Chant used to call all Muslims to prayer, salat. Adhan is sent out from a minaret, either sung by a muezzin present in the minaret or transmitted from a loudspeaker with the help of a cassette recording.
The function of adhan was foreseen in a dream by one of the first Muslims, who saw a person calling out for prayer from the roof of a mosque. The Prophet agreed to add this element to the salat. and the first person calling out the adhan was the black slave, Bilal.
In the earliest times of Islam, the adhan could be transmitted by a person walking through the town streets, or from just the simple roof of the mosque. Later, with the general introduction of minarets, these came to be regarded as the proper place for the muezzin to call out the adhan.
The adhan consists of seven standard elements:
1 “God is most great” (x4)
2 “I testify that there is no god except God” (x3)
3 “I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of God” (x3)
4 “Come to prayer” (x2)
5 “Come to salvation” (x2)
(“Prayer is better than sleep” (x2)– only with the morning prayer)
(“Come to the best of work” (x1)– added by Shi’is)
6 “God is most great” (x2)
7 “There is no god except God” (x1)
Muslims hearing the adhan must repeat it with a low voice, but in the place of the 4th and the 5th element, they say “There is no strength nor power but in God”. The added sentence of the morning prayer (as seen above) is not repeated either, but replaced with: “You have said what is true”.
While the performance of adhan is melodious, there are no fixed melodies. The muezzin is free to modulate the sentences to what he feels is best. The adhan is also used in connection with the birth of a child, when the father reads the adhan into the ear of his newborn child.