QUESTION: Was the adhan (call to prayer) suggested to our Prophet Muhammed (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) by another Muslim or an inspiration that was inspired to him?
ANSWER: Praise be to Allaah. "Adhaan" in Arabic means conveying; in Islaam it means announcing that the time (for prayer) has come. It was prescribed during the time of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) in Madeenah.
A Clear Dream
According to the hadeeth of Abd-Allaah ibn Zayd ibn Abd Rabbihi, when the Messenger of Allaah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) decided to use a bell even though he disliked it because it was like what the Christians used, there appeared to me in a dream a man who was wearing two green garments, in whose hand was a bell. I said, "Oh slave of Allaah, will you sell that bell?" he said, What will you do with it?"I said, We will call the people to prayer with it."He said, "Shall I not show you something better than that?" I said, Yes. He said, "Say, Allaahu akbar Allaah akbar ... (to the end of the adhaan). "When morning came, I went to the Messenger of Allaah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) and told him what I had seen. He said, "This is a true dream, in sha Allaah. Get up with Bilaal and tell him what you have seen, so that he can give the call, because he has a more beautiful voice than you. "So I got up with Bilaal and started telling him what I had seen, and he gave the call to prayer.
Umar ibn al-Khattaab heard that whilst he was in his house, and he came out, dragging his cloak behind him, saying, "By the One Who sent you with the truth, Oh Messenger of Allaah, I saw the same as he saw." The Messenger of Allaah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: "To Allaah be praise. " (Ahmad).
Not A Suggestion
It is clear from this hadeeth that the words of the adhaan came in a dream which was seen by a great sahaabi and approved of by our great Prophet. They were not a suggestion as you mentioned, but a dream, and it is known that dreams are one of the seventy parts of prophethood, because it was stated in a hadeeth narrated by Ibn Urnar that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: "Dreams are one of the seventy parts of Prophethood." (Ahmad).
Al-Bukhaari narrated a different version: "True dreams are one of the forty-six parts of prophethood. " The dream here, which the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) described as a true dream ,came from Allaah and was not a suggestion from a person. So it was a part of prophethood because it was approved of by the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) and was described by him as a true dream. If the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) had not approved of it, it would not have been considered a true dream and it would not have been a part of prophethood.
Why This Way?
Umar (RA) had seen a similar dream. Let us not forget that Umar was one of the rightly guided khaleefahs (al-khulafaa al-raashidoon), of whom the Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, "I exhort you to adhere to my sunnah (way) and the sunnah of the rightly-guided khaleefahs. Hold on tight to it with your back teeth." (Tirmidhi). Umars view frequently coincided with the wahy and divine legislation.
Aaishah (RA) reported that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) used to say, "Among the nations who came before you there were people who were muhaddathoon (inspired). If there is anyone like this in my ummah, it is Umar ibn al-Khattaab. "(Muslim). Ibn Wahb said muhaddathoon means inspired. You may ask, why did the adhaan start in this fashion, being seen in a dream by two sahaabis, then being confirmed by the wahy? Why was it not revealed directly? The answer is that Allaah decrees whatever He wills, however He wills, may He be glorified and exalted. Perhaps the way it happened was meant to demonstrate the virtue of these two sahaabis and to confirm how good this ummah is, because among them are some whose opinions coincide with the wahy and some who had true dreams which confirmed their truthfulness.
Finally The definition of the Sunnah given in the books of the scholars is that it consists of everything that was narrated from the Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam), everything that he said, did or approved of. "What is meant by his words and actions is clear. What he approved of refers to when someone did something in front of him and he approved of it, this is also part of the shareeah, not because that person did it, but because the Messenger (sallallahu alayhiwa sallam) approved of it. The Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) never kept quiet about falsehood and he never approved of anything false or misguided that was done by others. He would disapprove of it and speak out against it, as he did in the case of the sahaabi Abu Israaeel, as was narrated by Ibn Abbaas, who said: Whilst the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) was giving a khutbah, he saw a man standing in the sun, and he asked about him. They said, That is Abu Israaeel. He vowed to stand and not sit down, not to seek shade, not to speak, and to fast. He said, Tell him to speak, seek shade and sit down, but let him complete his fast. (Bukhaari).
The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) approved of Abu Israaeels vow to fast, but he cancelled the rest of his vow and did not approve of it. So it is clear that the adhaan became part of the religion when the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) confirmed what A1laah had shown the two sahaabis in their dreams, and commanded Abd-Allaah ibn Zayd to teach it to Bilaal so that he could call the people to prayer. We ask Allaah to grant us and you understanding of Islam. And Allaah knows best.
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited