Thursday, November 8, 2012

Day 8: 3 - 4 - 5 ?

Heather did a post the other day about Surah Ar-Rum and her thoughts about it. If you look over at her original post, I had a few things to say about it. :)

But one question I thought was interesting enough (at least to me, and that's all that really matters, isn't it?) to have it's own post over here.

"(Side note: It is from these verses (30:17-18) that many Quranists I know draw their belief that we are ordered to pray/worship 3 times per day, rather than the traditionalist Sunni/Shi'a 5 times.)

My translation says this: '17. So glory be to God when you approach the eve or the morn. 18. And His (alone) is the Praise in the heavens and the earth, and at dusk, and when you approach at noon.'

Wouldn't that establish 4 prayers? Morning, noon, dusk (sunset) and an evening prayer? Otherwise, if 'eve' and 'dusk' are meant to be the same time, then why is it repeated but not morning? All the other times are listed only once in these two verses talking about prayer.
" (Heather's original text is the bold italics, my response is just the plain italics.)

Keeping in mind that I in no way shape or form read any Arabic, I'm working off of translations here. I personally have only two different translations of the Qur'an, but I checked out some more at and they all say the say thing, with variation of exact wording/word choice which is to be expected. I still count four prayers mentioned in this section.

When I was researching for this post I was also trying to track down where the traditional five daily prayers are derived from. I assumed that they weren't listed in the Qur'an itself, since if they were then there wouldn't be (again, I *assume*) Quranists who believe that there are only three mandatory prayers. However, a) I have so far failed to track down the hadith (which I assume is where the five come from!) (and let me take this opportunity to tell you how confusing I find's very confusing.) and b) found many claims that all five prayers are mentioned in the Qur'an.

By my count (and the sites I've found claiming that all five are in the Qur'an), I've got four of them covered. The fifth, according to these sites, is mentioned in Surah Hud: (113) And establish regular prayers at the two ends of the day and at the approaches of the night: for those things that are good remove those that are evil: be that the word of remembrance to those who remember (their Lord):

So...'two ends of the day' would be dawn and dusk, yes? and 'the approaches of the night'? I have to assume that the 'approaches of the night' is not, in spite of what it sounds like to me in English, dusk because that would be weirdly repetitive, especially right after praying at dusk is already mentioned. So that's an 'after dark' prayer, by my personal understanding. Which would already be covered by the reference in Surah Al-Room.

My question, assuming that there is a question and that you've made it this far through my amature text readings, is are the five prayers detailed in the Qur'an? Is this something that I'm missing because I'm using a translation and it's clear in the original text that the words I'm taking to mean the same times are actually referencing different times in the original language? And if they aren't laid out in the Qur'an, where do they come from?

I remember a story about Mohammed (I think this was when he was taken up into heaven for a brief visit, but don't quote me on it) arguing God down from 50 prayers daily to five. I thought it was a story in the hadith, but like I said, I haven't been able to find it. 


  1. I'm only popping in to comment on that "from 50 to 5 prayers". That story is from the hadith. Here's the excerpt I found from "Sahih Muslim":

    "...Then Allah revealed what He revealed to me. He then made obligatory for me fifty prayers every night and day.
    I began my descent until I reached Moses who asked me: 'What has your Lord made obligatory for your community?' I said to him, 'Fifty prayers.' He then said, 'Return to your Lord and ask Him to reduce them, your community will not be able to bear that. I know the people of Israel from long experience and I have tested them.' I then returned to my Lord and said, 'O Lord, make things lighter for my people'. He then reduced it by five prayers for me. I then returned to Moses and he said to me, 'Your community will not be able to stand that. So return and ask Him to make things lighter.' I kept going between my Lord and Moses until Allah said, 'O Muhammad, there are five prayers every night and day. Each prayer is equal to ten prayers making them equal to fifty prayers."

    Basically, we have Allah saying pray 50 (according to this hadith), but then Moses says "No! People can't do that!" and had Muhammad running back and forth between Moses and Allah. This hadith thinks that Moses and Muhammad know better what we can do than Allah. >.< Just one of many, many issues I have with the hadith. I'm not gonna get started.

    I get the impression from the Qur'an that it's less a set number of times to pray in a day than it is for us to constantly be seeking contact with Allah and reminding ourselves of Him. Which is why you'll see people saying anywhere from 3-5 are required, and then there are the night prayers (where you wake up in the night to pray), which are considered "good but not compulsory".

    1. Yep. That's the one! I forgot Moses was involved. Thanks!

      "This hadith thinks that Moses and Muhammad know better what we can do than Allah. >.<"

      Or...there's a long tradition in Judaism of the prophets arguing with God. Maybe this can be seen as on the same level as that? Not that God doesn't know what He's doing, but that there's something about the prophets standing up for the people that He's put them 'in charge' of that God wants from them.

  2. I am not sure what is the proof from the Quran that Muslims should pray five times a day. But from the authentic hadiths it is something Muslim scholars agree on. Here is the hadith you mentioned at the end of your post.
    Muslim scholars agree the following hadith is ‘sahih’ (i.e., authentic. )
    343. Ibn Hazm and Anas ibn Malik said that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Allah prescribed fifty prayers for my community and I returned with that until I passed by Musa. He said, 'What has Allah prescribed to you for your community?' I said, 'He has prescribed fifty prayers.`" He said, 'Go back to your Lord. Your community will not be able to manage that.' He made me go back and He reduced it to half. Then I returned to Musa and I said, 'He reduced them to half.' He said, 'Go back to your Lord. Your community will not be able to manage that.' I returned and He halved them again and I returned to him. He said, 'Go back to your Lord. Your community will not be able to manage that.' I returned to Him and He said, "'They are five and they are fifty. My word does not change.' I went back to Musa and he said, 'Return to your Lord. I said, 'I am too embarassed before my Lord.' Then he took me on until he brought me to the Lote-tree of the Boundary which was covered in colours which I did not recognise. Then I was brought into the Garden and in it were strings of pearls and its earth was made of musk." (Muwatta, Book 9, 9)
    I did a quick search and found that some scholars find the proof from the Quran from different chapters (sura). I will investigate more later and will let you know what I find.
    As far as I know, the five times prayers are something we know about from the many hadiths not from the Quran. But I have to double check.

    1. Thanks! I don't know why I couldn't find that hadith when I was looking for it! :)

      I look forward to hearing anything that you find if you get the time.

  3. Thanks for reminding me of Heather's post. I had it saved to read so I went and read it before reading this. I enjoyed your questions over there and your discussion here.

    I have nothing to add since I'm not a Muslim. Not that that's stopped me before... *ahem*


    I enjoyed your post!

  4. Having attempted to do the prayers in the past logically 3 makes more sense. The two afternoon prayers always seemed mashed together. My Shia friends are allowed to merge the afternoon prayers and then the evening prayers so many of them actually do 3 prayer sessions a day. I cannot remember why this is allowed.

    1. But even with the merging, the standard is still that there are five daily prayers that are required, right?

      And I still count four from the referenced ayah.

      Which means nothing, of course, since I'm just me and just reading what I read. But still. Four.


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