The ongoing brouhaha over Bollywood singer Sonu Nigam's controversial comment about azaan has escalated to become a national debate in India. The Bollywood singer lashed out after being woken up by the sound of azaan from a nearby mosque, has found himself at the receiving end of stern criticism by various Muslim communities across the nation.
As Sonu continues to deal with his share of criticism, have you ever wondered what "azaan" really is and the meaning of the Arabic words used in it to call Muslims to prayer? If you have, then you'll find your answers here.
What is Azaan?
Azaan, also referred to as Adhan, is the Islamic call to prayer. It is recited five times a day, a few minutes before the prayers. The person reciting the Azaan is called Muazzin – a person who holds high significance and rewards in Islam.
"I see that you like living among your sheep in wilderness. So whenever you are with your sheep or in wilderness and you want to call Adhan, you should raise your voice because whoever hears the Adhan, whether a human or jinn or any other creature, will testify for you on the Day of Resurrection." Abdullah bin Abdur-Rahman reported Abu Sa'id Al-Khudri (RA) as saying: "I heard this from the Messenger SAWS of Allah." (Bukhari).
The person who calls for prayer will receive great bounties from Allah on the Day of Resurrection. That is why the azaan is recited in a raised voice.
Azaan is recited five times a day, starting from the early morning prayer, just before sunrise, then again in the afternoon, and three times in the evening. The timings of azaan change, but only by a few minutes to match the timing of the five mandatory prayers.
Reciting azaan is a common practice around the world, and every mosque has a Muazzin assigned just for that. The importance of azaan in Islam is of high value, during which Muslims are supposed to stop everything, including reading of the Quran, and listen and answer to the call to prayer.
What is the meaning of the Arabic verses recited during azaan?
Allahu Akbar (recited four times): It means "God is greatest"
Ash-hadu an-laa ilaaha il-lal-lah (recited twice): It means "I bear witness that there is no god except the One God"
Ash-hadu anna Muhammadar-Rasool-ullah (recited twice): It means "I bear witness that Muhammed is the messenger of God"
Hayya 'alas-Salah (recited twice): It means "Come to pray"
Hayya 'ala-l-Falah (recited twice): It means "Come to success"
As-salatu Khayrun Minan-nawm (recited twice): It means "Prayer is better than sleep." This verse is only included in the morning call for prayer.
Allahu Akbar (recited twice): It means "God is greatest"
La ilaaha il-lal-lah (recited once): It means "There's no god except the One God"
This concludes the Azaan. The Azaan is recited in different ways, but the verses of the calling remain unchanged around the world.
Listen to some of the most moving Azaans from around the world: