What Does the Muezzin Say During the Call to Prayer?

Mosque ExteriorHere in Morocco, we hear the adhan or call to prayer five times a day. For me, they are to Morocco what the church bells were to Malta. That is, a clockwork reminder of religion, shared by an entire community.

You’ve probably heard the call to prayer on television or in a movie (wasn’t it in The English Patient?). You’ve certainly heard it if you’ve visited a Muslim country. You can listen to some samples of the adhan here. The local ones have a droning, haunting quality that sounds, well, really foreign to my Western ears.

What is the muezzin–the chosen person who leads the call to prayer–actually saying? We’ve got a book on Islam, and here are the phrases that comprise the adhan:

  • God is great.
  • I witness that there is no god but God.
  • I witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God.
  • Rise up for prayer.
  • Rise up for salvation.
  • God is great.
  • There is no god but God.

These are repeated a number of different times. There are also some differences between the Sunni and Shia versions, which you can read about on Wikipedia.


  1. Oddly, it had never occurred to me to wonder what the muezzin was saying, although I subconsciously must have thought it was something like this. Interesting how the Sunni-Shi’a split is so immediate after Muhammad, rather than the longer delay before schisms in Christianity.

  2. I loved hearing the call to prayer 5 times a day (yes, even the one that took place at 3 in the morning). My only complaint were with the tinny speaker systems that some of the smaller mosques use to broadcast it.

    It was also interesting/unusual to be in Jerusalem where you’d hear the call to prayer and church bells ringing multiple times a day. I genuinely miss it.

  3. I recently visited India and was enchanted by the call of the muezzin. I wondered about the translation. Thank you for the information. I am leaving for a visit to Morocco and this knowledge will enhance my visit and give it a deeper meaning. What a beautiful way to start the day!

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