Call to Prayer - the Adthan
Anyone who has travelled to a Muslim majority country is familiar with the melodic sounds coming from mosque loud speakers five times a day. Muslims do not use bells to call the faithful to the mosque. Instead they use what is known as the adhann (the call to prayer). The adhann is very melodic and is said in the original Arabic language. The words and format of the adhann were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. It also has a very beautiful meaning – here is the English translation:
Allah is the greatest. (4x)
I testify that there is no god but Allah. (2x)
I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. (2x)
Hasten to prayer. (2x)
Hasten to the best of deeds. (2x)
Allah is the greatest. (2x)
There is no god but Allah. (1x)
What's with all the praying!
Some people are under the impression that Muslims are constantly praying. In fact, devout Muslims do pray five times a day. It’s a type of mindful, ritualized prayer. Altogether, Muslim prayers take up less than an hour in any given day.
What is said during the prayers is a combination of recitation of verses of the Quran as well as a variety of statements praising God. The form of the prayer was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad and Muslims adhere to this form until today.
The five prescribed Muslim prayers are as follows:
- Fajr (the dawn prayer). This prayer is done between the time that the first ray of sunlight appears in the sky, and the time that the sun actually arises.
- Zhuhr (the noon prayer). This prayer is specifically intended for the time immediately after the sun passes the noon position. It can, however, be done up until the time of the next prayer - Asr.
- Asr (the afternoon prayer). This prayer is done after the noon prayer, and before sunset.
- Maghrib (the sunset prayer). This prayer is done immediately after the sun disappears below the horizon.
- Isha (the night prayer). This prayer is performed any time 90 minutes after the sunset prayer, up until just before midnight.
All in all, devoting an hour a day to show respect to the Creator doesn’t seem unreasonable.
Praying at work, school or in public
All that is required is a clean and quite place. Thus you may see Muslims praying at their work place, place of study or even in public. The time that’s needed for a prayer and the purification rituals that precede it can easily fit into a 15-minute coffee break.
Depending upon a Muslim's schedule and the time of year, they many be praying one or more prayers at their place of work or study. There are fixed times during the day for the prayers. God, in His wisdom, asks that we take a spiritual break at regular intervals though out the day. Thus it is unreasonable to ask a Muslim for example to complete all their prayers before they come to work. Most employers are accommodating, so for Muslims, incorporating prayer into their daily lives isn’t difficult.
Muslims are expected to attend Friday congregational prayers at the Mosque. It is known as Jummah prayer in Arabic, which mean gathering, or congregational prayer. Jummah is performed just after noon.
The prayer is an obligation for all men and is optional for women. This gathering is intended to maintain congeniality and strong community bonds. The Prophet Muhammad would make the sermon on this day short, poignant and relevant to community affairs. It was a reminder to the people to be thankful to God and to practice good deeds.
What About Work and School
The Friday prayer in most communities in North America falls later than the regular lunch hour. This means that Muslims will be seeking permission from their employer or school to attend the prayer. It is a legal right for Muslims to be accommodated to perform this compulsory act of worship. Both Muslim workers and employers are often flexible in arriving at a situation that suits everyone.
Muslim communities in Western countries are very aware of the obligations of the worshipers attending the prayer. Sermons are kept brief and attendees are able to perform the Friday prayer within one to two hours depending upon travel times.