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Three Salat (Prayers) Authorised in the Quran

The Prayers mentioned by name in the Quran are:

1- Salat Al-Fajr (Dawn Prayer) 24:58

2- Al-Salat Al-Wusta (The Middle Prayer) 2:238

3- Salat Al-Isha (Night Prayer) 24:58

However, 99% of all Muslims in the world observe 5 daily prayers.
Their 5 Salat are: Fajr - Zhohr - Asr - Maghrib - Isha.
What they did was add two Prayers to the ones authorised by God in the Quran.

The question is: If the prescribed Prayers are indeed five per day, why does the Quran give us only three named Salat?

First: Why are there only three named Salat in the Quran?

If it is true that God authorised 5 obligatory Salat per day, then we should have a good reason as to why there are only 3 names of Salat given in the Quran?

Let us consider a number of options for this matter:

1- The names of the other Salat are not in the Quran because the Quran does not contain all the details.

This claim is immediately refuted by God's assurance that the Quran is fully detailed and that nothing has been left out of the Book:

Shall I seek other than God as a lawmaker when it is He who has brought down to you the Book fully detailed? 6:114

We did not leave anything out of the Book.
6:38

2- God forgot to mention the other two names of Salat!

This cannot be the case because we read in the Quran that God, be praised, does not forget:

He said, "The knowledge thereof is with my Lord in a Record. My Lord does not err, nor does He forget."
20:52

3- God did not mention the names of the other 2 Salat because they are not as important as the other 3.

If some Salat were not important they would not be compulsory, and as a result, to claim that there are five compulsory prayers becomes a false claim.

4- God did not mention the names of the other 2 Salat because God wants us to guess them!

Once again this is false. The Quran is unambiguous and is not a book of puzzles:

A.L.R. These are the signs of the clear Book.
12:1

We have made it (the Quran) easy to understand, in your own tongue, so that they may be reminded.
44:58

5- God does not mention the names of the other 2 Salat because God wants us to find them in the hadith.

Once again this is a false claim since we are commanded in the Quran not to believe or follow any hadith other than the Quran:

These are God's revelations (Quran) that We recite to you with truth, so in which hadith other than God and His revelations (Quran) do they believe?
45:6

It is also a false claim because God assures us in the Quran that the Quran has all the details.

6- God does not mention the names of all the Salat since they came to us through inherited rituals, and because God wants us to follow what we inherited from our parents, even if it is not found in the Quran!

This once again is a claim that violates the Quran. In the Quran we are commanded not to follow what we inherited from our parents if it is not clearly found in the Quran:

And when it is said to them, "Follow what God has brought down (Quran)," they say, "No, we only follow what we found our fathers upon." What! Even if their fathers did not understand anything and were not guided?
2:170

7- God does not mention the names of the other 2 Prayers, because there are no 2 other Prayers according to the law of the Quran.

The genuine believers who believe that the Quran contains all the details, with no ifs or buts, will not accept any option other than option 7
.

Second: The Salat is given precise times in the Quran

We read in 4:103 that the time of each Prayer is precisely given in the Quran 'kitaban mawqootan'. The word 'kitaban' means 'book', and the Book we received from God is the Quran. The word 'mawqootan' means specifically timed. The deliberate use of these two words by God confirms that the precise appointed time for each of the Prayers is given in the Quran. This conforms to the fact that the Quran contains all the details.

The exact times of the three Salat are given in the Quran and they are as follows:

1- Salat Al-Fajr (Dawn Prayer), mentioned by name in 24:58

This Prayer starts when Fajr (dawn) starts. The start of Fajr is given in 2:187. It starts when the first thin ray of light is observed in the sky. The words in 2:187 are: 'until the white thread of dawn becomes distinguishable to you from the dark thread.' The Prayer ends at sunrise as will be explained in more detail below.

2- Al-Salat Al-Wusta (Middle Prayer), mentioned by name in 2:238

The time of the Middle (Wusta) Prayer is given in 17:78. It starts when the sun starts to decline from its highest point in the sky (dulook al-shams), which is at noon, and ends at sunset as detailed below.

3- Salat Al-Isha (Night Prayer) mentioned by name in 24:58

The Night Prayer corresponds to the latter end of the day. It is the mirror image of the Fajr Salat. This Prayer starts as soon as the sun has set and ends when all light has disappeared from the night sky.

Third: Word Definitions

The words in 11:114 are key in defining the times of the Fajr (Dawn) Salat and the Isha (Night) Salat:

Observe the Salat at the two ends of the day; and during 'zulufan min al-layl' (the near parts of the night). 11:114

Traditionally, this verse has been interpreted to be speaking of three Prayers: two Salat at the ends of the day plus an additional Salat during the night, a total of 3 Salat.

However, this is a clear misunderstanding. Verse 11:114 in fact speaks of only two Prayers. This will be apparent by establishing the correct meanings of key words in 11:114.

1- The 'ends of the day' are sunrise and sunset. A command to observe the Salat at the two ends of the day is insufficient in giving us the time range for the Salat in question. This is because sunrise and sunset (the two ends of the day) are events that take around a minute each to be completed. Surely God does not wish that all believers, all around the world, would observe the Salat during this very brief time! It is only with the addition of the words 'zulufan min al-layl' in the same verse that we are given the correct time range for these two Salat.

2- Some interpreters have claimed that we can observe the Salat around the two points and not only during the actual sunrise/sunset, but this is equally unacceptable since the following question would arise: When exactly would the 'around the two points' be? Would it be before sunrise and sunset, or after sunrise and sunset? How long, before or after sunrise and sunset, are we allowed to observe the SaIat? It is obvious that we would be left with many unanswered questions if we follow that interpretation. However, the phrase 'zulufan min al-layl' gives us the exact timing of these two Salat.

3- There have been a number of interpretations for the words 'zulufan min al-layl'. The most commonly used are:

- (parts of the night) or (during the night) or (approaches of the night) or (early parts of the night).
However, none of these interpretations are accurate nor in line with the Quranic definition of the word 'zulufan'. To derive the correct meaning of any Quranic word we need to look at the various verses where this word is used.

The word 'zulufann' is the plural of the word 'Zulfa'. The word 'Zulfa' is used in the Quran to mean 'near' or 'close' as in the following verses:

Those who take up allies besides Him: "We only worship them so that they may bring us 'zulfa' (closer) to God." 39:3

The definition of the Quranic word 'zulfa' is also confirmed in the following verses:

It is not your wealth nor your children that will draw you 'zulfa' (close) to Us; that is granted only to those who believe and do good deeds. 34:37

So We forgave him that, and indeed, for him is
'zulfa' (nearness) to Us and a wonderful homecoming. 38:25

And indeed, for him shall be
'zulfa' (nearness) to Us and a wonderful homecoming. 38:40

As a result, the phrase 'zulufan min al-layl' means the near parts of the night. The obvious question is: near to what? Nothing can be described as 'near' in absolute terms. The word 'near' can only have a meaning when we have a reference point to which this thing is near to.
For example, the following sentence is an incomplete sentence:
"The tree is near ...."
However, the following sentence is a complete sentence:
"The tree is near the river."

Fourth: The word WA (and) in 11:114, and the resulting misunderstanding

Observe the Salat at the two ends of the day; and during the near parts of the night.
11:114

The word (and) between the 2 sentences has led to a specific misunderstandings of the message in 11:114. Various interpreters have suggested that this verse speaks of 3 Salat, the 2 Salat at the ends of the day and an additional Salat at night.
Linguistically speaking, the word (and) can link 2 different items or, it can link two descriptions of the same item.

Here are 2 sentences to highlight this matter:
1- I walked today to the bank and the post office.
In this case, the word (and) links 2 different items: the bank and the post office.

2-
The weather today was sunny and warm.
In this case the word (and) does not link 2 different items, but links 2 descriptions of the same item, which in this case is the weather.

It can be shown that the word (and) in 11:114 links 2 descriptions of the subject of the verse which is the 2 Salat rather than be referring to a third Salat.
The word (and) in 11:114 links two pieces of information which together define the exact times of the 2 Salat.

To justify their incorrect interpretation of 11:114, which suggests a third Salat during the night, various translators have changed the meaning of the word (zulufan). As we have seen above, this word is used consistently in the Quran to mean (near). However, they changed it from (near) to (during). Thereby, they translated the phrase "zulufan min al-layl" from being (the near parts of the night) to being (during the night). From that they suggested a third Salat "during" the night.

How do we know that the word (and) in 11:114 links 2
descriptions of the times of the 2 Salat rather than suggest a third Salat?
The answer will become clear after we make note that the word (and) in 11:114 lies in the middle between two descriptions, and that each of the two descriptions is incomplete on its own. The 2 descriptions are:
1- Two Salat to be observed at the ends of the day.
2- Two Salat to be observed during the near parts of the night.

Neither of the these 2 descriptions (on their own) is sufficient to give us the exact times of the 2 Salat.

1
- The ends of the day are sunrise and sunset. The time it takes the sun to rise or to set is approx 90 seconds. Surely God is not instructing the believers to observe their Salat during this extremely brief number of seconds! Besides the huge negative effect this would have on the spirituality of the Salat, it would also be practically impossible considering the size of the Muslim population in the world!
As a result, the phrase 'the ends of the day' on its own does not give us sufficient information as to when exactly are we to observe these 2 Salat.

2
- Equally, the sentence 'near parts of the night' is incomplete on its own since we would need to ask: 'near to what?'

It is only when we link the two descriptions that lie on each side of the word (and) that we obtain a complete informative guideline for the exact time of the 2 Salat.
The correct meaning of 11:114 is thus:
Observe the 2 Salat during the 'parts of the night' that are 'near' the 'two ends of the day'.

The two parts of the night that are near sunrise and sunset, and the 2 Salat are :

1- The Fajr Salat (named in 24:58). This Salat is due during the part of the night that is near sunrise (first end of the day).

2- The Isha Salat (named in 24:58). This Salat is due during the part of the night that is near sunset (second end of the day).

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The Quranic definition of the 'layl' (night) is all the time between sunset and sunrise, and thus, both Fajr and Isha are parts of the night. The details are at: Definition of Night in the Quran).

Fifth: The detailed times of the three Salats

Fajr and Isha

First:
In 11:114 we read about 2 Salats which are to be observed during the
'zulufan min al-layl (near parts of the night).' These 'parts of the night' are 'near' the 'ends of the Day.'
We know that the day, like any other linear object, can only have 2 ends, the beginning and the end. The 2 ends of the day are therefore sunrise and sunset.

The information in 11:114 gives us the start time of Isha and also the end time of Fajr. These 2 Salats are to be observed during
'parts of the night', and therefore the Isha Salat starts when the sun has set and not before, since before sunset it would not be night yet.
Similarly, Fajr Salat ends as soon as the sun has risen because that is when the night ends.

The words
'parts of the Night' in 11:114 provide us with:
- The end of the Fajr Salat, which is sunrise.
- The start of the Isha Salat, which is as soon as the sun has set.
It now remains to find the start of the Fajr Salat and the end of Isha Salat.

Second:
This information is given in 2:187 in which we read the words, 'the white thread of dawn becomes distinguishable to you from the dark thread.' These words define the start of Fajr as being the time when the first light is detected in the sky before sunrise.
So we now have the start time for Fajr, and we already have the end of the Fajr Salat from 11:114. The period between the start of Fajr and the end of Fajr is therefore one of the 2 periods which God called the 'near parts of the night'.
The Fajr is the period of time before sunrise when
there is any amount of light in the sky.

It remains then to determine the end time of the Isha Salat.
Since the Isha period is also called the 'near part of the night' (11:114) it is therefore identical to the Fajr period but at the other 'end of the day'.
The Isha period is therefore the period of time after sunset when there is any amount of light in the sky.
The Isha Salat thus starts as soon as the sun has set and ends when the last ray of light has disappeared from the night sky.

Fajr and Isha are identical periods of time but at opposite ends of the day.

The Wusta Salat

The timing of this Salat is given in the following verse:

Observe the Salat from the 'duluk' of the sun (when the sun declines from its highest point) until the 'ghasaq al-layl' (darkness of the night). 17:78

The word 'Wusta' (2:238) means Middle. Therefore, the words 'Al-Salat Al-Wusta' mean 'The Middle Prayer'. Just as the word 'near' in 11:114 cannot have an absolute meaning, but only a relative meaning, so does the word 'Middle' (Wusta) in 2:238. The word 'Middle' in 2:238 cannot have an absolute meaning. To be described as 'middle' must be in reference to two other points. Apart from the 'duluk' of the sun in 17:78, the only other reference points given in the Quran in connection with the Salat are sunrise and sunset (the ends of the day in 11:114). Thus the timing of the Middle Salat must be at the point when the sun has travelled exactly half way between sunrise and sunset. This point is midday.

The exact time for the Middle Prayer (Salat Al-Wusta), which is given in 17:78, is from the moment the sun begins its descent from its highest point at midday (duluk al shams) until the darkness of the night starts (ghasaq al-layl).

