Category Archives: Interesting Facts

The Event of the Change of Qiblah

Changing the Qiblah or Religious Authority??

Muslims usually welcome the month of Shabaan with various religious activities. The Prophet ﷺ used to fast much during the month of Shabaan as narrated by A’isha (radhiyallahu anha).

However, a great event which can be regarded as a turning point in the history of Islam has taken place in this blessed month. Though this event might indicate many crucial things, and the surrounding conditions might attest to its deep impact, it did not draw full attention of Muslim historians and biographers.

Amid the events related by the great historian Ibn Hisham after the Prophet’s ﷺ emigration to Madinah, he says in no more than two lines in his outstanding book on the biography of the Prophet ﷺ:

“It is narrated that the qiblah was changed in Shabaan after 18 months of the Prophet’s ﷺ emigration to Madinah.”

However, using this phrase, “It is narrated”, indicates that the event did not draw much attention so that historians become keen on verifying its exact date.

Notwithstanding, the event was so inportant that the Jewish tribes in Madinah waged a psychological warfare against Islam and its first teacher. It is to be noted here that before this event takes place, there was a covenant between the Jews and the Prophet ﷺ which they did not even respect. In fact, though they realized the ramifications of the event well, they went astray in their reaction and opened fire against the true religion of Islam.

They realized that it is not only a matter of changing the qiblah in prayer from one direction to another. Rather, the Divine message and consequently the religious authority has completely shifted from the Children of Israel to those of Isma’il. Accordingly, their claims of religious glory, being the sole mediator between heaven and Earth, and being the only guided nation among an ocean of astray ones; all these allegations have ended.

Now, let us start the story from the beginning… 

The One Original Qiblah

The Prophet ﷺ dealt with the Jews who ised to live around Madinah in a distinguished manner. This stemmed from the fact that the Jews were closer to the divine revelation than any other nation at that time.

After Hijrah, a divine decree that the Prophet ﷺ as well as Muslims should direct their faces in prayer towards Jerusalem was revealed. Most scholars maintain the view that this decree was designed tp test Muslims’ response to the last message as well as its honourable Messenger. This is evidenced by the Qur’an as the Almighty says,

“….and We appointed the Qiblah to which thou wast used, only to test those who followed the Messenger from those who would turn on their heels (from the faith). Indeed, it was a changed momentous, except to those guided by Allah.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:143]

This divine ayah implies, a well-established fact that should be borne in the minds of all, that the Sacred House (i.e. Ka’bah) is the qiblah and there is no other qiblah whatsoever in the true faith but this one. Accordingly, facing Jerusalem in Prayer for about 18 months does not defy this fact and does not mean that Jerusalem has become the qiblah regardless of its sanctity. Though Jerusalem was a landing place for many divine revelations and the abode of many sent prophets, facing it in Prayer was a two-purpose test. First, it was designed to test Muslims’ readiness to desert all their personal or traditional attachments. Secondly, to test the Jews’ willingness to follow the true religion and the seal of all prophets without questioning or objecting to the divine decrees he brings with him.

To make sure that this fact – that the Ka’bah is the original qiblah – the Qur’an does skip it and thus asserts,

“The first house (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakkah; full of blessing and of guidance for all kinds of beings: In it are Signs manifest; (for example), the Station of Abraham; whoever enters it attains security; Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah, those who can afford the journey; but if they deny faith, Allah stands not in need of any of His creatures.”   [Surah Aal’ Imran 3:96-97]

Religious Glory Lost

After the Prophet ﷺ was commanded to direct his face in Prayer towards the Ka’bah, the Jews realized something which rigorously upset them; namely, the fading of their religious glory. As they, in the very beginning and due to the Prophet’s ﷺ special treatment to them, fancied he would pursue their very steps. However, after that Divine decree, it became apparent to them that this was nothing but mirage  and that the Prophet’s ﷺ message was a corrective one. Truly, it was revealed to correct and amend what they have falsified of the religion of Allah and the distortions and confusion they have attributed to it.

Th Jews’ self-deceit that they would be guardians of the Muslim faith and that Jerusalem should be the permanant qiblah, made them forget the fact that the Ka’bah is the sole qiblah as stated in the Qur’an and that there should be no qiblah other than this.

However, this intentionally forgotten fact as far as the Jews were concerned, did not escape the mind of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. As he yearned for the Ka’bah all the time and used to turn his face to the sky perhaps a divine decree comes soon taking him back to the qiblah he earnestly longs for with his guiding insight. In this regard, the Almighty says,

“We see the turning of thy face (for guidance) to the heavens. Now shall we turn thee. Turn then thy face in the direction of the Sacred Mosque: Wherever ye are, turn your faces in that direction. The People of the Book know well that, that is the truth from their Lord. Nor is Allah unmindful of what they do.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:144]

Total Submission

Consequently, the Prophet ﷺ directed his face towards the Ka’bah and his heart was eased, while the Jews were dying out of malice and wrath. What they feared most in the past has become true especially when Muslims hastened to carry out the Divine ordinance such as the Bani Salim folk who did not even wait until they finish their ‘Asr prayer when they were informed of the news. Instead, they changed their direction towards the Ka’bah while in ruku’ (Arabic for bowing) as a sign of their unquestionable obedience to Allah and His Messenger ﷺ.

Psychological Warfare

As the Jews lost their last hope that they would continue as holders of the divine message, they waged a fierce psychological against Islam and Muslims. They started to circulate rumours and raise false questions such as why did Muhammad ﷺ change the qiblah of all past Prophets and Messengers though he claims to be pursuing their course?

To add fuel to the fire, they wondered, “Maybe he longs for the faith of his forefathers and that is why he turned to their qiblah!”  Given this, they missed the fact that it was prophets Ibrahim and Isma’il (alayhimussalaam) who built the Ka’bah. Moreover, the Qur’an attributes the Ka’bah to Allah Himself as Almighty says,

“….and We covenanted with Ibrahim and Isma’il that they should sanctify my house for those who circumambulate it, or use it as a retreat, or bow, or prostrate themselves (there in prayer).” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:125]

Explicitly, the Qur’an defies the rumours spread by the Jews, refutes their allegations, and even describes them as foolish. Almighty says,

“The fools among the people will say: “What hath turned them from the qiblah to which they were used?” Say: “To Allah belong east and west. He guideth whom He wills to Straight Way.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:142]

Moreover, the Jews misinterpreted the concept of righteousness and twisted it to mean directing one’s face towards Jerusalem. Consequently, according to them, when Prophet Muhammad ﷺ directed his face away from Jerusalem and turned it towards the Ka’bah, he went astray and took a course far from righteousness and the ethics of the Divine message.

Facts vs Fallacies

Duly, the Divine inspiration kept moving the Prophet ﷺ with the Qur’anic aayahs (Arabic for: verses) that reveal the truth about the whole issue. Uninterruptedly, the ayahs were revealed to remove the pain caused by the rumours circulated by the Jews; to defy the psychological warfare they waged against Islam and its prophet, and to refute the false allegations they perpetrated to distort the image of Islam and discourage its followers.

In doing so, the Qur’an made a general statement about ownership of the whole universe and that it is only Allah Who decides to which side one should direct his face in prayer. Almighty says,

“And to Allah belongs the east and the west. So wherever you (might) turn, there is the Face of Allah. Indeed, Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.”   [Surah al-Baqarah 2:115]

In the same vein, the Qur’an established the correct understanding of the concept of righteousness in a great ayah that is called Ayat al-Birr (Arabic for: the Righteousness Verse). The ayah reads,

“Righteousness is not that you turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteousness is that one believes in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Book and the Prophets, and gives wealth, despite its love, to relatives, and to orphans, the helpless, the wayfarer, and to those who ask, and (spends) in (freeing) slaves and observes the prayers and pays the Zakah; and those who fulfil their promise when they promise and, of course, the patient in hardships and sufferings and when in battle! Those are the ones who are true and those are the God-fearing.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:177]

These Qur’anic ayahs and the like put to an end to the psychological warfare launched by the Jews against Islam and Muslims.


Losing the banner of the divine message, the Jews could not help divulging their hatred and grudges against Islam and Muslims. In fact, the Jews felt the fading of their religious glory upon the advent of Islam and it became a flagrant fact when the qiblah was changed through divine revelation from Jerusalem to Makkah. They knew then that the torch has irrevocably been passed over to the Children of Isma’il.

In this regard, the Almighty says,

“Quite a number of the People of the Book wish they could turn you (people) back to infidelity after ye have believed, from selfish envy, after the Truth hath become manifest unto them: But forgive and overlook, till Allah accomplish His purpose; for Allah hath power over all things.” [Surah al-Baqarah 2:109]

Inimitable Linguistic Feature Proves The Divine Authority Of the Glorious Qur’an

By Hamza Andreas Tzortzis

God’s Testimony – The Divine Authorship of the Qur’an

In this article, we will be looking at the Qur’an as a candidate for Divine revelation. The following chapter will go into detail about the rational basis for Allah’s word.

Most of what we know is based on the say-so of others. This holds true for facts we would never deny. For many of us, these truths include the existence of Amazonian native tribes, photosynthesis, ultraviolet radiation, and bacteria. Let me elaborate further by using your mother as an example. How would you prove to me — a perfect stranger — that your mother did in fact give birth to you? As bizarre as this question sounds, it will help clarify a very important yet underrated source of knowledge. You might say “my mother told me so”, “I have a birth certificate”, “my father told me, he was there”, or “I have checked my mother’s hospital records”. These responses are valid; however, they are based on the statements of other people. Sceptical minds may not be satisfied. You may try to salvage an empirical basis for your conviction by using the ‘DNA card’ or by referring to video footage. The conviction that your mother is who she says she is isn’t based on a DNA home test kit. The reality is that most of us have not taken a DNA test. It is also not based on video footage, as you still have to rely on the say-so of others to claim that the baby is actually you. So why are we so sure? This admittedly quirky example re-emphasises an important source of knowledge: testimony.

Many of our beliefs are based on a form of reasoning which begins with a collection of data, facts or assertions, and then seeks the best explanation for them. Let’s welcome your mother back briefly, again. She is heavily pregnant with you inside her womb and the due date was last week. Suddenly, her waters break and she starts having contractions, so your father and the relevant medical staff safely assume that she’s started labour.

Another example: some years on, your mother notices an open packet of biscuits and crumbs around your mouth and on your clothes. She infers that you opened the packet and helped yourself to some biscuits. In both examples, the conclusions are not necessarily true or indisputable, but they are the best explanations considering all of the facts available. This thinking process is known as inference to the best explanation.

So why have I introduced the above scenarios? Because using the concepts and principles from these examples, this chapter will put forward the case that the Qur’an is an inimitable expression of the Arabic language, and that God best explains its inimitability. What is meant by inimitability is that no one has been able to produce or emulate the Qur’an’s linguistic and literary features. These can include — but are not limited to — its unique literary form and genre, in the context of sustained eloquence. Though this assertion seems quite disconnected to what I have elaborated so far, consider the following outline:

The Qur’an was revealed in Arabia to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in the 7th century. This period was known as an era of literary and linguistic perfection. The 7th century Arabs were socialised into being a people who were the best at expressing themselves in their native tongue. They would celebrate when a poet rose amongst them, and all they knew was poetry. They would start with poetry and end with poetry. The cultivation of poetic skills and linguistic mastery was everything for them. It was their oxygen and life-blood; they could not live or function without the perfection of their linguistic abilities. However, when the Qur’an was recited to them they lost their breath; they were dumbfounded, incapacitated, and stunned by the silence of their greatest experts. They could not produce anything like the Qur’anic discourse. It got worse. The Qur’an challenged these linguists par excellence to imitate its unique literary and linguistic features, but they failed.
Some experts accepted the Qur’an was from God, but most resorted to boycott, war, murder, torture and a campaign of misinformation. In fact, throughout the centuries experts have acquired the tools to challenge the Qur’an, and they too have testified that the Qur’an is inimitable, and appreciate why the best linguists have failed.

How can a non-Arab or non-expert of the Arabic language appreciate the inimitability of the Qur’an? Enter now the role of testimony. The above assertions are based on an established written and oral testimonial transmission of knowledge from past and present scholars of the Arabic language. If this is true, and the people best placed to challenge the Qur’an failed to imitate the Divine discourse, then who was the author? This is where testimony stops and the use of inference begins. In order to understand the inference to the best explanation, the possible rationalisations of the Qur’an’s inimitable nature must be analysed. These include that it was authored by an Arab, a non-Arab, Muhammad ﷺ or God. Considering all of the facts that will be discussed in this essay, it is implausible that the Qur’an’s inimitability can be explained by attributing it to an Arab, a non- Arab or Muhammad ﷺ. For that reason, God is the inference to the best explanation.

The main assumptions in the above introduction are that testimony is a valid source of knowledge, and inference is a suitable and rational method of thinking to form conclusions about reality. This chapter will introduce the epistemology of testimony, and elaborate on the rational use of testimonial transmission. It will highlight the effective use of inferring to the best explanation, and apply both concepts to the Qur’an’s inimitability. This chapter will conclude that God is the best explanation for the fact that no one has been able to imitate the Divine book. All this will be achieved without the reader requiring any knowledge or expertise of the Arabic language.

The epistemology of testimony

Testimony is an indispensable and fundamental source of knowledge. There are some very important questions epistemologists are trying to answer in the field of the epistemology of testimony. These include: When and how does testimony yield evidence? Is testimonial knowledge based on other sources of knowledge? Is testimony fundamental? Although it is not the scope of this chapter to solve or elaborate on all the issues in this area of epistemology, it will summarise some of the discussions to further substantiate the fact that testimony is a valid source of knowledge.

Is testimony fundamental?

This reminds me of a public discussion I had with outspoken atheist Lawrence Krauss. I highlighted the fact that observations were not the only source of knowledge and therefore wanted to expose his empirical presupposition. I raised the issue of testimony and asked him if he believed in evolution. He replied that he did, and so I asked him if he had done all the experiments him self. He replied in the negative. This uncovered a serious issue in his — and by extension, many of our — assumptions about why we believe what we believe. Most of our beliefs are based on the say-so of others and are not empirical simply because they are couched in scientific language.

Until relatively recently, testimony was neglected as an area of in-depth study. This academic silence came to an end with various studies and publications, most notably Professor C. A. J. Coady’s Testimony: A Philosophical Discussion. Coady argues for the validity of testimony, and attacks David Hume’s reductionist account of testimonial transmission. The reductionist thesis asserts that testimony is justified via other sources of knowledge such as perception, memory and induction. In other words, testimony on its own has no warrant and must be justified a posteriori, meaning knowledge based on experience. Coady’s account for testimony is fundamental; he asserts that testimonial knowledge is justified without appealing to other sources of knowledge, like observation. This account of testimony is known as the anti-reductionist thesis. Coady contends the reductionist thesis by attacking Hume’s approach. Hume is seen as the main proponent of the reductionist thesis due to his essay, On Miracles, which is the tenth chapter of his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Hume’s reductionist approach does not entail denying testimonial knowledge. He actually highlights its importance: “We may observe, that there is no species of reasoning more common, more useful, and even necessary to human life, than that which is derived from the testimony of men….” Hume argues that our trust in testimony is based on a conformity between testimonial knowledge and experience. This is where Coady seeks to dismantle the basis of Hume’s approach. His criticism is not limited to the following argument, but elaborating on it here demonstrates the strength of his overall contentions.

Coady argues that Hume’s appeal to collective observation exposes a vicious circle. Hume claims that testimony can only be justified if the knowledge that someone is testifying to is in agreement with observed facts. However, what Hume implies by observed facts is not personal observation, but rather collective experience, and Coady argues that we cannot always rely on personal observed generalisations. This is where the vicious circle is exposed; we can only know what others have observed based upon their testimony. Relying on one’s own direct observations would not suffice, as that knowledge would be too limited and unqualified to justify anything — or at least very little. Therefore, the reductionist thesis is flawed. Its claim that testimony must be justified via other sources of knowledge, such as observation, actually assumes that which it tries to deny: the fundamental nature of testimony. The key reason which affirms this point is that in order to know what our collective observations are, you must rely on other people’s testimony, as we have not observed them ourselves.

Relying on experts

The modern scientific progress we all are proud of could never have happened without trusting an authority’s claim to experimental data. Take evolution as an example. If Richard Dawkins’s belief in evolution required that he must perform all of the experiments himself and personally observe all of the empirical data, he could never be so bold in claiming its truth. Even if he could repeat some of the observations and experiments himself, he would still have to rely on the say-so of other scientists. This area of study is so vast that to verify everything ourselves would be impossible, and to maintain such a claim would make scientific progress unattainable.

The previous example raises an important question: What if the testimonial transmission of knowledge is based on the say-so of an expert? The fact is that we are not all experts and thus must, at times, accept the testimony of others. University lecturer in philosophy Dr. Elizabeth Fricker elaborates:

“But that there are some occasions on which it is rational deferentially to accept another’s testimony, and irrational to refuse to do so, is entailed by her background knowledge of her own cognitive and physical nature and limitations, together with her appreciation of how other people are both like and in other respects unlike herself, hence on some occasions better epistemically placed regarding some matter than she is herself. I may rationally regret that I cannot fly, or go for a week without sleep without any loss of performance, or find out for myself everything which I would like to know. But given my cognitive and physical limitations as parametric, there is no room for rational regret about my extended but canny trust in the word of others, and enormous epistemic and consequent other riches to be gained from it.”


This is where the concept of trust enters the discussion of testimonial transmission. To accept the word of others based on their authority on a particular subject requires us to not only trust them, but to be trustworthy in our assessments of their trustworthiness.

Discussions about the nature and validity of testimony have moved on from the reductionist and anti-reductionist paradigms. Professor of Philosophy Keith Lehrer argues that the justification for testimony is neither of the two approaches. Lehrer’s argument rests on trust. He argues that testimony leads to the acquisition of knowledge under “some circumstances but not all circumstances.” He maintains that testimony is “itself a source of evidence when the informant is trustworthy in the testimony. The testimony in itself does not constitute evidence otherwise.” The person who testifies does not need to be “infallible to be trustworthy’’, but “the person testifying to the truth of what she says must be trustworthy in what she accepts and what she conveys.” Lehrer admits that trustworthiness is not sufficient for the conversion of the say-so of others into knowledge, that the person’s trustworthiness must be assessed (something he refers to as “truth-connected”) and that we must be trustworthy and reliable in our assessments. The assessment of a testimonial transmission can include background information on a topic, the testimonies of others on a particular field of knowledge, as well as personal and collective experiences.

Lehrer claims that in order for us to be trustworthy about the way we evaluate the trustworthiness of others, we need to refer to previous experiences in our assessments and whether we were accurate or mistaken. However, when we learn that the testimony of a person is not trustworthy, it is usually due to relying on the testimony of others about that person.

This may expose a vicious circle, because to assess the testimony of others, other testimonies are relied upon. Lehrer asserts this is more of a “virtuous loop”. How is this the case? The professor provides two answers:

“First, any complete theory of justification or trustworthiness will have to explain why we are justified or trustworthy in accepting the theory itself. So the theory must apply to itself to explain why we are justified or trustworthy in accepting it. Secondly, and equally important, our trustworthiness at any given time must result from what we have accepted in the past, including what we have accepted from the testimony of others. The result is that there is a kind of mutual support between the particular things we have accepted and our general trustworthiness in what we accept, including, of course, the particular things we have accepted. It is the mutual support among the things that we accept that results in the trustworthiness of what we accept.

The right of deferral

Lehrer’s discussion on trustworthiness raises the question of how we can establish trust to rely on the authority or the say-so of others. Professor Benjamin McMyler develops an interesting argument that aids in answering this question. McMyler argues that the epistemological problem of testimony can be “recast as a problem of explaining the epistemic right of deferral.” McMyler argues that if an audience is entitled to defer challenges back to the speaker, it provides a new way in framing the problem of testimony. This requires that both parties acknowledge a responsibility. The speaker must accept responsibility for espousing testimonial knowledge, and the audience must accept that they can defer challenges back to the speaker.

Trustworthiness can be built by exercising this right to defer challenges back to the speaker (or writer). If coherent answers to these challenges are given, this can potentially increase trust. The following example explains this point. A professor of linguistics claims that the Qur’an is inimitable, and elaborates on its eloquence, unique literary form and genre. The audience takes responsibility and challenges the professor. The challenge is in the form of questions, including: Can you give us more examples from the Qur’an? What have other authorities said about the Qur’an’s genre? How can you explain the views of academics who disagree with you? Given the historical background information on the Qur ’an, in what way does it support your assertion? The professor provides coherent answers to the questions, and gradually builds trust.

A note on eyewitness testimony

The discussion so far refers to the testimonial transmission of knowledge, and not the recollection of what was witnessed during an event or a crime. The existing material concerning eyewitness testimony is vast, and this chapter does not intend to discuss the conclusions and implications of such studies and research. However, given that there is an academic concern over eyewitness testimony with regards to its reliability, it should not be conflated with the testimonial transmission of knowledge. These are distinct areas. Eyewitness testimony may suffer due to our imperfect short-term memories and the psychological influences and constraints on recalling the sequence of a particular event. The testimony of knowledge, ideas or concepts does not suffer from such issues because the acquisition of knowledge is usually a result of repetition, a relatively longer duration, internalisation and study.

This point leads to a slight but useful diversion — David Hume’s treatise on miracles. Hume argued that the only evidence we have for miracles is eyewitness testimony. He concluded that we should only believe in miracles if the probability of the eyewitnesses to be mistaken, is greater than the probability for the miracle to occur.

Notwithstanding the concerns over single eyewitness reports, eyewitness testimony can be taken seriously in the context of multiple witnessing (which is related to the concept of tawaatur in Islamic studies). If there exists a large (or large enough) number of independent witnesses who transmitted the testimony via varying chains of transmission, and many of these witnesses never met each other, then to reject that report would be bordering on the absurd. Even Hume himself recognized the power of this type of eyewitness report and maintained that miracles may be possible to prove if the testimonial transmission is large enough:

“I beg the limitations here made may be remarked, when I say, that a miracle can never be proved, so as to be the foundation of a system of religion. For I own, that otherwise, there may possibly be miracles, or violations of the usual course of nature, of such a kind as to admit of proof from human testimony; though, perhaps, it will be impossible to find any such in all the records of history. Thus, suppose, all authors, in all languages, agree, that, from the first of January 1 600, there was a total darkness over the whole Earth for eight days: suppose that the tradition of this extraordinary event is still strong and lively among the people: that all travellers, who return from foreign countries, bring us accounts of the same tradition, without the least variation or contradiction: it is evident, that our present philosophers, instead of doubting the fact, ought to receive it as certain. . . .”

The focus of this chapter is on the testimonial transmission of knowledge and not events or eyewitness reports — the conceptual distinctions between the two are obvious. However, it has been mentioned here to remind the reader of the distinction between the two types of testimony.

To conclude this section, testimony is a necessary source of knowledge. Without testimonial transmission we could not have had the scientific progress characteristic of our era, many of our established claims to knowledge would be reduced to a sceptic’s musings, and we would not be justified in easily dismissing the flat-earther’s assertions. For testimony to turn into knowledge, we must be trustworthy in our assessments of the trustworthiness of others and take responsibility for deferring challenges back to the one testifying. We must also ensure that there is some truth connected to their claims, which can include other testimonies or background information.

Inference to the best explanation

Inference to the best explanation is an invaluable way of thinking. It involves trying to coherently explain a particular set of data and/or background knowledge. For example, when we are asked by our doctor how we are feeling, we present her with the following symptoms: nasal stuffiness, sore or itchy throat, sneezing, hoarseness, coughing, watery eyes, fever, headache, body aches, and fatigue. Based on this information, the doctor attempts to best explain why we are unwell. Coupled with her background knowledge accumulated via her medical education, she concludes that the above symptoms are best explained by the common cold. Professor of History and Philosophy Peter Lipton similarly explains the practical and indispensable role of inference:

“The doctor infers that his patient has measles, since this is the best explanation of the evidence before him. The astronomer infers the existence of motion of Neptune, since that is the best explanation of the observed perturbations of Uranus… According to the Inference to the Best Explanation, our inferential practices are governed by explanatory considerations. Given our data and our background beliefs, we infer what would, if true, provide the best of the competing explanations we can generate of those data.” 

As with most things, we can have competing explanations for the data at our disposal. What filters these explanations is not only their plausibility, but the availability of other pieces of data that could help us discriminate between them. Lipton explains: “We begin by considering plausible candidate explanations, and then try to find data that discriminate between them. . . An inference may be defeated when someone suggests a better alternative explanation, even though the evidence does not change.”

The accessibility to additional data is not the only way to assess which of the competing explanations is the most convincing. The best explanation is one that is the simplest. Simplicity, however, is just the beginning, as there must be a careful balance between simplicity and comprehensiveness. Comprehensiveness entails that an explanation must have explanatory power and scope. The explanation must account for all of the data, including disparate or unique observations.

Another criterion to assess the comprehensiveness of an explanation includes explaining data or observations that were previously unknown, unexpected or inexplicable. An important principle in assessing the best explanation is that it is most likely to be true, compared to competing explanations, given our background knowledge. The academic philosopher at Princeton University Gilbert H. Harman asserts that when alternative explanations exist, one “must be able to reject all such alternative hypotheses before one is warranted in making the inference. Thus one infers, from the premise that a given hypothesis would provide a ‘better’ explanation for the evidence than would any other hypothesis, to the conclusion that the given hypothesis is true.”

In light of the above, inference to the best explanation is an indispensable form of reasoning. It can also lead to certainty. If the data at our disposal is limited and the explanations are finite, then the best explanation would be, to some extent, certain — as there would not be a possibility of another better explanation, or a chance of new data that could change what we consider the best explanation. The Qur’an coming from the Divine is based on this type of certainty. There are no other rational explanations for the Qur’an’s authorship and the data that the explanations are based on are finite. For example, there will never be a new letter of the classical Arabic language and a brand new history of Arabic is untenable.

Formulating an argument

The discussion so far has highlighted the importance of testimony and inference to the best explanation in arriving at knowledge. However, merely quoting testimonies will not suffice, because there are competing expert testimonies about the Qur’an’s inimitability. Therefore, we will need to present well-established background information to show why the testimonies in support of the Qur’an’s inimitability should be favoured.

This background information includes the fact that the Qur’an presents a linguistic and literary challenge, and that the 7th century Arabs achieved mastery in expressing themselves in the Arabic language, yet failed to imitate the Qur’an. Once this is established, adopting the testimony in favour of the inimitability of the Qur’an would be the rational choice, as it provides the basis to accept them. The testimonies that disagree with the Qur’an’s uniqueness are reduced to absurdity, as they deny what has been established (to be explained later). Once the testimonial transmission is adopted, the competing explanations for the Qur’an’s inimitability must be assessed in order to make an inference to the best explanation; the Qur’an was produced either by an Arab, a non-Arab, Muhammad ﷺ or God. A summary of the argument is as follows:

1 . The Qur’an presents a literary and linguistic challenge to humanity.

2. The 7th century Arabs were best placed to challenge the Qur’an.

3. The 7th century Arabs failed to do so.

4. Scholars have testified to the Qur’an’s inimitability.

5. Counter-scholarly testimonies are not plausible, as they have to reject the established background information.

6. Therefore (from 1-5), the Qur’an is inimitable.

7. The possible explanations for the Qur’an’s inimitability are authorship by an Arab, a non- Arab, Muhammad ﷺ or God.

8. It could not have been produced by an Arab, a non-Arab or Prophet Muhammad ﷺ

9. Therefore, the best explanation is that it is from Allah.

The remaining part of this chapter will elaborate on the premises above.

1. The Qur’an presents a literary and linguistic challenge to humanity.

“Read in the name of your Lord”. [The Qur’an, Chapter 96, Verse 1].  

These were the first words of the Qur’an revealed to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ over 1,400 years ago. Muhammad ﷺ who was known to have been meditating in a cave outside Makkah, had received revelation of a book that would have a tremendous impact on the world we live in today. Not known to have composed any piece of poetry and not having any special rhetorical gifts, Muhammad ﷺ had just received the beginning of a book that would deal with matters of belief, legislation, rituals, spirituality, and economics in an entirely new genre and literary form.

The unique literary and linguistic features of the Qur’an have been used by Muslims to articulate a number of arguments to substantiate their belief that the book is from the Divine. The failure of anyone to imitate the Qur’an developed into the Muslim theological doctrine of the Qur’an’s inimitability or al-i’jaaz al-Qur’an. The word i’jaaz is a verbal noun that means ‘miraculousness’ and comes from the verb a’jaza, which means ‘to render incapable’, or ‘to make helpless’. The linguistic meaning of the term brings to light the theological doctrine that Arab linguistics par excellence were rendered incapable of producing anything like it. Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti, prolific 15th century writer and scholar, summarises this doctrine:

“. . .when the Prophet ﷺ brought [the challenge] to them, they were the most eloquent rhetoricians so he challenged them to produce the [entire] likes [of the Qur’an] and many years passed and they were unable to do so as God says, Let them then produce a recitation similar to it, if indeed they are truthful. Then, [the Prophet] challenged them to produce 10 chapters like it where God says, Say, bring then ten chapters like it and call upon whomever you can besides God, if you are truthful. Then, he challenged them to produce a single [chapter] where God says, Or do they say he [i.e. the Prophet] has forged it? Say, bring a chapter like it and call upon whomever you can besides God, if you are truthful. . . When the [Arabs] were unable to produce a single chapter like [the Qur’an] despite there being the most eloquent rhetoricians amongst them, [the Prophet] openly announced the failure and inability [to meet the challenge] and declared the inimitability of the Qur’an. Then God said, Say, if all of humankind and the jinn gathered together to produce the like of the Qur ’an, they could not produce it — even if they helped one another. . . .” [Al-Itqan fi ‘Ulum al-Qur’an, p. 1875]

According to classical exegesis, the various verses in the Qur’an that issue a challenge to produce a chapter like it daringly call for the linguistic experts of any era to imitate the Qur’an’s linguistic and literary features.

The tools needed to meet this challenge are the finite grammatical rules, literary and linguistic devices, and the twenty-eight letters that comprise the Arabic language; these are independent and objective measures available to all. The fact that it has not been matched since it was first revealed does not surprise most scholars familiar with the Arabic language and the Qur’an.

2. The 7th century Arabs were best placed to challenge the Qur’an.

The Qur’an posed a challenge to the greatest Arabic linguists, the 7th century Arabs. The fact that they reached the peak of eloquence is affirmed by western and eastern scholarship. The scholar Taqi Usmani asserts that for the 7th century Arab “eloquence and rhetoric were their life blood. According to the 9th century biographer of the poets, Al-Jumahi, “Verse was to the Arabs the register of all they knew, and the utmost compass of their wisdom; with it they began their affairs, and with it they ended them.” [Ma’riful Qur’an, Vol 1, pp.139-149]

The 14th century scholar Ibn Khaldun highlights the importance of poetry in Arab life: “It should be known that Arabs thought highly of poetry as a form of speech. Therefore, they made it the archives of their history, the evidence for what they considered right and wrong, and the principal basis of reference for most of their sciences and wisdom.”

Linguistic ability and expertise was a highly influential feature of the 7th century Arab’s social environment. The literary critic and historian Ibn Rasheeq illustrates this: “Whenever a poet emerged in an Arab tribe, other tribes would come to congratulate, feasts would be prepared, the women would join together on lutes as they do at weddings, and old and young men would all rejoice at the good news. The Arabs used to congratulate each other only on the birth of a child and when a poet rose among them.” [Anthology of Classical Arabic Literature p. 2]

The 9th century scholar Ibn Qutayba defined poetry as the Arabs saw it: “The mine of knowledge of the Arabs, the book of their wisdom… the truthful witness on the day of dispute, the final proof at the time of argument.” [‘Uyun al-Akhbar, vol. 2, p. 185]

Navid Kermani, a writer and expert in Islamic studies, explains the extent to which the Arabs had to study to master the Arabic language, which indicates that the 7th century Arab lived in a world that revered poetry: “Old Arabic poetry is a highly complex phenomenon. The vocabulary, grammatical idiosyncrasies and strict norms were passed down from generation to generation, and only the most gifted students fully mastered the language. A person had to study for years, sometimes even decades under a master poet before laying claim to the title of poet. Muhammad grew up in a world which almost religiously revered poetic expression.

The 7th century Arab lived in a socio-cultural environment that had all the right conditions to facilitate the unparalleled expertise in the use of the Arabic language.

3. The 7th century Arabs failed to do so.

Their linguistic abilities notwithstanding, they collectively failed to produce an Arabic text that matched the Qur’an’s linguistic and literary features. The linguistics expert Professor Hussein Abdul-Raof asserts, “The Arabs, at the time, had reached their linguistic peak in terms of linguistic competence and sciences, rhetoric, oratory, and poetry. No one, however, has ever been able to provide a single chapter similar to that of the Qur’an.” [Exploring the Qur’an p. 64]

Professor of Qur’anic Studies Angelika Neuwrith argued that the Qur’an has never been successfully challenged by anyone, past or present: “…no one has succeeded, this is right… I really think that the Qur’an has even brought Western researchers embarrassment, who weren’t able to clarify how suddenly in an environment where there were not any appreciable written text, appeared the Qur’an with its richness of ideas and its magnificent wordings.

Labid ibn Rabi’ah, one of the famous poets of the Seven Odes, embraced Islam due to the inimitability of the Qur’an. Once he embraced Islam, he stopped composing poetry. People were surprised, for “he was their most distinguished poet”. [Pondering Over the Qur’an, pp. 25-25]

They asked him why he stopped composing poetry; he replied, “What! Even after the revelation of the Qur’an?” [Ibid]

E. H. Palmer, Professor of Arabic and of the Qur’an, argues that the assertions made by academics like the one above should not surprise us. He writes, “That the best of Arab writers has never succeeded in producing anything equal in merit to the Qur’an itself is not surprising.” [The Qur’an: p IV]

Scholar and Professor of Islamic Studies M. A. Draz affirms how the 7th century experts were absorbed in the discourse that left them incapacitated: “In the golden age of Arab eloquence, when language reached the apogee of purity and force, and titles of honour were bestowed with solemnity on poets and orators in annual festivals, the Qur’anic word swept away all enthusiasm for poetry or prose, and caused the Seven Golden Poems hung over the doors of the Ka’ba to be taken down. All ears lent themselves to this marvel of Arabic expression.

The number of testimonial transmissions from the 7th century that affirm the Arabs’ inability to produce anything like the Qur’an excludes any doubt in this context. It would be unreasonable to dismiss the fact that the Arabs were incapacitated. Similar to what was mentioned in the section on eyewitness testimony, the narratives that conclude the Arabs’ failure to imitate the Qur’an have reached the status of tawaatur (mass concurrent reporting). There exist a large number of experts who have conveyed this knowledge via varying chains of transmission, and many of them never met each other.

A powerful argument that supports the assertion that the 7th century Arabs failed to imitate the Qur’an relates to the socio-political circumstances of the time. Central to the Qur’anic message was the condemnation of the immoral, unjust and evil practices of the 7th century Makkan tribes. These included the objectification of women, unjust trade, polytheism, slavery, hoarding of wealth, infanticide and the shunning of orphans. The Makkan leadership was being challenged by the Qur’anic message, and this had the potential to undermine their leadership and economic success. In order for Islam to stop spreading, all that was needed was for the Prophet’s ﷺ adversaries to meet the linguistic and literary challenge of the Qur’an. However, the fact that Islam succeeded in its early, fragile days in Makkah testifies to the fact that its primary audience was not able to meet the Qur’anic challenge. No movement can succeed if a claim fundamental to its core is explicitly proven false. The fact that the Makkan leadership had to resort to extreme campaigns, such as warfare and torture, to attempt to extinguish Islam demonstrates that the easy method of refuting Islam — meeting the Qur’anic challenge — failed.

4. Scholars have testified to the Qur’an’s inimitability.

Multitudes of scholars from western, eastern, religious and non-religious backgrounds have testified to the Qur’an’s inimitability. Below is a non- exhaustive list of the scholarship that forms the testimony that the Qur’an cannot be emulated:

• Professor of Oriental Studies Martin Zammit: “Notwithstanding the literary excellence of some of the long pre-Islamic poems… the Qur’an is definitely on a level of its own as the most eminent written manifestation of the Arabic language.”

• The scholar Shah Waliyyullah: “Its highest degree of eloquence, which is beyond the capacity of a human being. However, since we come after the first Arabs we are unable to reach its essence. But the measure which we know is that the employment of lucid words and sweet constructions gracefully and without affectation that we find in the Tremendous Qur’an is to be found nowhere else in any of the poetry of the earlier or later peoples.” [Al-Fawz al-Kabir fi Usul at-Tafsir, p.160] 

• Orientalist and litterateur A. J. Arberry: “In making the present attempt to improve on the performance of predecessors, and to produce something which might be accepted as echoing however faintly the sublime rhetoric of the Arabic Koran, I have been at pain to study the intricate and richly varied rhythms which — apart from the message itself — constitutes the Koran’s undeniable claim to rank amongst the greatest literary masterpieces of mankind.”

Scholar Taqi Usmani: “None of them was able to compose even a few sentences to match the Quranic verses. Just think that they were a people who according to ‘Allamah Jurjani, could never resist ridiculing the idea in their poetry if they heard that there was someone at the other end of the globe who prided himself on his eloquence and rhetorical speech. It is unthinkable that they could keep quiet even after such repeated challenges and dare not come forward. . . They had left no stone unturned for persecuting the Prophet ﷺ. They tortured him, called him insane, sorcerer, poet and sooth-sayer, but failed utterly in composing even a few sentences like the Quranic verses. ” [An Approach to the Quranic Sciences, p. 262].

