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Aliyyun Waliullah in Adhan – Innovation or Sunnah?

This is an edited article, original source: ShiaReformist


There is not even a single narration in the classical Shia books of hadith in which any Imam (as) is quoted to have mentioned the third testimony “Ash hadu anna Aliyyan wali Ullah” in Adhan. Rather there are tens of authentic narrations about Adhan without even remotely mentioning the third testimony.


Summary: For about 1000 years the Ulema of Shia either did not mention anything about the third testimony being there in Adhan, or harshly condemned it and called it an innovation (Biddah) fabricated by the extremists (Ghulat). It was Muhammad Taqi al Majlisi, who under pressure from the Safavid rulers, for the first time had to allow the third testimony in Adhan, and he was followed by his son Baqir Majlisi, who called this act “Mustahab”. After him this became popular among all Shias, even though some scholars tried to speak against it, but these scholars were harshly condemned by the public and other so called scholars.

Let us now mention what some classical scholars have said about the Adhan:

Sheikh al Saduq

First Sheikh Saduq quotes the following narration:

وروى أبو بكر الحضرمي، وكليب الأسدي عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلامأنه ” حكى لهما الاذان فقال: الله أكبر، الله أكبر، الله أكبر الله أكبر، أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله، أشهد أن لا إله إلا الله، أشهد أن محمدا رسول الله، أشهد أن محمدا رسول الله، حي على الصلاة، حي على الصلاة، حي على الفلاح، حي على الفلاح، حي على خير العمل، حي على خير العمل، الله أكبر، الله أكبر، لا إله إلا الله، لا إله إلا الله، والإقامة كذلك

Ma la Yahduruhu al Faqih, Hadith 987


Allahu Akbar (4 times), Ash hadu an La Ilaha Illallah (2 times), Ash hadu anna Muhammadan Rasulallah (2 times), Hayya Ala al Salaat (2 times), Hayya Ala al Falah (2 times), Hayya Ala Khairil amal (2 times), Allahu Akbar (2 times), La Ilaha Illallah (2 times).

After narrating this hadith Sheikh Sadooq says:

هَذَا هُوَ الْأَذَانُ الصَّحِيحُ لَا يُزَادُ فِيهِ وَ لَا يُنْقَصُ مِنْهُ وَ الْمُفَوِّضَةُ لَعَنَهُمُ اللَّهُ قَدْ وَضَعُوا أَخْبَاراً وَ زَادُوا فِي الْأَذَانِ مُحَمَّدٌ وَ آلُ مُحَمَّدٍ خَيْرُ الْبَرِيَّةِ مَرَّتَيْنِ وَ فِي بَعْضِ رِوَايَاتِهِمْ بَعْدَ أَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّداً رَسُولُ اللَّهِ أَشْهَدُ أَنَّ عَلِيّاً وَلِيُّ اللَّهِ مَرَّتَيْنِ وَ مِنْهُمْ مَنْ رَوَى بَدَلَ ذَلِكَ أَشْهَدُ أَنَّ عَلِيّاً أَمِيرُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ حَقّاً مَرَّتَيْنِ وَ لَا شَكَّ فِي أَنَّ عَلِيّاً وَلِيُّ اللَّهِ وَ أَنَّهُ أَمِيرُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ حَقّاً وَ أَنَّ مُحَمَّداً وَ آلَهُ صَلَوَاتُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِمْ خَيْرُ الْبَرِيَّةِ وَ لَكِنْ لَيْسَ ذَلِكَ فِي أَصْلِ الْأَذَانِ وَ إِنَّمَا ذَكَرْتُ ذَلِكَ لِيُعْرَفَ بِهَذِهِ الزِّيَادَةِ الْمُتَّهَمُونَ بِالتَّفْوِيضِ الْمُدَلِّسُونَ أَنْفُسَهُمْ فِي جُمْلَتِنَا


This is the correct Adhan, nothing is to be added or subtracted from it.

