Salaah from Qur-aan

The immediate impact of sincere belief in Allaah SWT on a believer’s psyche is that (s)he keeps on thinking about Allaah SWT throughout the day. Allaah SWT remains in his/her consciousness and the consciousness of Allaah’s presence impacts the choices and decisions (s)he makes. This is called remembrance of Allaah. The Holy Qur-aan tells us that believers are expected to remember Allaah in this manner throughout the day, everyday. For example,
O believers, remember Allaah with frequent remembrance and glorify Him day and night. Ahzaab 33:41-42
And remember Allaah in your heart, with humility and fear, in quiet voice, day and night; and do not be one of those who are neglectful. Al-A’raaf 7:205

Then, at certain times during the day, a believer is expected to leave everything aside for a few minutes and concentrate on remembrance of Allaah through Salaah. Just as Moosa (Moses) was commanded:
Perform Salaah for My remembrance. Taa Haa 20:14

The focus of Salaah being the remembrance of Allaah is also indicated by other verses such as:
O believers, when the call is given for Salaah on Friday, proceed immediately towards Allaah’s remembrance and leave the business. Al-Jumu’ah 62:9

This remembrance through Salaah is a time-specified obligation:
Indeed Salaah is an obligation on believers (to be performed) at specified times. An-Nisaa 4:103

Thus, whenever the Qur-aan mentions remembrance of Allaah or His glorification with time specifications, it always is alluding to Salaah.


Frequency and Times of Salaah

So, how many times, and at what times, is Salaah to be performed?

Glorify the praises of your Lord, when you stand up (or arise), and during the night also glorify Him and when the stars are setting. At-Toor 52:48-49 (Maghrib/‘Ishaa and Fajr)
And perform Salaah on both ends of the day and early part of the night. Hood 11:114 (Fajr, Maghrib and Ishaa)
Hence, bear with what they say; and glorify your Lord with praise before sunrise and before sunset. Also glorify Him at night and after the Sujood. Qaaf 50:39-40 (Fajr, ‘Asr, Maghrib and ‘Ishaa)
So glorify Allaah in the evening and in the morning -- and all the Praise is for him in the heavens and the earth -- and in the late afternoon (‘ashiyy{footnote}There are two translations for ‘ashiyy: Late afternoon and night. Regardless of how it is translated, these two verses clearly give four times of Salaah; however depending on how it is viewed, all five times can emanate from these verses.

{/footnote}) and early afternoon (Zuhr).

Ar-Room 30:17-18 (All five)
And glorify the praises of your Lord before the rising of the sun, before its setting, and also glorify during some periods of the night, and at the ends (Atraaf{footnote}‘Atraaf’ in plural indicates at least three ends of the day, which will be: daybreak, sun passing the meridian, setting of the sun. All five prayer-times have been covered in this verse.{/footnote}) of the day. Taa Haa 20:130 (All five)
Establish Salaah from declining of the sun (from zenith) to the darkness of the night, particularly with special recitation of the Qur-aan in Fajr, certainly recitation of the Qur-aan in the morning is witnessed. And at night, get up for Tahajjud, for additional benefit to you. Banee Israaeel 17:78-79 (All five)

From declining of the Sun to darkness of night covers Zuhr to ‘Ishaa + Fajr. This is the last Soorah in terms of timing of revelation. Hence, it briefly alludes to all five obligatory Salaah, before encouraging the performance of Salaatu-Tahaajud

These verses indicate that the specified times for Salaah are the following:
  • At break of dawn, before sunrise – Fajr

When sun starts declining from Zenith until midnight, the following four times:
  • Early afternoon – Zuhr
  • Late afternoon, before sunset – ‘Asr
  • Immediately after sunset (night) – Maghrib
  • Late night (darkness of night) – ‘Ishaa

Just looking at the verses, derivation of these five times by a contemporary learner might be challenging, but the Mercy of Allaah SWT is boundless. He always puts enough mechanisms in place for those sincere believers who earnestly want to submit to Him in obedience that they can easily find the truth and proper ways of obeying Him.

Part of the confusion comes from the evolutionary process through which Salaah, like many other commandments of Allaah SWT, progressed according to the needs of the Islamic movement and the training and remembrance needs of its adherents along the way. For the first addressees of the Qur-aan, the Muslims of Makkah and Madeenah, there was no confusion. Being right there as part of the process and its circumstances, and having the benefit of that perspective, all they needed was a brief command which they understood exactly as it came down.

In addition, they had the messenger of Allaah among them who implemented the command immediately as it was required to be implemented by Allaah. His actions were a practical demonstration of how a command from Allaah is to be implemented. Thus, it was a very special mercy of Allaah SWT that He not only sent down His commandments, but also provided a trainer to demonstrate practically how He wanted His command to be implemented. The Prophet was trained by Allaah through Jibreel (Gabriel) so that he could train the believers. That is not only common sense which any sincere Muslim who understands the nature of the mission of our Prophet can easily visualize, but it is also corroborated by the reports from authentic sources such as:

The Messenger of Allaah said, “Jibreel led me in Salaah twice near the House of Allaah. First day, he led Zuhr soon after its decline from zenith, ‘Asr at a time when the shade of a thing was equal to its height, Maghrib at the time of breaking the fast, ‘Ishaa as soon as twilight disappeared, and Fajr when it becomes unlawful for a fasting person to eat. The next day, he lead Zuhr when the shade of a thing was equal to its height, ‘Asr when the shade was double its height, Maghrib at fast breaking time, ‘Ishaa after passing of one third of the night, and Fajr when it was bright. Then he told me that these have been the times of Salaah for all the prophets and the proper times are in between these ranges.” Reported by Tirmidzee and Aboo Dawood from Ibn ‘Abbaas.