Imam Fakhr al-Din: “It is inimitable because of its eloquence, its unique style, and because it is free of error.” [Al-Itqan fi ‘Ulum al-Qur’an, p. 1881]

Al-Zamlakani: “Its word structures for instance, are in perfect harmony with their corresponding scales, and the meaning of its phraseology is unsurpassed, such that every linguistic category is unsurpassed in the case of every single word and phrase.”  [ibid]

Professor Bruce Lawrence: “As tangible signs, Qur’anic verses are expressive of an inexhaustible truth, they signify meaning layered with meaning, light upon light, miracle after miracle.” [The Qur’an: A Biography, p. 8]

Professor and Arabist Hamilton Gibb: “Like all Arabs they were connoisseurs of language and rhetoric. Well, then if the Koran were his own composition other men could rival it. Let them produce ten verses like it. If they could not (and it is obvious that they could not), then let them accept the Koran as an outstanding evidential miracle.” [Islam: A Historical Survey, p 8]

The above confirmations of the inimitability of the Qur’an are a small sample from the innumerable testimonies available to us.

Other instances of ‘inimitability Al-Mutannabi and Shakespeare

Abu at-Tayyib Ahmad ibn al-Husayn al-Mutanabbi al-Kindi was considered an inimitable poetic genius by many Arabs. Some have argued that although other poets have used the same panegyric genre and poetic metre as the great poet, they have not been able to match his level of eloquence and stylistic variance. Therefore, they conclude that Al-Mutannabi is inimitable because we have the blueprint of his work and the linguistic tools at our disposal, but cannot emulate anything like his poetic expression. If this is true, then it undermines the Qur’an’s inimitability. However, this acclamation of Al- Mutanabbi is unfounded. There have been imitations of Al-Mutanabbi’ s work by the Jewish poets Moses ibn Ezra and Solomon ibn Gabriol. Interestingly, the Andalusian poet Ibn Hani’ al-Andalusi was known as the Al-Mutanabbi of the West. [Classical Arabic Literature: A Library of Arabic Literature Anthology, pp. 31-33]

One significant point is that medieval Arabic poetry did not create new literary genres. This was due to the fact that it depended on previous poetic work. The academic Denis E. McAuley writes that medieval poetry largely hinged “more on literary precedent than on direct experience.”

In classical Arabic poetry, it was not unusual for a poet to attempt to match a predecessor’s poem by writing a new one in the same poetic metre, rhyme, and theme. This was considered normal practice. It is not surprising that Professor of Religion Emil Homerin explored the literary expression of Ibn al-Farid, and described his work as “very original improvisations on al-Mutanabbi”.

To highlight further the fact that Al-Mutanabbi can be emulated, he disclosed that he borrowed work from another poet, Abu Nuwas. Many medieval Arab literary critics such as Al-Sahib ibn ‘Abbad and Abu Ali Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Hatimi wrote criticisms of Al-Mutanabbi. Ibn ‘Abbad wrote al-kashf ‘an masawi’ shi’r al-Mutanabbi and Al-Hatimi wrote a biographical account of his encounter with Al-Mutanabbi in his al-Risala al-Mudiha fi dhikr sariqat Abi al-Tayyib al-Mutanabbi The conclusions of these literary criticisms imply that although his work is the product of genius, they can be emulated. Al-Hatimi presents a stronger polemic against Al-Mutanabbi and argues the case that his poetry does not have a unique style and contains errors. Professor Seeger A. Bonebakker, who studied Al- Hatimi’s literary criticism of Al-Mutanabbi, concludes that his “judgement is often well-founded and one almost ends up feeling that Mutanabbi was, after all, a mediocre poet who was not only lacking in originality, but also had insufficient competence in grammar, lexicography, and rhetoric, and sometimes gave evidence of incredibly bad taste.”

Consider the general consensus that Shakespeare is thought to be unparalleled with regards to the use of the English language. However, his work is not considered inimitable. His sonnets are written predominantly in a frequently used meter called the iambic pentameter, a rhyme scheme in which each sonnet line consists of ten syllables. The syllables are divided into five pairs called iambs or iambic feet. Since the blueprint of his work is available, it is not surprising that the English dramatist Christopher Marlowe has a similar style, and that Shakespeare has been compared to Francis Beaumont, John Fletcher and other playwrights of his time.

Testifying to the Qur’an ’s inimitability does not imply accepting its Divinity

A valid contention concerning academic testimonies of the Qur’an’s inimitability is that these scholars agree that the Qur’an cannot be imitated, yet they have not concluded that it is a divine text. The problem with this contention is that it conflates testifying to the Qur’an’s inimitability with inference to the best explanation. The argument I am presenting in this chapter does not conclude the divinity of the Qur’an from the statements of scholars. Rather, it articulates that the best explanation to elucidate the inimitability of the Qur’an is that it came from God. Whether these scholars accept the inference, or the divinity of the Qur’an, is irrelevant. The statements of the scholars are used as evidence for the Qur’an’s inimitability, not that it is best explained by God. The argument infers from the text’s inimitability, not from conclusions the scholars may have drawn from the fact that it cannot be imitated. It must be pointed out that these scholars may not have been presented with an argument that presents an inference to the best explanation, or they may have not reflected on the philosophical implications of the Qur’an’s inimitability. These academics may even deny the God explanation because they adopt philosophical naturalism. The belief in naturalism will deter them from concluding anything about the supernatural.

Also, many academics, especially living in today’s post-modernist culture, have a restricted approach to many of the sciences. Therefore, many of these scholars are interested in the Qur’an not to be convinced of its divinity or to accept Islam, but to appreciate its literature for the sake of literary studies. This is a very common trend in modern academia. So when these scholars probe into the inimitability of the Qur’an, it is very likely that they are focusing exclusively on its literary merit, not on its claim to divinity. They want to find out whether the Qur’an is inimitable or sophisticated, and if so, to what extent. They are entirely uninterested in the question of what inimitability implies about its Divine origin.

5. Counter scholarly testimonies are not plausible, as they have to reject the established background information

In light of the above, the testimonial transmission concerning the inimitability of the Qur’an would be the most rational to adopt. This does not mean there is a complete consensus on the issue, or that all scholarship asserts that the Qur’an is unchallenged. There are some (albeit in the minority) scholarly opinions that contend against the Qur’an’s inimitability. If valid testimony does not require unanimity, why would someone accept one testimonial transmission over another?

The testimony concerning the Qur’an’s inimitability is more reasonable because it rests on strong background knowledge. This knowledge has been discussed in premises 1, 2 and 3, which highlight the fact that the Qur’an presents a literary and linguistic challenge to humanity. The 7 th century Arabs were best placed to challenge the Qur’an, yet these linguistic masters failed to meet this challenge.

Adopting the counter testimonies leads to absurdity. This is because an explanation is required to answer why those who were best placed to challenge the Qur’an failed to do so. Possible explanations would include rejecting the validity of this established history, or claiming a greater understanding and appreciation of classical Arabic than the 7th century linguist masters. These explanations render the counter testimonies without a rational basis. Rejecting the established history would require a remaking of the history of Arabic literature. Assuming superior linguistic abilities than the 7 th century specialists is debased by the fact that these experts had a relatively homogenous linguistic environment. These environments are areas where the purity of the language is maintained, and there is a limited amount of linguistic borrowing and degeneration. Contemporary Arab linguistic environments suffer from excessive linguistic borrowing and degeneration. Therefore, to claim superiority over a people coming from a culture that had the fertile ground for linguistic perfection is untenable.

Despite the weakness of these contentions, when an analysis of the work of the scholars who testify against the Qur’an’s inimitability is performed, the results conclude the linguistic meagreness of this type of scholarship. An example of its inadequacy can be found in the work of the highly acclaimed German orientalist and scholar Thedor Noldeke. He was an academic critic of the linguistic and literary features of the Qur’an, and therefore rejected the doctrine of the Qur’an’s inimitability. However, his criticism brings to light the unsubstantiated nature of such claims. For instance, Noldeke remarks, “The grammatical persons change from time to time in the Qur’an in an unusual and not beautiful way (nicht schoner Weise).”

The Qur’anic linguistic feature that Noldeke refers to is actually the effective rhetorical device known as iltifaat or grammatical shifts. This literary device enhances the text’s literary expression and it is an accepted, well-researched part of Arabic rhetoric. One can find references to it in the books of Arabic rhetoric by Al-Athir, Suyuti and Zarkashi.

These grammatical shifts include: change in person, change in number, change in addressee, change in tense, change in case marker, using a noun in place of a pronoun and many other changes. The main functions of these shifts include the changing of emphasis, to alert the reader to a particular matter, and to enhance the style of the text. Its effects include creating variation and difference in a text to generate rhythm and flow, and to maintain the listener’s attention in a dramatic way.

The 108th Qur’anic chapter provides a good example of the use of grammatical shifts:

“Verily, We have granted you The Abundance. Therefore turn in prayer to your Lord and sacrifice. For he who hates you, he will be cut off.” [The Qur’an, Chapter 108, Verses 1 to 3]

In this chapter, there is a change from the first-person plural “We” to the second person “…your Lord”. This change is not an abrupt shift; it is calculated and highlights the intimate relationship between Allah and the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. The use of “We” is used to emphasize the Majesty, Power and Ability of God. This choice of personal pronoun calls attention to the fact that God has the Power and Ability to grant Muhammad ﷺ.

“…The Abundance”, whereas “your Lord” has been used to emphasise intimacy, closeness and love; the phrase has a range of meanings that imply master, provider, and the One that cares. This is an apt use of language, as the surrounding concepts are about prayer, sacrifice and worship: “Therefore turn in prayer to your Lord and sacrifice ”. Furthermore, the purpose of this chapter is also to console Prophet Muhammad ﷺ as using such intimate language enhances the psycholinguistic effect.

Theodor Noldeke’s criticism of the Qur’an was not only a personal value judgement, but exposed his crude understanding of classical Arabic. It also confirmed his inability to reach the level of expertise that was attained by 7th century Arabs. These grammatical shifts contribute to the dynamic style of the Qur’an and are obvious stylistic features and an accepted rhetorical practice. The Qur’an uses this feature in such a way that conforms to the theme of the text while enhancing the impact of the message it conveys. It is not surprising that in his book, Discovering the Qur’an: A Contemporary Approach to a Veiled Text, Professor Neal Robinson concludes that the grammatical shifts used in the Qur’an, “…are a very effective rhetorical device.”

To conclude, counter testimonies that argue against the Qur’an’s inimitability do not hold water because they create far more problems than they solve. The scholarship that provides a basis for these counter-testimonies is meagre and based on a crude understanding of the Arabic language. Rejecting the inimitability of the Qur’an requires an answer to the following question: Why did the best-placed Arabs fail to challenge the Qur’an? The possible answers to this question are rationally absurd. For these reasons, adopting the counter-testimonies is flawed.

6. Therefore (from 1-5) the Qur’an is inimitable.

It follows from points 1 to 5 that the Qur’an’s inimitability is justified.

7. The possible explanations for the Qur’an’s inimitability are authorship by an Arab, a non- Arab, Muhammad ﷺ or Allah

To articulate the Divine origins of the Qur’an without referring to specifics about the Arabic language, the use of testimony and inference are required. What has been discussed so far is that there is a valid testimonial transmission that the Qur’an is inimitable, and that the possible explanation for its inimitability can be explained by attributing its authorship to an Arab, a non- Arab, Muhammad ﷺ or Allah. However, it can be argued that there are other possible competing explanations, but we do not know what they are. This assertion commits a type of fallacy that some have called “the fallacy of the phantom option”. If there are genuine competing explanations, then they must be presented on the intellectual table for discussion. Otherwise, this kind of reasoning is no different from claiming that the leaves do not fall from trees because of gravity, but because of another explanation that we do not know about.

8. It could not have been produced by an Arab, a non-Arab or Muhammad ﷺ .

To understand who could have possibly produced the Qur’an, the rest of this chapter will break down the three main theories.

An Arab?

There are a few key reasons why the Qur’an could not have come from an Arab. Firstly, they achieved unparalleled linguistic and literary mastery, yet they failed to challenge the Qur’an and the leading experts of the time testified to the inimitable features of the Qur’an. One of the best linguists of the time, Walid ibn al-Mughira, exclaimed:

“And what can I say? For I swear by God, there is none amongst you who knows poetry as well as I do, nor can any compete with me in composition or rhetoric — not even in the poetry of jinns! And yet, I swear by Allah, Muhammad’s speech [meaning the Qur’an] does not bear any similarity to anything I know, and I swear by God, the speech that he says is very sweet, and is adorned with beauty and charm.” [An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’an, p. 269].

Secondly, the Arab polytheists in the 7th century initially accused the Prophet ﷺ of being a poet. This was an easier thing to do than going to war and fighting the Muslims. However, anyone who aspired to master the Arabic language and Arabic poetry required years of study under poets. None of them came out to expose Muhammad ﷺ as being one of his students. The very fact that Muhammad ﷺ was successful in his message demonstrates that he succeeded in showing the poets and linguists of the time that the Qur’an is indeed a supernatural genre. If the Qur’an was not inimitable, any poet or linguist could have produced something better or similar to the Qur’anic discourse. The expert in Islamic studies Navid Kermani makes this point clear: “Obviously, the Prophet succeeded in this conflict with the poets, otherwise Islam would not have spread like wildfire.”

An even more fundamental point is that the Qur’an was revealed throughout the Prophet’s ﷺ life. If an Arab other than the Prophet ﷺ had produced it, he would have had to constantly shadow the Prophet ﷺ wherever he went, and spew out revelations whenever the occasion called for it. Is one seriously to believe such a fraud would go unexposed for the entire 23-year period of revelation?

What about today’s Arabs?

To assert that a contemporary Arabic-speaking person might emulate the Qur’an is unfounded. A few reasons substantiate this point. Firstly, the Arabs in the 7th century were better placed to challenge the Qur’an, and since they failed to do so, it would be unreasonable to assert that a linguistically impoverished modern Arab might surpass the abilities of their predecessors. Secondly, modern Arabic has suffered from greater linguistic borrowing and degeneration than the classical Arabic tradition. So how can an Arab who is a product of a relatively linguistically degenerated culture be equal to an Arab who was immersed in an environment of linguistic purity? Thirdly, even if a contemporary Arab learns classical Arabic, his linguistic abilities could not match someone who was immersed in a culture that mastered the language. A non- Arab? The Qur’an could not have come from a non-Arab, as the language in the Qur’an is Arabic, and the knowledge of the Arabic language is a pre-requisite to successfully challenge the Qur’an. This has been addressed in the Qur’an itself: “And indeed We know that they [polytheists and pagans] say: ‘It is only a human being who teaches him (Muhammad).’ The tongue of the man they refer to is foreign, while this is a speech Arabeeyun mubeen [clear Arabic].” [The Qur’an, Chapter 16, Verse 103]

The classical exegete Ibn Kathir explains this verse to mean: “How could it be that this Qur’an with its eloquent style and perfect meanings, which is more perfect than any Book revealed to any previously sent Prophet, might have been learnt from a foreigner who hardly speaks the language? No one with the slightest amount of common sense would say such a thing.” [Tafsir al-Qur’an al-‘Atheem. Vol 4, p. 603]

What if a non-Arab learned the language?

This would make that person an Arabic speaker, and I would refer to the first possible explanation above. However, there are differences between native and non-native speakers of languages, as various academic studies in applied linguistics and similar fields have concluded. For instance, in the English language, there are differences between native and non-native speakers in reliably discriminating between literal and idiomatic speech. Differences exist between English-speakers with one non-native parent and those with native parents. The speakers with one non-native parent exhibit worse linguistic performance on certain tasks than those with native parents. Even in cases of non-native speakers having indistinguishable linguistic competence with native speakers, there are still subtle linguistic differences. Research conducted by Kenneth Hyltenstam and Niclas Abrahamsson in Who can become native-like in a second language? All, some, or none? concluded that competent non-native speakers exhibit features that are imperceptible except under detailed and systematic linguistic analysis. Therefore, to conclude that the Qur’an, with its inimitable features and as a linguistic masterpiece, is a product of a non-Arab, or non-native speakers, is untenable.

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ?

It is pertinent to note that the Arab linguists at the time of revelation stopped accusing the Prophet ﷺ of being the author of the Qur’an after their initial false assertion that he became a poet. Professor Mohar Ali writes:

“It must be pointed out that the Qur’an is not considered a book of poetry by any knowledgeable person. Nor did the Prophet ﷺ ever indulge in versifying. It was indeed an allegation of the unbelieving Quraysh at the initial stage of their opposition to the revelation that Muhammad ﷺ had turned a poet; but soon enough they found their allegation beside the mark and changed their lines of criticism in view of the undeniable fact of the Prophet’s ﷺ being unlettered and completely unaccustomed to the art of poetry-making, saying that he had been tutored by others, that he had got the ‘old-worst stories’ written for him by others and read out to him in the morning and evening.”

Significantly, the Prophet ﷺ was not considered a master of the language and did not engage in the craft of poetry or rhymed prose. Therefore, to claim that he somehow managed to conjure up a literary and linguistic masterpiece is beyond the pale of rational thought. Kermani writes, “He had not studied the difficult craft of poetry, when he started reciting verses publicly… Yet Muhammad’s ﷺ recitations differed from poetry and from the rhyming prose of the soothsayers, the other conventional form of inspired, metrical speech at the time.”

The scholar Taqi Usmani similarly argues, “Such a proclamation was no ordinary thing. It came from a person who had never learned anything from the renowned poets and scholars of the time, had never recited even a single piece of poetry in their poetic congregations, and had never attended the company of soothsayers. And far from composing any poetry himself, he did not even remember the verses of other poets.” [An Approach to the Quranic Sciences, p. 261].

Further, the established Prophetic traditions of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ are in a distinct style from that of the Qur’an. Dr. Draz argues the difference between the Qur’anic style and the Prophet’s ﷺ:

“When we consider the Qur’anic style we find it the same throughout, while the Prophet’s own style is totally different. It does not run alongside the Qur’an except like high flying birds which cannot be reached by man but which may ‘run’ alongside him. When we look at human styles we find them all of a type that remains on the surface of the Earth. Some of them crawl while others run fast. But when you compare the fastest running among them to the Qur’an you feel that they are no more than moving cars compared to planets speeding through their orbits.”

Nonetheless, Dr. Draz’s argument on the differences between styles may not have much rational force in light of poets and spoken-word artists. Poets and spoken-word artists maintain key stylistic differences between their normal speech and their work over a long period of time. Thus, to use this as an argument to disprove that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ authored the Qur’an is weak. However, it has been mentioned here because if the styles were the same or even similar, then that would rule out any possibility of the Qur’an being inimitable Divine speech.

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ experienced many trials and tribulations during the course of his Prophetic mission. For example, his children died, his beloved wife Khadija (radhiyallahu anhu) passed away, he was boycotted, his close companions were tortured and killed, he was stoned by children, he engaged in military campaigns; throughout all this, the Qur’an’s literary nature remains that of the Divine voice and character. Nothing in the Qur’an expresses the turmoil and emotions of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. It is almost a psychological and physiological impossibility to go through what the Prophet ﷺ went through, and have none of the resultant emotions manifest themselves in the literary character of the Qur’an.

