The word “Salat” and its derivatives occur in the Scripture over 70 times and is emphasized by God Almighty as a critical aspect for the spiritual development and progress of believers.
According to the Sunnis and Shia, the Salat was decreed by God to the Prophet Mohammed during the night of ascension, in which God decreed 50 Salats per day, only to be reduced to 5 Salats per day due to pleading of the Prophet.
While the average Sunni or Shia may not have any problems with the above tale, it is not only blasphemous that God would not know what to decree upon His creation, but it is also historically false as God has shown us many times that all the prophets prior to Mohammed knew Salat, and carried it out along with their families and followers (see 6:162, 10:87, 11:87, 14:37, 19:31, 31:17).
As we know too well by now, the amount of distortion and confusion created by the sects on all aspects of God’s system has no bounds, and Salat is just one of their many victims which they have lost in both meaning and function:
“Then, generations came after them who lost the Salat, and followed desires. They will find their consequences.” (Qur’an 19:59)
The Meaning of Salat
Since we know that the transmitted history of Salat being granted to the Prophet Mohammed during the night of ascension is false, then we need to also examine the other aspects of Salat that have been passed down by the generations and compare them to the light of the Qur’an.
The word "Salat" is traditionally understood to mean “prayer,” and it is thought that this structured prayer with its specific form and times carries multiple blessings that benefit its adherent.
Is Salat = Prayer?
While it may be very easy to accept this simple meaning of "prayer," it actually has no merit within the Qur'an as we note that the word "du'a" has already taken this role and is widely used throughout when speaking of "prayer."
“When they ride on a ship, they call on God, devoting the system to Him. But as soon as He saves them to the shore, they set up partners.” (Qur’an 29:65)
“And when waves surround them like mountains, they call on God, sincerely devoting the system to Him. But when He saves them to the shore, some of them return. None discard Our signs except those who are betrayers, rejecters.” (Qur’an 31:32)
“And if My servants ask you about Me, I am near answering the calls of those who call to Me. So let them respond to Me and believe in Me that they may be guided.” (Qur’an 2:186)
Moreover, it is obvious from the above verses that, unlike "Salat," “prayers” can be conducted at any time and in any shape, and that God indeed answers such prayers if they are made sincerely by His servants.
Another problem which arises from applying this incorrect meaning of "prayer" is that certain verses that use the word “Salat,” such as 33:56, 9:103, 33:43 start to take on a bizarre meaning whereby God is himself “praying” to the Prophet?! The fix that the traditionalists have done is to exclude these problematic verses by performing mental acrobatics and giving them a different meaning of “sends blessings upon” so that the narrative can continue to have some semblance of cohesion to it.
What is Salat?
Here are some of the features of Salat which will clarify the meaning of this ancient and valuable tool:
- It is designed to help with the remembrance of God (20:14);
- It gives instructions to its recipient (11:87);
- It prohibits evil & vice (29:45);
- It is carried out at fixed times (4:103);
- Attending it has certain rules (5:6, 4:43);
- It is done in an audible voice (17:110);
- *God and His angels do it to the believers and to the Prophet (33:43, 33:56);
- *The Prophet does it to the believers (9:103);
*The believers do it to the Prophet (33:56);
- Intelligent animals have a form of it (24:41);
- It is done when a person dies (5:106);
- It can be lost or neglected (19:59);
*Perhaps the most obvious clue from the above list is that “Salat” only occurs from God in one-direction (i.e. it is from God to the believers, but never from the believers to God!)
Therefore, if we are looking for an act that occurs from God to His creation, and grants information and instructions to its recipients, then the best possible meaning is the word "Indoctrination," whereby information/instructions are given in both a formal or informal manner.
Salat = Indoctrination/Teaching
Imagining the revelation of the Qur'an 1,400 years ago, or the revelation of the Torah nearly 3,000 years ago, and imagining the life of people who had little running water, high illiteracy rates, few written books, and no technology, then it does not become difficult to understand that God had decreed a method of formal teaching that can be upheld with ease and which would benefit all humankind if they indeed had the desire to learn. Salat is the simple setting-up of this method whereby any and all people would have access to the words of God regardless of their literacy level or whether they have access to the written Book or not. Everyday, at specific times, the people could gather and hear God’s words recited to them in a clear and audible manner. This flow of information not only would develop the spirit, but would also make people aware of God’s laws, His requirements, His teachings, and most importantly, their rights and responsibilities.
