Bringing Muslims Together with the Azan. The Azaan is the first Muslim call to prayer. It is the call issued from the mosque in order to bring Muslims together. The call is generally issued from one of the highest parts of the mosque to carry the call as far as possible. The call is made five times a day (in keeping with the Muslim tradition of preying five times a day) and is meant to inspire Muslims and get them ready for the prayer session ahead. Azaan is followed by a second call (iqama) in order to get Muslims to line up and start entering the mosque. For larger mosques the azaan and iqama is important because it organises the process of getting everybody into the mosque to pray into steps.
The secondary purpose of the azan is to let everyone know (even non-believers) that the Muslim community is getting prepared to pray. It also lets the wider community know how connected to prayer Muslims are – as the call is made regularly. The azaan is called using large speakers and the sound of the call is quite noticeable when it is made. Depending on the sect of Islam the azaan means different things. Although, it still is a first call to prayer. The Shi’a looks at the azaan as if it is a reminder of the three basic tenements that make up the Shi’a belief system. These are devotion to God, the prophet Mohammad and Imam. It also reminds Shi’a of their close connectedness.
The Sunni have a different take on the azaan and they actually use two specific azaans. The first is the standard first call for prayer. The second is recited by the Imam prior to the commencement of the sermon. After this the iqama is recited and prayers start after this. The azaan (for both sects) is steeped in importance and not a process that is taken lightly in the Muslim community. It is something that brings them together as a community in order to share prayers and create a social environment in which to pray. It is the first step in the process of bringing Muslims together in order to worship. While people outside of the Muslim faith may just consider setting a time for all people to show up in order to pray – the azan is different than just getting to the mosque at a specific time to pray. It is a call that signifies the bringing together of the Muslim people.