From a literary perspective, the Qur’an is known as a work of unsurpassed excellence. However, its verses were many times revealed for specific circumstances and events that occurred during the period of revelation. Each verse was revealed without revision, yet they collated to create a literary masterpiece. In this light, the explanation that the Qur’an is a result of the Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ literary abilities is obviously unfounded. All literary masterpieces written by geniuses have undergone revision and deletion to achieve literary perfection, yet the Qur’an was revealed instantaneously and remained unchanged. In the process of making good literature, editing and amending are absolutely necessary. No one can produce sophisticated literature ‘on the go’. However, that is exactly what we see in the case of the Qur’an. Disparate Qur’anic verses were revealed in different contexts and occasions, and once these verses had been recited by the Prophet ﷺ to an audience, he could not take them back to improve their literary quality. This constitutes strong circumstantial evidence that the Qur’an, given its inimitability, could not have been produced by the Prophet ﷺ. When we consider this and other evidences cited above, the cumulative impression we get is that it is extremely unlikely, if not downright impossible, for the Qur’an to have been produced by the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

An example to highlight this point is the work of the highly acclaimed poet Abu at-Tayyib Ahmad ibn al-Husayn al-Mutanabbi al-Kindi. Al- Mutanabbi was considered the greatest of all Arab poets and an unparalleled genius. Therefore, some have concluded that since his work was unparalleled, and that he was a human being, it follows the Qur’an was written by a human author too. This reasoning does not logically follow because Al-Mutannabi would correct his work and produce various versions until he was satisfied.

This was obviously not the case with Prophet Muhammad ﷺ as he did not edit, amend, or change the Qur’an once it was revealed. This can only mean that the Qur’an is not the work of a literary genius, who, in general, would need to revise their work.

To conclude, attributing the authorship of the Qur’an to genius, specifically Muhammad’s ﷺ genius, is unfounded. Even a literary genius edits, amends and improves their work. This was not the case with the Qur’an. All human expressions can be imitated if we have the blueprint and the tools at our disposal. This has been shown for literary geniuses such as Shakespeare and Al-Mutanabbi. Therefore, if the Qur’an had been a result of Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ genius, it should have been imitated.

A central argument that dismisses the assertion that the Qur’an was a consequence of the Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ literary abilities concerns the existence of blueprints for human expressions, and the tools required to replicate them. All types of human expression — whether the result of a genius or not — can be imitated if the blueprint of that expression exists, given that the tools are available for us to use. This has been shown to be true for various human expressions, such as art, literature and even complex technology. For example, artwork can be imitated even though some art is thought to be extraordinary or amazingly unique. But in the case of the Qur’an, we have its blueprint (the Qur’an itself) and the tools (the finite words and grammatical rules of the classical Arabic language) at our disposal. Yet no one has been able to imitate its eloquence, unique literary form and genre.

9. Therefore, the best explanation is that the Qur’an is from Allah.

Since the Qur’an could not have been produced by an Arab, a non-Arab or the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, then it follows that the best explanation is that it came from Allah. This provides the best explanation for the Qur’an’s inimitability because the other explanations are untenable in light of the available knowledge. A possible disagreement with this conclusion is that Allah is assumed to exist in order for this inference to work; therefore, it begs the question of the existence of the Divine. Although it will make the argument easier to appreciate, and can work without any previous conviction in the existence of the Divine, this argument is best articulated to fellow theists.

Conversely, the point can be made that a previous conviction in Allah’s existence is not necessary, and that the inimitability of the Qur’an is a signpost to the existence of the Divine. If a human being (an Arab, a non- Arab or the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ could not have produced the Qur’an — and all possible explanations have been exhausted — then who else could be the author? It must be something that has greater linguistic capacity than any known text producer. The intuitive conclusion is that the concept that describes a being with greater linguistic capacity than any human is the concept of God. God is indeed greater. Therefore, the inimitability of the Qur’an provides a rational basis for God’s existence, or at least a signpost to the transcendent.

Similar reasoning is adopted by scientists. Take the recent discovery of the Higgs-Boson. The Higgs-Boson particle is the building-block of the Higgs field. This field was switched on during the early universe to give particles mass. Before the discovery of this particle, it was still accepted as the best explanation for the fact that during the early universe, particles changed state from having no mass to having mass (with the exception of photons). So, the Higgs-Boson particle was the best explanation for the available data even before it was empirically verified. Applying this reasoning back to the inimitability of the Qur’an, the fact that the book has unique literary and linguistic features is best explained by God. All other competing explanations fail, and God is the best explanation for the information and knowledge available to us.

Alternative inferences

Alternative inferences could include the fact that the inimitability of the Qur’an is best explained by a higher being or that it could have come from the devil. These alternative inferences are unlikely; hence they have not been incorporated into the central argument presented in this essay. Nevertheless, addressing them here will demonstrate why they have not been included in the main discussion.

Postulating that the Qur’an comes from a higher being seems to be a semantic replacement for Allah. What is meant by “a higher being”? Is not the best explanation of a higher being Allah Himself? If “a higher being” implies a greater linguistic power, capacity and ability than a human, then who can best fit these criteria than Allah Himself? This book has articulated independent evidence for Allah’s existence, and it is very likely that God would want to communicate with us. This follows from the fact that not only is Allah the creator and designer of the entire cosmos we inhabit, but He has also made it fit for our existence. In addition, He has created us with souls or consciousness, and instilled in us a sense of morality. Clearly, Allah is extremely invested in our existence and flourishing. As such, it is entirely likely that He would want to communicate to us in the form of revelation. So, when we have evidence that the Qur’an — a book that claims to be from God — does have properties that are entirely in line with Divine activity, it makes perfect sense to attribute its authorship to God. To say that the Qur’an could have been produced by some unknown “higher beings” of unknown motives would be tantamount to invoking the existence of any unknown entity to explain anything.

Theistic responses to this discussion usually entertain the possibility of the devil being the author of the Qur’an. This explanation is untenable. The Qur’an could not have come from the devil, or some type of spirit, because the basis of their existence is the Qur’an and revelation itself, not empirical evidence. Therefore, if someone claims that the source of the Qur’an is the devil, they would have to prove his existence and ultimately have to prove revelation. In the case of using the Qur’an as the revelation to establish the devil’s existence, then that would already establish it as a Divine text, because to believe in the devil’s existence would presuppose the Qur’an to be Divine, and therefore this contention is self-defeating. If, however, the revelation that is referred to is the Bible, it must be shown to be a valid basis to justify the belief in the devil. In light of contemporary studies into the textual integrity and historicity of the Bible, this is not feasible. Further, a content analysis of the Qur’an would strongly indicate that the book is not the teachings of the devil, as the Qur’an rebukes him and promotes morals and ethics not in line with an evil worldview. Despite this, the devil objection does not conform to our intellectual practices. We can realistically explain anything by citing the activity of the devil; from this perspective it is an intellectual cop-out.


This chapter has presented an argument for the Divine nature of the Qur’anic discourse using testimony and inference to the best explanation. The crucial and fundamental role of testimony has been highlighted, and inference to the best explanation has been shown to be a rational and valid method of thinking to form conclusions about reality. The Qur’an’s inimitability can be established using testimony. Arabic linguists and literary experts confirm the inimitability of the Qur’an, and their testimonial knowledge on the topic is warranted based on established background knowledge. This knowledge includes the fact that the Qur’an poses an intellectual linguistic and literary challenge to the world, that the Arabs in the 7th century were best placed to challenge the Qur’an, and the fact that they failed to produce anything like the Qur’an’s unique content and literary form. Given that it is reasonable to accept the testimony in favour of the Qur’an’s inimitability — based on established background information — inference is then used to best explain the book’s unique linguistic and literary features. The possible explanations comprise an Arab, a non- Arab, Muhammad ﷺ and Allah. Since attributing this unique discourse to an Arab, a non-Arab or Muhammad ﷺ is untenable in light of the information available to us, the best explanation is that it came from Allah.

To reject the conclusions made in this chapter is epistemically equivalent to rejecting the spherical nature of the Earth and the conclusions of qualified medical staff. The spherical nature of the Earth, for most of us, is ultimately based on testimonial transmission, and the conclusions of trained medical experts are based on inferences to the best explanation. A retort to this assertion may include the fact that trust in the spherical nature of the Earth and the medical diagnosis of experts is justified based on other knowledge we have acquired, and it does not lead to extraordinary claims such as postulating the supernatural. This contention is common. However, it presupposes a naturalistic ontology. This means that a hidden assumption behind such concerns is the rejection of anything supernatural and that all phenomena can be explained via physical processes. Such a daring and presumptuous worldview is unjustified and incoherent in light of modern studies on the philosophy of the mind, the development and acquisition of language, and objective moral truths and cosmology, as the preceding chapters in this book demonstrate. Significantly, we are not postulating the existence of the supernatural here; we have already established His existence on the basis of evidences in the earlier chapters. We are merely claiming that the Being whose existence we have already established serves as the best explanation for certain facts.

To end, if someone with an open mind and heart — without the intellectual constraints of non-negotiable assumptions about the world — has access to the argument presented in this chapter, especially in light of the stage-setting in the previous ones, they should make the most rational conclusion that the Qur’an is from the Divine. Nevertheless, whatever is said or written about the Qur’an will always fall short in describing and exploring its words and their meanings: “Say, ‘If the sea were ink for [writing] the words of my Lord, the sea would be exhausted before the words of my Lord were exhausted, even if We brought the like of it as a supplement.’’’   [The Qur’an, Chapter 18, Verse 109].

Muhammad – The Miraculous Name

By Abu Hudhaifa Muhammad Karolia

Before I tell you who Ibn Abi Kabshah was, whether he was a sahaabi, a taabi’ie or an outstanding wali, let me take you to Abu Sufyaan (radhiyallahu anhu)’s encounter with the Roman emperor, Heraclius.

Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) had sent a letter to Heraclius inviting him to Islam. This letter was delivered to him in Baytul-Maqdis. Having read its contents, he enquired if there were any Arab visitors visiting Syria that time. Thus, Abu Sufyaan (who was not yet a Muslim) and a group of other Arab traders were summoned to Heraclius’ court. In the court, the rest of the group was instructed to stand behind Abu Sufyaan. They were then informed that Heraclius was going to ask Abu Sufyaan a few questions and if he lied, they should contradict him (by shaking their heads). Thus, Abu Sufyaan was forced to speak the truth. Employing an interpreter, Heraclius thereafter questioned Abu Sufyaan about Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). What is his family status among you? Before him, did anybody else among you claim to be a Nabi? Were any of his ancestors a king? Do the wealthy or the poor follow him? Are his followers increasing or decreasing? Do any of them renege from his religion… After Abu Sufyaan answered the tenth question, Heraclius explained that all Abu Sufyaan’s answers proved that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) was definitely talking the truth. “If you are talking the truth, he will soon rule the ground under my feet, I knew that he was going to appear, but I did not know that he would be among you. If I knew that I could reach him, I would go and meet him; and if I was with him, I would wash his feet.” He thereafter read aloud the letter of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). Abu Sufyaan narrates that by the time Heraclius finished reading the letter, there was a commotion in the court. The audience was shouting (in disapproval) and the Arabs were removed. “When we were removed, I said to my companions: The case of Ibn Abi Kabshah has gained so much of prominence that even the king of the Romans is afraid of him.”

Now you know who Ibn Abi Kabshah was. He was Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). At least, that is what Abu Sufyaan called him. But Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s father’s name was Abdullah, not Abu Kabshah! In fact, there was no Abu Kabshah in his ancestry. So why did Abu Sufyaan call him Ibn Abi Kabshah (the son of Abu Kabshah)?

The answer is mockery; he was ridiculing Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). One theory is that while the Arabs of that time were idolaters, Abu Kabshah was a star worshipper. He worshipped Sirius, the Dog Star. By referring to Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi  wasallam) as Abu Kabshah’s son, Abu Sufyaan meant that with regards shunning idol worship, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is just like Abu Kabshah; kind-of his son.

A second explanation is that Abu Kabshah was one of Rasulullah  (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s maternal ancestors. One of the things that Arabs of those days would do to insult a person is that they would attribute him to one of his maternal ancestors. 

Another explanation is that there was more than one Abu Kabshah among Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam’s paternal and maternal ancestors. However, none of them was commonly known by this name. The reason why Abu Sufyaan called Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) Abu Kabshah’s son is that when pagan Arabs intended defaming someone, they would attribute him to one of his relatively unknown ancestors (or an uncommon name of one of them).

Whatever the case may be, the point that we wish to drive home is that the term Ibn Abi Kabshah was derogatory and slanderous. This also shows us that mockery of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is nothing new. It started a long time ago, in Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s own lifetime.  

Another Example
The Quraysh would call Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) Mudhdham (disgraceful). In this regard, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “Are you not amazed how Allah deflects from me the slander and curse of the Quraysh? They slander and curse  a Mudhdham (disgraceful) whereas I am Muhammad   (praiseworthy).” [Saheeh-ul-Bukhaari, Hadith 3340]

The Miraculous Name
This takes us to the topic of this article, The Miraculous Name. Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s name is a miracle. By merely calling him Muhammad, you are praising him. Hence, even those who criticize him inadvertently praise him. This is probably why the Jews of Madinah never called him by his name. They always referred to him as Abul-Qaasim. Besides, the extent to which Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is praised in the world and the extent to which he will be praised in the Hereafter leaves no doubt that his name is most befitting. Thus, As-Suhayli describes it as:

“A sign from among the (many) signs of his nubuwwah.” [Abul Qaasim As-Suhaily, Ar-Rawd Al-Unf (V.1 Pg.281)]

The Name Ahmad
One of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s other names is Ahmad. This is his name in the previous scriptures and this is what Sayyiduna Moosa and Sayyiduna ‘Eesa (alaihimas-salaam) called him.

Considering the laws of Arabic morphology, Ahmad could either mean:

1. The one who praises Allah more than anybody else or  

2. The one who is praised more than anybody else. 

One of the reasons behind the first meaning is that on the day of Qiyaamah, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) will be the first person to intercede to Allah. Thinking that commencement of the reckoning may ease their anxiety, the people will eventually request Rasulullah  (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) to intercede to Allah to commence the reckoning. Before doing so, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) will make sajdah to Allah. In this sajdah, he will praise Allah in such a manner regarding which he said, “Allah will inspire me to utter such praises of Himself which presently I also do not know”. [Saheeh-ul-Bukhaari,  Hadith  7072]

The reason behind the second meaning is obvious. How many thousands of people praised and continue to praise Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)! He was praised during his lifetime and thereafter. In his lifetime too, he was praised before nubuwwah and thereafter. After the intercession in the Hereafter, he will again be praised by countless  people. [Ibn Hajar Al-‘Asqalaani,  Fath-ul-Baari (V.6 Pg.641)]

Another Observation
The Qur’aan and sunnah encourage us to praise Allah upon termination of all activities. Thus, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) would praise Allah after eating and drinking. Upon returning from a journey, he would say:

We have returned making tawbah, worshipping our Rabb and praising Him. [Saheeh-ul-Bukhaari, Hadith 2920]

After judgment will be passed among the creation on the Day of Qiyaamah, it will be said: All praise is to Allah, Sustainer of all the worlds. [Surah Az-Zumar,  Aayah 75]

This will also be the last call of the dwellers of jannah after their entry therein. [Surah Yoonus, Aayah 10]  

Now, did nubuwwah not terminate with Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)? Is he not the last Nabi and Rasool? Furthermore, his appearance is a sign of Qiyaamah and an indication that the end of the world is close. Does this not explain why his name is Ahmad and Muhammad? [Abul-Qaasim  As-Suhaily, Ar-Rawd  Al-Unf  (V.1 Pg.281-282)]

Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) was named Muhammad by his grandfather, Abdul Muttalib. Certainly, Abdul Muttalib never knew any of the above. He never knew that his grandson was going to be a Nabi, let alone being the greatest Nabi ever.

The name Muhammad was divinely inspired. Abdul-Muttalib dreamt that a silver chain emerged from his back. It had four ends. One in the sky, another on the earth and the third and fourth were in the east and the west. The chain then became a tree with noor (celestial light) emanating from all its leaves. It seemed as if the inhabitants of the east and the west were clinging to it. Upon enquiring about the interpretation of this dream, he was told that it signified the birth of a child in his progeny who would be followed by the inhabitants of the east and west and who would be praised by the dwellers of the sky and earth. In addition to this, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s mother also informed Abdul-Muttalib that she had heard a voice telling her, “You have conceived the leader of this ummah. When you give birth to him, name him Muhammad”. Thus, when Abdul-Muttalib was asked why he named his grandson Muhammad, he replied, “I hope that all the people of the earth will praise him”. [Abul-Qaasim  As-Suhaily, Ar-Rawd Al-Unf (V.1 Pg.280)]

A Unique Name
The reason for enquiring from Abdul-Muttalib why he kept the name Muhammad is that none of his ancestors had this name. In fact, it was almost non-existent among the Arabs in general. The reason for saying almost non-existent is that there were a few people before Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) by the name Muhammad. However, they were not just few. They were extremely few! According to As-Suhaily, they were only three. Ibn Hajar Al-‘Asqalaani is of the opinion that there were fifteen of them. [Ibn Hajar Al-‘Asqalaani, Fath-ul-Baari (V.6 Pg.643)] Are fifteen among an entire nation not negligible?

Nevertheless, the reason why they were named Muhammad was that their parents were informed of a Nabi who would soon appear in the Hijaaz and whose name would be Muhammad. Thus, each of their parents named him Muhammad with the hope that he would be this Nabi.

The ‘ulamaa explain that the rationale behind this unique name was avoidance of confusion with regards Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s identity. Hence, just as so few people before Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) enjoyed the name Muhammad, history is testimony that none of them claimed to be a Nabi. [Qadi ‘Iyaad, Ash-Shifaa  Bi-Ta’reef  Huqooq-il-Mustafa  (V.1 Pg230)] 

Consequently, when Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) announced his nubuwwah, there was little doubt among the scholars of the previous scriptures that he was talking the  truth.

How Many Names
Some ‘ulamaa claim that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) had ninety-nine names. Ibn-ul-‘Arabi has quoted from one of the sufis that Allah and his Rasool (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) have one thousand names each. The truth, however, is that most of these names are actually attributes of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) instead of names. For example, the word labinah (which means brick).

Explaining that he is the last Nabi, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said that a man constructed a beautiful palace. When the building was completed, people visited it and marveled at its beauty. However, they all noticed that one brick was missing. Comparing nubuwwah to this palace, Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “I am that brick”. The word that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) used for brick is labinah. Thus, Ibn Dihya regards labinah as  one  of  Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s names. [Ibn Hajar Al-‘Asqalaani, Fath-ul-Baari (V.6 Pg.644)]

Nonetheless, nobody can deny that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) had many names.

Another Question

What about the hadith:

“I have five names. I am Ahmad and I am Muhammad. I am Maahi by means of whom Allah eradicates disbelief. I am Haashir at whose feet the people will be gathered (on the Day of Qiyaamah) and I am ‘Aaqib (The Last Nabi).” [Saheeh-ul-Bukhaari, Hadith 3339]

Does this hadith not indicate that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) had only five names?


