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How do I Pray Ritual Salaat from the Quran?
« on: August 05, 2012, 07:21:50 PM »
Question asked on Joseph Islam's Facebook Page
31.07.2012

Salam Bro Joseph Islam,

I have just become convinced of the need to comply to the Qur'an alone but I am just not too sure of how to really perform my rituals now-like salats,should I do five times or just three times a day as per Qur'an.The salats of the Qur'an merely mention standing,bowing and doing the prostration without mentioning how many rakaats.As regards fasting I am satisfied with the breaking at night but is there anything else different?I have been looking high and low for someone to help me with how to do the rituals right but I just don't know who to ask.I don't read and speak Arabic.The Qur'an I read is Yusof Ali's translation only.In my search for guidance I find your arguments most compelling, the reason why I am here. Please help if you can.

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: How do I Pray Ritual Salaat from the Quran?
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2012, 07:23:34 PM »
Walaikum salaam brother,


Alhumdolillah, it is nice to learn that you have been convinced of the argument for the need to make the Quran the 'furqan' and your central authority. Please let me share with you what I am convinced of and what I practice given my academic pursuits with religious theology, my academic endeavours throughout my life and what I feel is clear evidence that has hitherto reached me.

Learning of course, is an ongoing pursuit. This is simply my perspective and I only intend to share my views with you as you have solicited them and for those who may be interested. With respect to others, it is not a cue for a debate which I have already comprehensively exhausted on other platforms. Any subsequent questions can be asked on the QM Forum, http://quransmessage.com/forum/forum.htm

In my humble opinion, the Quran does not prescribe a specific form or utterance for prayer. It has no intention to 'ritualise' the process. If wudu (ablution) can be stated clearly as a defined process (5:6, 4:43) which is a 'prerequisite' to prayer, then the absence of form and content of prayer in the Quran is clearly intentional.

However, to take this silence as an absence for prayer altogether is also incorrect, unwarranted and misguided from a Quranic perspective in my opinion. [1] Such a silence, remains the 'Achilles Heel' of the 'traditionalist' argument which makes use of this as a support for sunnah and some 'Quranists', that deny the need for ritual prayer altogether.

The Quran lays down guidance (huda), it has no intention to ritualise the prayer process. How could it when prayer and its utterance is such a personal affair with the diverse needs of billions of humans with different languages? Also, the prayer tradition was clearly in situ even at the time of the Prophet’s ministry (2:43). The Quran did not need to invent a new practice but only to discern where it felt it was generally necessary with certain details. (qibla direction, wudu details etc).

In my opinion, the current practice of prayer amongst traditional Muslims fulfils the requirements of the Quran. I am personally convinced in light of verses (64:16, 39:18; 39:55) which encourages one to strive to do one's best in religious matters, that the en masse (mutawatir) propagation of the prayer that we have with us today ‘as best practice’ does not contravene any verse of the Quran. It fulfils the overarching requirement of the Quran with the guidance it offers with establishing prayer. [1]

Therefore, I find absolutely no cogent reason to 'reinvent the wheel'. Even Mary, mother of Prophet Jesus, when met with a tradition of prayer was simply asked to 'wa-ir'ka'i' (and bow down) with the 'raki'een' (those who bow down) 3:43. This was a cue for ‘assimilation’, not reinvention.

This is no different for the Children of Israel at the time of the Prophet 2:43. They too had a practice in situ at the time of the Prophet which they were simply asked to assimilate with. [2]

I find clear support for five prayers in the Quran [3] and [4] and the current practice, hence I pray five times a day taking traditional methods for the reasons cited above as 'best practice'. Unlike many sectarians, I am happy to pray with nearly (if not all) different sectarian congregations given the Quran's guidance to primarily 'assimilate' with regards to prayer. Therefore, I find the Quran-centric approach is immediately more 'inclusive' and 'anti-sectarian' (3:103) than the traditionalist approach.

My prayers are very dynamic, very involved where I attempt to commune with God spiritually at different times of the day. My needs change during the day and so do my prayers. As I am multilingual, I often make use of different languages to express my inner thoughts. If you do not understand Arabic, then I would humbly recommend that you either learn the meanings of what you intend to utter, or pray in a language that you clearly are conversant with (4:43). There are beautiful prayers in the Quran also to make use of [5].

In congregational prayer, once again, I assimilate because I find the essence of the prayer in tandem with the guidance offered by the Quran. At the time of prayer, regardless of sectarian divide, my only discernment is whether the prayer I am about to join is in line with the Quran and overarching purpose to worship and pray to God. I find that in most (if not all cases) that it is. I often lead prayer, keeping my focus on God regardless of the sectarian views of those that I lead. This is not important.

At the time of prayer, our purpose is one, to worship and pray to the Almighty.


With regards fasting and iftar in particular, I open my fast a little after sunset using verse 6:76 as general guidance as to when night starts to cover (when the earliest stars begin to appear). [6] The onset of night is a gradual process (22:61, 31:29, 74:33-34). I find a clear distinction between the Quranic term 'layl', its various nuances referring to different parts of the night such as 'al-layli muzliman' (10:27) or 'ghasaq al-layl' (17:78) and the expressions which refer to the period of sunset such as 'maghrib al'shams' 18:86 and 'duluk e-shams' 17:78.

I find that approx 25-30 mins after sunset, the brightest stars generally start to become visible. That is when I open my fast or at least I allow for the immediate sunset hue to disappear a little (approx 15mins) to demarcate 'sunset' and 'perceptible' onset of night. I find that the perceptive nature of opening fast is no different from the perception required to initiate fast "until the white thread of dawn appear to you distinct from its black thread" (2:187). It was never meant to be an exact science though for practical reasons it can be governed by specific times keeping the Quran's guidance at fore.

The Quran provides balance (meezan). The Quran has no intention for believers to abandon traditions. It only intends to regulate them and offers itself as a tool for discernment (furqan).

In the end, I feel we must always guide our endeavours in religious matters remaining cognizant of the sentiments of the following verse.

064:016
So keep your duty to God as best you can / what you are able (Arabic: ma is’tata’tum), and listen, and obey, and spend; that is better for your souls. And whoso is saved from his own greed, such are the successful” "


I hope this helps, God willing.
Joseph.


REFERENCES:

[1] HOW CAN WE LEARN PRAYER IF WE DON'T HAVE HADITH TO TEACH US?
http://quransmessage.com/articles/prayer%20without%20hadith%20FM3.htm
[2] THE IMPORTANCE OF CONGREGATIONAL PRAYER
http://quransmessage.com/articles/congregational%20prayer%20FM3.htm
[3] THE FIVE PRAYERS FROM THE QURAN
http://quransmessage.com/articles/the%20five%20prayers%20from%20the%20quran%20FM3.htm
[4] ARE THERE 3 OR 5 PRAYERS IN THE DAY?
http://quransmessage.com/articles/3%20or%205%20prayers%20FM3.htm
[5] SOME PRAYERS FROM THE QURAN
http://quransmessage.com/articles/quranic%20prayers%20FM3.htm
[6] FASTING IS PRESCRIBED UNTIL NIGHT NOT SUNSET
http://quransmessage.com/articles/fasting%20till%20night%20FM3.htm
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