How to carry out the Salat?
To establish regular Salat requires certain steps and preparations that God has ordained with His knowledge. In this section, we will examine the steps and details required to establish the Salat as found in the Qur’an.
A. Timing for Salat
The first requirement for establishing the Salat is “fixing its times” as that will enable all people who wish to benefit from this tool to know, with regularity, when it is going to be carried out.
According to the Qur’an, there are two fixed, and one variable, Salat times that have been prescribed:
- Salat Al-Fajr (Dawn Salat 24:58);
- Salat Al-Wusta (Central Salat 2:238);
- Salat Al-Isha (Evening Salat 24:58).
“O you who believe, let those who are maintained by your oaths, and those who have attained puberty, request your permission regarding three times: before the dawn Salat, and when you put off your attire from the noon time, and after the evening Salat. These are three private times for you. Other than these times, it is not wrong for you or them to intermingle with one another. God thus clarifies the revelations for you. And God is Knowledgeable, Wise.” (Qur’an 24:58)
“Hold the Salat at the rubbing of the sun to the murkiness of the night; and the Qur’an at dawn - the Qur’an at dawn is witnessed.” (Qur’an17:78)
The two fixed Salat times are “dawn & dusk,” while the variable Salat is held at noon during the day of congregation (yawm aljuma) – to be covered later in this chapter.
A few observations/notes on the Salat times as they occur in the Qur'an and as they are carried out by the sects:
- Although the Sunnis make a claim that there are five Salat times (as decreed by their Hadiths), they only observe three Salat using the proper protocol of having an audible voice (17:110);
- The Shia, although claiming to adhere to five Salat like the Sunnis, only hold three Salat times each day (claiming that they are permitted to join between some of the Salat times);
- The Jewish Bible, in affirming the previous knowledge people have of Salat, also affirms that such a practice was carried out three times each day (Daniel 6:10, Psalms 55:16-17).
B. Where to Hold Salat
The default for Salat is for it to be carried out in the temples, where people can attend and gather. However, there are exceptions which allow Salat to be carried out on the move and even while walking if the person/group are under duress.
“So the angels called to him while he was standing, Yusali, in the enclosure: “God gives you glad tidings of John, affirming the word from God, and a master, and steadfast, and a prophet from the upright.” (Qur’an 3:39)
“Rather, the temples of God are built by he who believes in God and the Last Day, and he holds the Salat, and he contributes towards purification, and is only concerned by God. It is these that will be of the guided ones.” (Qur’an 9:18)
“Maintain the Salawat, and the central Salat; and stand dutifully for God. But if you are fearful, then you may do so while walking or riding. If you become secure, then remember God as He has taught you what you did not know.” (Qur’an 2:238-239)
C. Make Ablution/Dress Nicely
As a preparation for Salat, attendees need to be physically clean, using water, or, if not available, clean dry soil to wipe themselves. Attendees should also try and dress nicely when attending the temples.
“O you who believe, if you rise to hold the Salat, then wash your faces and your hands up to the elbows, and wipe your heads and your feet to the ankles; and if you have had intercourse, then you shall purify. And if you are ill, or traveling, or you have excreted feces, or you have had sexual contact with the women, and you cannot not find water, then you shall select from the clean soil; you shall wipe your faces and your hands with it. God does not want to place any hardship on you, but He wants to cleanse you and to complete His blessings upon you that you may be thankful.” (Qur’an 5:6)
“O Children of Adam, dress nicely at every temple, and eat and drink and do not indulge; He does not like the indulgers.” (Qur’an 7:31)
D. Be of a Clear Mind
Clarity of mind and focus are the most critical aspects of Salat as the words of God that are going to be recited need to be reflected upon and understood - and not simply parroted as some people of old had become accustomed to.
