It is hoped that this article will serve to expose the truth.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:

This article reflects my personal understanding. Seeking knowledge is a continual process and I will try to improve my understanding of the signs within Al Quran ('the reading') and out with it, unless The God wills otherwise. All information in this article is correct to the best of my knowledge only and thus should not be taken as a fact. One should seek knowledge and verify: 17:36, 20:114, 35:28, 49:6, 58:11. If The God willed, the outcome of this article will be beneficial.


An understanding of salat from Al Quran (The Reading)

With the name/assistance of The God/Divine, The Almighty/Originator, The Merciful/Embracing (I begin)
Bismi Allahi ar-rahmani ar-raheemi


The root of "salat" are the Arabic letters:

ص ل و (right to left in Arabic)

Saad-Lam-Waw (slw). E.W. Lane's Arabic-English lexicon/dictionary gives the following possible meanings of the root:

prayer, supplication, petition, oration, eulogy, benediction, commendation, blessing, honour, magnify, bring forth, follow closely, walk/follow behind closely, to remain attached, to contact or to be in contact.

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 or remains attached).*
Central portion of the back, portion from where the tail of an animal comes out, the rump.

*the word 'musalleena' (plural) is used in al quran (the reading), please see 70:22, 74:43, 107:4.

But surely the best explanation should be taken from the Words of God, so what does Al Quran (The Reading) say about slw?



In this article I will try to be brief but accurate:

From 75:31-32 it can be seen that the basic meaning of salla* is to 'go/turn towards', because it is contrasted/compared (i.e. put opposite to) 'went/turn away'.
Furthermore, every single occurrence of the root slw is used in a positive manner, thus if this information is taken along with the root meanings, we can expand the basic meaning a little further to: to go/turn towards in a close/positive manner.

*in this verse salat (noun) is in its verb (2nd form) as salla.

Chapter 75

31. For he did not confirm (saddaqa*) nor go/turned towards (salla).
32. But he denied (kaththaba) and went/turned away (tawalla). **

*be careful not to confuse saddaqa (confirm) with saddaqat (charity).
**it is also interesting to note that al quran's rhythmic style is also utilised in the comparison.

One could substitute this term with similar words such as link/bond/connect, remain attached, continue contact, follow closely or commitment, i.e. a word which implies to go/turn towards.

slw = go/turn towards. This is the core meaning of a general concept.

Allow me an analogy to demonstrate its general meaning, if I say to you: "go/turn towards justice". You could achieve this in many ways. For example you could start with yourself, make sure you act just, you could become a lawyer, you could help raise funds to set up law courts, you could educate others on justice, give a truthful testimony in a court case, you could become a policeman etc. Note that there are many activities you can do to "go/turn towards justice". In other words, to "go/turn towards" something is a general term and can be applied very widely.

(I simply chose "justice" as an example of a concept/object you could go/turn towards, I could have said democracy, wealth, health etc.)

One may ask, well, what are we supposed to "go/turn towards"? It depends on context, however, the core meaning of "go/turn towards" is always implied.

Please apply this basic/core connotation/meaning/implication to any verse with the root of salat (i.e. slw = sawd-lam-waw) to see if it fits. These verses can be found in the following link:

www.studyquran.co.uk/PRLonline.htm (see root: Sawd-Lam-Waw)

musalla (مصلي) n. m. 2:125

salat (صلاة) n. f. sing. - 2:3, 2:43, 2:45, 2:83, 2:110, 2:153, 2:177, 2:238, 2:277, 4:43, 4:77, 4:101, 4:102, 4:103, 4:103, 4:103, 4:142, 4:162, 5:6, 5:12, 5:55, 5:58, 5:91, 5:106, 6:72, 6:92, 6:162, 7:170, 8:3, 8:35, 9:5, 9:11, 9:18, 9:54, 9:71, 9:103, 10:87, 11:87, 11:114, 13:22, 14:31, 14:37, 14:40, 17:78, 17:110, 19:31, 19:55, 19:59, 20:14, 20:132, 21:73, 22:35, 22:41, 22:78, 23:2, 24:37, 24:41, 24:56, 24:58, 24:58, 27:3, 29:45, 29:45, 30:31, 31:4, 31:17, 33:33, 35:18, 35:29, 42:38, 58:13, 62:9, 62:10, 70:23, 70:34, 73:20, 98:5, 107:5
salawat (
صلوات) nom. gen. n. plu. - 2:157, 2:238, 9:99, 22:40, 23:9

salla (صلي) vb.II m.
perf. act. 75:31, 87:15, 96:10
impf. act. 3:39, plu. neg. 4:102, plu. 4:102, tusalli (
تصل) neg. 9:84, yusallee (يصلي) sing. 33:43, yusalloona (يصلون) plu. 33:56
salli
(
صل) impv. 9:103, salloo (صلوا) plu. 33:56, 108:2
musalleena
(مصلين) pcple. act. plu. acc. gen. 70:22, 74:43, 107:4

Once you have done that. You should study the following list in which additional information about salat is presented, from al quran: Al Quran on salat

As you will hopefully see, the concept of slw (i.e. to turn/go towards) is very broad and can be applied to many things. That is why in al quran, we see it being applied in a general, specific and varied manner, e.g:

those who set-up partners can repent and uphold the salat if they trangressed in the system [9:5, 9:11-12]

Can salat mean 'prayer' in this verse? Does The God force people to perform 'prayer' or they will be killed? How would idolaters (i.e. those who set-up partners) pray? Does this make sense to you? Please see these verses in conjunction with 2:256. [additional information]

The salat can be neglected, in favour of following desires [19:59]

Interestingly, this verse implies following desires is different (or even in contrast) to maintaining/upholding the salat. Where do desires come from? Ourselves. How can we make sure we dont follow our own desires? What should we follow?