The mufawwidah (who claimed that Allah has given the affair of creation and sustenance to Ahlulbayt), may Allah curse them, have fabricated traditions and have added to the adhan “Muhammad wa Ali Khairul Bariyya” (Muhammad and the family of Muhammad are the best of creatures) twice. In some of their traditions, after saying “Ash hadu anna Muhammadan Rasulallah” (I bear witness that Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah) they add “Ash hadu Anna Aliyyan Wali Ullah” (I bear witness that Ali is the Wali of Allaah) twice.

Among them there are others who narrate this “Ash hadu anna Aliyyan Amir al Momineen”  (I bear witness that Ali is the commander of the faithful) twice.

There is NO doubt that Ali is the wali of God and that he is the true commander of the faithful and that Muhammad and his family, peace be upon them, are the best of creatures. However, that is not (part) of the original Adhan. I have mentioned this so that those who have been accused of concocting tafweed and have insulated themselves in our ranks should be known.

Sheikh Mufeed

Many tenth and eleventh century jurists did not consider it important even to discuss the issue of the wilaya in the adhan. Thus, where and when the adhan is discussed in some detail, there is no mention of the wilaya, for example, Sheikh Mufid says:

و الاذان و الاقامة خمسة و ثلاثون فصلا الاذان ثمانية عشر فصلا و الاقامة سبعة عشر فصلا

Al-Muqni’a, pg. 59


And the Adhan & Iqamah has 35 parts, the Adhan has 18 parts and the Iqamah has 17 parts.

(Note: If Aliyyun Waliullah was added, the Adhan would be 20 parts and Iqama would be 19 parts)

Sharif al Murtada & Sheikh Tusi

In the Intisar, Sharif al-Murtada also does not mention anything about the third testimony.

Sheikh Tusi in his Tahdhib al Akham, refers to various ahadith reporting different juridical rulings, but in spite of this, he cites not a single hadith indicating the wilaya of Imam Ali (as) in the adhan.

Rather Sheikh Tusi says regarding the third testimony:

انه ليس من فضيلة الاذان و لاكمال فصوله

Al-Mabsoot fi Fiqh Al Imaamiyyah, vol. 1, pg. 99


It is not from amongst the Fadheelah (recommended parts) of Adhan and it doesn’t make it more complete (Kamil).

Sheikh Tusi says regarding the third testimony:

و أمّا ما روي في شواذّ الأخبار من قول أشهد ان علیا وليّ الّله و آل محمّد خیر البریّة فممّا لا یعمل علیه في الأذان و الإقامة فمن عمل بها كان مخطئا

Al Nihaayah fi Mujarrad Al Fiqh wa Al Fataawaa, pg. 69


As for what has been reported in some odd (shwadh) reports of saying “Ash hadu anna Aliyyan Wali Ullah” and “Aal Muhammad Khairul Bariyya”, you must NOT act on it in the Adhan and Iqamah, and whoever does this action is in mukhti (in error).

It is to be remembered also that these scholars were living under the aegis of Buyid rulers (334-447/945-1055) who were favorably disposed towards the Shia. Thus, although they were neither politically oppressed nor constrained in their writings, Shia jurists of the tenth and eleventh centuries either prohibited outright or strongly discouraged the utterance of the wilaya in the adhan. There is no evidence to suggest, moreover, that their ruling on this issue was based on taqiyya (dissimulation).

Muhaqqiq Hilli

After the destruction of Baghdad by the Mongols in 656/1258, the center of Shia studies moved from Baghdad to Hilla.

Although the juridical works of scholars in this period, such as Abu Mansur Muhammad b. Idris (d. 598/1201), contain detailed discussions of the adhan and iqama, the question of the wilaya in the adhan is never even alluded to. It is to be further noted that although Ibn Idris appends a separate section on the recommended parts (fadail) of the adhan, contrary to the practice of later scholars, he does not mention the wilaya in this section either.

Other scholars of Hilla were more explicit in their rejection of the wilaya in the adhan. After enumerating segments of the adhan he says:

و ما یقال من الزیادة عن ذلك بدعة

Al Mu’tabar fi sharh Al Mukhtaaar, Muhaqqiq al-Hilli (d. 67611277)


And anything that is added to this (adhan & iqamah) is a bid’ah (innovation).

