Updated: Jun 16, 2020
In all my Study’s in the understanding of the word Salla and all its derivatives and synonyms from the root word Sad-Lam-Waw, I have not been able to come to any semblance of or a reasonable answer as to why Salat is translated to mean a ritual prayer.
So, I took this important question and asked many people, Imams, and scholars alike: Where in the Quran is there a definitive example and description that defines the word Salat as the word prayer?
No one to this date can give me this straightforward evidence.
So, I asked where in the Quran is there a definitive example and description that defines the word prayer?
The best example I could find is the root word:
To seek, desire, ask, demand, call upon, invoke, ascribe, cry out, call out to, pray, supplicate, petition, require, need, summon, invite, assert, succour.
It is imperative to note that all the words above collate and are synoptic to the same concept and meaning.
Here are two of several clear verses:
(take special note of both the word Da’a and Du’a in the same verse clarifying that one is call/invoke and the other is Prayer)
3:38 Hunalika Da’a zakariyya rabbahu qala rabbi hab lee min ladunka thurriyyatan tayyibatan innaka sameeAAu l-Du’a/-i
3:38 There only, Zakariya called\invoked his Lord, he said, "My Lord grant me from Yourself offspring pure. Indeed, you (are) All-Hearer (of) the prayer. Is this a Prayer? Yes! Where is all the fanfare often attached to prayer that we have been inundated with today?
Did Zakariya wash before he called to Allah? Did he stand, bow, and prostrate? Did he recite verses before talking to Allah? Did he do Rakahs? Did he face Mecca? Did he perform it at a certain time of day? Did he do it quietly or aloud? The Quran says that Abraham is the best example, but many say: "there are no examples or verse of instruction of how Abraham prayed given in the Quran"
That is because they are looking for a detailed step by step ritual or instruction as practised today where there is none in the Quran nor is it needed.
Remember, it IS supposed to be EASY and SIMPLE.
The Quran says that the Prophet Abraham was the best example to follow, let us see how Prophet Abraham Prayed.
14:39 Alhamdu lillahi allathee wahaba lee AAala alkibari ismaAAeela wa-ishaqa inna rabbee lasameeAAu l-Du’a/-i
14:39 All the Praise for Allah the One Who has granted me in the old age Ismail and Ishaq. Indeed, my Lord All-Hearer the prayer.
Is this a Prayer? Yes!
The same questions as in the first example apply. Did Abraham wash before he called to Allah? Did he stand, bow, and prostrate? Did he recite verses before talking to Allah? Did he do Rakahs? Did he face Mecca? Did he perform it at a certain time of day? Did he do it quietly or aloud? Here Prophet Abraham is clearly praying to Allah, Praising Allah, and thanking Allah, what a fantastic all-inclusive example of a simple easy prayer!
Upon recognizing this clear distinction between Du’a and Salat and taking note that: No two different words from different root words can mean the same thing as this would create conflict and confusion, there would be no way to discern which one meant which word at which time and would leave it open to any interpretation as the reader sees fit, And as we see in today's current translations and this write up about salat and dua are perfect examples. I remember the verses explaining the Quran as perfectly detailed and complete, that if the trees were pens and the oceans were ink, he would never run out of words.
I can’t ignore these facts and must grasp that every word chosen is precise and purposeful and cannot conflict with another. I then went on a hunt for the clear definition of Salat, first starting again with the root word. Sad-Lam-Waw The following words in (brackets and bold) are this way to bring recognition to words that are being used as the same description in other root words and must be questioned and determined which root they belong to and removed from all other root words as a definition.
*(prayer, supplication,) petition, (oration), commendation, (eulogy), (benediction) blessing, honour, magnify, bring forth, follow closely, walk/follow behind closely, to remain attached. In a horse race when the second horse follows the first one so closely that its head always overlaps the first horse’s body that horse is called AL-MUSSALLI (i.e. the one who follows closely / remains attached). Central portion of the back, portion from where the tail of an animal comes out, the rump.
Note: There is a clear, detailed, and defined definition and example given to clarify what the root word means. all words associated with it must comply.
First, I could determine that *(prayer, supplication) (eulogy), (benediction), (0ration) did not belong here as it again would conflict with Du’a which was clearly defined and determined to cover these words and their meanings.
The rest of the definition make sense, and all coalesce with each other in the concept of follow/follow closely/following/remaining attached etc. as shown in the definition of the root word.
Now I must find examples in the Quran that demonstrate and define this:
Have a look at the verb SALLA in the following verses:
75:31 Fala saddaqa wala salla, And not accepted truth and followed
75:32 Walakin kaththaba watawalla But denied and turned away. 96:10 AAabdan itha salla A servant when he followed?
96:13 Araayta in kaththaba watawalla Have you seen if he denies and turns away?
And not he accepted the truth and followed, but he denied and turned away.
Here we can see that Salla cannot be taken as prayer, as two antonyms are brought against each other.
Note: the antonym of Saddaqa is kaththaba, proving that he did not believe but contrarily, denied.
Wa laa Salla: And not Salla (follow) but did the opposite of Salla: - Tawalla; and turned away or went back.
Look at these next two examples, we know by direct definition that Al-Mussalli is defined as: In a horse race when the second horse follows the first one so closely that its head always overlaps the first horse’s body that horse is called AL-MUSSALLI (i.e. the one who follows closely / remains attached) I have applied the correct translation in accordance with the clear definition of the word instead of the common translation of pray/ed, when read in context they now make perfect sense. 74:43 Qaloo lam naku mina almusalleena 74:43 They will say, "Not we were of those who followed closely, 107:4 Fawaylun Lilmusalleena 107:4 So woe to those who followed closely,
From these examples and the root description I can clearly define and give a clear example of what Salla means:
Salla: to walk behind/follow/follow someone/something, to follow someone/something as close as possible, to be close to something, to adhere to.
So, to “Salla the Quran” for example would be following the Quran as close as possible, it would be the gaining of its Guidance and establishing and living by it.
Lament term for me: Salat is to follow the way of Allah or the following of Allah through Quran as closely as possible Think about this for a second, What does it mean to pray to God? Why would/do we pray? If you follow the current ritualistic practice as praying to God, you are literally an actor following a script.
It is not from you it is what someone created for you to follow and they insist that if you do not follow/do it correctly that God will not hear or accepted it, that in fact then becomes a form of intersession and compulsion as you are relying on someone else’s creation and direction on how to communicate with God.
God consistently reminds us that he knows even our deepest most secret thoughts, that he is the all-knowing weather we call him aloud or in our head or hearts, he hears us. Let us look at this from another perspective:
When you want to build a close deep relationship/understanding with someone, how do you do it?
Do you just say the same thing over and over to this person several times a day at the same time and way in the hopes that someday it will develop a connection?
Or do you take the time to talk and get to know the person?
Tell about yourself, inquire about this person?
Share your secrets and aspirations and problems and experiences?
If that person is the best of all teachers do you seek to learn from that person?
Do you respect, Honor, Trust and rely on that person in the best and worst times?
These are but a few things that are needed to build a solid deep and everlasting relationship and every bit of it starts with: Communication!
Talk to God!
Have conversations with God as if he is right there in front of you listening, as if he is there with you everywhere you go from the time you awake till the time you go to sleep hearing and knowing your every thought, your best friend, your confidant, your teacher. Prayer is simple and easy and will bring you close to your creator
CONCEPT OF FIXED TIMES
This next segment is still in progress as it is the answer to the most often presented rebuttals to the understanding presented above, as always learning from God is a never ending process and I am and will always be updating all work I do as I continue to learn and grow with God as my Guide and teacher.
The most common question I get when I present this argument of Salat is what about the verses talking about specific times?
Here is my answer:
Nowhere in the concept of fixed times is there any evidence that it is a specific time frame other than what is assumed. To clarify, what that means is there is evidence that it should start from the break of dawn or when you awake and continue until you sleep again like taking an afternoon nap (see verse 24:58) or when the sun goes completely down and you are going to bed, I.E. sleeping.
The following verses with the understanding of follow applied to the verses instead of prayer will further illustrate on this.
The verses often produced for their argument is 4:103, I have supplied 4:102 to give context to 4:103.
4:102 Wa-itha kunta feehim faaqamta lahumu alssalata faltaqum ta-ifatun minhum maAAaka walya/khuthoo aslihatahum fa-itha sajadoo falyakoonoo min wara-ikum walta/ti ta-ifatun okhra lam yusalloo falyusalloo maAAaka walya/khuthoo hithrahum waaslihatahum wadda allatheena kafaroo law taghfuloona AAan aslihatikum waamtiAAatikum fayameeloona AAalaykum maylatan wahidatan wala junaha AAalaykum in kana bikum athan min matarin aw kuntum marda an tadaAAoo aslihatakum wakhuthoo hithrakum inna Allaha aAAadda lilkafireena AAathaban muheenan
4:102 And when you are among them and you made right for them the following (of) Allah, then let stand a group of them with you and let them their arms. Then when they have yielded, then let them be behind you and let come (forward) a group - other, to follow, and let them to follow you and let them their precautions and their arms. Wished those who disbelieved if you neglect [about] your arms and your baggage so (that) they (can) assault [upon] you (in) a single attack. But (there is) no blame upon you if was with you any trouble (because) of rain or you are sick that you lay down your arms but take your precautions. Indeed, Allah has prepared for the disbelievers a punishment humiliating.
