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Hayy-a 'ala khayr al-'amal

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Ḥayy-a ʿalā khayr al-ʿamal (Arabic: حی علی خیر العمل) is one of the phrases in adhan and iqama meaning "Hurry toward the best of deeds". By the order of the Second Caliph, it was omitted from adhan and iqama and was replaced by the phrase "al-Salat khayr-un min al-nawm" (prayer is better than sleeping). During the history, Shi'a referred to many authentic hadiths and kept it in adhan and iqama and it has become one of the distinctive signs of Shi'a.

Translation Adhan

Allah is the Greatest
I bear witness there is no God but Allah
I bear witness Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah
I bear witness 'Ali is the wali of Allah
Hurry toward prayer
Hurry toward salvation
Hurry toward the best of deeds
Allah is the Greatest
There is no God but Allah

(4 times) اَللّهُ اَکبَرُ
(2 times) اَشْهَدُ اَنْ لا اِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللّهُ
(2 times) اَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّداً رَسُولُ اللّهِ
[1] اَشْهَدُ أَنَّ عَلِیاً وَلِی اللّهِ
(2 times) حَیِّ عَلَی الصَّلاةِ
(2 times) حَیِّ عَلَی الْفَلاحِ
(2 times) حَیِّ عَلی خَیرِ الْعَمَلِ
(2 times) اَللّهُ اَکبَرُ
(2 times) لا اِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللّهُ

Interpretation and Translation

Hayy-a ala khayr al-amal is one of the phrases in adhan and iqama. It means "hurry toward the best of deeds". Since it has been a disputed issue between Shi'a and Sunnis, Arabs have made an infinitive form out of it called Hay'ala.[2]

During the Time of the Prophet (s)

According to many hadiths received from the Ahl al-Bayt (a) in this regard, Shi'a scholars in fiqh have reached a consensus that this phrase is one of the elements of the prayer and is after the phrase "Hayy-a ala al-falah" (Hurry toward salvation).[3] One of these hadiths is transmitted by Kulayb al-Asadi[4] and another hadith is transmitted from Imam al-Sadiq (a) by Abd Allah b. Sinan.[5]

In Sunni Sources

Sunni hadiths in this regard are divided into two groups:

The first group explicitly mention that the phrase "Hayy-a ala khayr al-amal" was a part of adhan at the time of the Prophet (s); but the second group do not mention anything about the "Hayy-a ala khayr al-amal", but mention the addition of the phrase "al-Salat khayr-un min al-nawm" to adhan at the time of the Second Caliph.

Existence of "Hayy-a ala khayr al-amal"

There are different hadiths in Sunni sources in this regard mentioning that "Hayy-a ala khayr al-amal" is a part of adhan. They have been transmitted by some companions including:

  • Abd Allah b. 'Umar: It is transmitted by him that he sometimes added "Hayy-a ala khayr al-amal" after "Hayy-a ala al-falah" in adhan.[6]
  • Bilal al-Habashi: It is mentioned in a hadith from Bilal al-Habashi that he recited the phrase "Hayy-a 'ala khayr al-amal" in his adhan, but in continuation of this hadith, it is mentioned that after a while the Prophet (s) told him to say "al-salat khayr-un min al-nawm" instead of "Hayy-a 'ala khayr al-'amal".[7]

Addition of the Phrase "al-salat khayr-un min al-nawm"

According to many Sunni scholars, tathwib or the phrase "al-salat khayr-un min al-nawm" was added to adhan after the demise of the Prophet (s). In his book, Malik b. Anas, the leader of Malikis said, "we received the information that one day, mu'adhdhin of the Second Caliph, before going to call adhan for the fajr prayer, saw that the Second Caliph was asleep, so he said "al-salat khayr-un min al-nawm", (prayer is better than sleeping). When the Caliph woke up, ordered him to add this phrase to adhan in the morning."[9] Also, in a version of Malik b, Anas's book reported by a man called Muhammad b. Hasan; after he mentioned a hadith about adhan, he said that, "the phrase 'al-salat khayr-un min al-nawm' should be said after the prayer and what does not exist in adhan should not be added to it."[10]

The Reason for Omission

There are two views about the reason for omission of the phrase "Hayy-a ala khayr al-amal":

Abd Allah b. Abbas was asked why Umar omitted "Hayy-a ala khayr al-amal" from adhan, he answered that, "Umar wanted people not to count on the prayer and abandon jihad, so he omitted it from adhan."[11]

