Is it permissible to have a religious talk or to read the Quran while adhan is being called?

Details of the Question
Is it permissible to have a religious talk or to read the Quran while adhan is being called?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Adhan, which is recited from the minarets five times a day, is one of the most important signs and symbols of Islam. Whenever adhan is recited, tawhid (oneness) and prophethood are declared, and people are called to prayer, which is the most important truth after belief. Therefore, it is the necessity of the belief of a believer to answer the divine call. 

The meaning of answering the divine call is to perform the prayer of that time. However, it is sunnah to answer the muezzin at that time. Acting upon the hadiths narrated about answering the muezzin, some Islamic scholars say it is wajib to answer the muezzin, that is, to repeat what he recites. However, the view agreed upon by the majority is that it is sunnah to repeat the words of adhan recited by the muezzin. (Nasai, Adhan: 33.)

One should try not be engaged with anything when adhan is being recited. It is necessary to stop talking and doing other things. One should try to listen to adhan with respect and awe. The following is stated in fiqh sources like Badaiu’s-sanai and al-Fatawa’l-Hindiyya:

“It is not appropriate to be engaged with anything other than repeating what the muezzin recites, and to talk.

Even the following sentence is present:

“It is more virtuous to stop reading the Quran and to listen to adhan and to repeat the words of adhan. (Badayi, 1: 155.)

However, it will not be regarded a sin for a person to try to do something that is urgent when adhan is being recited. There is no drawback to listening to adhan while lying down. It will not make a person responsible unless he means to show disrespect to adhan by doing so. It is permissible for a person to mention the name of Allah, to glorify Him and to magnify Him and even to read the verses and chapters of the Quran while lying down. We know that the Prophet sometimes read some verses after going to bed.  

The words of adhan consist of takbirs and shahadahs. They can be listened to while lying down, too. However, it is more appropriate to get up and listen to it by sitting if it is possible.

There is no drawback to entering the toilet for a necessity, or to be in the toilet in order to get ready to make wudu while adhan is being recited. Besides, when a person is in the toilet, he carries out the act of cleanliness from najasah, one of the fards of the prayer.  A natural need is met there. To sum up, when adhan is recited, a person should stop, listen to adhan and repeat its words if he can. (Mehmed Paksu Aileye Özel Fetvalar)

When we look at the fiqh books, we will also see the following regarding the issue of “answering adhan”:

Answering adhan actually means going to perform the prayer; but listening to the words of adhan and repeating what the muezzin says is also a part of answering adhan. Therefore, a person who is in the state of janabah repeats the words of adhan but a woman who is in the state of menstruation or puerperum does not repeat the words of adhan because they cannot perform prayers, which is the real answer to adhan, in those states.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, "When you hear adhan, say what the muezzin says." (Muslim, Salat 7) Accordingly, Hanafis say it is wajib because the order expresses obligation. Some of the Malikis, and Zahiris hold this view, too. According to the majority, among whom are Imam Malik, Shafii, Ahmad and Tahawi from Hanafis, it is not wajib but mustahab (recommended) to answer adhan by words. (Davudoğlu NI/27; lbn Hajar, Fathu'1-Bari, N/92-93; Ayni, IV/280)

A person who reads the Quran and glorifies Allah on his own should stop them and answer adhan. However, if a person reads the Quran in a mosque and if others listen to him, he can go on reading the Quran. 

Can a person who is talking about a religious issue and preaching go on talking?

What a person mentions while preaching is, or rather, should be the explanation of the Quran; therefore, such talks can be continued.

Seen in this light, seminars or panel discussions that examine any institution of Islam or a question of Islam can be regarded like that. Besides, it is stated that it is not makruh (abominable) to talk while adhan is being recited. (see Bilmen, İlmihal 128)

However, it cannot be said that it is unobjectionable not to answer adhan in any form, not to stop or repeat even for a moment. For this, the adhan that is recited must be in accordance with the sunnah; it should not be recited like a song. It is not obligatory to listen to an adhan which is not in accordance with the Quran. (Tahtawi, 162)

Besides, although there are some scholars who say it is necessary to listen to all of the adhans, it is sufficient to listen to the first adhan one hears or the adhan of the mosque he attends. (Hindiyya I/57)

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