“I have five names” does not mean, “I have only five names”. When Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam said, “I have five names”, he did not mean that he does not have any other names. Instead, he meant that although he has many names, he has five very special names that stand out from the rest of his names. The specialities of these names are:

> They are more famous than the others

> They are mentioned in the previous scriptures

> They were known to the previous nations. [Ibn Hajar Al-‘Asqalaani, Fath-ul-Baari (V.6 Pg.645)]

Some Names of Allah
No, we are not discussing any names of Allah in this paragraph. The, point, however, is that Allah Ta’aala honoured many Ambiyaa by conferring on them one or more of His names. For example, he called Ishaaq ‘aleem, Isma’il and Ibrahim haleem, Nooh shakoor, Moosa kareem and qawi, Yoosuf hafeedh and ‘aleem, Ayoob saabir and ‘Eesa and Yahya birr. (May peace and salutation be on all the Ambiyaa.) Rasulullah  (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s speciality in this regard is that Allah blessed him with much more of His names than any other Nabi. Qadi ‘Iyaad (rahimahullah)  identified thirty such names. [Qadi ‘Iyaad, Ash-Shifaa Bi-Ta’reef  Huqooq-il-Mustafa (V.1 Pg236)] Ra-oof  (compassionate) and Raheem (merciful) are two  examples.

“Such a Rasool has come to you from among yourselves that your adversity distresses him, he is desirous of your welfare and he is compassionate and merciful unto the Believers.” [Surah At-Tawbah, Aayah 128]

Two Types of Names
Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s names are of two types:

1. Those that were specifically his – Their meanings were not found in any other Nabi. For example: Muhammad, Ahmad, ‘Aaqib, Haashir, Muqaffaa (The one who was sent after everybody else) and Nabi-ul-Malhamah (Nabi of the Battlefield)

2. Those that were not specifically his – Their meanings were found in other Ambiyaa. For example: Rasulullah, Nabiyullah, Abdullah, Shaahid (witness), Mubash-shir (Giver of Glad-Tidings), Nadheer (Warner), Nabi-ur-Rahmah (Nabi of Mercy) and Nabi-ut-Tawbah (Nabi of Repentance).

> The names of the first type are obviously specialities of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam).

> Although the names of the second type apply to other Ambiyaa, they do not apply to them as much as they apply to Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). In fact, their presence in Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is perfect. Ibn-ul-Qayyim (rahimahullah) says in this regard:

“The name itself is not Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s speciality. His speciality is its perfect suitability (it befits him most perfectly).” [Ibn-ul-Qayyim,  Zaad-ul-Ma’aad  V.1 Pg.54]

In simple words, every Nabi is Basheer, Nadheer and Shaahid, but the greatest Basheer, Nadheer and Shaahid is Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). Similarly, every Nabi is a Nabi of Mercy and Repentence, but the greatest Nabi of Mercy and Repentence is Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). 

We commenced this article with reference to Ibn Abi Kabshah and the idolaters’ mockery of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). This discourse on his blessed names proves that such mockery never reduced and will never reduce the lofty status of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). Add this discussion to all of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s other specialities and his achievements and you will conclude that his critics are merely shining a torch at the sun.  

The important issue is our imaan. Such mockery and criticism will never harm Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). The question is, ‘Will such critics succeed and harm our imaan?’

The Significance of Adhan (The Call to Salah)

[Moulana Ihtishamul Hasan Sahib Kandhelwi (rahimahullah)]


Salah is an important obligation commanded by Allah Azza Wa Jal. It is the highest form of earning the proximity of the Creator. All the actions related to salah like  adhan, iqamah, imamat etc. are the distinguishing features of Islam. Respecting and revering them is tantamount to respecting Islam. 

However, due to ignorance of  their original status, grandeur and virtue, they are not  revered as they should be. 

This booklet was prepared in order to fulfil this need so that  one can at least be apprized of  the majesty and sanctity of  adhan and iqamah.

The adhan is generally regarded as merely a call to salah but in  reality, the secret of the loftiness  and elevation of the Muslims is  concealed in it. The adhan is not  merely an announcement for salah but is in fact an open invitation to Islam five times daily in every place.

It is for this reason that the shayatin (satans) flee from the sound of adhan. Satanic effects are removed and the limitless mercy of Allah descends,  the details of which you will find in this article. 

Our final word is that all praises  are due to Allah Azza Wa Jal, the Lord of the worlds and salutations be upon the prophets and messengers.

Muhammad Ihtishamul  Hasan
17 April 1965  

The Grandeur and Virtue of Adhan
Those factors which are the most  important for the elevation and  fertility of Islam are called the  sha’air – distinguishing features – of Islam. From among  these distinguishing features,  one of the most important is adh ān. If today the Muslims become  aware of the importance,  grandeur and actual reality of  adhan and they afford it its  proper perspective, there is no  reason why the Muslims should not be elevated on earth.

Regrettably today the greatness  and virtue of adhan has been  blurred from our eyes. Whatever is done, is being done as a  custom or habit. Consequently, we  don’t achieve the benefits  and fruits which were worthy of  this act. When the reality of  something is not before the eyes, the effects naturally do not  manifest themselves. Only the outward forms remain. When the  actual grandeur and importance  of worship leave the heart, only  the external forms of worship  remain behind and these are  regarded as habits. This is a sign  of the close proximity of  Qiyamah. Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, ‘Very shortly a  time is to come when Islam will  remain in name only and only the  writing of the Qur’an will remain.’

When only the name of Islam  remains and the original source  of all guidance, the Qur’an  remains in script only, then  naturally all the factors and  distinguishing features of Islam  will only be customary. Their  virtue and importance which they  supposed to have will not remain in the hearts. Consequently, their  original fruits and effects will not manifest themselves.

It is essential to respect and  revere all the distinguishing features of Islam. This is what  brings Islam and iman to perfection. This is equal to  respecting Allah  Ta’ala.  Therefore, the disrespect of the  minutest distinguishing feature  of Islam is not tolerated.

Shah Waliullah (Rahimahullah) explains the distinguishing features of Islam as follows:

By the sha’air, I refer to those  matters which are external and  tangible by means of which Allah  Ta’ala is worshipped.

They are specific with Allah Ta’ala  to the extent that honouring  them is like honouring Allah.  Being deficient in them is like  being deficient with regard to  Allah. This must be embedded in  the heart so deeply that it cannot exit without tearing the heart.‛ [Hujjatullahil Balighah, vol.1 p. 66].

The source of Shari’ah is to revere  the distinguishing features of  Allah Ta’ala and to gain proximity  to Him by means of them.  Therefore we have been  commanded to respect them.  Allah Ta’ala states, ‘Whoever  respects the distinguishing  features of Allah, it is due to the piety of his heart.’

Adhan is also from among these  distinguishing features. Its  majesty, importance and virtue will be mentioned in the ensuing pages. And only Allah grants the ability.

The Meaning of Adhan

The literal meaning of adhan is to announce. The call to prayer has been named adhan because it is an announcement of salah.

The Inception of Adhan

There was great emphasis to perform salah with congregation.  In order to do this, there was a  need to gather all the Muslims  together at one place at the same time. This was not possible  without an announcement.

The Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) discussed this among  themselves as to what method to  adopt. Some of them mentioned  that a fire should be lit so that  the people could see it and gather. 

Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)  rejected this idea because this  was a resemblance with the fire-worshippers. 

The Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) suggested sounding a  horn. Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallan) rejected this idea also  because this was a resemblance with the Jews. The Sahabah  (radhiyallahu anhum) then suggested ringing a bell like the church bells. Due to resemblance  with the Christians, Nabi  (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) did  not accept this suggestion. 

The Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) all went away and no decision was reached. 

At night, Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah Ibn  Zaid (radhiyallahu anhu) was  shown the method of adhan in a  dream. He mentioned this to Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) in the morning. On  hearing about this dream,  Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said that it was a true dream. 

Thereafter, the announcement for salah was made in the manner  shown in the dream. This incident has been narrated in authentic ahadith. This incident clearly indicates the following:

(1)  the divine laws began  according to the expediencies of  man in which there was ease for him.

(2)  to oppose the nations which  are engrossed in misguidance  and ignorance in the  distinguishing features of Islam  is a commendable and meritorious act. One should not  adopt any act in Deen which is  prevalent among them.

(3)  The adhan was initiated for the sake of salah. The original  aim was that people hear the adhan and gather for congregation. Hence, there  should not be such a long delay  after the adhan whereby people  are placed in distress. The actual  aim of adhan is thereby lost.

(4) Besides the Maghrib Salah, it  is preferable to have a delay in  the congregation after the adhan  so that all the worshippers can easily prepare for salah and  gather for the jama’at. During the  Maghrib Salah, because a delay is  not appropriate, it is necessary  to immediately begin the  congregation after the adhan. If  for some reason there is a delay in the adhan, it is essential to  wait a while for the worshippers.  It is not necessary to wait for the appointed time. What is essential  is the ease of the worshippers.  The quest for a larger number of worshippers is meritorious.

Although the adhan was initiated for salah, Allah Ta’ala out of His  extreme mercy, assigned it as an  important act of worship. He  included it among the distinguishing features of Islam. 

Shah Waliullah (rahimahullah) writes,

Divine wisdom required that the  adhan should not be merely an  announcement, but together withthat, it should be a  distinguishing feature. In this wayit has become to the uninformed  and the informed a call to Deen.  Accepting it became a sign of  submitting to Allah. Therefore it  was necessary for the adhan to  contain the mention of Allah, a  testimony to the oneness of Allah and the prophethood of Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and an  invitation to salah so that it can  be an explicit exposition of its aim.‛  [Hujjatullhil Balighah vol.1  p.189]

Now the adhan is an  announcement of true Deen and an elevation of the true word.  The adhan has such virtues that  clearly indicate it to be a  distinguishing characteristic of  Islam. The place where the adhan  is delivered is regarded as Darul  Islam – an Islamic governed state. Whenever Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) heard the adhan from  any locality, he did not attack  that l locality. If he did not hear  the adhan, he would attack that place. 

This indicates that the adhan is  not merely an announcement for salah but an invitation to the true Deen and an exposition of the  truth of Islam  in  front  of the  creation. Therefore Shah  Waliullah (rahimahullah) says  regarding the adhan,
‘It is a portion from among the  portions of prophethood.‛ [ibid]

Sayyidatuna ‘Aa’ishah (radhiyallahu anha) said that the verse,

‘Whose statement can be better than the one who calls to Allāh, does good deeds and says ‘I am of the Muslims’.  
refers to the mu’adhdhins

We have consequently been commanded to respond to the adhan by repeating the words of the mu’adhdhin and practically answering his call. 

The Words of Adhan

Allahu Akbar
Allah is the greatest. (4 times).  

Ash hadu an la ilaaha illa Allah
I bear witness that there is no god besides Allah.   

Ash hadu an la ilaaha illa Allah
I bear witness that there is no god besides Allah.

Ash hadu anna Muhammadar Rasulullah
I bear witness that Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is the messenger of Allah.   

Ash hadu anna Muhammadar Rasulullah
I bear witness that Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is the messenger of Allah.    

Hayya alas salah
Come to salah. (twice)  

Hayya alal falah
Come to success. (twice)

Allahu Akbar
Allah is the greatest. (twice)    

la ilaaha illa Allah
There is no god besides Allah. 

A person should stand on a high place and recite these words with a loud voice. Whatever distance his voice reaches, that is where the announcement of truth will reach. In the adhan of Fajr, the words,    

As-salatu khairun minan naum

must be recited twice so that people do not become lazy in getting up from their sleep.

There is an invitation to salah in the words,

Hayya alas salah

which is an important obligation of Allah at the time.

In the words,    

Hayya alal falah

there is an invitation to the remainder of Deen which is a guarantee of success in this world and the hereafter. 

The same words should be repeated at the time of the congregation, but after   
Hayya alal falah

the following words should be said twice,    

Qadqamatis Salah
(Salah has begun.) This is called iqamah.  

The adhan is delivered in order to call those people who are outside while the iqamah is delivered to invite those people who are in the musjid to join the congregation. Hence, the iqamah does not have to be uttered in a very loud  voice. Such a tone which the  worshippers can hear is sufficient. They have to be  informed that the jama’ah is about to begin. 

The person who delivered the  adhan should recite the iqamah  so that one person invites the  people to the musjid and makes them stand up for salah. Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)  said, ‘The one who recited the  adhan should recite the iqamah.‛  

Shah Waliullah (rahimahullah) writes that the wisdom of this is  that when one person has recited  the adhan and accumulated the  virtues and rewards thereof,  others do not have a right to  challenge him now and deprive  him of further rewards.

Responding to the Adhan and Iqamah

It is mustahab (preferable) to  give a verbal and physical response to the factors which  the  mu’adhdhin is inviting to.  The method of doing this is to say from the depths of the  heart whatever the mu’adhdhin  says and to verbally repeat the  words he utters. 

Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)  said, ‘When you hear the adhan,  say whatever the mu’adhdhin  says.‛  

Responding to the adhan with the depths of the heart is a guarantee for jannah.

In a hadith of Sahih Muslim, it is mentioned that Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said,  ‘When the mu’adhdhin said Allahu Akbar and one of you said Allahu Akbar, then the mu’adhdhin said Ash hadu an la ilaaha illa Allah and he also said Ash hadu an la ilaaha illa Allah, then the mu’adhdhin said Ash hadu anna Muhammadar Rasulullah and he also said Ash hadu anna Muhammadar Rasulullah, then the mu’adhdhin said Hayya alas salah and he said La Hawla wa la quwwata illa billa, then the mu’adhdhin said Hayya alal falah and he said La Hawla wa la quwwata illa billa, then the mu’adhdhin said Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar and he also said Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar, then the mu’adhdhin said  la ilaaha illa Allah and he also said la ilaaha illa Allah, if this was said with sincerity of the heart, he will enter jannah.‛  

This hadith of Muslim Sharīf indicates that when the mu’adhdhin says, 

Hayya alal falah and Hayya alal falah the respondent should say, La Hawla wa la quwwata illa billa   (There is no power and might except from Allah).

This is a sort of way of seeking  Allah’s assistance in order to  respond to this call and to give it  practical form because without  any divinely granted ability, no  act of virtue can be committed.  This is actual submission whereby the slave completely hands  himself over to the Master.

Similarly, at the time of iqamah, instead of saying Qadqamatis Salah one should say AqmahAllahu wa adamaha – May Allah always maintain the salah

After the adhan, the respondent should recite salat ‘alan Nabi  (durud) which is a further  testification to the truth of the means by which Allah conveyed the message to us. 

In a hadith of Sahih Muslim,  Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, ‘When you hear  the adhan of the mu’adhdhin,  repeat the words he says, then  convey salutations upon me  because the person who conveys  one salutation upon me, Allah  sends down ten blessings on him. Then seek my wasilah (means). The wasilah is a place in jannah. Only one person from the slaves of Allah will achieve that place and I have hope that it will be me. Whoever seeks the wasilah for me, intercession will become compulsory for him.‛  

In a hadith of Sahih Bukhari it is mentioned that Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, ‘Whoever hears the adhan and says,  


Allahumma Rabba hazihid da’watit tammati was salaatil qaimati aat Muhammada nil waseelata wal fadheelata wab’as-hu maqqaamam mahmooda nillazee wa’attahu

(O Allah, the Lord of this perfect call and the established salah, grant Muhammad the wasilah and virtue and send him to the Muqame Mahmud – the praised position which you have promised.) 

my intercession will become compulsory for him on the day of Qiyamah.‛  

Thereafter, for a further acceptance of the mu’adhdhin’s call, recite,


Radheetu billahi rabbaw wabi Muhammadin rasoolan wabil Islaami deena

(I have been satisfied with Allah  as my Lord, Muhammad as my messenger and Islam as my Deen.)

This is a verbal completion of the  response to the adhan. Thereafter one should physically  answer the call. Imam Nawawi states that it is mustahab  (preferable) to verbally respond  to the adhan for every person who hears the adhan, whether male  or female, whether he has  ablution or not, whether he is in a state of ceremonial purity (tahir) or not or whether it is a  menstruating woman. However, a  person who is in the toilet or one  having intercourse or one in any similar state should not respond. 

Similarly, a person performing salah, whether fard or nafl,  should not respond. He should  respond when he completes his salah. If he responded in salah, it  is makruh (reprehensible)  because this is an apparent  shunning of salah. However his salah will not be invalid because  the adhan is also the dhikr of Allah. However, if he said, Hayya alas salah, Hayya alal falah or As-salatu khairun minan naum, his salah will be nullified because  this is human speech, if he is  aware of the mas’alah. [Nuzhatun Nazirin]

Sayyidatuna Maymunah (radhiyallahu anha) states that once Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was speaking to a group of men  and women. He said, ‘O women,  when you hear the adhan and  iqamah of this Abyssinian, repeat  whatever he says. You will receive  one hundred thousand stages for each letter.‛  

Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) asked, ‘If this is the  amount for women, what reward will the men receive?‛

Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, ‘Men will receive  double the reward.’ [Jam’ul  Fawaid]

Qadi Iyad (rahimahullah) states  that the adhan is a concise invitation to the belief of iman. It  includes both categories of iman: logical aspects as well as those  heard from the prophets (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) because the beginning of iman is  to establish the being of Allah Ta’ala and to show His  perfect attributes and greatness.  This has been done by the  repetition of the words (Allahu Akbar). The words (Allahu Akbar),  in spite of being so brief, express every form of perfection and  splendour. (The oneness of Allah  Ta’ala has been expressed by the  words (la ilaaha illa Allah) while  shirk (polytheism), which is the
complete opposite of unity, has  been negated. This is actual tauhid – oneness – and the actual  foundation of iman. Tauhid precedes everything else. 

Then there is the testimony of  the prophethood of Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).  After oneness, this testification  is the greatest factor. The entire  Shari’ah brought by Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is  testified as being true. It takes the next step after tauhid. All  these factors are the original  obligations which complete the  logical beliefs. After testifying to  the prophethood, there is an invitation to salah. It has been  mentioned after prophethood  because its obligation became  known through Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). The intellect  plays no part in this. Then there  is an invitation to success. All the  matters of the hereafter are included in this. 

When the congregation is about  to begin, these very words are  repeated in the form of the  iqamah. It includes an announcement that salah has  begun. Before beginning the salah, one testifies these matters  which are beliefs of iman, verbally  and with the heart so that one  can become pre-occupied in salah  with a firm resolution and insight. The greatness and importance of salah must be kept in mind as well as the greatness of Allah for whom the salah is being  performed. [Nuzhatun Nazirin]

In other words, five times a day for the five salahs, all the matters  of iman are announced  and  admitted two times. Thereafter  one is afforded the opportunity  of presenting oneself in the court  of Allah. This is only the grace of Allah.

The Fruits and Effects of Adhan

The fruits and effects of adhan  are of two types: one is that the  benefits are general for all those  people who live in the area where  the adhan is delivered. The second one refers to the specific  benefits of the mu’adhdhin

The general benefits and effects  are several.