“O you who believe, do not approach the Salat while you are intoxicated, until you know what you are saying. Nor if you have had intercourse, unless a wayfarer, until you wash. And if you are ill, or traveling, or one of you has excreted feces, or you had sexual contact with the women, and could not find water, then you shall select from the clean soil; you shall wipe your faces and hands. God is Pardoning, Forgiving.” (Qur’an 4:43)
E. Be in a Stationary Standing Position
The normal mode for achieving the Salat is to be in a stationary standing position. However, as we have already mentioned with the location, if there are impeding circumstances, then the people may attempt to achieve the Salat while walking or riding.
“Maintain the Salawaat; and the middle Salat; and stand for God dutifully. But if you are in a state of fear, then you may do so while walking or riding. If you become secure, then remember God as He has taught you what you did not know.” (Qur’an 2:238-239)
F. Use a Moderate Voice, Recite the Scripture
This is by far the most important aspect for Salat to be successful. That the words of God are recited by a person who can read them in a clear and moderate voice. People are attending Salat to learn what God wants from them and how they are to regulate their lives. If the person reciting has a low voice, or is inaudible, then the purpose is defeated. Also, as much variety as possible needs to be recited from the scripture so that each and every day becomes a lesson that the audience can take-away and reflect upon.
“Say: ‘Call on God or call on the Almighty; by whichever you call on, to Him are the best names.’ And do not be too loud in making your Salat, nor too quiet; but seek a path in between.” (Qur’an 17:110)
“Recite what is inspired to you of the Book, and hold the Salat, for the Salat prohibits evil and vice; but certainly the remembrance of God is the greatest. God knows everything you do.” (Qur’an 29:45)
G. Split Salat into Two Prostrations
The activity of Salat is to be split into two segments. The segments are separated by a physical prostration. Once a person is done with Salat, they will move from the standing position to a prostrating position marking the end of their Salat. The splitting of Salat into two segments allows participants who are in a rush or have commitments they fear missing to attend one segment out of the two.
“And if you are with them and you hold the Salat for them, then let a group from among them stand with you and let them bring their weapons; and when they have prostrated then let them be behind you; and let a group who has not yet Yusaloo come and Yusaloor with you, and let them be wary and let them bring their weapons with them. The rejecters hope that you would neglect your weapons and goods so they can come upon you in one blow. There is no sin upon you if you are impeded by rainfall, or if you are ill, that you place down your weapons. And be wary. God has prepared for the rejecters a humiliating retribution.” (Qur’an 4:102)
“And if you go forth in the land, then there is no harm that you shorten from the Salat, if you fear that the rejecters will try you. The rejecters are to you a clear enemy.” (Qur’an 4:101)
H. End Salat With Specific Prayer
Depending on the length of Salat, and at the end of either segment, Salat is ended with a specific prayer to God outlining the Divinity and Oneness of the Almighty.
“Say: “Call on God or call on the Almighty; by whichever you call on, to Him are the best names.” And do not be too loud in your Salat, nor too quiet; but seek a path in between. And say: ‘Praise to God who has not taken a son, nor does He have a partner in sovereignty, nor does He have an ally out of weakness.’ And glorify Him greatly.” (Qur’an 17:110-111)
Believers vs. Submitters
While there is no doubt that any person may attempt to perform Salat as he/she wishes, a study of the Scripture reveals that the main people who will be successful at making the Salat on a regular basis are ones who have advanced to the stage of being Mumins (believers).