Fadl b. Shadhan quoted from Ibn Abi Umayr that he asked Imam al-Kazim (a), "why was 'Hayy-a 'ala khayr al-'amal' omitted from adhan? Imam (a) asked, 'do you want its apparent reason or its real and true reason?' He said, "both." Imam (a) said, "its apparent reason was that people do not bring excuse from it and escape from jihad and do not say that the best action is prayer and abandon jihad. But, its true reason was that since the best of action is wilaya, the one who omitted it from adhan, wanted people not to be attracted toward it and be invited with it."[12]

In Ma'ani al-akhbar, there is a hadith with a similar message. In answer to a question about the meaning of "Hayy-a ala khayr al-amal", Imam al-Sadiq (a) said, "the best action is wilaya." Also, in another report, it is mentioned that "the best action is doing kindness toward lady Fatima (a) and her children."[13]

Distinctive Sign of Shi'a

Ibn Nabah was mu'adhdhin of Imam Ali (a). In his adhan, said "Hayy-a ala khayr al-amal" and Imam Ali (a) praised his action.[14]

Imamiyya, Isma'iliya and Zaydiyya used this phrase in their uprisings and social movements.

In 169/785-786, when the governor of Medina heard "Hayy-a 'ala khayr al-'amal" in the adhan for fajr prayer, he found that Husayn b. Ali (a) (Martyr of Fakhkh) had made an uprising and thus escaped from Medina. [15]

Upon entering Egypt, Isma'ilids added "Hayy-a ala khayr al-amal" to adhan[16] and it became so political that after taking the power over Egypt, Salah al-Din Ayyubi first omitted it from adhan and then omitted the names of Fatimid caliphs from the speeches and ordered to begin the speeches by the name of the Abbasid caliph.[17]

In 441/1049, in the Karkh neighborhood of Baghdad, a sectarian fight took place and Shi'a said "Hayy-a ala khayr al-amal" in adhan.[18] In 488/1095, when the Abbasid caliph gained more power than the past, ordered to omit "Hayy-a ala khayr al-amal" from adhan and instead added "al-Salat khayr-un min al-nawm".[19]

Oljeitu, after accepting Shi'a, ordered to bring back the phrase "Hayy-a ala khayr al-amal" to adhan.[20]

It has also been a sign of Zaydids.[21]

See Also


  1. this phrase is not a part of Adhan, nor Iqama.
  2. Maqdisī, Aḥsan al-taqāsīm, vol. 1, p. 341.
  3. Sayyid Murtaḍā, al-Intiṣār fī infirādāt al-imāmīyya, p. 137.
  4. Ṣadūq, Man lā yaḥḍuruh al-faqīh, vol. 1, p. 290.
  5. Ṭūsī, Tahdhīb al-aḥkām, vol. 2, p. 59.
  6. Mālik b. Anas, al-Muwaṭṭaʾ, vol. 1, p. 55.
  7. Bayhaqī, Sunan, vol. 1, p. 425.
  8. Bayhaqī, Sunan, vol. 1, p. 424.
  9. Mālik b. Anas, al-Muwaṭṭaʾ, vol. 1, p. 54.
  10. Mālik b. Anas, al-Muwaṭṭaʾ, vol. 1, p. 55.
  11. Ṣadūq, ʿIlal al-sharāʾiʿ, vol. 2, p. 368.
  12. Ṣadūq, ʿIlal al-sharāʾiʿ, vol. 2, p. 368.
  13. Ṣadūq, Maʿānī l-akhbār, p. 41.
  14. Ṣadūq, Man lā yaḥḍuruh al-faqīh, vol. 1, p. 288.
  15. Abū l-Faraj al-Iṣfahānī, Maqātil al-ṭālibīyyīn, p. 375.
  16. Ibn Khaldūn, Dīwān al-mubtadaʾ, vol. 4, p. 61.
  17. Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 12, p. 263.
  18. Dhahabī, Tārīkh al-Islām, vol. 30, p. 6.
  19. Ibn Athīr, al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh, vol. 9, p. 632.
  20. Qāshānī, Tārīkh Oljeitu, p. 99-100.
  21. Dhahabī, Tārīkh al-Islām, vol. 44, p. 360.


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  • Dhahabī, Muḥammad b. Aḥmad al-. Tārīkh al-Islām wa wafayāt al-mashāhīr wa l-aʿlām. Edited by ʿUmar ʿAbd al-Salām Tadmurī. Second edition. Beirut: Dār al-Kitāb al-ʿArabī, 1413 AH.
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