Do the words in 73:20 and 73:1-3 instruct us to observe the

‘qiyam al-layl’, ‘nawafil’, ‘taraweeh’ or ‘tahajjud’ Salats?

Question

When I asked about the Quranic reference for the additional Salat observed by Muslims between Isha and Fajr, such as (qiyam al-layl, nawafil, taraweeh and tahajjud), I was told that the prophet used to observe these additional Salat and that we have the confirmation in 73:20 and also in 73:1-3.
I would be thankful if you can shed light on these verses and whether they instructs us to observe these additional prayers as the prophet did.

Reply

FIRST

The Quranic law decreed by God is given through clear Quranic words in the Quran and not through deriving deductions based on our personal understanding!
The Quran authorises for us only three Salat, and in accordance with 4:103 each one of these three Salat is given its precise time in the Quran. The three Salat and their times are as follows:

1- The Fajr Salat is named in 24:58 and its time is given in 11:114.
2- The Wusta Salat is named in 2: 238 and its time is given in 17:78.
3- The Isha Salat is named in 24:58 and its time is given in 11:114.

Other than these three Salat there are no names of any other Salat nor times given for any other Salat in the Quran.
For more details see: Three Salat

SECOND

The first five verses in Sura 73 can first be dismissed since they address prophet Muhammad alone. In addition, the subject in these verses is not the Salat but the recitation of the Quran. Sura 73 was one of the first Suras to be revealed (3rd in order) and it was of paramount importance that the prophet should learn the correct pronunciation/recitation of the Quran that was being revealed to him, so that he would deliver that to his people. Hence the command by God for him to stay up for this purpose.

O you enwrapped one,
arise during the night except a little,
half of it, or reduce from it a little,
or add to it a little and recite the Quran as per its correct recitation.
We will cast upon you a heavy Word. 73:1-5

The words "recite the Quran as per its correct recitation" reveal the exact purpose for which God was commanding the prophet to stay up parts of the night.

In addition, the words "We will cast upon you a heavy Word" speak about the Quranic revelation that was being revealed to Muhammad.

THIRD

When we look at the words in 73:20, we find that they say the opposite of what you have been told!

Your Lord knows that you stay up a little less than two-thirds of the night, and half of it, and one-third of it, along with a group among those with you. And God determines the night and the day and He knows that you will not be able to keep its count so He has redeemed you. So read what you can of the Quran. He knows that there will be among those who are ill, and others travelling the land seeking God's bounty, and others fighting in the cause of God. So read what you can of it, observe the Salat, give the Zakat and lend God a good loan. Whatever good you put forward for yourselves you will find it with God, better and greater in reward. And seek God’s forgiveness; God is Forgiver, Merciful.
73:20

1- The opening words say that God knows that the prophet and a group with him rise for long periods of the night (for prayers).

2- God tells the prophet that he and those with him
"will not be able to keep its count" i.e. to keep it up.

3- God tells the prophet
"He has rdeemed you". These words are very important. What is God pardoning the prophet and those with him for? There can only be one meaning: that the prophet and those with him were doing something that God never asked for (rising long periods of the night in prayer).

4- Equally, the words
"there will be among those who are ill, and others travelling the land seeking God's bounty, and others fighting in the cause of God" are of great importance. Such categories of people should not be burdened unnecessarily by making them stay long hours of the night doing extra prayers that were not authorised by God.

5- Then God tells the prophet
"So read what you can of it (Quran), observe the Salat, give the Zakat and lend God a good loan." In other words, the prophet and those with him are asked to do only what God decreed for them.

6- The words
"observe the Salat" here do not speak of unauthorised Salat that are not found in the Book of God, but they speak of the Salat which is authorised by God in the Quran.

FOURTH

The Prophet of God was commanded by God to follow nothing other than the Quran:

Say (O Muhammad), "I am not a novelty among the messengers, nor do I know what will happen to me or to you. I follow nothing other than what is revealed to me (Quran). I am no more than a clear warner. 46:9

Unless the prophet, who was a faithful obedient servant of God, disregarded the command given to him in 46:9, it is hard to make any claims that the prophet was observing a Salat which was never authorised by God in the Quran.
Any hadith that says otherwise is without doubt a slur and a lie against the prophet and his credibility.