In the name of Allah,
The act of calling people to prayer is considered to be a greater virtue than leading the prayers itself. This is the opinion held by Shafi’is, Hanbalis, Hanafis, Malikis, and Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Uthaymin.
Imaam Al-‘Iz ibn ‘Abdus-Salaam said in his book, Qawaa‘id Al-Ahkaam, ” Some scholars prefer leading the prayer to calling the Athaan because it rewards the Imaam and Ma’mumeen. The Imaam receives awards for congregational prayer and helps the Ma’mumeen receive them, thus he earns their rewards. As Hadeeth states, congregational prayer is better than individual prayer by 25 or 27 times. Regarding the Athaan, nothing similar was said in the Sunnah. What will the Ma’mumeen get for letting the Imaam lead them in prayer and earning such great rewards and a refined status? Yes, they will. The Prophet asked: “Who will pray with him in congregation to give him charity?”[i]
Ash-Shaykh Uthaymeen stated:
Adhan is one of the best deeds. It is better than the position of an Imam; that is, the level of Muadhdhin (the one who calls to prayer) in terms of reward is superior to the position of Imam because the Mu’adhdhin calls to the greatness of Allah, His Oneness, and attestation to the Messengership of the Messenger of Allah. Similarly, he calls people to Salat and success five times or more in a day and night. The Imam does not perform this duty. No being, a jinn or human, would hear the voice of the one who calls to prayer except that he would testify for him on the Day of Resurrection. Hence, the status of Adhan in the Sharee’ah is superior to the level of Imamah.’[ii]
Reasons why calling people to prayer is Virtuous
The following are the benefits of calling people to prayer:
a) It is mustahabb to compete in it for the honor and reward.
b) It repels Satan.
c) On Judgement Day, those who call to prayer will have the longest necks.
d) The caller is pardoned based on how far his voice reached, and all land confirms his words.
e) The prayer caller will have all men and jinn who heard him testify in his favor.[iii]
Imam An Nawawi (r) said:
‘Our scholars hold different views on whether it is better for a person to dedicate himself to proclaiming the Adhan or leading the congregational prayer. The more correct view is that Adhan is better. This is stated by Al Shafi himself in Al Umm.’[iv]
[ii] An Explanation of Riyadh al-Saliheen. from the words of the Master of the Messengers, Explanation, and Completion of His Eminence Shaykh Muhammad bn Salih Uthaymeen. Vol -5, Page 44
[iv] Sahih Muslim (Volume 3): With the Full Commentary by Imam Nawawi (Al-Minhaj bi Sharh Sahih Muslim), Translated by Adil Salahi, page 423