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All Praise is due to Allah, and may the salaah and salaam be on Prophet Muhammad, his household, and the noble companions and those who follow them until the Day of Resurrection.
Is the adhan an obligation, and should we face the qiblah when performing it?
The legal meaning of adhan is I’laam (announcement). The Islamic meaning of it is to worship Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) through a specific announcement, which involves specific remembrances at the time when salaah is due.
The adhan is a collective duty (fard kifaayah); this means that if it is done by someone, then this lifts the duty off the rest due to the hadeeth of Malik ibn al- Huwayrith who narrated that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“…And when it is time for the prayer then one of you should pronounce the Adhaan (call) for the prayer…” [see Bukhari vol. 9. no. 352]
The evidence for its obligation upon men is the command of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) to perform it in several ahaadeeth and that he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) continued to do it while traveling as well as in residence. Therefore, the adhaan is a collective duty for those in residence, as well as the traveler.
The adhaan is not an obligation upon women. There is a difference of opinion whether it is permissible for women to perform it. One opinion is that is a Sunnah for them to do the iqamah when they gather for the congregation, without the adhaan, and that there may be a merit in it. This is the saying of our shaykh, Muhammad ibn Saalih al-Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah).
Some of the scholars of the past went with the opinion that women performing the adhaan is allowed and recommended, as in one narration from Imam Ahmad (rahimahullaah). In another report, he said: The iqamah is recommended without the adhan. It is also reported that Imam Ahmad disliked women doing them.
From the etiquettes of the adhaan is to face the qiblah because of the action of Bilal himself (radiya Allaahu ‘anhu) when he performed the adhaan. The report was declared hasan by Shaykh al-Albani due to supporting evidences in Irwaa’ul Ghaleel.
And Allaah, the Most High, knows best.