God assigned the times of all the Salat in relation to the movement of the sun in our sky, thereby the believers would know the exact times long before the advances in technology and detailed astronomical charts. When the sun rises, the shadows on the ground are the longest. As the sun travels upwards in our sky, the shadows it forms start to get shorter. When the sun reaches its highest point above our heads it forms the shortest shadow on the ground. This is midday. It is when the sun has travelled half its journey in our sky; hence the name "Middle Salat". As soon as the sun starts to descend from its highest point in the sky, the shadows start to get longer once again, then we know that it is the start of the Wusta Salat.

As for the end of the Wusta Salat, the words "the darkness of the night" in 17:78 give us 2 conditions that must occur to signal the end of the Wusta Salat, they are:

1- Darkness
2- Night

The darkness starts creeping in around 20 minutes or so before sunset. But the darkness alone does not signal the end of the Wusta Prayer. The second condition (Night) must also be fulfilled.

The Quranic definition of night is the time between sunset and sunrise. The night starts as soon as the sun has set, and not when it is totally dark as some claim. To see the Quranic definition of night (start and end points) please go to:
When does the 'Night' begin?

The first moment in time when both: Darkness and Night occur, is as soon as the sun has set. This is the end point of the Wusta Salat.

To sum up, the time to observe the Wusta Salat is any time between noon and sunset.

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As presented above, we have three distinct names of Prayers in the Quran, and likewise we also have three defined times for Prayers in the Quran. The advocates of the 5 daily Prayers cannot find names of 5 Prayers, nor can they find clearly defined start and end times for their five Prayers in the Quran. All their information comes from sources outside the Quran. They have no problem proclaiming that the Quran does not have all the details. By doing so, they demonstrate their disbelief in God's assurance that the Quran is fully detailed (6:114) and that nothing has been left out of the Book (6:38)!

The diagram below is of the 3 Quranic Prayers and their exact times:



Sixth:
Various manipulations intended to justify the un-Quranic 5 Salat:

Since there are only three named Salat in the Quran, the advocates of the five Salat resorted to manipulate the meaning of a number of Quranic verses in order to imply that the Quran authorises 5 prayers. The following are some of these manipulations:

1- Some interpreters claimed that the word 'zahira' in 24:58 refers to the Salat which they call 'Zhohr'. However, if we look at verse 24:58, we note that the word 'Salat' in 24:58 is used in connection to only 2 Salats (Fajr and Isha), but when God spoke of Zahira God did not say Salat Al-Zahira, but only referred to Zahira as a time of day. Naturally, if there was a Salat called Salat Al-Zahira, we would expect to see the words 'Salat Al-Zahira/Zohr' in 24:58, just like God mentioned Salat Al-Fajr and Salat Al-Isha in the same verse.

2- Some have also referred to the word 'Asr' (afternoon) in 103:1 to claim that there is a Salat by that name. However, we do not see any mention of the word Salat in 103:1 nor in any of the verses of Sura 103. Asr is merely a time of the day which God refers to. The Quran speaks of other times of the day such as 'duha' (morning) in 93:1, and as we have just seen, 'zahira' in 24:58, but this does not mean there is Salat by those names!

3- Yet another case of manipulation is through the attempt to change the meaning of the Quranic word 'tasbeeh' (glorification) to claim that it refers to the Salat in specific verses. The Quran invites us to glorify God at various times of the day (3:41, 20:130, 50:39, 30:17-18). The act of 'tasbeeh' is different from the act of Salat. Tasbeeh (glorifying God) can be done at any time and has no pre-requisites, but the Salat must be observed at specific times of the day and can only be observed according to specific rules such as ablution, facing Qibla, precise physical movements, and so on.

Seventh: God has set the sun as the timer for the Salat for all mankind

In previous times, people did not have printed lists of 'prayer times' nor astronomical charts. They could not turn on a radio or TV or sign on to an app. to get the times of the Salat. For that, God gave mankind a reliable natural means for knowing the exact times of the Salat that is accessible to all people at all times.

All the three Salat are timed in reference to the movement of the sun in our sky. This is a natural timer which can be applied by all people at all times.

As long as there is any light in the sky (before sunrise and after sunset) we know it is the time for Fajr and Isha respectively. If there is no light at all in the sky, then we are either too early (for Fajr) or too late (for Isha).

The time of the Salat Al-Wusta it is also easy to determine. As long as the shadow formed is getting shorter, it is not time yet for the Wusta Salat. Then, as soon as the shadow starts to elongate once again, it is the start of the Wusta Salat. The Wusta Salat then ends when the sun has set. It cannot be easier!