When was salah (daily prayer) rendered fard for the first time?

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When was salah (daily prayer) rendered fard for the first time?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

There were no five daily prayers (salah) in previous religions. However, there was salah with unspecified times in general terms. Salah was rendered fard in the night of Mir'aj (Ascension) one and a half years ago before Hijra (Migration). As a summary, the following is said according to the riwayah of Anas b. Malik:

"The prophet (PBUH) was enjoined fifty prayers on the night of Isra. Then, it was reduced to five prayers. Then, the Prophet was addressed as follows: "O Muhammad! These are five prayers for you and they are all (equal to) fifty (in reward) for My Word does not change." (Bukhari, Salah, 76. Anbiya, 5; Muslim, Belief, 263; Ahmad b. Hanbal, V, 122, 143).  

That verse tells us that it will be given tenfold reward for a good deed we do:

"He who brings a good deed shall have tenfold of its like," (al-Anam 6/160; see an-Naml, 27/89; al-Qasas, 28/84).

Before the five daily prayers became fard, the worship of the Prophet was to think on Allah's Glory and what He created. It is also said that the Prophet performed two daily salahs, one in the morning and one in the evening, each of which contained two rakahs.

The previous ummahs also performed salah. We can give examples of it; for instance, Luqman ordered his son to perform salah (Luqman, 31/17);  Abraham mentioned salah while praying for the security of Hejaz (Abraham, 14/37), that Allah wanted Moses to perform salah (Taha, 20/14) during the first revelation in the mount of Tur.

That salah must be performed is based on the Qur'an, Sunnah, and Ijma (consensus).

The following is stated in many places in the Qur'an "Perform Salah and give zakah".

"Guard strictly your (habit of) prayers Especially the middle prayer" (al-Baqarah, 2/238).

"Then, when you are secure, establish the prayer; surely, prayer is timely written upon the believer." (an-Nisa, 4/103).

"Yet they were ordered to worship Allah alone, making the Religion His sincerely, upright, and to establish their prayers and to pay the obligatory charity. That is indeed the Religion of Straightness." (al-Bayyina, 98/5).

"Establish the prayer and pay the obligatory charity and hold fast to Allah. He is your Guardian, the Excellent Guardian, and the Excellent Helper" (al-Hajj, 22/78).

Evidence from the Sunnah: there are many hadiths reported about that issue. Some of those hadiths are as follows: Narrated Ibn 'Umar: Allah's Messenger said:

"Islam is based on (the following) five (principles): To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah's Messenger, to offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly, to pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity), to perform Hajj. (i.e. Pilgrimage to Makkah), to observe fast during the month of Ramadan." (Bukhari, Faith,1; Muslim, Faith, 19-22).

When Allah's Messenger (p.b.u.h) sent Muadh to Yemen, he said (to him),

"You are going to the people of a (Divine) Book. First of all, invite them to worship Allah (alone) and when they come to know Allah, inform them that Allah has enjoined on them, five prayers every day and night; and if they start offering these prayers, inform them that Allah has enjoined on them, the Zakat. And it is to be taken from the rich amongst them and given to the poor amongst them; and if they obey you in that, take Zakat from them and avoid (do not take) the best property of the people as Zakat. Avoid the curse of the oppressed, because it reaches Allah directly." (Bukhari, Zakat, 41, 63, Maghazi, 60, Tawhid, 1; Nasai, Zakat, 1; Darimi, Zakat, 1).

On the other hand, the people of Islam have consensus that the five daily prayers became fard on a night and day.

Salah is fard for every Muslim who reaches the age of puberty and who is sane. However, children who are seven years old are also ordered to perform salah. When they reach the age of ten, if they do not perform salah, they can be beaten softly by hand. The Prophet said:

"Command your children to pray when they become seven years old, and beat them for it (prayer) when they become ten years old; and arrange their beds (to sleep) separately." (Abu Dawud, Salah, 26; Ahmad bin Hanbal, II, 180, 187).

The number of prayers which are fard on a day and night is five. Only witr and the festival (Eid) prayers are wajib. The following hadith reported about a Bedouin is the evidence of the five daily and fard prayers:

"The number of prayers which are fard on a day and night is five." The Bedouin asked; "Do I have more debt than that?"; the Messenger of Allah said :

"No, but you can perform nafilah (supererogatory) prayers". Upon that, the Bedouin said: "By Him Who sent you with the Truth, I would neither make any addition to them nor would I diminish anything out of them". And the Prophet said : "If he does what he says, he will enter Paradise" (Bukhari, Belief, 34, Shahadah, 26; Muslim, Belief, 8, 10, 15, 17, 18; Abu Dawud, Salah, 1).

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