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How to Choose the Muʿadhin Among Multiple Volunteers

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn

The specified qualities of an individual, in order, that should be taken into account when selecting a Muʿadhin.

If the Selected Muʾadhin Is Present

If two people volunteer to call the adhān, we should choose the best of them for it. This issue is applicable to any masjid in which there is no pre-specified person who regularly calls the adhān. If there is already a specified muʾadhin (i.e. as selected by the Imām or the masjid authority), then the matter of calling the adhān should remain as it is, due to the saying of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم): “A man shall not say ‘āmīn’ for another while in his jurisdiction [i.e., the jurisdiction of the one saying āmīn’].”1 Thus, similarly we can say: A muʾadhin shall not call the adhān in the jurisdiction of another muʿadhin.

The Qualities to Consider in Selection of the Muʾadhin

  1. Qualities Specific to Calling the Adhān

    In our saying: “we should choose the best of the two of them for it”, meaning the best of them specifically for the purpose of calling the adhān, having the quality of possessing a good voice, understanding the methodology of performing the call itself, trustworthiness, and knowledge of the prayer timings. This is because they have both volunteered to perform one action, so the best of the two should be permitted to call it. As Allāh said:

    إِنَّ خَيْرَ مَنِ اسْتَأْجَرْتَ الْقَوِيُّ الْأَمِينُ ‎

    “Verily, the best of men for you to hire is the strong, the trustworthy.””
    (Al-Qaṣaṣ, 28:26)

    Also, in our saying (best of them) ‘for it’ we do not take into account the fact that one of them may be more well-read (i.e. educated), but at a level lower than the other when it comes to suitability in calling the adhān. Thus, he is not taken over the other [despite being more well-read].

  2. If Equal in Ability, then Qualities of Intellect and Religiosity Take Precedence

    Then, we consider the superior of the two in terms of their intellect and religiosity. That is, the more obedient of the two to Allāh. As for our saying: “intellect”, we mean by it a well-organised individual such that he is able to order his own affairs and handle any harm that may come to him from the people. Note here that we have not mentioned the more knowledgeable of the two. However, this is also a matter that undoubtedly should be present. We should choose the more knowledgeable of the two. Someone could also say that this quality is encompassed in our saying “the best of the two of them for it”. We say: if our previous statement encompassess it, then this is most desirable. Otherwise, if not immediately apparent, it must also be taken into account.

  3. If Still Equal, Then the One Among Them Selected By The People of the Town or Governing Authority of the Masjid

    Then, we should consider the one chosen by the people of the town. If they are unable to agree upon an individual, then we choose the one selected by the majority. As seldom do we find a single person everyone agrees upon.

    It may seem apparent that there is no consideration given for the governing authority over the masjid, as the adhān is for the people of the town so they are responsible for the selection of the caller. However, this stance requires some review. We say: The governing authority over the masjid itself must possess a degree of discernment over the selection of the caller. As they possess authority over the affairs of the masjid. It is for this reason that any carelessness with regards to the muʾadhin is taken up by this governing authority over the affairs of the masjid. It may be that at the time of the composer [al-Ḥajāwī] there did not exist authorities meant for governing the affairs of the masājid.

  4. Final Resort: Al-Qurʿah (Drawing Lots)

    Then, if all the qualities mentioned are equal between the two, and the people of the town cannot find agreement, and the right of both to be chosen is equal, we resort to qurʿah. Qurʿah represents a means of distinguishing similar matters and clarification of the vague when the rights for a particular task appear evenly matched. Qurʿah has been related in both the Qurʾān and the Sunnah. In the Qurʾān, the saying of the Most High:

    وَمَا كُنتَ لَدَيْهِمْ إِذْ يُلْقُونَ أَقْلَامَهُمْ أَيُّهُمْ يَكْفُلُ مَرْيَمَ وَمَا كُنتَ لَدَيْهِمْ إِذْ يَخْتَصِمُونَ

    “You were not with them, when they cast lots with their pens as to which of them should be charged with the care of Maryam (Mary); nor were you with them when they disputed.”
    (Āli-ʿImrān, 3:44)

    وَإِنَّ يُونُسَ لَمِنَ الْمُرْسَلِينَ ‎﴿١٣٩﴾‏ إِذْ أَبَقَ إِلَى الْفُلْكِ الْمَشْحُونِ ‎﴿١٤٠﴾‏ فَسَاهَمَ فَكَانَ مِنَ الْمُدْحَضِينَ ‎﴿١٤١﴾‏

    “And, verily, Yūnus (Jonah) was one of the Messengers. When he ran to the laden ship, He (agreed to) cast lots, and he was among the losers.”
    (Al-Ṣāffāt, 37:141)

    As for the Sunnah, it has been narrated in several aḥādīth. Among then is his (صلى الله عليه وسلم) saying: “If the people knew the reward associated with calling the adhān and praying in the first row, then they found no recourse but to draw lots [to decide who occupies it], they would draw lots for it.”2 Āʾishah (رضي الله عنها) said: “If the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) wished to travel, he would draw lots among his wives. The wife whose lot was produced would travel with the Messenger of Allāh (صلى الله عليه وسلم).”3

    Also, qurʿah represents a means by which argument and debate is settled. It is, therefore, a legislated method and permissible regardless of the method of lot drawing that is employed. This is because it has no specified method in the sharīʿah, so whatever way the people are accustomed to may be used for this purpose.

Endnotes:

[1] Authentic: narrated by Muslim: 673.
[2] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 617.
[3] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 2770.

Source: Al-Sharh al-Mumtiʿ 2: 53-55
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: September 9, 2023
Edited: September 10, 2023

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