Azaan – Its Inception and Origin

When Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) made hijrah (migrated) to Madinah Munawwarah, he constructed the musjid. After constructing the musjid, he consulted the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) regarding the method to be adopted to call people for salaah. It was the burning desire within the heart of Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) that all the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) congregate and perform their salaah together in the musjid. Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was neither pleased with the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) performing their salaah in the musjid at different times nor in their homes.

The Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum)presented various suggestions in regard to how people could be called for salaah. Some of the suggestions of the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) were that a fire be lit or a flag be hoisted. On seeing the fluttering flag or the flames and smoke of the fire, people would understand that it is the time of salaah and thereby inform others to come to the musjid for salaah.

Other suggestions were that a horn be sounded or that the naaqoos (two sticks) be struck upon each other to alert people that it is the time for salaah.

Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was not pleased with these suggestions. Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) did not want his Ummah to emulate the Christians, Jews and kuffaar in aspects of their Deen or their worldly life. If the Muslims were to adopt these methods, it would result in them resembling the disbelievers in their Deen, and furthermore, it would lead to confusion coming about in the salaah times as the disbelievers were calling people to their places of worship at other times through these same methods.

No conclusion was reached in that gathering and the matter was thus left undecided.

Prior to the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) dispersing from the gathering of Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), Hazrat Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) presented a suggestion before Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) that, as no method has yet been decided, then for the time being, perhaps a person could be appointed to go around calling people for salaah whenever the time of salaah enters.

Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) accepted the suggestion of Hazrat Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) and appointed Hazrat Bilaal (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) to carry out this task. Hence, at the time of salaah, Hazrat Bilaal (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) would go around informing the people that the jamaat (congregational salaah) in the musjid was about to commence.

The heart of each Sahaabi (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was filled with the concern of Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) in regard to how the people should be called to perform salaah together in the musjid.

Nevertheless, it was not long thereafter that, one night, after Hazrat Abdullah bin Zaid (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) went to sleep; he was shown a dream by Allah Ta’ala. In the dream, he saw an angel, in the form of a human being, who was dressed in two garments of green and was carrying a naaqoos. He asked the angel, “O servant of Allah! Are you selling the naaqoos?” The angel replied by asking him, “What do you wish to do with it?” Hazrat Abdullah bin Zaid (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) answered, “I will use it to call people for salaah.” The angel then said, “Should I not show you a method for calling people to salaah which is better than striking this naaqoos?” Hazrat Abdullah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) asked, “What method is better?” The angel replied, “You will call out the azaan.” after which the angel taught him the words of the azaan.

When he awoke the following morning, he went to Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and related the entire dream. On hearing the dream, Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) mentioned, “Certainly it is a true dream. Stand beside Bilaal (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) and inform him of the words (of the azaan) that you were taught in the dream so that he may call out the azaan with these words. Allow Bilaal (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) to call out the azaan as his voice is louder than your voice. Thus, his voice will reach further.”

When Hazrat Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) heard the azaan of Hazrat Bilaal (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), he hastily took his shawl and rushed to the gathering of Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). On reaching the gathering of Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), he respectfully exclaimed, “O Rasul of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)! I take an oath by that Being who appointed you as His messenger to convey the truth of Islam, I was shown a dream in which I was taught the words of the azaan.” When Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) heard this, he became pleased and said, “This has been further confirmed as a true dream from the side of Allah Ta’ala.”

It has been narrated that more than ten Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) had been shown dreams wherein they were taught the words of the azaan. Among them were Hazrat Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) and Hazrat Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu).[1]


[1] مرقاة المفاتيح 2/331 ، الدر المنضود 2/86 ، درس ترمذي 1/451 ، السعاية 2/4

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