(1) Shaytan flees from the place  where the adhan is delivered and  he abandons the area wherever  the voice of the mu’adhdhin  reaches. It is reported by Sayyiduna Abu Hurairah (radhiyallahu anhu) in Sahih  Bukhari that Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said,  ‘When the call of adhan is given, shaytan flees while passing wind,  to the extent that he cannot hear  the adhan. When the adhan is completed, he returns.‛  

When shaytan flees, it is clear  that satanic effects will also  decrease at that time. The  effulgence of the Merciful  Almighty and blessings spread  all around till where the mu’adhdhin’s voice reaches. Therefore the adhan should be  recited in a loud voice so that the  satanic effects are diminished far and wide. Darkness should  dissipate and the word of truth  should be elevated. In this way  the light of truth can spread.  Consequently, it is beneficial and a tried and tested method to recite the adhan wherever there is a  plague or there are the effects of shaytan.

No one remains deprived of this  benefit. Five times a day,  falsehood has to flee from truth  wherever the adhan is delivered.

(2) The city, town or village where  the adhan is delivered is saved  from the general punishment and  wrath of Allah Azza wa Jal on  that day. Imam Tabarani has  narrated from Anas (radhiyallahu anhu) that Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, ‘When the adhan  is called out in any village, Allah saves that village from His  punishment on that day.‛ [Jam’ul  Fawaid]

It is quite clear that when the  name of Allah is taken in a place  and His mercy descends there, how can His punishment overcome  them on that day? How can  mercy and anger come together?

(3) Everything, whether living or  non-living, man or other  creations, Muslim or non-Muslim,  is affected by the adhan and  enjoys it wherever it is called out.  It is for this reason that  everything to which the voice of  the mu’adhdhin reaches,  supplicates for him and on the  day of Qiyamah, will bear witness  to his iman and Islam. These are  the benefits of adhan which  every person will receive and the  mu’adhdhin himself will benefit. The benefits which accrue to the  mu’adhdhin are several.

(1)  Every living and non-living  being, every dry and moist  creation to which the mu’adhdhin’s voice reaches will seek  forgiveness for him. On the day of  reckoning, they will testify on  his behalf. It is narrated by  Sayyiduna  ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abdir Rahman Ibn Abi Sa’sa’ah  (radhiyallahu anhu) that  Sayyiduna Abu Sa’id Khudri (radhiyallahu anhu) said to him, ‘I  see that you prefer living in the  jungle and grazing the goats.  When you are among your goats  or on your farm, then deliver the  adhan and call it out loudly  because whichever human, jinn  or other creation hears the sound  of the mu’adhdhin, he will bear  testimony for him on the day of  Qiyamah. I heard this from Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).

It is mentioned with more clarity  in other narrations.

Sayyiduna Abu Hurairah (radhiyallahu anhu) states that Nabi  (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, ‘The mu’adhdhin is forgiven to  the extent where his voice reaches and every moist and dry thing bears testimony for him.‛ [Sunan Abi Dawud and Nasai] 

Sayyiduna Bara’ (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, ‘Everything seeks forgiveness for  the mu’adhin till where his voice  reaches and every moist and dry  thing testifies to this. He will  receive the reward equal to all  the worshippers.‛ [Jam’ul Fawaid]

2. The mu’adhdhins will be at  ease on the day of Qiyamah  without any fear. They will be  sitting on chairs of musk. They will not be questioned.  There will be no harshness in their reckoning.

Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu)  narrates that Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, ‘Three people will  not experience extreme anguish  on the day of Qiyamah nor will  they be harshly reckoned. They  will be sitting on mounds of  musk while the creation is being  questioned. They are: the one  who recited the Qur’an for the  pleasure of Allah, the one who  made imamate for his people and  they were pleased with him and  the  mu’adhdhin who calls out  the adhan five times a day.‛ [Ibid]

3. The status of the mu’adhdhins adhan is equal to that of the  martyrs in the path of Allah.  Allah will fulfil whatever wish  they express between the adhan  and iqamah.

Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, ‘The person who  calls out the adhan with the hope  of reward is like a martyr who is  floundering in his blood. He can  ask of Allah whatever he wants between the adhan and iqamah. (That is, his every desire will be fulfilled.) [Jam’ul Fawa’id]

4. The mu’adhdhins will have long necks and high stages on the day of Judgement. When they elevated the name of Allah in the world, they themselves will be elevated in the hereafter.  

It is reported by Mu’awiyah (radhiyallahu anhu) in Sahih Muslim that Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, ‘The mu’adhdhins will have the longest necks on the day of Qiyamah.‛

Anas (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, ‘If I take an oath, I will be completely truthful by saying that from among all people, Allah Ta’ala loves those who keep an eye on the sun and the moon, that is, the mu’adhdhins. They will be recognized with their long necks on the day of Judgement.‛ [Ibid] 

These were some of the benefits specific with the mu’adhdhins which they will obtain in the hereafter. 

Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said that if the people  come to know what is in the adhan and they have to draw  lots, they will certainly do so. [Sahih Bukhari]

Looking at these virtues and  merits of adhan made Sayyiduna  ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu)  comment that if he did not have  the responsibilities of khilafah,  he would have assumed the task  of calling out the adhan. [Fathul Baari]

Amirul Mu’minin ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib  (radhiyallahu anhu) used to say  that he regretted not having  Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) appoint Hasan and Husain (radhiyallahu anhum) as  mu’adhdhins.

In  short, the adhan which is  regarded as a menial task and an  ordinary announcement, is in  reality a revolutionary  announcement of truth which is  called out by the caller of Allah  five times daily. The truth of  Islam is openly claimed thereby  displaying the power and the might of the Muslims. There is no  reason why a nation that elevates  the name of Allah Ta’ala should  itself not be elevated on earth.  Allah is the greatest. There is no  deity besides Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of  Allah. Peace and salutations be  upon him.

The Actual Purpose of Adhan

You have been apprized of many  important facts about the  adhan. You have also learnt that  the adhan is an important  distinguishing feature of Islam  which exposes the magnificence and loftiness of Islam.

Why has the adhan been  accorded this much importance? The reason is that the actual aim  of adhan is very high and noble,  being the root of the religion of  Islam. It is the real aim of the  mission of all the prophets and messengers. The adhan is an  open announcement and exposition of the Deen of Allah Ta’ala and a  response to the satanic call. It is for this reason that shaytan  braces himself to combat every  major power but he cannot bear to even listen to the words of  calling towards Deen. He flees so  far away that he cannot hear the  adhan. When the adhan is  completed, he returns full of  revenge due to the effect the adhan had on him. He  begins to disrupt the salah of the  worshippers and tries to disturb  everyone. He creates all kinds of  thoughts and whisperings to the extent that the worshipper even forgets he is in salah

Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said that when the adhan is called out, shaytan flees  while passing wind. He goes so  far away that he cannot hear the  adhan any more. When the adhan is complete, he returns. When  the worshippers stand up for salah and the iqamah is called  out, he flees again. When the  takbir is completed, he returns.  He now endeavours to disturb  the worshippers by means of whispering thoughts in their  minds and reminding them of  other events. They begin thinking  of things which they never  thought of before to the extent  that they even forget how many  raka’at they have performed. [Mishkat]

This whispering of shaytan in order to disrupt the salah is a  response and an attempt to  nullify the call of Allah. Shaytan  adopted this stance out of  extreme emotional revenge. It is  for this reason that the method  of combating this disruption of shaytan has been shown to the worshipper so that there is no  difference in the concentration and humility of his salah.

The question arises as to how come shaytan flees from the adhan but does not flee from salah which is a higher form of worship. In fact, shaytan comes  closer to the worshipper in salah  and becomes a barrier between  his soul and the salah. Yet salah  is the most virtuous form of worship and the actual  aim.

The actual cause of this  confusion is that the status of adhan does not have any position  in the minds but is merely regarded as an announcement for salah. However, adhan has a  much more higher status and is a  sign of the conciseness of Islam.  The adhan, besides being a  means of salah, is also an  intended aim. The adhan  therefore has two virtues. It is  itself an important goal and is  the means to another important  goal. Since these two realities are separate, the specialities and  virtues of each one will also be  separate. For example, a  speciality of adhan is that the sound of the adhan does not  remain confined to the earth’s atmosphere. It goes into the heavens.

‘Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri  has quoted from Al-Jami’ As-Saghir of ‘Allamah Suyuti that  besides the sound of the adhan  and the Qur’an, the sound of the  people on earth does not reach  the heavens. Only these two  sounds reach the heavens directly.

It is narrated by Sayyiduna Abu Sa’id Khudri (radhiyallahu anhu) in Sahih Bukhari that Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, ‘To whichever  jinn, man or other creation the  sound of the adhan reaches,  they will bear witness for the  mu’adhdhin Qiyamah.‛  

When the mu’adhdhin has  elevated the call of truth, then all  the creations that heard his call  will testify to his iman on the day  of Judgement. How can the one  who invites others towards Islam  and iman be himself bereft of  them? How can he be beyond the  obedience of Allah Ta’ala and His messenger? The mu’adhdhin of the musjid is no mulla but is in fact  the caller of Allah who calls the  people towards the Deen of Allah  Ta’ala. He is performing the duty  of breaking the false invitation of shaytan. Undoubtedly, shaytan  will run away from such a call and  all false satanic invitations will  disintegrate in front of this call. When every moist and dry thing  bears testimony to the faith of  the mu’adhdhin, how can shaytan  bear to see the fact that he is  turning him away from Islam but  the rest of creation which heard  the adhan is testifying to his faith?

The sound of the caller of Allah  goes above the skies as well. The  creation in the skies also bear  testimony to his faith. This is no  low status for the caller to the Deen of Allah Azza Wa Jal. It is for  this reason that the mu’adhdhin  will be the highest on the day of  reckoning as mentioned previously. 

The recompense for any act is  according to its condition. Since  the mu’adhdhins raised their necks in the world to proclaim the  truth, undoubtedly, the  requirement of the grace of Allah  Ta’ala is that their necks will be  the highest on the day of  reckoning. Their loud voices will be a means of their salvation and  success. Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) therefore said, ‘Whoever calls out the adhan for  seven years with the hope of  reward, will be guaranteed  freedom from the fire.‛   [Hujjatullahil Balighah, vol.1,  p.  189] 

Why should he not achieve  freedom from the fire of hell when he called out the adhan for  such a long period without any  recompense? This in itself bears  testimony to the faith of his  heart and that he is a faithful and  obedient servant of Allah Ta’ala.  His relationship with Allah is  firmly created and through his  arduous effort, has gathered together so much of divine mercy  which is a tremendous capital. It  is for this reason that the adhan  is an independent portion of prophethood.

Shah Waliullah writes that the  excessive virtues of adhan indicate that it is a distinguishing  feature of Islam. Due to the adhan,  a locality is termed  Darul Islam – an Islamic nation. 

Therefore when Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) heard the adhan, he held back and if there was no  adhan in any locality, he attacked  it.

The adhan is a portion of  nubuwah because it is a means of  encouragement towards the greatest worship in Islam, namely salah. Salah is the root of all  virtue. The pleasure of Allah Ta’ala and the anger of shaytan cannot  be earned from other acts as  they are earned from transitive  virtues and the elevating of the  true word.‛  [ibid]

The adhan is in itself a  distinguishing feature of Islam  and a means to another  distinguishing feature. It is a  portion of prophethood and a  means to another portion that is more important.

The adhan has also been  instituted to expose the internal condition of the people, whether  they have accepted the divine  guidance and the Deen of Allah  Ta’ala or not. It is therefore necessary for the one listening  to the adhan to accept the call and respond to it so that there is an explicit completion of the  purpose of adhan.

Responding to the adhan is  necessary for every sane mature  Muslim, to the extent that it is  necessary for women to respond  too, although they are not  compelled to attend the  congregational prayer. The  response must not be brief but in  detail. One has to reiterate  whatever the mu’adhdhin says,  word for word.  

The adhan is also an invitation to salah and success which cannot be attained without the grace of the Almighty. Therefore one should, at this occasion seek assistance from Allah because man cannot achieve anything merely with his intention and resolve.

The one who does this is promised entry into jannah because he has reiterated the call of Allah verbally and has completed the act of submission physically. Due to the importance and grandeur of the call, he did not suffice on the detailed response only but was focussed towards the brief admission so that the aims of this invitation are properly submerged in the mind. Consequently, after the adhan, one is required to recite the following du’a:    


Allahumma Rabba hazihid da’watit tammati was salaatil qaimati aat Muhammada nil waseelata wal fadheelata wab’as-hu maqqaamam mahmooda nillazee wa’attahu

(O Allah, the Lord of this perfect call and the established salah, grant Muhammad the wasilah and virtue and send him to the Muqame Mahmud – the praised position which you have promised).

Jabir (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates in Sahih Bukhari that Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, ‘My intercession becomes compulsory for the one who recites this du’a after listening to the adhan.‛ 

It is essential for the Noble Almighty to grant recompense for a virtuous deed. Therefore this du’a has been suggested. Another du’a to recite is:   

Ash hadu an la ilaaha illa Allahu Wahdahu la shareeka lahu wa anna Muhammadan ‘Abduhu wa rasuluhu, Radheetu billahi rabbaw wabi Muhammadin rasoolan wabil Islaami deena

(I bear testimony that there is no deity besides Allah, the one. He has no partner and that Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is His servant and messenger. I have been satisfied with Allah as my Lord, Muhammad as my messenger and Islam as my Deen.) 

There is a narration of Sayyidunā Sa’d Ibn Abi Waqqas (radhiyallahu anhu) in Sahih Muslim that Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, ‘Whoever reads this du’a after listening to the adhan, his sins will be forgiven.‛  

In a narration of Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Amr Ibnul ‘Aas (radhiyallahu anhu) in Sahih Muslim, Nabi is reported to have said, ‘When you hear the adhan  of the mu’adhdhin, repeat the  words he says, then send  salutations upon me because the person who sends one salutation upon me, Allah favours him with  ten mercies. Then seek wasilah  from Allah for me. It is a high  stage in jannah which only  lone  slave of Allah will attain. I have  hope to be that one slave. Whoever seeks wasilah for me,  my intercession becomes compulsory for him.‛

Shah Waliullah (rahimahullah) writes that the order to  supplicate for Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) has been issued  so that the acceptance of his Deen and choosing his love can be  completed. [Hujjatullahil  Balighah.]

This purpose of adhan is for all  the people because in the adhan,  there is an announcement of all  those matters which are common  in all the inspired books. These  are the fundamentals of religion.  For those who know the reality of salah and perform it correctly,  the adhan is not merely an  announcement of truth for them  but a special invitation to  present oneself in the court of  Allah. It is as if a special  announcer of Allah is announcing  to the chosen servants of Allah,  the ruler of all rulers, the king of  all kings that the time to attend  the court of the Almighty is in  close proximity. A general  assembly is to be enacted. Be  informed and remain alert. Cleanse yourself and present yourself in  His court. Now general  permission has been granted to  everyone to attend because the  literal meaning of adhan is to  announce and to grant general permission. 

Hafiz Ibn Hajar and ‘Allamah Aini  state that the literal meaning of  adhan is to announce and to  grant general permission.

The welcome to the court of the  king of kings, the ruler of all  rulers will be according to His  call. Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said that the mua’dhdhin is entrusted to  announce that it is the time to  attend the court of the Almighty.  Therefore it is essential for the  mu’adhdhins to be the best people who have the capability of  inviting towards Allah’s court. They should be apprized of the  etiquette and the conditions for  attending  this court because  this is such a status for which the  kingdom of the world can be sacrificed. 

After becoming aware of  lthe  purpose of adhan and its virtues,  one should thoroughly know the  meaning and message of its  words so that a person knows  what a great matter he is inviting  to and calling the people to a  certain direction. If he himself is  unaware of the meaning, how can  he inform others?

The Meaning of the Words of  Adhan

Firstly, the words (Allahu Akbar)  –  Allah is the greatest are recited  four times in a loud voice.  Greatness and majesty are for  Allah alone. He is the most  majestic and the greatest. He is  higher than everything.  Everything is a non-entity before  Him and under His command.  There is no reason why man  should submit to any force, no  matter how massive. By doing  this, he will destroy the nobility  of his humankind. 

This admission, four times, will  remove the fear and danger of  every kind of power and force from the heart and mind. After the  heart and mind have been  cleansed from all forces besides  Allah, say (Ash hadu an la ilaaha illa Allah) twice. This is a  testimony that there is no deity  besides Allah. Allah is the only  being that is great. Only He can  be worshipped and obeyed.  Contact must only be made with Him. He is the true deity to be  worshipped and is the creator of  the universe. Only His laws  should be obeyed who is the  owner of every place and time.  His reign is over all the worlds and the skies.

After testifying this two times,  man reaches his original nobility  of being a human. He is now  freed from the slavery of  everything besides Allah. He has  now made contact with his  Master, Lord, Owner, Creator and Sustainer. After embedding this  reality in the mind, a tremendous  revolution occurs in a person’s  life. All his emotions, ideologies,  thoughts and beliefs change. He abandons the entire creation and  becomes devoted to Allah alone  who controls the whole of  creation. His fear is removed  from every power.

Now he is not for the creation  and the whole creation becomes his. We are Muslims and the entire world is ours.

After admitting this reality, the  direction of man’s life changes.  Now, instead of following his  carnal self or shaytan, he obeys  Allah and His prophets (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam. He treads that  path of life which is open for him  from the first day. Therefore he  immediately announces another  reality: (Ash hadu anna Muhammadar Rasulullah) – I  bear witness that Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is the messenger of Allah.  

Since Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is the  messenger of Allah, whatever message he brought is also true.  Whatever laws of Allah he  conveyed are all correct. The path  he showed to mankind is the  actual path to success because it  is the path of all the messengers  and the accepted servants of Allah. His Shari’ah is the concise  embodiment of all the previous  religions. It contains the best  teachings of every Shari’ah.  Admitting the prophethood is  also an admission of tauhid  –  oneness – because all the  previous nations became  misguided due to granting their  leaders the status of godhood.  They began worshipping human  beings and discarded the Lord  of  the universe. They became misguided themselves and misguided others.  

When the prophethood of Nabi  (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is  announced and admitted, it  becomes an admission to the  truth of all the previous prophets  and divine books because Nabi  (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) testified to the truth  of all the previous apostles and scriptures. 

Now when the path of success,  salvation, worship and obedience  has been specified, invite others  towards it and call people from  all sides by saying, (Hayya alas salah) – come to prayer and  (Hayya alas falah) – come  to  success. This is what contains  the success of life in this world and salvation in the hereafter.

‘Allamah Qurtubi (rahimahullah)  states that in spite of the adhan  having concise words, it contains  all the essential beliefs because it  firstly contains the greatness of  Allah, which includes all the  attributes of perfection. Then it  announces pure tauhid –  oneness. This negates disbelief  and polytheism in totality. Then  it contains the admission of  risalah – prophethood. This  contains an admission of all the  factors that were sent via the  messenger. Then there is an invitation towards success,  salvation, worship and obedience. The success of the  hereafter is dependent on this.  The aims of the previous apostles  (alayhimussalaam) and all the divine religions are also included  in the adhan.

The Virtue of Iqamah

The virtue and greatness of  iqamah is the same as that of adhan. The only difference is that  the adhan is an invitation to all  the people towards Deen and an  open or general announcement  to present oneself in the court of Allah. 

