said, "I agreed with Allah in three things," or said, "My Lord agreed with me in three things. I said, 'O Allah's Apostle! Would that you took the station of Abraham as a place of prayer.' I also said, 'O Allah's Apostle! Good and bad persons visit you! Would that you ordered the Mothers of the believers to cover themselves with veils.' So the Divine Verses of Al-Hijab (i.e. veiling of the women) were revealed. I came to know that the Prophet had blamed some of his wives so I entered upon them and said, 'You should either stop (troubling the Prophet ) or else Allah will give His Apostle better wives than you.' When I came to one of his wives, she said to me, 'O 'Umar! Does Allah's Apostle haven't what he could advise his wives with, that you try to advise them?' " Thereupon Allah revealed:-- "It may be, if he divorced you (all) his Lord will give him instead of you, wives better than you Muslims (who submit to Allah).." (66.5)
  3. Al-Furu’ min Al-Kafi, Dar Al-Kutub Al-Islamiyyah, Vol. 3, Bab bada’a Al-Adhan wa Al-Iqamah wa fazlaha wa thawabahuma, p. 302, Hadith 1 and 2.