“O you who believe, do not approach the Salat while you are intoxicated, until you know what you are saying. Nor if you have had intercourse, unless traveling, until you bathe. And if you are ill, or traveling, or one of you has excreted feces, or you had sexual contact with the women, and could not fi nd water, then you shall select from the clean soil; you shall wipe your faces and hands. God is Pardoning, Forgiving.” (Qur’an 4:43)
“So, when you have done the Salat, then remember God while standing, or sitting, or on your sides. So, when you are relieved, then hold the Salat. Indeed, the Salat for the believers is a timed schedule.” (Qur’an 4:103)
While most people may not realize the difference, the Scripture has made a clear distinction between “Muslims” (those who simply have submitted to God) and “Mumins” (those who have advanced and strive with their wealth and lives in the sake of God):
“The Nomads said: ‘We believe (Amana).’ Say: “You have not believed; but you should say: ‘We have submitted (Aslamna)’, for belief has not yet entered into your hearts.” If you obey God and His messenger, He will not put any of your works to waste. God is Forgiver, Merciful. Believers (Muminoon) are those who believe in God and His messenger, then they became without doubt, and they strive with their money and their lives in the cause of God. These are the truthful ones.” (Qur’an 49:14-15)
Therefore, if you are not able to benefit from Salat, do not despair, the benefits will come eventually when you have calmed your mind through patience and have nourished your soul through good works.
Being in Groups or Alone
While Salat is best performed in groups, there is nothing to stop it from being performed in an individual basis.
“And if you are with them and you hold the Salat for them, then let a group from among them stand with you and let them bring their weapons; and when they have prostrated then let them be behind you; and let a group who has not yet Yusaloo come and Yusalo with you, and let them be wary and let them bring their weapons with them. The rejecters hope that you would neglect your weapons and goods so they can come upon you in one blow. There is no sin upon you if you are impeded by rainfall, or if you are ill, that you place down your weapons. And be wary. God has prepared for the rejecters a humiliating retribution.” (Qur’an 4:102)
“The angels called to him while he was standing, YuSali, in the enclosure: ‘God gives you glad tidings of John, authenticating the word from God, and a master, and steadfast, and a prophet from the upright.’” (Qur’an 3:39)
The “Central” Salat that we highlighted at the beginning of this chapter (under Salat times) is the “Jum’a/Congregation” Salat, which has been designated by the Almighty as a special time, which unlike the daily Salat, most people should attend regardless of their busy schedules and activities. The “Central” Salat is to be held during the middle of the day, and is held on the day that people would gather/recreate (akin to the Friday worship amongst Muslims, the Sunday worship amongst Christians, or the Sabaath worship amongst Jews).
“O you who believe, if the Salat is called to on the day of congregation, then you shall hasten towards the remembrance of God, and cease all selling. This is better for you, if only you knew. Then, once the indoctrination is complete, you shall disperse through the land and seek the provisions of God, and remember God frequently that you may succeed. And if they come across any trade, or some entertainment, they rush to it and leave you standing! Say: “What God possesses is far better than entertainment or trade. And God is the best Provider.” (Qur’an 62:9-11)
When a person dies, especially if during travel, then the Salat may be held to understand the laws required to deal with his/her passing (inheritance, burial, etc.). The Salat is not to be held for the hypocrites or those who openly fight the system of God and rebel against it.
"O you who believe, witnessing a will if death is approaching one of you shall be done by two who are just among you. Or, if you have gone forth in the land, then any two may suffice if death is approaching. If you have doubt, you will hold them after making the Salat, and they will swear by God: "We will not purchase with it any price, even if he was a near relative, and we will not conceal the testimony of God, or else we are then of the sinners." (Qur'an 5:106)
"And do not hold the Salat for any of them who have died, nor stand at their grave. They have rejected God and His messenger and died while they were wicked." (Qur'an 9:84)
The benefits from being able to hear God’s laws and words communicated each and every day in a formal manner cannot be emphasized enough. It is the passing on of knowledge, as well as the building of community, and the tightening of bonds. It is for this reason that we must all be aware that the devil and his followers have this vehicle in their sights and that severing the Salat from God and rendering the act to a an empty ritual has and will continue to be a priority item (cutting us off from the source):
“The devil only wants to cause strife between you through intoxicants and gambling, and to repel you away from remembering God and from the Salat. Will you be deterred?” (Qur’an 5:91)
“Then generations came after them who lost the Salat, and followed desires. They will find their consequences.” (Qur’an 19:59)
Now that we have found the Salat once again, will we discard our ability to be instructed and taught by God and turn the Salat into mindless empty rituals as the generations before us have done?
Will we be deterred?
Taken from the book "The Natural Republic"