The future generations, like us, did not need the evolutionary details. All we need for our submission to Allaah SWT is the final outcome that Allaah always wants practised until the Day of Judgment. Muslims have been given the benefit of the practical demonstration by the Messenger of Allaah in three ways:
  • Tawaatur – the continuous practical training from generation to generation
  • Fiqh – Codification of all teaching about Salaah based on the way Tabi’een were taught by the companions who were taught by the prophet himself.
  • Hadeeth – the reports of the actions, words, approvals and disapprovals of the Messenger of Allaah.

In short, all of the five times of the Salaah have been commanded by Allaah SWT in the Qur-aan as well as practically demonstrated by the actions of the Prophet.

Just as the Prophet practised and demonstrated at what times Salaah should be offered, he also did the same for the contents of the Salaah. All the commandments of Allaah SWT in the Qur-aan about His remembrance and glorification were properly instituted in the Salaah as Allaah SWT Himself commanded them to be instituted.

Parts of Salaah

Qiyaam, Rukoo’, Sujood

Reciting the Qur-aan in standing position or Qiyaam is the most significant part of Salaah:
Stand up (perform Qiyaam) at night … and recite the Qur-aan enunciating it well. Al-Muzzammil 73:2

This verse gives two main positions: Qiyaam and Sajdah, but also tell us that performing Salaah is an indication of knowledge, understanding and learning from advice.
How about he / Is (he like) that who is obedient, standing and prostrating during the night, is scared of the Aakhirah and expects mercy of his Lord? Say, Are those who know equal to those who do not know? Indeed only people of understanding learn the lessons. Az-Zumur 39:9

About the slaves of Allaah, the Qur-aan says,
Those spend their nights in Sujood and Qiyaam. Al-Furqaan 25:64

Soorah At-Towbah lists the qualities of sincere believers, including,
...the performers of Rukoo’s, the performers of Sujood. At-Towbah 9:108

Soorah Fat-h also mentions the qualities of the companions of the Prophet,
You will see them frequently bowing (performing Rukoo’s) and prostrating (performing Sujood). Fat-h 48:29

The Order of Three Positions

And purify My House for those who perform Tawaaf, and Qiyaam, Rukoo’ and Sujood. Al-Hajj 22:26

The Recitation Content of Each Position

Starting Salaah with Subhaanakallaahumma wa bi hamdika, in obedience to the following command:

Glorify the praises of your Lord, when you stand up (or arise), and during the night also glorify Him and when the stars are setting. At-Toor 52:48-49

All components of this beginning set of praises come from the Qur-aan. (To keep it short, I am not quoting all the verses, but anyone who has rudimentary knowledge of the Qur-aan will know those verses.)
Soorah Faatihah to reinforce and refresh the covenant as explained in the Tafseer of Faatihah that was posted a few months ago.

Recitation of the Qur-aan, in compliance with:
Stand up (perform Qiyaam) at night … and recite the Qur-aan slowly, enunciating it well. Al-Muzzammil 73:2
And recite the Qur-aan in Fajr. Banee Israaeel 17:78

Glorification in the Rukoo’, in obedience to:
Hence, glorify the name of your Lord, the Most Great. Al-Waaqi’ah 56:74,96 and Al-Haaqah 69:52

Glorification in the Sajdah, in obedience to:
Glorify the name of your Lord, the Most High. Al-A’laa 87:1

Invoking blessings and peace for the Messenger:
O believers, send blessings and peace (Salaam) upon him. Al-Ahzaab 33:56

Duaa at the end:
And your Lord says, “Call upon (pray to) me, I will respond to you. Indeed those who disdain My worship will soon enter Hell, humiliated.” Al-Ghaafir 40:60

Remembrance and praise after the Salaah:
Hence, bear with what they say; and glorify your Lord with praise before sunrise and before sunset. Also glorify Him at night and after the Sujood. Qaaf 50:39-40

Bow (in Rukoo’) with those who bow. Al-Baqarah 2:43

Source of Format and Timings

Was the format and timings of Salaah arrived at from the companions or by the command of Allaah?

We have shown above that every part of Salaah and its timings were based on the commands of Allaah and the prophet was taught by Allaah through Jibreel how to and when to perform it. Those who claim otherwise do not have any proof or basis except wild speculations. Consider the following evidence from the Qur-aan, which indicates that the Prophet was offering Salaah as taught by Allaah in the very beginning of his mission, when he had not companions to consult:

Did you see one who forbids the Slave when he offers Salaah. Al-‘Alaq 96:9-10

It is reported that Ali decided to become Muslim when he saw the Prophet and Khadeejah praying Salaah. It is also reported that Makkans realized that Muhammad has a new religion when they saw him offering Salaah in a manner they never seen anyone worship before.


The times of Salaah and its components are all based on the commands of Allaah SWT contained in the Qur-aan. Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, was taught by Allaah SWT how to put these commands into practise. He practically demonstrated to us through his consistence, performance and trained us in performing the Salaah properly. Our Prophet offered the Salaah and taught us to perform it the way Allaah liked it to be. If we want to offer Salaah the way Allaah SWT wanted it to be offered, we have no alternative other than to offer it the way our Prophet offered. Our submission to Allaah SWT requires us to follow the Prophet’s model of Salaah instead of people devising their own format.

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