Q. A colleague of mine says that the way Shiites render the adhan is correct, and claims that the Sunnis have made innovations in the adhan. He argues that hayya ala khayr il amal was said by the Prophet (pbuh) and Abu Bakr (ra), but that it was stopped by the order of the Khalifa Omar (ra), since according to his Ijtihaad, he was afraid that saying it in the adhan or iqaama would discourage the Muslims from emphasizing Jihad (Sahih Muslim, 1:48). [Also, Al-Bahr Al-Zaakhir, Vol. 1, Page 192. Also, Al-Muhalla, Vol. 3, page 160. Out of curiosity, I checked on the Internet, and the above books are authored by reputable Sunnis, especially Ibn Hazm, who is regarded as one of the foremost experts on hadiths].

Apparently, 'Umar ibn al-Khattab is reported to have said: "O people, three things existed during the time of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) that I prohibit and make unlawful and will punish for: mut'at al-hajj, mut'at al-nisa, and 'hayya 'ala khayr al-'amal'." (Sharh al-Tajrid, Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal 1:49)

Also, it is claimed that the phrase “salat is better than sleeping” in the Fajr prayer was introduced by Khalifa Omar (see Mu’watta by Ibn Malik ibn Anas, in Masabih Al-Sunnah, Al-Baghwi, vol. 1, page 37). [Of course you know who Malik ibn Anas is!]

Additionally, my colleague claims that Malik ibn Anas narrates that once the mu'adhdhin came to 'Umar ibn al-Khattab to announce the morning prayers and found him asleep, so he said to him: "Al-salat khayrun min al-nawm."  ("Prayer is better than sleep")  'Umar liked this sentence, so he ordered that it be put in the adhan for the morning prayers. (Sharh al-Tajrid, Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal 1:49).  Imam Muslim (Sahih Muslim, 1:48) and Abu Dawud concur that this sentence was not part of the adhan during the time of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), and Tirmidhi asserts that 'Umar was the one who added it. [Sunan al-Tirmidhi, 1:64]

So, what would be an appropriate response to these points?

Furthermore, an even more perplexing claim was made concerning what was termed “the innovations” of Khalifa Omar (ra), which I have to admit frustrated me, since I wasn’t sure about how to go about answering it.

Here’s the complete quote from Sahih al-Bukhari Hadith 3.227 [Pub: Dar El Fiker, Beyrouth, Liban, 1993] (I have found that because of different editions, different publishers, and translation into English, it is possible that any two sets of volumes may not be congruous, particularly with regards to the hadith numbering and pages, although the contents are the same. Anyway, I can assure you that I checked and can confirm this hadith in the volumes displayed at the library of Masjid Ibrahim, in Newark, Delaware, where I live: 31 – The Book of Tarawih Prayers, 1- Chpt – The Superiority of Praying….”, #2010, page 161,):

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "Whoever prayed at night the whole month of Ramadan out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven." Ibn Shihab (a sub-narrator) said, "Allah's Apostle died and the people continued observing that (i.e., Nawafil offered individually, not in congregation), and it remained as it was during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr and in the early days of 'Umar's Caliphate." 'Abdur Rahman bin 'Abdul Qari said, "I went out in the company of 'Umar bin al-Khattab one night in Ramadan to the mosque and found the people praying in different groups. A man praying alone or a man praying with a little group behind him. So 'Umar said, 'In my opinion I would better collect these (people) under the leadership of one Qari (Reciter). So he made up his mind to congregate them behind Ubai bin Ka'b. Then on another night I went again in his company and the people were praying behind their reciter. On that, 'Umar remarked, 'What an excellent Bid'a this is; but the prayer which they do not perform, but sleep at its time is better than the one they are offering.' He meant the prayer in the last part of the night. In those days people used to pray in the early part of the night."

What is your take on this hadith? If true, I am perplexed that Khalifa Omar (ra) would actually say something is an excellent Bid’a! Please help me understand this. Maybe, there is something I am missing!

Finally, before I take any more of your time, I would like to get your view on one last issue, which is their belief in the “12 Imams”. Of course, my colleague (we are pharmaceutical research scientists by the way!) had a perfect retort when I asked him to explain/defend the concept of Ahlul Bayt according to Shi’sm. He gave me references to not one, or two, but six references from Sahih al-Bukhari, Musnad Ahmad, Sahih Muslim, Sahih al-Tirmidhi, Sunan Abu Dawood, Sahih al-Nisa’i (from all the Sahih Sitta!). Of course, I was convinced that this was all made up, but lo and behold, I was able to confirm all the ones from Bukhari and Muslim, which I had access to. Please read them and let me know what you think, because I’m speechless here, not knowing how to respond. If true, they are real conundrums, unless you can explain them for me, insha Allah!

