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The words of the muezzin, 'Prayer is better than sleep' (al-salaatu khayrun min al-nawm).

Published: 26/09/2010 02:10:00 PM GMT
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With regard to the words al-salaatu khayrun min al-nawm (prayer is better than sleep), is it to be said in the first adhaan before Fajr, or in the second adhaan? What is the evidence for saying them? What should the one who hears them say after the muezzin?

Praise be to Allaah.

The Sunnah is to say these words in the second adhaan after dawn has broken, as is narrated in the hadeeth of Abu Mahdhoorah and the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her), which indicate that the muezzin used to say them in the second adhaan after dawn broke. ‘Aa’ishah said: Then the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) would get up and pray two rak‘ahs, then he would go out to pray after the first call, which was the second adhaan in relation to what is called the first adhaan, and is the first adhaan with regard to the iqaamah, because it may also be called “adhaan.” 

The Sunnah is to say these words in this adhaan which is the second one after dawn has broken, and is the first in relation to the iqaamah. With regard to the first adhaan, as people customarily call it, this is to alert people. The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said concerning it: “So that those of you who are praying qiyaam can rest and those of you who are sleeping can wake up.” This is the adhaan that alerts people so that those who are asleep can wake up and those who are praying qiyaam can rest, i.e., not make their prayers too long, because dawn has come. In the hadeeth of ‘As’ishah, the later adhaan clearly called the first adhaan in relation to the iqaamah, because the iqaamah is a second adhaan, and the later adhaan may be called the second adhaan, in relation to the first adhaan, the purpose of which is to alert people. 

Some of the scholars are of the view that these words should be said in the first adhaan which serves to alert people before dawn breaks. This issue is broad in scope, in sha Allah, but these words should not be said in both calls. It is better to say them in the second call which is the first in relation to the iqaamah and is the adhaan that is given after dawn breaks. 

What is meant by the words “prayer is better than sleep” is that the obligatory prayer that Allah has enjoined is better than sleep, and what people should do is get up for it. With regard to the naafil prayers at the end of the night or during the night, they are not obligatory, and sleep may be better than prayer if being sleepy is going to affect his prayer. In that case he should sleep and have his share of rest so that he will be able to pray properly. But the obligatory prayer is something that is required and is better than sleep in all cases; the individual has to get up for it and do what will help him to perform the prayer mindfully and do it well and properly. 

The one who hears this phrase should repeat it, “al-salaatu khayrun min al-nawm (prayer is better than sleep)” because the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “When you hear the muezzin, say what he says.” So the one who is responding should say “Al-salaatu khayrun min al-nawm”, just as he repeats “Allahu akbar (Allah is most great)” and “Ashhadu an la ilaaha ill-Allah (I bear witness that there is no God but Allah)”; this is the same, he should say “al-salaatu khayrun min al-nawm.” But when the muezzin says “Hayya ‘ala al-salaah, hayya ‘ala al-falaah (come to prayer, come to prosperity)”, he should say, “Laa hawla wa laa quwwata illa Billaah (there is no power and no strength except with Allah).” This is what is prescribed. 

When the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) heard the muezzin say “Hayya ‘ala al-salaah (come to prayer)”, he would say, “Laa hawla wa laa quwwata illa Billah (there is no power and no strength except with Allah).” When the muezzin says, “Hayya ‘ala al-falaah” say “La hawla wa laa quwwata illa Billah,” because no one knows whether he will have strength or not, or whether that will be easy for him or not, so he should say Laa hawla wa laa quwwata illa Billaah, meaning I do not have the power to respond to the muezzin and come to the mosque and perform the prayer except by the help of Allah, may He be glorified and exalted; and I do not have the strength to do that except by the help of Allah, may He be glorified and exalted. The call of the muezzin is a call to good: “Hayya ‘ala al-salaah, hayya ‘ala al-falaah (Come to prayer, come to prosperity).” So he has to respond and say, “Laa hawla wa laa quwwata illa Billah (There is no power and no strength except with Allah).” This is what is prescribed, meaning: I have no power or strength to respond to the muezzin or perform the prayer on time with the congregation, or to do anything, except with the help of Allah, may He be glorified and exalted. End quote. 

Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) 


Fataawa Noor ‘ala al-Darb, 2/685-687





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