According to the Sunni and Shia, the Salat ( Namaz or Islamic Prayer ) was decreed by Allah to the Prophet Mohammad sallallahoAlaiheWasallam during the night of ascension, in which Allah decreed 50 Salats per day, only to be reduced to 5 Salats per day due to pleading of Prophet Mohammed sallallahoAlaiheWasallam.
Salat is the Arabic word for prayer. Every Muslim is expected to pray five times a day, always facing Mecca, and by prostrating herself or himself in utter humility. It wasn’t always so: During Muhammad sallallahoAlaiheWasallam’s time, Muslims initially were required to pray facing Jerusalem, in recognition of the religion of Abraham, and to do so twice a day, then three times a day. When Muhammad sallallahoAlaiheWasallam decreed the switch to Mecca, following one of his “revelations,” he also decreed the five-times-a-day requirement, though reluctantly so: Muhammad sallallahoAlaiheWasallam thought the requirement excessive.
What is Salat ( Namaz or Islamic Prayer ) According to the Quran?
According to the Quran, the main objective of Salat ( Namaz or Islamic Prayer ) is “the rememberance of Allah,” which is acheived through the recitation of Allah’s Scripture:
a) “I am God, there is no god except Me, so serve Me and hold the Salat ( Namaz or Islamic Prayer ) for My remembrance.” (Qur’an 2014)
b) “Recite what is inspired to you of the Book and hold the Salat ( Namaz or Islamic Prayer ), for the Salat ( Namaz or Islamic Prayer ) prohibits evil and vice; but certainly the remembrance of God is the greatest. God knows everything you do.” (Qur’an 29:45)
This explanation can best be seen in the example of Shu’ayb, who was accused by his people of receiving instructions through his act of Salat ( Namaz or Islamic Prayer ):
They said: “O Shu’ayb, does your Salat prayer order you that we leave what our fathers served, or that we do not do with our money as we please? It seems only you are the compassionate, the wise!” (Qur’an 11:87)
Accordingly, Salat ( Namaz or Islamic Prayer ) can be defined as “remembering Allah, through regular recitation of His Scripture, with the aim of gaining knowledge, patience, and peacefulness”.
As a preparation for Salat ( Namaz or Islamic Prayer ), an ablution is required using water, or, if not available, clean dry soil.
“O you who believe, if you rise to hold the Salat ( Namaz or Islamic Prayer ), 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 bathe. 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 fi nd water, then you shall select from the clean soil; you shall wipe your faces and your hands with it. Allah 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)
Jum’a / Friday Salat ( Namaz or Islamic Prayer )
One issue which arises from time to time is that of the Jum’a (Friday) Salat ( Namaz or Islamic Prayer ). The establishment of a Salat ( Namaz or Islamic Prayer ) similar to the Christian “Sunday” or the Jewish “Sabbath” is based on a misconception of verse 62:9 which speaks of the importance of Salat ( Namaz or Islamic Prayer ), especially when people are gathered together on their “trade day,” and never does it establish a special Salat ( Namaz or Islamic Prayer ) or day for Salat ( Namaz or Islamic Prayer ).
“O you who believe, if the Salat ( Namaz or Islamic Prayer ) is called to at the gathering day, then you shall hasten towards the remembrance of Allah, and cease all selling. This is better for you, if only you knew.” (Qur’an 62:9)