Even in his popular book on Fiqh, Sharaa al Islam Fi Masael Halal wal Haram, Muhaqqiq Hilli mentioned adhan without the third testimony.

Allama Hilli

Although they were living under favorable political conditions, thirteenth and fourteenth century jurists concurred with their predecessors on the issue. Thus Allamaa Hilli explicitly forbids the recitation of the third testimony, declaring:

و لا یجوز قول إن علیا ولي الَّله و آل محمد خیر البریة في فصول الآذان، لعدم مشروعیته

Nihaayah Al Ahkaam fi ma’rif ah al-Ahkaam


And it is NOT permissible to say “Anna Aliyyan Wali Ullah” and “Aal Muhammad Khairul Bariyya” since there is no ruling for it in the sharee’ah.

Shaheed al Awwal

Fourteenth century Shia scholars based in Jabal Amil followed the example of their predecessors in prohibiting the utterance of the third testimony in the adhan.

Muhammad bin Jamal al-Din, also known as Shahid al awwal, says:

و لَا یَجُوزُ اعْتِقَادُ شَرْعِیِّة غَیْرِ هَذِهِ فِي الاذان و الاقامة كَالتَّشهُّد بِالْوِلَایَةِ و أ نَ مُحمدا و آلَهِ خَیْرُ الْبَرِیِّة و ا نِ كَانَ الْوَاقِعُ كَذَلِكَ

Al-Lum’ah Al-Dimashqiyyah, pg. 37


It is NOT permissible to believe in the legitimacy of Witnessing the Wilaayah of Ali and that “Muhammad wa Aalih Khayrul Bariyyah” in the adhan and iqamah, even though these events are factual.

Shahid al Awwal is consistent in prohibiting the recitation of the wilaya in the adhan in all four of his major juridical works al-Luma, al-Dhikra, al-Bayan, and al-Durus.

Shahid al Thani

The trend amongst the early jurists of either prohibiting or discouraging the pronunciation of the wilaya is confirmed by another scholar of Jabal Amil, Zayn al-Din bin Ali b. Ahmad al-Shami (Shahid al Thani) (d. 966/1558).

He says:

و لا یجوز اعتقاد شرعیة غیر هذه الفصول- في الأذان و الإقامة كالتشهد بالولایة لعلي ع و أن محمدا و آله خیر البریة أو خیر البشر- و إن كان الواقع كذلك فما كل واقع حقا یجوز إدخاله في العبادات الموظفة شرعا المحدودة من الله تعالى فیكون إدخال ذلك فیها بدعة و تشریعا كما لو زاد في الصلاة ركعة أو تشهدا أو نحو ذلك من العبادات و بالجملة فذلك من أحكام الإیمان لا من فصول الأذان

Sharh Al-Lum’ah Al-Dimashqiyyah, vol. 1, pg. 70 and vol. 1, pg. 573


It is NOT permissible to believe in legitimacy of other parts in adhan and iqamah, like witnessing to wilayah of Ali and “muhammad wa aalihi khayrul bariyyah”. As not EVERY factual reality can be inserted into the legally prescribed rituals (‘ibaadaat), specified by the Allaah (SWT), since inserting these things will be regarded as bid’ah and legislation, similar to addition of a rak’ah or tashahhud or alike things to the acts of worship (‘ibaadaat)

In another book, Shaheed Thani says:

و أمّا إضافة أن علیا وليّ الّله و ل محمّد خیر البریّة و نحو ذلك فبدعة، و أخبارها موضوعة

Sharh Irshaad Al-Adhhaan, vol. 2, pg. 646


And addition (to the adhan & iqamah) of “Aliyyan Waliullah” and “Aal Muhammad Khairul Bariyya” is a bid’ah and the narrations regarding it (3rd testimony) are mawdoo’ (fabricated).