Iqamah on the other hand is only  for the specific people who have  presented themselves in the court of Allah. They are sitting and  eagerly waiting in the musjid to be in front of Allah, to converse  and supplicate to Him and present their needs before Him. 

Therefore Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said that the person  who calls out the adhan should  recite the iqamah. The one who  announced to the people that  they should come for worship now has the right to make them stand up for prayer.

Adhan – An Amazing Discovery 

Adhan: an incredible medium for  the proclamation of Tauhid of  the Almighty Allah and the Risalah of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam),  the sound of which constantly  echoes around the globe. Indeed, a symbol of Islam.

Amazing though it sounds, but  fortunately for the Muslims of  the world, it is an established fact. Have a look at the map of the  world and you will find Indonesia (an Islamic country), right on the  eastern side of the earth’s  central land mass. Indonesia  consists of numerous small  islands, the principle ones amongst them being Java, Sumatra,  Borneo and Saibil, all of which  are well known. It is the largest  Islamic country in the world, with 180 million inhabitants. The  number of  non-Muslims here is negligible.

As soon as dawn breaks on the  eastern island of Saibil, at approximately 5:30 am local time,  Fajr Adhan begins. Thousands of  Muadhdhins in eastern Indonesia commence proclaiming the Tawhid (oneness) of the Almighty,  Omnipotent and Omniscient Allah and Risalah (universal apostleship) of the Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).

The process then continues and  advances towards the western  islands of Indonesia. The time  difference between the eastern  and western islands of Indonesia  is one and a half hours. Hence  one and a half hours after the  adhan has been completed in  Saibil, it echoes in Jakarta on  Java island. Sumatra then follows  suit and before this auspicious  process of the calling of adhan  ends in Indonesia, it has already begun in Malaysia. 

Burma is then next in line, and  within an hour of its commencement in Jakarta, it  reaches Dacca, the capital city of  Bangladesh. No sooner the  calling of adhan ends in Bangladesh, it has already  prevailed in western India, from  Calcutta to Srinigar. It then  advances towards Bombay and  the environment of the entire  India resounds with this august proclamation.

Srinigar and Sialkot (a city in north Pakistan) have the same  timing for adhan. The time difference  between Sialkot, Kota, Karachi  and Gowadar (a city in  Baluchistan, a province of  Pakistan) is forty minutes, and  within this time, Fajr adhan is  heard throughout Pakistan.  Before it ends there, however, it  has already begun in Afghanistan and Muscat. 

The time difference between  Muscat and Baghdad is one hour.  Adhan resounds during this one hour in the environments of  Hijaze Muqaddas (the holy cities  of Makkah and Madinah), Yemen,  United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq. The time difference between Baghdad and Alexandria (or Iskandariyyah as it is known in  Arabic) in Egypt is again one  hour. Adhan continues to  resound in Syria, Egypt, Somalia  and Sudan during this hour.  Alexandria and Istanbul (the  principle city of Turkey) are  situated on the same  geographical longitude. The time  difference between Eastern and  Western Turkey is one and a half hours, and during this time it is  echoed with the call to prayer. 

Alexandria and Tripoli (the capital  city of Libya) are located at an  hour’s difference from one  another. The process of calling  adhan thus continues throughout  the whole of Africa. Therefore,  the proclamation of the oneness  of Allah and the prophethood of  Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) that had begun in the  eastern islands of Indonesia  reaches the eastern shore of the  Atlantic ocean after nine and a half hours. 

Prior to the adhan reaching the  shores of the Atlantic, the process of Zuhr adhan has alreadycommenced in eastern Indonesia,  and before it reaches Dacca, ‘Asr  adhan has started. This has  hardly reached Jakarta when the  time of Maghrib becomes due,  an no sooner has Maghrib time reahed Sumatra, then the time  for calling the Isha adhan has  commenced in Saibil. When the  muadhdhins of Indonesia are  calling out the Fajr adhan, the  muadhdhins in Africa are calling out the adhan for Isha.

If we were to ponder over this  phenomenon seriously and studiously, we would conclude  the amazing fact that there is  not a single moment when  thousands, if not hundreds of  thousands of muadhdhins  around the world are not  proclaiming the oneness of Allah  and the apostleship of the noble  Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) on the surface  of this earth! Insha-allah, by the  will of Allah, the Almighty, this  universal and continuous calling  of the adhan shall not cease until  the day of Judgement, and we should all continue to make du’a  for the same.  [Adapted from the tabloid,  Ar-Rasheed November 1996]

The Rules of Adhan 

Adhan is the call to salah. It is  sunnah to recite the adhan for the five daily salahs and for Jumu’ah salah.

1.  If the adhan is being called  out for any salah, it is essential  that it be delivered during the  time of that salah. If the adhan is  delivered before the  commencement of the time, it  will not be valid. When the time  enters, the adhan will have to be  repeated irrespective of whether  it was for fajr salah or any other salah.

2.  The adhan and the iqamah  have to be in Arabic and in exactly the same words as  conveyed to us from Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). If the adhan is delivered in any other language, or in  Arabic, but in different words;  then this will not be valid even if,  upon hearing it, people understand it as adhan and the  purpose of adhan is fulfilled (i.e.  even if people respond to the  adhan by coming to offer their salah).

3.  It is necessary for the muadhdhin to be a male. The adhan of a female is not proper.  If a woman delivers the adhan, it  should be repeated. If salah is  offered without it being  repeated, it will be as if the salah  was offered without any adhan.

4.  It is necessary that the  muadhdhin be of sound intellect.  If a child who has not reached  the age of understanding, a  mentally deranged person or an intoxicated person delivers the  adhan; it will not be counted.

5.  The sunnah method of calling  out the adhan is that the person  calling out the adhan should be  free from the major and minor  impurities (hadath akbar and  hadath asghar). He should go to  an elevated place away from the  musjid, face the qiblah, insert  his  forefingers into both his ears,  and say the following words as  loud as possible without overstraining himself:
Allahu Akbar  four times,  
Ash hadu an la ilaha illa Allah twice,  
Ash hadu anna Muhammadar  Rasulullah  twice,  
Hayya alas salah  twice,  
Hayya alal falah  twice,  
Allahu Akbar  twice again, and  
La ilaha illa Allah  once.

When saying Hayya alas salah, he should turn his face towards the  right in such a way that his chest  and feet do not turn away from  the qiblah. When saying Hayya alas falah, he should turn his  face towards the left in such a way that his chest and feet do  not turn away from the qiblah.

In the fajr adhan, after saying  Hayya alas falah, he should add  the  words:

As-Salahu khayrum minan naum twice.

The total number of sentences  of adhan are therefore fifteen  while there are seventeen  sentences for the adhan of Fajr.

The words of the adhan should  not be uttered in a singing tune,  nor should they be uttered in  such a way that some of the words are said loudly while others are said softly. 

After saying Allahu Akbar twice,  the muadhdhin should wait to  the extent that the person who is listening to the adhan can reply to it.  

Apart from Allahu Akbar, even for  the other sentences, he should  wait for a similar period before  continuing with the following sentences.

6.  The method of iqamah is also  the same. The difference is that  it is preferable to call out the adhan  outside the musjid, while the iqamah is called out inside. 

Adhan is called out in a loud tone  while iqamah is called out in a comparatively lower tone. 

In iqamah one does not say  As-salahu  khairun  minan naum‛.  Instead, for all the five salahs,  one has to say Qad qamatis salah‛ two times. 

When saying the iqamah, one  does not have to insert one’s  fore-fingers into one’s ears. The  reason for inserting the fingers  into the ears is to raise the voice  and this is not necessary when saying the iqamah

During the iqamah, it is not  necessary to turn to the right and left when saying Hayya alas  salah  and Hayya alal falah. However, some jurists are in favour of this.

More Rules Concerning the Adhan and Iqamah

1.  For  every fard-e-ayn salah, it  is sunnat-e-mu’akkadah for males  to call out the adhan once. This is irrespective of whether a person  is a traveller or not, whether he is  performing the salah in  congregation or alone, or whether he is performing a qada salah  or  not. For jumu’ah salah, the adhan should be called out twice.

2.  If a salah was missed for a  reason in which all the people  were involved, then the adhan  for that salah should be delivered  aloud. If it was missed for some specific reason, it should be  delivered secretly in a soft voice  so that people do not come to  know of any missed salah by  hearing the adhan aloud. The  reason for this is that missing a  salah is a sign of negligence and  laziness and to be negligent and  lazy in the affairs of Deen is a sin. It is not appropriate to announce or expose one’s sins.

If several salahs were missed and  all are being performed at one  time, it will be sunnah to call out  the adhan for the first time only.  As for the other salahs, only the  iqamah is sunnah. However, it is  mustahab to call out the adhan  for each salah separately.

3.  If a person is travelling and all  his companions are present with  him, it is mustahab and not  sunnat-e-mu’akkadah, for him to deliver the adhan.

4.  If a person offers his salah at  home, whether alone or in congregation, then both the  adhan and the iqamah will be mustahab for him on condition  that the adhan and iqamah of  the musjid of that area or town  has already been called out. This  is so because the adhan and  iqamah of the area is sufficient  for all the residents of that neighbourhood.

5.  If a person goes to a musjid in  which the adhan, iqamah and  salah has already been  performed, it will be makruh for  him to deliver the adhan and  iqamah when offering his own  salah. However, if that musjid  does not have any appointed  imam or muadhdhin, it will not be  makruh, but preferable.

6.  If a person is in a place in  which all the conditions for Jumu’ah salah are found and  Jumu’ah is even performed there,  yet despite this, he offers Zuhr  salah instead of Jumu’ah salah, it  will be makruh for him to call out  the adhan and iqamah. This is  irrespective of whether he offers  the Zuhr salah due to some excuse or not, or whether he offers it  before the completion of the  Jumu’ah salah or after its  completion.

7.  It is makruh for women to call  out the adhan and iqamah  irrespective of whether they are  offering their salah in congregation or individually.

8.  Apart from the fard-e-ayn  salahadhan for any other salah  is not prescribed  –  irrespective  of whether it is a fard-e-kifayah  salah, such as janazah salah, or a  waajib salah, such as witr salah,  the salahs of  Id; or whether it is a nafl salah.

9.  It is mustahab for the person  who hears the adhan to reply to  it, irrespective of whether he is a  male or female, in a state of  purity or impurity. Some ulama  have said that it is wajib.  But the  preferred opinion is that it is mustahab.

Replying to the adhan means  that the words which the muadhdhin says should be  repeated. However, when replying to Hayya alas salah and Hayya  alal falah, he should say, La hawla wa la quwwata illa billahil aliyyil azīm. 

For As-salaho khairun minan  naum, he should say Sadaqta wa bararta.

After the adhan, he should send salutations to Rasulullah (sallallaahu alay and then read the following dua: 

10. On hearing the adhan of Jumu’ah, it is wajib to leave whatever one may be occupied with, and go for the Jumu’ah salah to the Jame Musjid. It is haram to occupy oneself in any transaction or any other sort of work. 

11. Replying to the iqamah is also mustahab and not wajib. In replying to Qad qamatis salah, one should say Aqamahallahu wa adamaha

12. In eight situations, an answer to the adhan should not be given: 
(1) while offering salah
(2) while listening to a khutbah irrespective of whether it is a khutbah of Jumu’ah or any other khutbah
(3) when one is in a state of haid,
(4) when one is in a state of nifas,  (5) while one is teaching or learning the knowledge of Deen,  (6) while one is having sexual intercourse, 
(7)  while one is relieving oneself,   (8)  while one is eating, i.e. it is  not necessary.

After having completed these occupations and much time has not lapsed since  hearing the adhan, one should  reply to it, otherwise one should  not reply.

It is not necessary for the  person who is calling out the adhan to respond to the adhan as well.

13. If a person forgets to reply to  the adhan or intentionally does  not reply to it and on the  completion of the adhan, he  remembers or decides to reply to  it, he should reply to it if much  time has not lapsed, otherwise he should not reply.

14.  If considerable time has  passed after having called out the iqamah  and the congregation  has not stood up as yet, the  iqamah should be repeated. But  if  much time has not passed, it does not have to be repeated. 

The iqamah for Fajr Salah has  been called out but the imam  has not offered his sunnah salah  of Fajr as yet. If he occupies  himself in offering his sunnah,  then the time that he takes will  not be regarded as a long time  and it will therefore not be  necessary to repeat the iqamah. However, if one occupies oneself  with something that is not a part  of salah, such as eating and  drinking, then in this case the iqamah will have to be repeated.

15.  While the muadhdhin calls  out the adhan; he dies, falls  unconscious, his voice breaks  down completely or he forgets  and there is no one to correct  him, or his wudu breaks and he  rushes to repeat it – in all these  cases, it will be sunnat-e-mu’akkadah to repeat the adhan.

16.  If a person’s wudu breaks  while he is calling out the adhan  or iqamah, it will be preferable for  him to complete the adhan or iqamah and thereafter perform his wudu.

17. It is makruh for one muadhdhin to call out the adhan in two  musjids. He should call out the  adhan in the musjid in which he offers his fard salah.

18.  It is the right of the person  who calls out the adhan to call  out the iqamah as well. But if  after calling out the adhan, he  goes away somewhere or permits  someone else to call out the  iqamah, it is permissible for that  person to call out the iqamah.

19.  It is permissible for several  muadhdhins to call out the adhan at the same time.

20.  The muadhdhin should  complete his iqamah at the place  where he commenced it. He  should not move from place to place while reciting the iqamah.

21.  Niyyah is not a condition for  adhan and iqamah. However, one  is not rewarded without making  an intention. The intention is  that one is calling out the adhan  solely for the pleasure of Allah  and for the reward of it, and for no other reason.

The Sunnats and Mustahabs of Adhan and Iqamah 

The sunnats of adhan and  iqamah are of two types. Some are related to the muadhdhin  while others are related to the  adhan and iqamah. We will first  mention the sunnats related  to  the muadhdhin, and then those  that are related to the adhan and iqamah.

Sunnats related to the muadhdhin
1.  The muadhdhin has to be a  male. The adhan and iqamah of a  female is makruh-e-tahrimi. If a  woman calls out the adhan, it will  have to be repeated, but not the iqamah. This is so because  repetition of the iqamah is not stipulated as opposed to the repetition of the adhan.

2.  The muadhdhin has to be of  sound mind. The adhan and  iqamah of a mentally deranged  person, intoxicated person or an  immature child is makruh. Their  adhan will have to be repeated and not their iqamah.

3.  The muadhdhin must know  the necessary rules applicable to  him and he must also know the  times of the different salahs.  If  an ignorant person calls out  the adhan, he will not obtain the  same reward as that of a qualified muadhdhin.

4.  The muadhdhin must be pious  and religiously-minded and he  must be aware of the condition  of the people – reminding those  who do not attend the  congregation. He must do this if  he has no fear of anyone causing  harm to him.

5. The muadhdhin must have a loud voice.

Sunnats related to the adhan and iqamah

1.  The adhan should be called  out at an elevated place outside  the musjid. The iqamah should  be called out inside the musjid. To  call out the adhan inside the  musjid is makruh-e-tanzihi.  However, it is not makruh to call  out the second adhan of Jumu’ah  inside the musjid in front of the  pulpit (mimbar). In fact, this is  practised in all the Muslim  countries.

2.  The adhan has to be called out  in a standing position. If anyone  calls it out while sitting, it will be  makruh and it will have to be  repeated. However, if a traveller  is on his mount or a person  delivers adhan for his own salah,  it will not have to be repeated.

3.  The adhan has to be called out  in a loud voice. However, if a  person is calling out the adhan  for his own salah, he has the  choice to say it aloud or softly.  Even then, there is more reward in saying it aloud.

4.  It is mustahab to insert the  fore-fingers into the ears at the time of calling out the adhan.

5.  The words of the adhan  should be said with a pause between them, while the iqamah  should be said quickly. In other  words, when saying the takbirs  of the adhan, the muadhdhin  should pause after every two  takbirs so that those who are  listening to the adhan can  repeat the words. Apart from the  takbirs, he should pause after every sentence and thereafter  continue with the next sentence.  If, due to some reason, he does  not pause in this way, it will be mustahab to repeat the adhan

If the iqamah was called out by  pausing, it is not mustahab to repeat it.

6.  When calling out the adhan, it  is sunnah to turn towards the  right and left when saying Hayya  alas salah and Hayya alal falah.  This is irrespective of whether  the adhan is for a salah or for  some other reason. However, his chest and feet should not turn away from the qiblah.

7.  The Adhan and iqamah should be called while facing the qiblah  as long as one is not mounted  on an animal. It is makruh-e-tanzihi to call out the adhan and  iqamah while one is not facing the qiblah.

8.  At the time of calling out the  adhan, it is necessary for the  person to be pure from hadath-e-akbar (major impurity) and  mustahab to be pure from both  the major and minor impurities.  At the time of calling out the iqamah, it is necessary to be pure  from both the impurities. If a  person calls out the adhan while  in a state of hadath-e-akbar, it  will be makruh-e-tahrimi and it  will be mustahab to repeat that  adhan. Similarly, if a person calls  out the iqamah while in a state  of major or minor impurity, it will  be makruh-e-tahrimi but it is not mustahab to repeat the iqamah.

9.  It is sunnah to say the words  of the adhan and iqamah in  sequence. If an error is made in  the order of the adhan or  iqamah, such an error should be  rectified by repeating the  misplaced sentence in its proper  sequence, e.g a person  says,

Ash hado anna Muhammadar  Rasulullah before Ash hado an la  ilsha illa Allahu,  
or he says, Hayya alal falah before  Hayya alas salah.

In the first instance, the  sequence of the adhan is set in order by calling out,  
Ash hado an la ilaha illa Allahu   and then repeating,
Ash hado anna Muhammadar  Rasulullah.

In the second instance, after  saying,
Hayya alas salah,  
he  should  repeat,
Hayya alal falah. 

It is not necessary to repeat the entire adhan.

10.  While calling out the adhan  and iqamah, no other words  should be spoken (This ruling is  for the muadhdhin. It is not proper for those listening to the adhan and iqamah to talk, recite the  Quran or occupy themselves in  any other task. They should  concentrate in replying to the  adhan and iqamah. If a person is  reciting the Qur’an, he should  stop and concentrate on replying to the adhan and iqamah), even if  they be a greeting or a reply to a  greeting. If a person speaks while  calling out the adhan or iqamah  and he spoke considerably, he should repeat the adhan and not the iqamah.

Miscellaneous Questions Regarding Adhan

Question: Is it permissible to kiss  the thumbs upon hearing the name of Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) during the adhan?

Answer: Kissing the thumbs  upon hearing the name of  Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) has no basis in the Shari’ah.

Question: I noticed that the  muazzin in our mosque, before  giving adhan recites the  following durood – sallallaho alan Nabiyye ummiye wa alihi sallallahoalayhi wassalam as salatau wa  salaman alayka ya rasoollah. Is it  correct to recite this before giving adhan as well as before iqamah?

Answer: If it is done silently by  himself, then any form of Durood or Dhikr may be recited. The  word, ‘Ya Rasulullah’ should not  be used since many people  attach wrong beliefs to these  words. If these words are said  aloud like the words of the  Adhan and Iqamat, it is a bid’ah  (innovation) and will be haraam.

