Prophet Muhammad and his followers were not free to practice their religion and to worship openly in Mecca. They worshiped in ones and twos and gathered in a house secretly. In the face of extreme persecution and oppression, Prophet Muhammad migrated to Medina. Many of his companions followed him to Medina. He, immigrants from Mecca, and his companions from Medina built a mosque there after their migration. In Medina, they were able to freely practice their religion and were able to openly worship the one and only God.
Five daily prayers and their times had already been established in Mecca before immigration to Medina. In Medina, Muslims gathered for services around stipulated hours, but this was not an efficient and satisfactory way to come together. Questions arose about how to gather the faithful efficiently for five daily services at their fixed times. The ways of Jews and Christians were mentioned. Umar, who later ruled the Muslim empire after Muhammad passed away, suggested to appoint a person to make an announcement for services at the time of worship. Prophet Muhammad liked his suggestion and directed Bilal, the renowned African companion of Muhammad, to take up this responsibility. Bilal made the announcement, saying that services were about to start, and people gathered hearing his call.
- Ahmad: Respect people of all religions
- Ahmad: The Quran offers examples of good (and poor) leadership
After a while, Abdullah bin Zaid, a companion of Muhammad, related his dream to him. In his dream, he had seen a person making the announcement for the prayers in specific words. Muhammad directed Bilal to start saying these words to call people for worship. Bilal was the first person to recite these words loudly in Arabic to gather people for services:
"God is great. God is great. God is great. God is great. I bear witness that indeed there is none worthy of worship except for God. I bear witness that indeed there is none worthy of worship except for God. I bear witness that indeed Muhammad is messenger of God. I bear witness that indeed Muhammad is messenger of God. Come for prayers. Come for prayers. Hasten to prosperity. Hasten to prosperity. God is great. God is great. None is worth of worship except for God."
These words in Arabic are commonly known as the Call for Prayers that are uttered by a caller loudly before each of the five daily prayers.
Since that day, for the last 14 centuries, these words have been announced from the mosques proliferated throughout the world. Islam spread to the north, east and west of Arabia. Muslims spread to far off lands, built mosques and raised these words when they gathered for their services. After the discovery of the New World, Muslims are found in all areas of the world. As they are spread around the globe, and the five daily prayers are offered at various times during the day, the Muslim Call for Prayers is rising from some place on earth at any moment of the day asserting the freedom of religion loudly for every human being.