What are the reasons behind the fact that daily prayers were ordered in the Quran and performed at certain times?
Submitted by on Thu, 08/04/2010 - 13:26
Dear Brother / Sister,
It is definite through the Book, the Sunnah and ijma (consensus) that performing five daily prayers is fard (obligatory) for Muslims that have certain conditions. It was indicated concisely in some verses of that Quran when and how to perform the five daily prayers; those indications became clear with the oral and practical sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). As it is known, the authority to explain the concise orders and judgments in the Quran belongs to the Prophet (pbuh), who is appointed to convey it to people. He taught people how to perform prayers by performing prayers himself and by leading prayers; he also showed the times of prayers. The application of the Prophet regarding how and when to perform prayers reached today through practical tawatur (recurrent transmission of reports).
The following is stated in the 130th verse of the chapter Taha, one of the verses indicating five daily prayers concisely:
"...Celebrate (constantly) the praises of thy Lord before the rising of the sun, and before its setting; yea, celebrate them for part of the hours of the night, and at the sides of the day: that thou mayest have (spiritual) joy."; praising Allah, that is, performing prayers is ordered before the sun rises and sets, in the hours of the night and at the two sides of the day.
In the 238th verse of the chapter al-Baqara: "Guard strictly your (habit of) prayers and the middle prayer” the word prayers (salawat) is plural. In Arabic, plural words mean at least three; the word “tathniya” is used for two things; two prayers is expressed as “salatayn” That is, at least three prayers is meant by the word salawat. There also exists the middle prayer because after salawat the word wa (and) is used. Therefore, the “middle prayer” is not included in the word “salawat”; and since the numbers in both sides are not equal, it is not possible to name a prayer that is located among three other prayers as the middle prayer. Therefore, the word salawat expresses at least four prayers. When the middle prayer is added, five daily prayers appear. It is explained in some hadiths that the middle prayer is the afternoon (asr) prayer.
The following is stated in the114the verse of the chapter Hud, "And establish regular prayers at the two ends of the day and at the approaches of the night..."
The word “zulaf” used in the verse is the plural of “zulfa”, which means the approaches of the night. As it is stated above, it means at least three. According to that verse, there are at least three prayers at the approaches of the night (evening, night and morning prayers). There are also two prayers at the two ends of the day. Thus, it is understood from that verse that there are five daily prayers.
There are also expressions indicating concisely the five daily prayers or their times in the following chapters and verses: an-Nisa, 4/103; al-Isra, 17/78; arRum, 30/17-18; an-Nur, 24/36; Qaf, 50/39-40; ad-Dehr (al-Insan) , 76/25-26. Those concise expressions and indications were explained by the words and practices of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh); they were carried out for centuries by Muslims and reached today as they were explained and practiced by the Prophet. Muslims have prayed five times a day since the Era of Bliss and nobody said the opposite. Therefore, the claim that five daily prayers do not exist in the Quran has no scientific value.
Prayer is the order of Allah. We perform it because He ordered it. However, there are thousands of reasons and wisdom behind each order and prohibition of Allah. There are many reasons why the prayers are ordered to be performed at certain times.
We start the morning with the brightness of the sun and with the joy of reaching a luminous day; we say that we were born on a day like that. This new day reminds us of the day we were sent to the mother’s womb and the first day of the six days when the universe was created. After a certain lane, we start to ascend toward the great hour; that is, from the morning of a day that rises we go to the moment we were sent to the mother’s womb and then to the first day the universe was created; we remember the days Allah creates and the bounties he grants us. Then, although we are far away from Him, we go to his presence with the morning prayer to be close to him by respecting, praising and glorifying Him. The morning prayer performed with those feelings is a timely and appropriate prayer.
Man feels as if he has been given life again in the morning; he has the vigor to start the activities to earn a living. The being that gives him the vitality and vigor and that makes him successful in his efforts to earn his living is only Allah. Therefore, man is obliged to perform the morning prayer in order to thank Him for the health He has given him and in order to summon His help.
Man uses the bounties of life, health and the mind given by Allah from the morning to the evening. He succeeds in the worldly affairs thanks to those bounties. The noon and afternoon prayers have been made obligatory for man so that he will thank Allah for his achievements and he will prevent his spirit from being in a state of heedlessness and grief.
