As you know, in all Muslim countries Azan is called aloud five times a day and you must have heard it. Have you ever wondered how it started?

STORY OF AZAN

A long time ago when the Muslims migrated from Mecca to Madinah they used to agree about a fixed time for the congregational prayer. They found it difficult to remember the time fixed for the prayer sometimes, especially when they were busy doing their work. One day Prophet Muhammad(saw) and the Muslims discussed the matter of calling the people for the congregational prayer at the exact time. Some of the believers suggested the use of something like the bell of the Christians, others suggested the use of a horn like that of the Jews, but Umar(ra) suggested sending someone to announce the prayer. Then Allah's Messenger(saw) appointed Bilal(ra) to call the people to prayer. But it seems through the study of hadith that the method was not satisfactory. Then Prophet Muhammad(saw) agreed to use a Naqoose (a conch), something like the bell of Christians but he was not happy to use it because of its similarity with the Christians.

After Prophet Muhammad(saw) had ordered a bell to be made so that it could be struck to gather the people to prayer; on that same day a companion, Abdullah bin Zaid bin Abd Rabbihi,said, "I was sleeping when I saw a man carrying a naqoose in his hands, and I said, Servant of Allah will you sell this to me?' When he said what I would do with it? I replied, that we would use it to call the people to prayer. He said 'Shall I not guide you to something better than that?' I replied, 'Certainly', so he told me to say :

'Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Ash hadu an la ilaha illal lah, ash hadu an la ilaha illal lah,

Ash hadu an-na Muhammadar resulul-lah, Ash hadu an-na Muhammadar rasulul-lah, hayya 'alas, salah, hayya 'alas salah,

hayya 'alal falah, hayya 'alal-falah Allahu Akbar; Allahu Akbar, La ilaha illal lah.'

After the Azan the stranger kept quiet for a while and then said, When the congregation is ready you should say:-

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Ash hadu an la lilaha illal lah, Ash hadu an-na Muham-madar rasAlul-lah,

hayya 'alas salah, hayya 'alal falah, qad qama tis salah, qad qama tis salah,

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, la ilahillallah.

When I told Allah's Messenger(saw) in the morning what I had seen, he said, "It is a true vision, insha-Allah, so get up along with Bilal, and when you have taught him what you have seen let him use it in making the call to prayer, for he has stronger voice than you have".

So I got up along with Bilal(ra) and began to teach it to him, and he used it in making the call to prayer.

Umar bin al-Khattab heard this when he was in his house, and he came out trailing his cloak and said, 'Messenger of Allah(saw), by Him who has sent you with the truth, I have seen the same kind of thing as has been revealed.' To this Allah's Messenger(saw) replied, 'Praise be to Allah!' (Ahmad, Ibn Majah, Ibn, Tirmizi)

So from that day on to the present day Azan is said to gather people for the congregational prayer.

THE MUAZZIN

A person who calls people for the congregational prayer is called a Muazzin. Before saying the Azan he should stand facing Ka'bah in Mecca. He should raise his hands to his ears putting the tips of forefingers into his ears and call in a loud voice. When he says "Hayya 'alas, Salah" he should turn his face to the right and when he says "Hayya 'alal Falah" he should turn his face to the left.

TEXT OF THE AZAN

Allahu Akbar Allah is the greatest

Allahu Akbar Allah is the greatest

Ash hadu an la ilaha illal lah I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah.

Ash hadu an la ilaha illal Lah I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah.

Ash hadu an-na Muhammadar rasulul lah I bear witness that Muhammad(saw) is the messenger of Allah.

Ash hadu Anna Muhammadar rasulul lah I bear witness that Muhammad(saw) is the messenger of Allah.

Hayya 'alas salah Come to payer

Hayya 'alas salah Come to Prayer.

Hayya 'alal falah Come to your Good

liayya 'alal falah Come to your Good.

Allahu Akbar Allah is the greatest

Allahu Akbar Allah is the greatest

La ilaha illal Lah There is no deity but Allah.

AZAN FOR FAJR

An additional phrase is included twice in the Azan for the Fajr prayer after the second 'Hayya 'alal Falah'

As salatu Khayrum minan nawm - Prayer is better than sleep.

As salatu Khayrum minan nawm- Prayer is better than sleep.

Chapter 3 (Azan and Iqamat contd.)