One's salat is to/for God [6:162]

salat is possible between people [33:56, 9:103]

That is why when Zachariah calls/prays (daAAwa) to his Lord, he is considered to be in the act of slw (turning/going towards, linking/bonding/connecting) when communication comes to him. [3:38-39, 19:2-11]

etc.

To gain a better understanding of The System/Obligation, it is clear a better understanding of al quran would be required. That is why a regular/timed salat is given. In this regular/timed salat, reading / reflection / oration of al quran is prescribed. This can be done alone or in a group/community setting.

Verses linking slw to al quran: 2:43-45, 4:103, 5:12-13, 7:169-170, 8:2-3, 19:58-59, 29:45, 31:2-7, 33:33-34, 17:78-79, 73:1-4, 73:20.

the salat should be done during/close to the morning & evening twilight times (i.e. a minimum of 2x per day) [11:114, 17:78, 24:58]

When one undertakes this regular/timed salat, one should follow the specific guidelines given, e.g: be clean [5:6, 4:43] , clear mind [4:43], moderate tone [17:110] (although this may only apply when in groups due to the context of this verse) etc.

This regular/timed salat is only obligatory upon the mumin (believers/faithful/trustful), see 4:103. Mumin is different to muslim. This is a very important point to consider. Who are the mumin? To find out, see the articles below:

Submitters (Muslims) vs. Believers (Mumins)
The Trust - www.free-minds.org/trust

This makes sense because it is only the mumin (believers/faithful/trustful) who are upholding the scripture. For them, to uphold/maintain the going/turning towards (i.e. link/bond) will be more specific and thus directly related to what the scripture contains, hence reading of it regularly. In other words: knowing what the bond entails goes hand in hand with its application.

If you read everything above (including the links) several times, the concept of salat should be much much clearer.


Lastly, I'd like to mention the concept of zakat. A word often used along with salat. Its commonly taken to mean "charity" but charity is only one aspect of zakat*. Its primary usage in al quran is to mean purification/betterment. If this meaning is taken along with what I've discussed here, it makes much more sense:

When one upholds/maintains (aqimu) the going/turning towards (link/bond) one is then in a position to 'bring forth / produce / show' (atawoo) the purification/betterment. Simple. The two terms reinforce and complement each other.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask. I'll try and answer them if I can.

email the author: 786kas (at) lineone . net

(at) = @
also delete the spaces in the address.


Peace be upon the reader.


NB: an important issue that I have only begun to study is that all the "verses"/signs/ayatin which refer to a time for slw are addressed to the messenger in the Arabic singular (unlike other commands, such as "fasting"/abstinence/sawm), thus may not be applicable to everyone. This for example, may solve the problem of unworkable sun-based schedules in northern countries, e.g. Sweden/Norway during some parts of the year. Also, for orbiting astronauts in space. Therefore, it has been suggested that the timing systems described for slw are meant to be taken as an example, not that they should be applicable to everyone everywhere. Thus, instead of morning & evening, it would be at the start of the working day and at the end (implied in 24:58), whatever that may be for each individual. This aspect of this article will be updated as soon as I have researched it thoroughly.
Please note that 2:185, abstinence is only upon those who are able to witness the month. No such clause exists for salat.

*The traditional understanding of "zakat" is that it means "charity". Interestingly, however, even though the word appears over 30 times, not once is it equated/defined as charity, not even a reasonable implication to mean such a thing. The root (Zay-Kaf-Waw) can mean the following: it increased/augmented, it throve/grew well/flourished/prospered and produced fruit, it was/became pure, purification, goodness/righteousness, lead/enjoy a plentiful/easy/soft/delicate life, put into a good/right state/condition, alms, poor-rate/due.


End note: This independent study of slw took place over a period of 4 years. I did not expect to end up with this conclusion, however the evidence was overpowering and I was forced to reject my traditional understanding (based mainly on man-made books) and submit to al quran's teachings. Interestingly, other studies (which I was not aware of at the time) also came to similar conclusions. [see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7]

This article should be utilised in conjunction with the following articles: Intelligent Approach to Islam

If you are reading this and still feel that salat=prayer, and we should rely on traditional hadith (sayings/narrations/stories) to form the sequence/movements/form/recitations of the prayer, ask yourself: does the traditional hadith contain the necessary information to do this? You may be surprised at what you find.


Other sources used to add to or check this article:
Arabic-English Lexicon' by E.W. Lane
'Dictionary of The Holy Quran' by Abdul Mannan Omar
'Concordance of Quran' by Hanna E. Kassis

The above article should be read in conjunction with the following articles:
A critical examination of the traditional view of salat equals prayer
Common problems in the 5 salat daily timings from Quran
Summary of problems regarding sujud=prostration in Quran
The meaning of SaBiH from Quran

 

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