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Offline Reader Questions

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Where Does the Quran Teach You How to Pray?
« on: July 04, 2013, 05:40:27 AM »
Asalama'alaykum dear brother Joseph

As you know we often hear when supporting the requirement of hadith that if the Quran provides all the guidance you need, where does it provide details of prayer then? How would you know how to pray? What is your view on such a question and how would you answer it?

Thanks for all your help

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Where Does the Quran Teach You How to Pray?
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2013, 05:47:04 AM »
Wa alaikum assalam

The Quran does not prescribe a particular manner of prayer. It has absolutely no intention to. So expecting the Quran to provide information on a matter that it has no intention to is a question based on a faulty premise.

The Quran simply asks all believers to 'establish' (aqama) prayers.

The verb 'aqama' inherently means 'to set' or 'set up', 'to assign or establish' as in the expression 'aqimu'l-wazna' 55:9 (set up the weight /balance) or as Prophet Moses’ companion sought to establish or set the wall with a view to prevent it from collapsing. The latter is given by the expression 'fa-aqamahu' in verse 18:77.

The Quran provides guidance to certain parameters which must be followed such as the need for ablution (4:43, 5:6), qibla (2.143-44), allusion of times, tone (17:110), lead (4:102), basic form such as a standing position (3:39; 4:102), bowing down and prostration (4:102; 22:26; 38:24; 48:29) et al, and as long as these are adhered to, the prayer from a Quran's perspective is complete.

This makes the Quranic prayer tremendously 'inclusive' allowing one to assimilate with many different prayer techniques irrespective of orthodox divide and follow as best practice.

The earliest believers with the Prophet as the spiritual helm undoubtedly heeded this basic instruction from God to 'establish prayer' (aqama) and formulated an appropriate routine, possibly drawing inferences from existing monotheistic worship (2:43). This basic technique arguably became 'ritualised' by later generations.

The intent of 'establishing prayer' was always 'purpose' as opposed to ‘blind routine’.

Often erroneously seen as a befitting argument to infer that the Quran is incomplete in finer details hence requiring the assistance of extraneous sources, it comes as much surprise to many Muslims today that there is also not one single hadith which describes the full prayer technique including all the rakats from start to finish.

Here the Quran and the Hadith remain in tandem. Neither has the intent to 'define' prayer in terms commonly understood.

The question regarding prayer is so fundamental for many Muslims that it is often used as the last bastion to either muster support for the requirement of Islamic secondary sources in matters of religion, or to provide ammunition to others to completely negate the need for prayer by subjecting the Quran to a linguistic autopsy.

Neither approach arguably has any warrant from a Quran’s perspective.

If many Muslims only understood the general wisdom from the story of the heifer not to incessantly solicit finer details in matters of religion which would only serve to burden their practices. (2:67-71).

It is heartening to infer that the Prophet and the early believers took the command to ‘establish prayer’ as a general instruction and established an appropriate routine given the parameters presented by the Quran.

After all, the Quran is not averse to providing finer details if solicited. (‘yasalūnaka’ - 'They ask you' …see numerous references in the Quran).

I hope that helps, God willing.



'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell