Archive for ‘Five Daily Prayers’

June 2nd, 2011

Cracking the Five Daily Prayers (Salah): Did Allah Give the Command?

Have you ever encountered a Muslim who dismisses the authority of the Hadith, claiming to follow only the Qur’an? If so, you are not alone. I have met a lot of them. These Muslims are uncomfortable with the Hadith which contains information that are contradictory because they are based on the life of Prophet Muhammad who lived his life as he willed.
A Muslim I met online recently—a convert to Islam—particularly insisted all a Muslim ever needed to know was in the Qur’an. That prompted me to ask him if the command for Muslims to pray 5 times a day was in the Qur’an. He claimed it was. He pointed to some verses trying to prove his claim. Let us see if the Qur’an actually says Muslim must pray 5 times a day and if it doesn’t, where Muhammad got the idea.
The Qur’an mentions only two out of the five daily prayers by name namely, Fajr (dwan) and Isha (late evening) in Qur’an 24:58. The other three: Dhuhur (solar noon), Asr (mid afternoon) and Maghrib (right after sunset) are not mentioned in the entire Qur’an.
There are indirect references like “two ends of the day” and “approaches of the night” in Qur’an 11:114 which Muslims interpret to mean Fajr, Maghrib, and Isha prayers.
Qur’an 17:78 has “Establish regular prayers-at the sun’s decline till the darkness of the night, and the morning prayer” which has Fajr directly and Isha indirectly mentioned.
Qur’an 30:18 “Yea, to Him be praise, in the heavens and on earth; and in the late afternoon and when the day begins to decline” has some Muslims commentaries trying to squeeze in Asr and Dhuhur as what this verse was alluding to even when the verse was not a command to pray. I thought Allah gave Muhammad the 5 daily prayers when he “ascended” to the heavens! What happened? Why does the Qur’an only mention two of these important daily prayers by name and does not command Muslim to pray at least 5 times a day?
My online Muslim friend continued to tell me in Qur’an 2:238 “middle prayer” apparently refers to Asr even when the verse does not say so. He just assumes since Muslims currently practice 5 daily prayers and Asr is the middle prayer, he sells out on the idea. Little does he know only at most three prayers are “mentioned” in the Qur’an at one time and even these three have a “middle prayer.” To make the matter even worse, this verse was revealed in Medina, years after the command for the 5 compulsory daily prayers were supposedly given in the Hadith. Qur’an chapter 17 contains Muhammad’s alleged ascension to the seven heavens and only mentions two daily prayers: Fajr (directly) and Isha (indirectly). The Hadith is the only source that has the number—five—and all the names of the compulsory daily prayers
If Allah really meant Muslims must observe the 5 daily prayers (Salat), shouldn’t he have made it clear in the Qur’an? He didn’t. Muhammad’s Hadith appear more lucid on the 5 daily prayers (Salah) than the Qur’an.
Prophet Muhammad must have borrowed the idea of the 3 daily prayers in the Qur’an from the Jews. Daniel 6:10:
When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.
Daniel prayed toward Jerusalem. Muhammad prayed toward Jerusalem for the first 14 years of Islam. Daniel, like others who practice Judaism, prayed three times a day.
I have no doubt Muhammad borrowed the idea of the 3 daily prayers which are in the Qur’an from the Jews and the 5 daily prayers from Zoroastrians. He did not ascend to the heavens to get the command to pray five times. Even the Qur’an claims the “ascension” was a mere dream (Qur’an 53:13-18).
The Hadith is the only source where Muslims can find information on the 5 daily prayers and how to observe them. Though it is a boom for critics of Islam like me, it has answers to key issues in Islam as mundane as the 5 daily prayers without which a Muslim would not be granted paradise. That is another Crack in the Crescent for you.