Adhan is Determined
(1st year of the Hijrah / AD 622)
While in Mecca, Muslims used to pray secretly and perform salah in places out of everyone’s sight. Therefore, it was out of question to call people to prayer openly there.
However, the picture totally changed in Medina. There was religious freedom, then. Muslims could perform their prayers and worship freely. Their faith and conscious were not under pressure. Polytheists’ cruelty, oppression and insults were out of question.
Masjid an-Nabawi was built. However, a way of calling Muslims to come together in prayer times was not decided yet. So, Muslims used to come and wait for the prayer time and perform prayer when it was the time. (1)
The Prophet’s Consultation with the Companions
One day the Honorable Messenger gathered his companions and consulted with them “what kind of a calling they needed to decide on.” Some companions suggested that they tolled a bell like Christians did; some suggested that they blew a horn like the Jews did and some suggested that they made a fire like Zoroastrians and took it up to somewhere high in prayer times.
The Prophet did not like any of these suggestions. (2)
Then, Hazrat Umar took the floor and said: “O Messenger of God! Why do you not send a man to call people to prayer?”
The Honorable Messenger found Hazrat Umar’s suggestion appropriate and said to Hazrat Bilal: “Stand up, O Bilal, call out for prayer!”
.Upon this; Hazrat Bilal wandered streets of Medina, calling Muslims to prayer, shouting “As salah! As salah!” for a while. (3)
Abdallah b. Zaid’s Dream
Abdallah bin Zaid from the Companions had a dream after a while. In his dream, he was taught the adhan the way it is today.
Hazrat Abdallah went up to the Prophet happily and told his dream as soon as the morning broke. The Honorable Messenger approved the call saying, “Inshaallah, this is a true dream! (4)
Hazrat Abdallah taught the adhan (call to the prayer) to Hazrat Bilal by the order of the Honorable Messenger. Hazrat Bilal began to fill Medina skies with the adhan with his strong and loud voice:
Hazrat Umar Has the Same Dream
Having heard this voice echoing in Medina skies, Hazrat Umar got out of his house and appeared before the Honorable Messenger. When he learnt about the situation, he said: O Messenger of God! I swear by God who has sent you with the true religion that I saw the same dream as Abdallah!”
The Prophet praised God because two people had seen the same dream. (5)
We can see that what a natural and decent religion Islam is from the determination of the way of call to prayer, too. The difference between tolling bells - so spiritless, meaningless, emotionless and flat -, blowing a horn or making a fire and “the adhan” - so meaningful and divine - which declares the divine truth of “tawhid” on earth, exclaiming the prophethood of the Honorable Messenger and therefore announcing all fundamentals of the belief to people is so great that they cannot even be compared.
Just as there are two sort of rights, ‘personal rights’ and ‘general rights,’ which are considered to be a sort of ‘God’s rights,’ so too are there two kinds of matters concerning the Shari‘a: Matters concerning individuals, and matters concerning the public; the latter ones are called ‘the marks of Islam.’
One of the greatest Islamic signs is the adhan which was legalized in the first year of the Hijrah and which declares the fundamentals of the religion. Badiuzzaman Said Nursi has got very significant explanations and evaluations on “Islamic Rules.” In the 29th Letter of his work named The Letters, he says: “There are certain matters of the Shari‘a concerning worship which are not tied to the reason, and are done because they are commanded. The reason for them is the command. There are others which have ‘reasonable meaning.’ That is, they possess some wisdom or benefit by reason of which they have been incorporated into the Shari‘a. But it is not the true reason or cause; the true reason is Divine command and prohibition.
Instances of wisdom or benefits cannot change those matters of ‘the marks of Islam’ which pertain to worship; their aspect of pertaining to worship preponderates and they may not be interfered with. They may not be changed, even for a hundred thousand benefits. Similarly, it may not be said that “the benefits of the Shari‘a are restricted to those that are known.” To suppose such a thing is wrong. Those benefits may rather be only one out of many instances of wisdom and purposes.” And then he records the following about the adhan which is an important mark of Islam:
“For instance, someone may say: “The wisdom and purpose of the call to prayer is to summon Muslims to prayer; in which case, firing a rifle would be sufficient.”
However, the foolish person does not know that it is only one benefit out of the thousands of the call to prayer. Even if the sound of a rifle shot provides that benefit, how, in the name of mankind, or in the name of the people of the town, can it take the place of the call to prayer, the means to proclaiming worship before Divine dominicality and the proclamation of Divine Unity, which is the greatest result of the creation of the universe and the result of mankind’s creation?” (6)
1. Ibn Hisham, Sirah, V. 2, p. 154; Bukhari, Sahih, V. 1, p. 114.
2. Buharî, ibid, V. 2, p. 3; Abu Dawud, Sunan, V. 1, p. 134.
3. Bukhari, ibid, V. 1, p. 114.
4. Ibn Hisham, ibid, V. 2, p. 155; Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, V. 4, p. 43.
5. Ibn Hisham, ibid, V. 2, p. 155; Abu Dawud, Sunan, V. 1, p. 117.
6. Badiüzzaman Said Nursî, Mektûbat, p. 371.
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