We hear five times a day Muadhin calling Azan/Adhan from the mosque; and each time calling multiple times ‘Hayya-alas-salah (rush to prayer)’, ‘Hayya-alal-falah (rush to success)’. How many times we respond to that call with what is prescribed in Sunnah to say after ‘HAYYA-ALAS-SALAH’, ‘Hayya-alal-falah’? How many of us even know about that in the first place? Do we really know what are we missing?
not just a phrase but Something from the treasures of Paradise, ‘La hawla wala quwwata illa billah’
It was a beautiful winter day. I was chit-chatting under the warmth of sun with one of my friends in college, when the mua’dhin called the Adhan from the mosque nearby.
Since my family inculcated in us the habit to respond to the Adhan from quite young age, that day too, I was responding. As the Mua’dhin said, “Hayya al-al-Salah” “Hayya al-al-falah”, I said “La hawla wa la quwwata illa billaah.”
Narrated Yahya:SAHIH AL-BUKHARI 613
“Some of my companions told me that Hisham had said, “When the Mu’adh-dhin said, “Haiyi `alassala (come for the prayer).” Muawiya said, “La hawla wala quwata illa billah (There is neither might nor any power except with Allah)” and added, “We heard your Prophet saying the same.”
As I gave the pause, my friend who must be listening my low but audible responses to call for prayer said in some disagreement, “aisa nahin kehna chahiye tha (you shouldn’t have said so).”
“What Did I say that I Shouldn’t have Said”, I asked perplexed.
“The thing you just said.”
Her expressions were quite antagonistic.
“What did I say and to whom,” utterly clueless I asked her.
You just said, “La hawla wa la quwwata illa billaah”, when there was Adhan being called.
“It is so disrespectful to Adhan. You know what…people say ‘La hawla wa la quwwata illa billaah’ when they see a dog….and, you said that thing when Muadhin was calling Adhan…isn’t it blasphemous…I mean…how can you…”
Aback on her concern, I explained her the whole thing (and, going to explain to you too.)
However, that really hit me hard. I felt a dire need for action, an urgency to ward off ignorance from our families, so called ‘practicing families’…a crisis of not knowing the meaning of invocations and supplications that we say with our tongue on daily basis…and the same deadlock of ignorance within me too. I do not know whether ignorance is a valid excuse or not; and it is definitely a matter of further discussion (Read Here). Nevertheless, the quote ‘In the age of information, ignorance is a choice’ carries much weight and can’t be ignored.
Well, my friend was not completely wrong on her part. I can empathise with her. I am sure she had no idea at all about ‘responding to Adhan’. Unfortunately, she didn’t know the meaning of the phrase ‘La hawla wa la quwwata illa billaah’ too. The only time she heard people saying it aloud was when they were scared being chased by barking-‘bow-wow’-dogs.
Really. It’s neither a wild guess nor a stupid assumption.
I remember, as kids we used to be very scared of street dogs. Every-time we passed by a dog barking violently or blocking our way, we held our ammi’s hand tight (that’s the other thing that she used to be equally frightened too).
“Darney ki kya baat hai? Padho ‘La hawla wa la quwwata illa billaah’…kuch nahin hoga”
(what’s there to get scared? Recite ‘La hawla wa la quwwata illa billaah’…and nothing won’t harm.)
We saw not only our Mom doing that but this practice was so common in our extended families too. If not aloud then in whispers; I heard them reciting ‘La hawla wa la quwwata illa billaah’ whenever there was boisterous ‘bow-wow’ in the lanes.
Our family particularly remember a funny incident when my younger sister as a kid once ran towards a bunch of barking dogs and yelled almost in their ears ‘La hawla wa la quwwata illa billaah’ so much so that the poor guys must be asking refuge for themselves too. (Well, in case you are wondering, kids being petrified of street dogs even though never bitten nor attacked is also not that rare in our culture where dogs are not kept inside the house unless needed. Read Here.)
Anyways. This is enough of the backing that this phrase was not quite uncommon for us and its concomitance with the ‘Bow-Wow’ too.
However, I really had no idea that this connotation reached that far until this friend of mine from some other state of India said to me, “people say ‘La hawla wa la quwwata illa billaah’ when they see a dog….and, you said that thing when Muadhin was calling Adhan…isn’t it blasphemous?”
Now, let me go a little explanatory here.
‘La hawla wa la quwwata illa billaah’ is a Prophetic invocation
It means ‘there is no power and no strength except with Allaah’. As the meaning suggests, it can be a means to ask strength and power from Allaah SWT. It is also a reminder and affirmation that all power belongs to Him ‘The Creator’, while ‘we’ the creation is dependent & powerless.
