It’s a widespread practice to perform two adhāns (calls to prayer) along with an iqāmah (call to stand), but many take two adhāns to be an obligation.

This is incorrect and the following briefly outlines why:

God has commanded: “And when the call to prayer is made on Friday, engage in the remembrance of God and leave off trade.” [69:2] According to Qur’anic commentators such as al-Tabarī, al-Qurṭubī and Ibn Kathīr, the call to prayer referred to in this verse was the one that would take place once the imām had ascended the minbar (pulpit).

al-Qurṭubī relates that the adhāns during the Prophetic era would be like all other prayers, one adhān, when the Prophet would sit on the minbar. The same took place with Abu Bakr and Umar.

Uthman introduced an extra earlier adhāns called from his house which was situated in the marketplace, when the population of Madinah increased. This was also reported by Ibn Mājah from Sa’īb b. Yazid.

As for the first adhān, it was new development (muh’dath), Uthman instituted it to incite the people to attend the sermon when the city expanded and its residents increased. Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, ordered that the adhān be called in the market, before the one in the mosque, so that the people could cease trade. Once they had gathered (for prayer) the adhān would be called in the mosque. Uthman then instituted two adhāns in the mosque.

al-Māwardī, Tafsīr al-Qurṭubī

The next righteous caliph, Ali b. Abi Tālib, instituted one adhān in Kufah, returning the practice to its default. This shows us that it was not a ritual practice, but one based on need and circumstances. So during the caliphate of Ali, the last of the four great caliphs, there were two different practices: in Madinah there were two adhāns (carrying on from the need identified by Uthman), and one adhān in Kufa where there seemingly wasn’t a need.

Ibn Hajr al-Asqalānī cites al-Fakihānī stating that the first to institute two adhāns for Jumu’ah in Makkah was Hajjāj, and in Basrah, Ziyād.

What do we learn?

The first adhan is an addition which is meant for efficiently gathering the people for prayer. It is not a ritual act nor is there any specific reward in the Quran and sunnah for doing so (as it didn’t exist during the Prophet’s time).

In the context of the UK, with laws and norms restricting the public broadcast of the adhān in the marketplace (or any other public area), the practice is maintained out of tradition rather than as a religious stipulation. Given that it is performed in the mosque where the sound is limited to the premises, it doesn’t inform people in the marketplace to ready for prayer, nor for people to come to the mosque earlier, both of which was its intended use.

What this also shows us is the insightful leadership of Uthman b. Affān, may Allah be pleased with him as well as all of the other righteous caliphs, and the truly intelligent way the early Muslim leaders led the religious community paying attention to changing circumstances and needs. May Allah grant them the highest ranks in paradise and gather us with them in the afterlife.

But aren’t the acts of the ‘Rightly guided caliphs’ (Khulafā Rashidin) good to follow?

Well it depends on whether it’s an interpretation of shar’ī texts that speaks to perennial issues, or simply an administrative decision. However, it is interesting (as a fiqh issue) that whichever way one looks at it, there’s a stronger case for one Jumu’ah adhān in the UK than two!

How so?
  • If it is argued that singular administrative practices of the early caliphs are authoritative, then three out of the four caliphs (the majority) implemented one adhan, which would make it a better practice.
  • If it is argued that Uthman’s executive decision makes the first adhan a ritual act, then the first adhān must take place in the market as this is how Uthman b. Affān established it. And even then, it should only be done in Madinah since Uthman didn’t institute it elsewhere – it was Hajjāj who did so in Makkah. So any claim of ijmā’, if valid (which it’s not), can only be made on the Prophetic Mosque!
  • If it is argued that there is a need for the first adhān because people will not know when to perform the nawāfil, then the point is made redundant by the fact that the Prophet would not have overlooked something that would be an impediment to worshipping God. Furthermore, Uthman did not establish the extra adhan for this purpose.
  • If it is argued that other places (such as Makkah, Madinah, and many Muslim countries) still do two adhāns and there must be uniformity with others, then the fact that Ali b. Abi Tālib left two adhāns in Madinah but at the same time established only one in Kufah shows that is not true, and that there can be various practices amongst mosques.
  • If this was a matter of consensus (ijmā’) of the rightly guided caliphs (and thus binding) as some very ignorantly put it, then we wouldn’t find Imām al-Shāfi’ī stating in his book al-Umm that he prefers there is only one adhān which takes place with the khatīb on the pulpit, “and no more” as he put it.