Muqaddas al Ardabili

Ahmad al-Ardabili (d. 993/1585) initially quotes Sheikh Sadooq’s proscription against reciting the third testimony and agrees with him. Al-Ardabili further states that pronouncing the wilaya is tantamount to following the precedence set by Umar, who had altered the adhan that is recited in the morning by inserting the tathwib (“prayer is better than sleep”).

He says:

فینبغي اتباعه لأنه الحق، و لهذا یشنع على الثاني بالتغییر في الأذان الذي كان في زمانه صلى الله علیه و آله فلا ینبغي ارتكاب مثله مع التشنیع علیه

Majma’ Al-Faidah wa Al-Burhaan fi Sharh Irshaad Al-Adhhaan, vol. 2, pg. 181


Since the shias condemn the 2nd (‘Umar) for adding to the Adhan that wasn’t during the time of the Prophet, it is improper for them to emulate such an act (by adding the third testimony).

The preceding discussion indicates that there was a clear consensus reached by the early Shia jurists on either prohibiting or discouraging the utterance of the wilaya in the adhan. Those reciting the wilaya were marginalized and seen by jurists such as al-Saduq, Allama al-Hilli and al-Ardabili as extremists. No jurist in the pre Safavid era, whether living in Baghdad, Hilla, or Jabal Amil, encouraged the practice. Indeed, no Shia jurist even stated that, provided it was not intended to be a part of the adhan, the third testimony may be recited, a distinction that was to be drawn by subsequent jurists.

Safavid era

The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries saw the gradual establishment and eventual triumph of Shi’ism under the Safavid rulers of Iran. The replacement of Sunnism by Shi’ism required a rigorous policy of religious conversion that would help transform Shi’ism from a sectarian into a national religion. Propagation of the Shi’i faith also necessitated the imposition of measures that would enhance doctrinal and liturgical uniformity. Thus Shah Isma’il sought different ways to encourage public expression of Islam in a Shi’i form. He had the names of the twelve imams mentioned in the sermons and issued a commandment stating that the first three caliphs were to be publicly cursed. Whoever refused to do so was to be killed. He also issued a decree stating that the third testimony was to be mentioned in the adhan. It was there-fore only in this era that the third testimony in the adhan was first promulgated and practiced at the popular level with official sanction. The insertion of the third testimony in the adhan was thus deeply intertwined with the Safavid rulers’ attempts at implanting a deeper commitment to Shi’ism amongst the Iranian masses.

In all probability, since the third testimony in the adhan did not contradict the sense of Shi’i doctrine and it enhanced the propagation of Shi’ism at the popular level, the jurists did not feel the need to voice an objection to it. Moreover, as they had recently migrated to Iran and were largely patronized by the kings, the Shi’i ulama were hardly in a position to challenge the policies of the Safavid rulers.

A statement made by Muhammad Taqi Majlisi (d. 1070/1659), in his Persian commentary on al-Saduq’s Man dl yahduruhu al-faqih, further indicates why the Shi’i jurists were now willing to allow the recitation of the third testimony in the adhan and thus reverse the rulings of earlier jurists. He states that in most parts of the country, the third tertimony was recited in the adhan. When people omitted it, they were accused of being Sunnis. Ironically, in this tract, Majlisi invokes the doctrine of dissimulation (taqiyya) to recite the third testimony. Stated differently, taqiyya was used to assert rather than to hide Shi’i identity, that is, the third testimony was to be recited so as to avert accusations of being affiliated to the Sunnis.

Majlisi I goes on to cite the example of his own teacher, Mawlana AbdAllah, who, after much discussion, had decided to stop uttering the third testimony in the adhan. He adds that his teacher was accused of being a Sunni. Majlisi then advised his teacher to recite the third testimony, to defend himself against accusations of having a Sunni penchant. This was his practice for as long as he lived.

