Azaan is the first call to prayer for Muslims recited by the muezzin (religious Muslim scholar or cleric). The Muslim priest stands in the mosque (at times, from a minaret) facing the Kaaba (cubed-shaped building in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, considered to be the most sacred site in Islam) and calls out the azaan inviting Muslims to assemble for the prayers in the mosque. It is mandatory for the Muslims to offer prayers five times a day. Hence, the azaan is summoned at five different times during the day, namely, fajr, zuhr, asar, maghrib and isha. However, two azaans are recited during Friday prayers (Salat Al Jumu’ah): first, for calling the people to the mosque and second, before the priest begins the khutbah (sermon).
The primary motive behind calling out the azaan loudly is to make everyone intelligible about Islam in a brief summary. It reveals that that there is no deity but only God. Apart from this, it also discloses the fact that Prophet Muhammad is God’s messenger and that salvation can be attained only by being obedient to the Will of God. Generally, loudspeakers are decked up on the minarets of the mosque to allow the voice of the azaan enter every Muslim’s ears. After sometime, a second call is made by the muezzin (mosque priest) asking the Muslims to stand and line up for the prayers. Muslims, from all around the world, face towards the Kaaba during prayers, no matter where they are.
The azaan is also first called out when a child is born. After the child is given a ritual bath, an elderly member of the family or neighborhood, or the maulvi (Muslim priest), is invited to recite the azaan. He, then, recites the azaan in the baby’s right ear and the Iqamat in the left ear. For the Iqamat, the words ‘Qad qamatissalah’ are called out twice at the end, asking the person to stand up since the prayer is about to begin. The reason why the azaan is recited to the child is that after his birth, the first thing he should hear is God's name and the call for His worship. At this time, a tiny bit of a date chewed by the elder of the family or community is placed in the child's mouth, signifying the hope that the child would absorb the good qualities of the elder. At the end of the recital of the azaan, sweets are distributed among those present at the occasion. The custom of reciting azaan to a newborn child was started by Prophet Mohammed.