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The Various Formulations of the Adhān and Acting in Accordance with Them

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn

An explanation on the different permissible iterations of the call to prayer and what requirements must be followed across these different iterations.

The adhān (call to prayer) comprises fifteen sentences that are recited from a high place. That is:

  • the takbīrاللهُ أَكْبَر—in the beginning is repeated four times,
  • the two shaḥadahsأَشْهَدُ أَن لَّا إِلهَ إِلَّا الله, أَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدَا رَّسُولُ الله—four times [two each],
  • the hayʿalatān [saying حَيَّ عَلَى الصَّلاة ,حَيَّ عَلَى الفلاح] four times [two each],
  • the takbīr at the ending is twice,
  • then the tawḥīd [that is, لا إله إلا الله] is once.

Altogether, this is fifteen sentences. This is the first prerequisite of calling the adhān: It should not be less than fifteen sentences. This is the most famous opinion narrated from Imām Aḥmad, although there is a difference of opinion in this issue.

We say: All iterations of the adhān that have been narrated in the Sunnah are permissible. Also, it is most befitting that one calls the adhān using one formulation sometimes, and another at other times, as long as there is no danger of causing disturbance or dissension among the congregation.

According to Imām Mālik, it is seventeen sentences with the takbīr in the beginning recited twice with al-tarjīʿ1—which is to recite the two shaḥādahs silently before saying it aloud.

According to Imām al-Shāfiʿī, it is nineteen sentences with the takbīr in the beginning being recited four times with al-tarjīʿ.2 All of these iterations have been narrated in the Sunnah. If you were to call the adhān with this formulation once, then with another, then this is better. The rule is: For any act of worship that takes on several, varying forms, it is better for people to perform those acts in all its forms. Varying the methodology of performance in this way has several benefits:

  1. Protection of the Sunnah, and spreading its forms among the people
  2. Ease upon the one responsible for the performance of these acts of worship, as some iterations may be less demanding on a person than others, such that there is a requirement for their execution
  3. They facilitate the presence of one’s heart when performing these acts of worship, protecting it from becoming bored or weary
  4. Acting in accordance with every aspect and iteration of the Sharīʿah

In our saying: ‘recited’, we mean he recites each sentence of the adhān one-by-one. This is better according to the most famous opinion. There is also another way of calling it which is to conjoin between the two takbīrs in all the takbīrs, saying in the beginning: “الله أكبر الله أكبر” then “الله أكبر الله أكبر” then in the takbīrs at the end saying: “الله أكبر الله أكبر”. It is best to act in accordance with all methods of calling that have been authentically narrated from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) except if one fears this to be the cause of disturbance or dissension among the people. In that case, one should suffice with whatever formulation does not result in such things. Just as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) abandoned the re-building of the Kaʿbah upon the foundations of Ibrāhīm out of fear of the dissension that this act may cause.3 However, it is most appropriate that the people of the congregation are trained and taught the various forms of acts of worship which have been narrated. Such that if their hearts find contentment regarding the various forms, and their souls are comfortable with them, then one may implement these forms in action. In this way, the goal of implementing the Sunnah is fulfilled while being devoid of disturbance to the congregation or the sowing of dissension among them.

In our saying, [the adhān is to be given] ‘from a high place’: that is, it is most befitting that the adhān is called upon a high platform as this allows the sound to be more far-reaching, and hence greater in its address. From this, we can also deduce that calling the adhān into a microphone is desirable because it increases the radius of the sound, and is superior in terms of delivering the call to the people.

Endnotes:

[1] Authentic: narrated by Muslim: 379.
[2] Authentic: narrated by Aḥmad 3:408, al-Tirmidhī:191, al-Dārimī:1178, and Ibn Mājah:708. Graded authentic by al-Tirmidhī, Ibn Khuzaymah:378 and Ibn al-Qayyim. See Zād al-Maʿād 2:389 and al-Talkhīṣ al-Ḥabīr no: 294, 296.
[3] Authentic: narrated by al-Bukhārī: 126 and Muslim: 1333.

Source: Al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ 2:55-57
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: September 12, 2023
Edited: September 12, 2023

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