Despite Taqi Majlisi’s efforts at accommodating the wilaya in the adhan, his contemporaries did not concur with him. Thus al-Muhaqqiq al-Sabzawari (d. 1090/1679) says:

و أمّا إضافة أن علیّا وليّ الَّله و آل محمّد خیر البریّة و أمثال ذلك فقد صرّح الأصحاب بكونها بدعة و إن كان حقّا صحیحا إذ الكلام في دخولها في الأذان و هو موقوف على التوقیف الشرعي و لم یثب

Dhakheerah Al-Ma’aad fi sharh Al-Irshaad, vol. 2, pg. 244


And about adding the “Aliyyan Waliullah” and “Aal Muhammad Khairul Bariyya”, the jurists have clearly stated that this is a bid’ah, and the statement is true, but adding it to the adhan is dependent upon its divine ordainment (al-tawqeef al-shar’ee) a fact which has not been established.

Fayd al-Kashani (d. 1091/1680) maintains in his Mafatih al-sharai that reciting the third testimony is an abominable (makruh) act that is contrary to the sunna.

Sheikh Hurr al Amili also specially quoted the words of Sheikh Saduq about the third testimony being a Bid’a in his Wasail ush Shia.

Nevertheless, the argument for the recitation of the third testimony in the adhan was further enhanced by Muhammad al-Baqir Majlisi (d. 1110/1698). Majlisi II twists the discussion about the wilaya on its head. To further vindicate the inclusion of the wilaya in the adhan, Majlisi ingeniously divides segments of the adhan into obligatory and recommended parts. The wilaya, he declares, may be uttered as a recommended part of the adhan.

Majlisi II quotes a tradition cited in Tabrisi’s al-Ehtijaj. There Tabrisi narrates a tradition:

from al-Qasim b. Muawiya, who is quoted as saying: I said to Abu AbdAllah [ Jafar al-Sadiq] that they [the Sunnis] transmit a tradition in their[ books on the] mi’raj [indicating] that when the Prophet was taken on the night ascension he saw writing on the throne which read:” There is no god but God, Muhammad is the Prophet of God and Abu Bakr is the truthful one.”Al-Sadiqis reported to have responded: “Glory be to God, they have altered everything, including this?”Al-Qasimr eplied: “Yes.”Al-Sadiq then reportedly said: “When God, the Almighty, most Glorious, created the throne, he wrote on it: “There is no god but God and Muhammad is the Prophet of God and Ali is the Commander of the faithful.”


This long tradition then ends with Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) telling al-Qasim that “whenever one of you recites the shahada, he should also say ‘Ali is the Commander of the faithful’.

Since this tradition does not delineate the circumstances under which the wilaya is to be pronounced, it is interpreted by Majlisi II to be general, not restrictive in its applicability. Hence the wilaya in the adhan is construed by him to be subsumed under and even justified by this tradition. Thus what was considered to be bid’a by the preceding jurists becomes, for Majlisi II and most subsequent Shi’i jurists, a sunna. But Majlisi II needed scriptural support for his ruling on the adhan. This was provided by Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq’s (as) hadith as found in al-Ehtijaj.

Though it should be noted that this narrated is Dhaeef (Weak) because:

  1. This hadeeth is not found in any other book before Al-Tabrisi narrates it in his book (Al-Ehtijaaj).
  2. There is no sanad (chain of narrators) that is accompanied with this hadeeth.
  3. The primary narrator is majhool (unknown)

There are no ahadeeth from this specific narrator in our Kutub Al-Arba’ (Al-Kaafi, Al-Faqeeh, Tahdheeb & Al-Istibsaar) or Wasaa-il Al-Shee’ah.

The ONLY hadeeth that is narrated from this narrator is this specific hadeeth.

In the modern day, reformist scholars like Ayatullah Muhammad Hussain Fadhlullah (Lebanon), Ayatullah Muhammad Hussain Najafi (Pakistan), Ayatullah Sadeqi Tehrani (Iran) etc are known to have spoken against mentioning the third testimony in the Adhan.

May Allah guide us all


  1. Ali Al-Afghani Ali Al-Afghani March 5, 2019

    MashaAllah brother, thank you for sharing. I haven’t heard this before and you have provided plenty of proof.


  2. Ali Ali October 13, 2020

    Thank you.

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