Sahih al-Bukhari Hadith: 9.329 (The Book of Ahkam), Chpt. 52: “There will be twelve…..” [by Muhammad Muhsin Khan, Pub: Kitab Bhavan, N. Delhi, 1984], or  Vol. 9, Chpt. 51: “The Appointment of a Caliph….” #7222, 7223 [by Dr. Mahmoud Matrazi, Pub: Dar El Fiker, Beyrouth, Liban, 1993]:

Narrated Jabir Ibn Samura: I heard the Prophet saying, "There will be twelve commanders (Amir)." He then said a sentence which I did not hear. My father said, the Prophet added, "All of them will be from Quraish."

In Musnad Ahmad, the tradition is as follows: The Prophet (PBUH&HF) said: "There shall be twelve Caliphs for this community, all of them from Quraish."

Reference: Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, v5, p106

In Sahih Muslim, the traditions are as follows:

Narrated Jabir Ibn Samura: The Prophet (PBUH&HF) said: "The matter (life) will not end, until it is passed by twelve Caliphs." He then whispered a sentence. I asked my father what the Prophet said. He said, the Prophet added: "All of them will be from Quraish."

- Sahih Muslim, Arabic version, Kitab al-Imaara, 1980 Edition Pub. in Saudi Arabia, v3, p1452, Tradition #5

- Sahih Muslim, English version, Chapter DCCLIV (titled: The People are subservient to the Quraish and the Caliphate is the Right of the Quraish), v3, p1009, Tradition #4477, or Book of Emritage 33, Chpt. 1: The people are subservient to Quraish…” Page 235 – 236, # 1821 [Pub: Dar El Fiker, Beyrouth, 1993]

The Prophet (PBUH&HF) said: "The affairs of people will continue to be conducted (well) as long as they are governed by the twelve men."

- Sahih Muslim, Arabic version, Kitab al-Imaara, 1980 Edition Pub. in Saudi Arabia, v3, p1453, Tradition #6

- Sahih Muslim, English version, Chapter DCCLIV (titled: The People are subservient to the Quraish and the Caliphate is the Right of the Quraish), v3, p1010, Tradition #4478, or Book of Emritage, 33, Chpt.1, “The people are subservient….”, # 1821R1, Page 235 – 236 [Pub: Dar El Fiker, Beyrouth, 1993] 

The Prophet (PBUH&HF) said: "The Islamic religion will continue until the Hour (day of resurrection), having twelve Caliphs for you, all of them will be from Quraish."

- Sahih Muslim, Arabic version, Kitab al-Imaara, 1980 Edition Pub. in Saudi Arabia, v3, p1453, Tradition #10

- Sahih Muslim, English version, Ch! apter DCCLIV (titled: The People are subservient to the Quraish and the Caliphate is the Right of the Quraish), v3, p1010, Tradition #4483, or Book of Emritage, 33, Chpt.1, “The people are subservient….,” # 1821R2, and also 1821R3, 1821R4, 1821R5, Page 235 – 236 [Pub: Dar El Fiker, Beyrouth, 1993]

Also in another wording, the Messenger of Allah uses the word "Imam" instead of "Caliph". It is widely narrated that: The Prophet (PBUH&HF) said: "The Imams are from Quraish."

Sunni references:

- al-Mustadrak, by al-Hakim, v3, p149; Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal; Sahih al-Nisa'i, from Anas Ibn Malik; Sunan, by al-Baihaqi; al-Sawa'iq al-Muhriqa, by Ibn Hajar al-Haithami, Ch. 11, section 2, p287.

A. Regarding the question that you asked, there are several issues that are of concern. In the first place, some of the references that you have provided are unusable to us without further information on edition, etc. Next is that the Musnad of Hanbal is what we would use as evidence of Sunni Hadith, not the Sharh al Tajrid by Qawshaji, a Shi’ite polemist. Now to the matter of the adhan: it is not mawqoof. In all of the major Sunni collections on the issue, you will find that there was consultation by the Prophet (s) with his companions as to the best way to summon people to the prayer. And then Bilal was ordered to call the people to prayer. Unless we assume that there was some osmotic transfer of thought from the Prophet (s) to Bilal, or that Bilal was divinely inspired -- and none has to my knowledge made either claim -- the evidence indicates that the adhan was a matter of taqrir of sorts. Bilal said what was to his mind okay, and the Prophet (s) did not correct or object. This makes the adhan open to some adjustment. And it is why the Shias have added parts to it: "ashhadu ana Ali wali ullah" certainly could NOT have been said at the time of the Prophet (s), but it is rather evidence that the Shi'ite scholars knew that the adhan was an issue that could have additions to it. It is why too, on a rainy day, the mu'adhin can add "Pray in your houses." We do acknowledge the presence of hadith that indicate that a companion had a dream in which he was taught the words of the adhan, and that the Prophet said that it was a "true vision." We feel that this is just to add some strength to particular versions of the adhan.