We take refuge with Him when there is a lot of work to do. The noon time reminds us of the moment that daily tasks reach perfection and the bounties of Allah reach the summit. Man feels as if he will be suffocated due to the depression of the work at that time. He goes to the mosque in order to get rid of the stress and problems and to thank Allah for the bounties that He has sent down to him up to that time; thus, he has the opportunity to have a rest and to be temporarily freed from the worldly affairs. It is such a break for the spirit that if the becomes able to listen to his spirit and hears hi heartbeat, he will notice the excitement and joy of a student who has been bored in the classroom having a break . Going to the mosque when the intense heat of the noon affects man as the Prophet stated, “The severity of the heat is from the raging of Hell..” (Bukhari, Mawaqit, 9, 10; Adhan 18; Badu’l-Khalq 10; Muslim, Masajid 184; Abu Dawud, Salat 4; Tirmidhi, Salat 119) gives man the relief and comfort of being under the shade of His names and attributes and under liwa al-hamd (the Flag of Praise) of the Messenger of Allah on the day when everyone surrenders to Allah and when there is no shade.
The afternoon time reminds us of old age. It is the time when the sun tends to set. Therefore, that period of time also reminds us the moment that humankind gets old and the rise of the Messenger of Allah together with his setting. When we perform the afternoon prayer, we realize that everything tends to set and that in a few hours, everything on the earth will disappear that we are ephemeral, approaching our end with the pain in our legs, the ache in our backs and the grey hair on our heads. At a time when we are about to fall into hopelessness, we hear the sound of adhan (call to prayer) and we become happy to have found the way to make life eternal and go to the mosque joyfully.
The evening prayer has been made obligatory because it will end the daily activities and efforts that are about to finish due to the approaching of the evening with a spiritual worship and it will express gratitude for the profits made that day.
A day is about to end; death is near us. The evening time is the time of the sunset; the day ends; the sun sets; and we enter a different period of time. That state informs us the death of a twenty-four hour day and our death; one day we will die, be covered in a shroud and be put into the grave. A piece of stone will be put on the grave to determine our place; our family and friends will leave us and we will be left alone there... The movement of the minute hand indicates the movement of the hour hand; similarly, the setting of the sun indicates the setting of every thing, every system; we witness the reality expressed by the following verse: “When the sun (with its spacious light) is folded up; when the stars fall, losing their luster; when the mountains vanish (like a mirage);..” (at-Takwir, 81/1-3). We go to the mosque to perform the evening prayer in order to console our grieving heart and to relieve our spirit. The evening time is the expression of either crying or experiencing the excitement of improving our position in the hereafter. The adhans heard in the uproar when everything and everybody says farewell to each other and when they want to express their sorrow with screams and yelling inform us about a new dawn within the dusk; we experience strongly in our spirit a new revival together with death. As Hazrat Ibrahim said, “…I love not those that set” (al-An’am, 6/76), it means tending toward Allah, who says, “I am not content with those who are not together with me in the morning and in the evening and who is the Everlasting One and who does not set or disappear.
Man will enter the realm of sleep later. Before reaching that realm, which is regarded as a sample of death in a sense and a period of calm and in another sense resting, it will be the sign of a happy ending to end that day with a holy worship, to go to that realm with a divine enjoyment and spiritual awakening, to take refuge with the pardoning and mercy of Allah; the night prayer is performed to attain it.
The life ends like the day. The time of the night is the time when the dusk blackens and no sign of the sun is seen. There is nothing left to remind us of the existence of the daytime that passed. When the daytime ended, it was replaced by the dusk in the form of brightness or redness and it said, “remember me a bit more”. When that redness disappears, everything is gone and everything finishes. The night time reminds us the end of the human life together with the end of everything. Thus, as the years pass by, man feels as if he has not lived at all. The night time reminds us of a moment when everything finishes and when man will be deprived of all kinds of lights and brightness in the grave.
On the other hand, there exist five different phases in the life of both man and the other beings around him: birth, growth, coming to a standstill, getting old and dying. Our Creator ordered us to pray 5 times a day that correspond those phases so that we will establish a nice balance between the material and spiritual parts of man and his work.
It will not suffice no matter how much we thank Allah because he has obliged us to perform a worship that includes such holy, material and useful things. The reasons and wisdoms why prayers were divided into five times are not only the ones that we have mentioned. (See Nursi, Sözler (Words), 9. Söz)
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