Narrated Abu Musa: The Prophet of Allaah Subhanahu Ta’aala said, to me, “O `Abdullah bin Qais! Say, ‘La hawla wala quwwata illa billah (There is neither might nor power but with Allah), for it is one of the treasures of Paradise.”Sahih al-Bukhari 7386
Take Refuge in Allaah when you see a dog barking at night
It is also true that we have been advised to take refuge in Allaah seeing a dog barking at night. Not because they are demonic or wicked but for a reason going slightly in another tangent. (God willing I will soon post on it.)
Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah, The Prophet (ﷺ) said: When you hear the barking of dogs and the braying of asses at night, seek refuge in Allah, for they see which you do not see.Sunan Abi Dawud 5103
Muslims have limits dealing with Dogs
It is also true that we Muslims try to avoid touching Dogs. Contrary to the belief how Muslims view the dogs, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the dogs Per say, we just have some limits dealing with dogs. However, unfortunately, out of our ignorance and half-baked-knowledge of religion, we ‘Muslims’ really react crazy whenever we see a dog or overreact, I must say.
Going back to the story of my friend, if we connect all the dots, we find the same ignorance leading to misleading. Things just went interpreted so wrong that after a while the wrong notion became ‘the only reality’. The invocation ‘La hawla wa la quwwata illa billaah’ from the treasures of paradise became a supplication to ward off dogs (Audhubillaah).
You know what, from the jitters for dogs to calmness, something good and something bad happened. Good was that no dog ever harmed us. We overcame our fear of dogs. We grew in our faith for ‘La hawla wa la quwwata illa billaah’ that it always worked. Bad was that we thought ‘La hawla wa la quwwata illa billaah’ was an invocation to ward off dogs. Bad that we never thought beyond that. Bad that we demeaned an invocation from the treasures of paradise by limiting it to one of our cheap needs. From that innocent age of yelling in dog ears with our arms ‘La hawla wa la quwwata illa billaah’ to this, the only development in our understanding of this invocation was that ‘Yes! It always works’, that’s it. Worst is the harm the ignorance leads to and worst is the disgrace it brings.
Worst is the harm the ignorance leads to and worst is the disgrace it brings.The Might of Pen
My Lord above the heavens is above and beyond from all what people associate with Him. His honour and might is as high as He Himself claims. He is perfect and His religion is perfect.
You probably must be wondering, ‘What’s the big deal?’
What’s the harm if one asks strength from God with this invocation if one feels scared of the ‘bow-wow’?
No harm. Absolutely no harm as long as to overcome your fear & weakness you are asking strength from Allaah SWT by saying that ‘there is no power and no strength except with Allaah’. Absolutely no harm as long as you realise what you are saying. However, it is disastrous when you say it is a dua to ward off dogs (well, you should really be not paranoid of dogs for no reason in the first place). I repeat, it is disastrous.
The same disaster when my friend thought that I associated the Adhan with dog bark (Audhubillaah).
The same disaster when she argued against the Prophetic method of answering the Adhan.
The same disaster that happened to her when she listened ‘Hayya alal salah’ five times a day but never responded with ‘La hawla wa la quwwata illa billaah’.
You know what…
Getting followed by ‘BOW WOW’ or getting bitten by it is a much smaller loss. In fact, no loss, absolutely no loss in comparison to not even knowing why we say ‘La hawla wa la quwwata illa billaah’ when mu’adhin says ‘Hayya Alal Salah-Hayya alal falah’. To say it never at the right time is the bigger loss. Being not able to reap its benefit is the real loss.
When muadhin says ‘rush to worship-rush to success’, we respond by saying ‘there is no power and no strength except with Allaah’. We ward off evil of our soul and the devil outside to rush to worship and to success. We remind ourselves that all good belongs to Him only. Even if we are rushing to prayer, this inspiration for worship, the power & the strength is coming from Him only. And, this reminder in turn keeps us humble. It has a lot more, beyond the scope of this write-up and my writing.
All I want to say is we should grow up now, at least a little bit. If not much then at least from the ‘BOW WOW’ stage.
Let’s welcome growth. Let’s value the treasures of paradise the way treasures should be valued.
Let’s ask strength from Him.
‘La hawla wa la quwwata illa billaah’
There is no power and no strength except with Allaah.
And, it’s really high time that we should know how to respond to Azan/Adhan. Trust me, the blessings are immense. Read Here.
The Might of Pen