4:103 Fa-itha qadaytumu alssalata faothkuroo Allaha qiyaman waquAAoodan waAAala junoobikum fa-itha itma/nantum faaqeemoo alssalata inna alssalata kanat AAala almu/mineena kitaban mawqootan
4:103 Then when you have pronounced the following (of) Allah, remember Allah standing and sitting and on your sides. But when you are secure then establish the following (of) Allah. Indeed, the following (of) Allah is on the believers a book fixed and ordained.
So, what are these fixed times? Note: no fixed time just describing both ends of the day.
11:114 Waaqimi alssalata tarafayi alnnahari wazulafan mina allayli inna alhasanati yuthhibna alssayyi-ati thalika thikra lilththakireena
11:114 And establish the following (of) Allah two ends the day and the approach of the night. Indeed, the good deeds remove the evil deeds. That a reminder for those who remember. Note: notice it says till the darkness of the night (after the sun has gone completely). 17:78 Aqimi alssalata lidulooki alshshamsi ila ghasaqi allayli waqur-ana alfajri inna qur-ana alfajri kana mashhoodan
17:78 Establish the following (of) Allah, at the decline (of) the sun till (the) darkness (of) the night and Quran at dawn, indeed, the Quran (at) the dawn is ever witnessed.
Pay close attention to the next example, most translations of this verse are word jumbled to attempt to make it conform to the concept of the three daily prayer times, when you read it the way it is presented in the Arabic it presents a completely different outcome and context. 24:58 Ya ayyuha allatheena amanoo liyasta/thinkumu allatheena malakat aymanukum waallatheena lam yablughoo alhuluma minkum thalatha marratin min qabli salati alfajri waheena tadaAAoona thiyabakum mina alththaheerati wamin baAAdi salati alAAisha-i thalathu AAawratin lakum laysa AAalaykum wala AAalayhim junahun baAAdahunna tawwafoona AAalaykum baAAdukum AAala baAAdin kathalika yubayyinu Allahu lakumu al-ayati waAllahu AAaleemun hakeemun
24:58 O you who believe! Let ask your permission those whom possess your right hands and those who not reached puberty among you three times, before Follow (of) the dawn, and when you put aside your garments at the noon and after follow (of) the night. (These) three (are) times of privacy for you. Not on you and not on them any blame after that (as) moving about among you, some of you among others. Thus, Allah makes clear for you the Verses, and Allah (is) All-Knower, All-Wise. This verse makes it clear that during the times of sleep and privacy associated with sleeping we are required to ask permission to disturb someone, this makes sense as it is apparent that people sleeping or resting have put aside their garments. Under this understanding the verse now completely fits within chapter 24 in its entirety of which under mainstream translation it was completely out of place.
DEFINING THE FIXED TIMES VIA, THE VERSES These three verses clarify what the night and day are for:
25:47 Wahuwa allathee jaAAala lakumu allayla libasan waalnnawma subatan wajaAAala alnnahara nushooran
25:47 And He (is) the One Who made for you the night (as) a covering and the sleep a rest and made the day a resurrection.
28:72 Qul araaytum in jaAAala Allahu AAalaykumu alnnahara sarmadan ila yawmi alqiyamati man ilahun ghayru Allahi ya/teekum bilaylin taskunoona feehi afala tubsiroona
28:72 Say, "Have you seen if Allah made for you the day continuous till (the) Day (of) the Resurrection, who (is the) god besides Allah who could bring you night (for) you (to) rest in it? Then will not you see?"
28:73 Wamin rahmatihi jaAAala lakumu allayla waalnnahara litaskunoo feehi walitabtaghoo min fadlihi walaAAallakum tashkuroona
28:73 And from His Mercy He made for you the night and the day, that you may rest therein and that you may seek from His bounty, and so that you may be grateful
Based on the information in the verses above it becomes clear to me at this time that establishing Salat is the process of following and applying the way of Allah as explained in the Quran from the time I am awake and am in mental and physical control of my faculties until the time I go to sleep, buy doing that there is indeed the least probability that I will do wrong or bad or evil with any form of intention, I will be consistently reminding myself through self-reflection and pre-evaluation and observation of my actions based on the Quranic teaching, I will be consistently striving to live by the way of life God has prescribed.
I know this does not clear up all the common questions and queries about the understanding that salat is not translated to a ritual prayer but should help get us going in the right direction God willing. As a side note and question to ponder:
Why is it that every word from the root word SAD LAM WAW are all translated to Prayer, contact prayer or contact, even though there are many variants and some with completely different spellings and context as well as the contradiction of the root word definitions as well set forth for them in the Quran? To be continued and as always, all comments and critiques welcome.
Peace and blessings to all.
Muslim Mike S.