Question: In replying to the  adhan, should we say “sallahu  alahai wasallam” while replying  to “Ashadu Anna Muhammed ar Rasoolullah”? Are we supposed  to say “sallahu  alahi wasallam”? 

Answer: According to the  narrators of Hadith, we are  supposed to repeat the exact  words of the muadhdhin except  for ‘Hayya alas Salah’ and ‘Hayya  alal Falah’, There is no mention  of saying the words, ‘Sallallahu  Alayhi Wasallam’. However, if one  does so, without thinking it to be necessary, then there is no harm in it. 

Question: Is the hadith that  mentions replying back to  ‘Qadqamatis Salah” unauthentic?

Answer: This Hadith is recorded  by Imam Abu Dawud in his Sunan, Hadith  529. The chain of  narrators have been classified as  weak (in Mukhtasar al-Munzhiri,  vol.1 pg.285). However, such a  Hadith can be used to establish  a mustahab act. The fact that it is  weak does not necessitate its total rejection.

Question: The purpose of  installing a transmitter and receivers at homes is because the  adhan could not be heard with  the normal microphone system.  Is it permissible to install transmitters? At present the  adhan, Jumu’ah khutbah and other special programs are being transmitted.

Answer: To install transmitters  is  mubah (permissible). There is no prohibition in Shari’ah for that. 

The transmitters serve as a reminder for salat and an ideal opportunity for womenfolk to  benefit from the discourses of the Ulama in the Musjid.

Question: In our town there are  many adhans all at once. Should  we wait for all the adhans to be  over before praying. Sometimes we cannot hear the adhan properly.

Answer: A person should answer  and comply with the adhan of his  or her Musjid, i.e. the Musjid  nearest to one’s house. There is no need to wait for all the adhans to finish.

Question: In our musjid, the  adhan is recited quite loudly over  the loudspeaker. The non-Muslim  residents become annoyed. Should the loudspeaker not be  toned down to avoid dispute and ill-feeling with the non-Muslim neighbours?

Answer: Yes, the system should  be toned down. The Shari’ah  does not instruct that the adhan  be recited over a microphone system nor does it have to be excessively loud. 

Question: Should the musallis  respond to the second adhan  recited in front of the mimbar on Fridays?

Answer: The response should be  in the mind, without any lip or tongue movement. The  du’a too  should be read in the mind.

Question: If the muadhdhin’s  wudu breaks during the adhan,  what should he do?

Answer: He should complete the  adhan.

Question: When reciting the  Iqamah, should the muadhdhin  stand immediately behind the imam in the first saff?

Answer: The iqamah may be  recited from any position in any  saff. No specific place has been allocated for the iqamah.

Question: What should be done  if the adhan commences while one is reciting the Qur’an or performing wudu?

Answer: Halt the recitation of the  Qur’an and respond to the adhan.  One may resume the recitation  after reciting the dua after adhan

If the adhan begins while one is performing wudu, continue with the wudu, but respond to the  adhan as well.

Question: In my masjid, the  words,  ‘Ya  Rasulallah‛ are said  after adhan and also by the Imam  in the Friday Khutbah. Is this permissible?

Answer: ‘Abdur-Rahman Ibn Abi  Layla (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Ka’b Ibn ‘Ujra (radhiyallahu anhu) met me in the Musjid. He  said to me, ‘Should I not gift you  something that I had heard from  Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)?’ I replied, ‘Most  certainly, please do so.’ He said,  ‘We asked Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), ‘O Rasul of  Allah, how should we send salat  (blessings) upon you and the  Ahlul-Bayt (members of  your  household)? For Allah has shown  us only how to send salams  (salutations) upon you (but  not  Salat)?’ Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) replied, ‘Say, O Allah,  send Salat (blessings) upon Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) like how you sent them  upon Ibrahim (alayhissalaam). Verily You are the most worthy of  praise, most honourable (the  formula of Durood-e-Ibrahim).’ [Sahih Bukhari and Muslim]

In this Hadith (tradition), Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) taught  his Sahaba (radhiyallahu anhum)  the way of sending Salat and  Salam (blessings and salutations)  upon him. Also we see no  similarity between the way  taught by Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and the baseless  custom prevailing nowadays.

Undoubtedly, Salat is a powerful  blessing and a means of great  rewards, provided it is carried out  in the way shown by our beloved  Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).  Neither has Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) nor the Sahaba  (Radhiyallahu Anhum), Tabi’in  (Rahimahumullah) and pious predecessors specified any time or mode for reciting of Durud and  Salam as is the practice  nowadays. Neither did any of the  Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) nor Tabi’in carry out the practice  that is now prevalent. In fact,  they strongly opposed such innovations. 

To specify certain times, e.g. after Fard (obligatory) prayers or after  Jumu’ah, likewise, after adhan  and to recite in a loud voice or in  group form, etc. and to regard these practices as necessary and  part of Deen is undoubtedly an innovation. It is narrated that Ibn  Mas’ud (radhiyallahu anhu) once  heard of a group that had  gathered in a Musjid reciting the  Kalimah and Durud and Salam in  a loud voice. He immediately confronted them and said,  ‘This  is a practice we have not seen in  the time of Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). I regard you all  to be only innovators.’ He  continued to say this until he  chased them all out of the  Musjid.  

Most definitely, we should make  it a practice to recite Durud and  Salam on Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) as much as possible,  but we should be careful to do  this only in the way shown to us by Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) himself.  [Ahsanul  Fatawa vol.1 pg.363 ]

The Philosophy of Adhān

The following is an in-depth  study into the inception and establishment of the adhan as  expounded by Moulana Idris Kandhelwi in his book, Seeratul Mustafa.

After Iman (belief), Salah  occupies the loftiest status in Islam. The performance of Salah  with Jama‘at is of supreme  importance. It is somewhat  problematic for all the people to  gather at a specific place and  time without any form of  announcement. When Rasulullah  (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) brought this up in a consultation,  someone suggested lighting a fire. Another person suggested  the chiming of bells whilst another proposed blowing a  trumpet. Rasulullsh (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) loathed the use  of fire as this bore resemblance  to the Zoroastrians. He objected  to the chiming of bells due to its  resemblance to the practice of  the Christians and he was  opposed to the use of a trumpet  as it may be tantamount to  emulation of the Jews. Without  reaching any firm decision, the  gathering broke up and everyone returned home.

During this period, ‘Abdullah Ibn  Zaid (radhiyallahu anhu) was  shown the celebrated dream of  adhan and iqamah. When he  related his dream to Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), the latter remarked:  ‘This dream is true.‛  In other  words, this dream is from Allah  and it is free of nafsani (sensual)  and Shaytani (satanic) influence.  Although a categorical injunction  cannot be established on the  basis of a pious dream or  inspiration, yet the endorsement  issued by Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) of the contents  of this dream has actually made  it acquire the status of divine  revelation. Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) instructed the Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) to  call out the adhan using the  same words. The adhan subsequently became one of the sha‘air (salient features) of Deen.

Then again, the configuration  and sequence of the words of  adhan is also remarkable. These  few words sum up the three basic fundamentals of Islam; tauhid  (oneness of Allah Ta‘ala), risalat  (prophethood) and the hereafter.  The words Allahu Akbar describe  the greatness and magnanimity  of Allah Ta‘ala. The words Ash-hadu Alla ilaha Ilallah confirm the tauhid (oneness of Allah Ta‘ala)  and negate polytheism. The  words Ash-hadu Anna Muhammadar-Rasulullah affirm  the prophethood of Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). They are a  proclamation of the fact that we have recognised Allah Ta‘ala and  the method of worshipping Him  through the medium of none  other than Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). 

Following this proclamation of tauhid and risalat, the greatest form of devotion is salah and to  this objective thewords of ‘Hayya ‘Alas-Salah’, summon the  believers. And with the words  ‘Hayya ‘Alal Falah’, a call to  perpetual success is made and  these words are a subtle  reference to the hereafter as well. In other words, if you desire  eternity and perpetual success,  apply yourself to the sole worship of Allah Ta‘ala. The word success  refers to the  success of the  hereafter. And finally the adhan  is terminated with the opening  words of Allahu Akbar Allahu  Akbar La Ilaha Ilallah. In other  words, Allah Ta‘ala is the greatest and nobody is entitled to  worship and devotion but Him. (Imam Qurtubi and others say:  ‘The adhan, in spite of its limited  number of words, comprises of a  number of articles of faith. It  commences with the greatness  of Allah Ta‘ala. This also includes  the very presence of Allah Ta‘ala. Thereafter, it mentions tauhid  and negates shirk (polytheism).  It then declares the risalat (prophethood) of Muhammad  Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). Immediately after  Shahadah, it summons (the  faithful) to a specific form of devotion because the knowledge  of this devotion could only be  gleaned from Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).  Thereafter it calls to success and  this success is a reference to an  eternal success. And in this is a  subtle indication towards the  hereafter. Finally the adhan,  repeats the opening words to addmore emphasis to (its message).‛ [Fathul-Bari volume 2, page 62)]

The person whom Allah Ta‘ala  has granted a little common  sense will, by merely glancing  over the translation of the  adhan, realise that the adhan is  an embodiment of d‘awat  (invitation) to the truth and it is  a voice that invites towards Allah  Ta‘ala. On the contrary, the  chimes of the Christians, the  trumpet of the Jews and the  conch-shell of the Hindus are  merely objects of play and  amusement. With the  proclamation of Allah’s greatness  and grandeur, with the  declaration of His oneness and  divinity, a devotee is able to  reach Allah. He will never be able  to reach the Almighty with the thumping of drums or the clanging of bells.

Persian couplet: “The path you  are treading on is the path that  leads to Turkey (whilst your  intention is to go elsewhere)”

It seems like the words of the  adhan were sanctioned through a dream because the adhan  embraces proclamation of the  prophethood of Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). And to publicly proclaim this  prophethood and to invite  towards his Deen is a compulsion upon the servants and devotees.

Persian couplet: “It is better and  more satisfying when the  mysteries of the beloved are  expressed by someone else.”

On the night of M‘iraj, Allah  Ta‘ala directly instructed Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) to establish Salah.  And Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) also heard the words  of the adhan being called out as  he was ascending and  descending the levels of the heavens. It appears in Khasaisul-Kubra  on the authority of Hadhrat ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) that an  angel called out the adhan in the  heavens and Rasulullah  (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam)  heard it. [Khasaisul-Kubra volume 1 page 164] 

Hadhrat ‘Ayeshah (radhiyallahu anha) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said: ‘Jibril called out the adhan in  the  sky and he urged me forward to lead the Salah. So I led the angels  in prayer.‛   [Khasaisul-Kubra volume 1, page  176] 

Furthermore, after hijrah, when  the need arose for a public announcement to summon the faithful to salah, ‘Abdullah Ibn  Zaid (radhiyallahu anhu) was  taught the words of the adhan and iqamah in a dream. When he  heard the dream being related to  him by ‘Abdullah Ibn Zaid  (radhiyallahu anhu), Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) instantly  realised that these were the  words of adhan and iqamah  he had heard whilst in M‘iraj. This  is why, on hearing the words, he  spontaneously declared: ‘This is  an authentic dream.‛  In other  words, this dream precisely corresponds to what I had heard  whilst awake on the night of M‘iraj.

There are conflicting narrations  in regards to the (number of)  words of the adhan and iqamah.  According to the adhan of Abu Mahdhurah (radhiyallahu anhu),  tarj‘i  (A reference to certain  words of the adhan being repeated; first softly and then  relatively loudly) is an integral  part of the adhan. Hence, the  adhan will comprise of nineteen words whilst the iqamah will  comprise of seventeen words.  Imam Shafi‘i (Rahimahullah) has  opted for the adhan of Abu Mahzurah (radhiyallahu anhu).

Imam Abu Hanifah  (Rahimahullah) has preferred the adhan of ‘Abdullah Ibn Zaid  (radhiyallahu anhu) because  after all, the actual legislation of  the adhan is linked to the dream  of  ‘Abdullah Ibn Zaid  (radhiyallahu anhu). Furthermore, Hadhrat ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) also had the identical  dream that corresponds to the  adhan of ‘Abdullah Ibn Zaid (radhiyallahu anhu).

Shaikh Ibn I‘lan Makkirm (rahimahullah) writes in Sharh Kitabul Adhkar, volume 2 page 70, that it is cited in Tabrani’s Awsat that Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu anhu) also saw the identical dream.

Then Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) declared the dream to  be authentic and instructed Bilal  (radhiyallahu anhu) to call out  the adhan accordingly because  the adhan of ‘Abdullah Ibn Zaid (radhiyallahu anhu) was identical to the adhan Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) heard Jibril (alayhissalaam) calling out in the heavens when he  undertook his journey of M‘iraj. And at the urging of Jibril  (alayhissalaam), Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) led the  angels in salah. It appears in a  Hadith that when ‘Abdullah Ibn Zaid (radhiyallahu anhu) related  his dream to Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), he  advised him, ‘Teach the words of  adhan you were taught in the dream to Bilal because he has a louder voice than you.‛  

Thereafter, during the lifetime of  Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and in his very  presence, Bilal (radhiyallahu anhu) continued calling out the adhan  in exactly the same words that  were taught to him by ‘Abdullah Ibn Zaid (radhiyallahu anhu).

Furthermore, on the basis of  authentic and explicit Ahadith,  it  is categorically established that  the adhan of ‘Abdullah Ibn Zaid (radhiyallahu anhu) did not  contain tarj‘i.  Also, as mentioned  above, Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu anhu) and ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) saw exactly the same  dream as ‘Abdullah Ibn Zaid  radhiyallahu anhu (and  this  dream makes no mention of tarj‘i).
For these reasons, Imam Abu Hanifah (Rahimahullah) pronounces the adhan of  ‘Abdullah Ibn Zaid (radhiyallahu anhu) that is mentioned in a number of Ahadith as more appropriate.

Since the adhan is one of the  Shi‘ar (salient features) of Islam  and its words contain a form of  distinctive spiritual illumination  and barakat (blessings), the  Shari‘ah has enjoined calling out  the adhan in the ear of a newborn child so that the words of tauhid  and risalat are the first words to  land on the child’s ears upon his  entry into this world. This will  enable the child to renew his  pact of alastu  [ i.e. A reference to  the pact every soul had taken with Allah Ta‘ala in the realm of  souls wherein Allah Ta‘ala questioned the souls saying:  ‘Alastu Birabbikum….‛ (Am I not  your Lord?) Hence the name ‘the  realm of Alastu’.] 

The Benefit of Responding to the Adhan

The adhan is called out for the  fard salats. For those who listen  to the adhan, according to some  scholars it is mustahabb  (preferable) to respond to the  adhan while others are of the  view that it is wajib (compulsory). [Namaze Masnun p.253.]

The person who responds to the  adhan regularly with respect and  reverence and shuns all innovations, will Insha Allah, be blessed  with uttering the kalimah i.e La ilaha ilah Allah at the time of  death. What greater good  fortune can there be? Moulana  Zul Fiqar Ahmad Naqshbandi  (Damat Barakatuhum) has on  numerous occasions quoted Moulana Ahmad Ali Lahori  (Rahimahullah) as saying that it  was his experience that whoever  regularly responded to the adhan  was granted the good fortune of reciting the kalimah at the time  of death. [Nabi Karim Ki Pasandidah Namaz, p. 143]

The reason for this is that when  one is about to die, those around  him are commanded to recite the  kalimah in a loud voice, so that  he could hear it and also begin  reciting the same. He must not  be commanded to read the kalimah. The same condition is  found in responding to the  adhan, namely, one person is  calling out the kalimah and the  listener is responding to it. In  this manner, a habit is created in  the listener to recite the kalimah  as soon as he hears it. This habit  will be of immense benefit at the time of death. 

One who is not in the habit of  responding to the adhan, may  perhaps say, ‘onions, potatoes‛ or begin singing or doing some  action that he habitually  committed during the course of  his life. Some people respond by  saying, ‘I have committed sins my  whole life. Now what benefit is there in reciting the kalimah?‛ In  this way, a person rejects the  kalimah at this most crucial hour.  May Allah save us from an evil  consequence.

How Do We Treat Our Muadhdhins
When the musjid committee  employs a muadhdhin, there is no  clear-cut job description  detailing what is expected of  him. As a result, the muadhdhin  find himself responsible to the  entire congregation, rather than  the appropriate authorities. He is  thus expected to be a security  officer, a toilet cleaner or a  gardener coupled with the noble task of calling out the adhan

Similarly, there is a stark lack of  consideration for the duration of  service when it comes to leave,  allowances, etc. Muadhdhins are  totally neglected in the field of education and training and there  is an absence of opportunities  for personal development. Many  muadhdhins undergo poor social  conditions because their living quarters are not conducive to  decent living standards. Muadhdhins generally hold the  perception that conditions of  employment such as punctuality  for salah are not uniformly  enforced between them and the  imams, who may sometimes be  late or even absent from salah without the reprimands the muadhdhins receive. 

The musjid trustees assume a  position of authority which has  to be discharged with  compassion and justice. Nabi (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said,  ‘Woe to the rulers, leaders and  trustees. On the day of  Resurrection, some people will  wish they could be suspended  between the heaven and the  earth rather than having to face  the burden of their  responsibilities.‛ [Sahih Ibn  Hibban]

After all, the muadhdhin is a  human being who can err and  slip. Overlook his faults and treat  him justly just as you would treat  any other human being. He is  entitled to decent working conditions and a reasonable salary.

Why Zuhr and ‘Asr Salaah are Non-Audible??


Ever wondered why the Jama’at Salaah of Zuhr  and ‘Asr  are Non-Audible while Fajr, Maghrib & ‘Isha Salaah are audible (i.e. recitation in Qiyaam with loud voice)??

The Sunnah of Non-Audible Salaah of Zuhr and ‘Asr  traces its practice way-back to the early days of Islam!

Hadhrat Maulana Shah Waliullah Al Dehlwi (rahmatullah alayh) explains it in his famous treatise Hujjatullah lil Balighah:

“During the initial days of Islam, to read Salaat or the Qur’an loudly during day time invited hard punishments, ostracization and even death. The Muslims were scared and were forced to read the salaat  in silence. At dusk, when people went back to their homes and the markets emptied, then Muslims could find courage to raise their voices while reading Salaat and Qur’an. Similarly, during Fajr  there were not many who would object to prayers in loud voice.

Even great Sahaabi like Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu anhu) was almost forced to leave his house because the Makkan’s did not like him reading Qur’an loudly. They were afraid that children who heard him and imitated him were actually learning from him. This was not acceptable to them. He was asked to either read the Qur’an without volume or leave the city. He was lucky that Abu Darda’ (radhiyallahu anhu) offered him protection and he could stay in his house. [Later Hadhrat Abu Darda’ (radhiyallahu anhu)  revoked the protection and Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu anhu) retorted that he did not need protection of man – Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala was enough for him.]

In remembrance of the hardhips faced by our Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and the Sahaabah (ridhwanallahu anhum) during the early days, we pray our Zuhr and ‘Asr salaah in slow voices, as they used to.”