Did Umar add "al salatu khayrun min al nawm? It is possible. But here is a hadith from Bulugh al Maram, reported from Nas'ai in his Sunan al Kubra: From Sufyan, from Abu Ja'far, from Abu Sulayman, from Abi Mahdhura: I used to give the adhan for the Messenger of God, and in the fajr I used to say: "Come to prayer, Come to success, Prayer is better than sleep, Prayer is better than sleep." Interestingly, Ibn Hazm (whom you referred to as a great muhaddith) said that the sanad was authentic. And Bayhaqi reports that "Prayer is better than sleep" was not in the adhan, but then adds that this is NOT among the words of the stipulated adhan, but rather among words that can be added to rouse the sleeper, much like the words of glorification that the people of  "this time" have added. All of this indicates that there are conflicting reports on the issue, but in the final analysis, we can see that the scholars justify additions to the adhan. If your original assumption then was that there was one canonical adhan, then that is incorrect according to our research. Polemics may cause Shias and Sunnis to opine differently, but we do not subscribe exclusively to any one school, since our positions are taken on the basis of investigation and truth rather than creedal or madhabic bias.

On the use of the term "bid'a", we have explained its connotation in an article at this website. A quick review: the term only became a specific one with connotations long after the time of Umar. If he did use it, we can assume it was in a linguistic sense, i.e., something new. In a linguistic sense, the commitment of the Qur'an to a mushaf is a bid'a -- for it was not done during the time of the Prophet (s), but we benefit from it. So it is not even deemed a bid'a, when in fact it is. Note too that this term is used only by certain people, and not by all. For Muslims have always known that we cannot stick to an unchangeable form of religious expression, as time and place changes, so too do certain things, even if we do NOT want to acknowledge this. This is why the fuqaha had to make the rule about change of rulings for time and place, EXCEPT for Qur’anically mandated ones (and even for this there is debate which we will not discuss now). Bid'a has come to mean that which is introduced into the religion without any precedent and is clearly against the teachings of Islam. We all agree that the companions were those who lived with the Prophet and as such, we base a lot of practice on their actions. What we call "sunna" is not restricted to that which only the Prophet (s) did, but as the Hanafi school teaches, that which the respected companions also did, for when they did things, people copied them.

We do share the belief about the tarawih that you have expressed: since it is an "optional" prayer, we can do it as we choose, individually or together. But if we are doing it in a mosque, the leader of the Muslims has the right to tell us that if we pray loudly and in several separate groups, it could be distracting. Is he allowed to ask us to make a single group? Certainly he is. Umar did NOT make the tarawih mandatory; he just made the discipline in the mosque one that allowed for uniformity, and in doing so, acted full well within the parameters of what a leader of an umma is supposed to do. To do any less would have meant laxity in his duties.

On the issue of the twelve Imams, the matter is rather simple. The Prophet (s) was NOT a fortune teller, and did NOT foretell any events. The Qur'an tells us that the end is near, and all the early Muslims were obsessed with -- if we may use that term -- was the proximity of the Final Hour. Shi'ite teachings introduced the concept of the twelve Imams. Since Sunnis follow the concept of "isnad", any hadith that has a good isnad would be accepted. And so Bukhari and others accepted these hadiths. Ibn Khaldun, in speaking of the Mahdi, noted that the hadith was from Shi'ite sources. The Qurayshite status of the leaders was a well-known argument for Qurayshite and Arab supremacy, eschewing the Qur'anic teachings that tell us that no people are chosen because of their race to be leaders (hence the polemic against the Jews), and that the most honored of us with God is the most God-conscious. It is for this reason that we don't accept the polemical teachings of Sunnis against Shias, and vice versa.

Just for the record, Ibn Hazm was NOT one of the foremost experts in ahadith, but was a faqih whose works were largely discredited by many scholars. This does not mean that we disagree with what was imputed to him. But even if it is possible, the question as to whether Umar was doing something wrong in taking the "hayya ala Khar al amal" from the adhan is one of personal opinion, since we have already indicated that one can change the adhan. In fact, as you may well know, the four major schools of Sunni Islam differ on aspects of how the adhan and iqama are to be given, in terms of the times the different sentences are said. May God guide us to that which is right, for He knows best.

Posted January 23, 2006