Details of Salah

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم


Form of the contact prayer


  1. Times of contact prayer
  2. Ablution
  3. Direction of contact prayer
  4. Sequence of the contact prayer
  5. Number of units

Times of contact prayer

The Arabic calendar day (yaum) lasts from sunset to sunset.  In the Quran, yaum has two parts:

  • layl (night) – the time from sunset to dawn
    • This is the duration when we can eat and drink, until we start fasting (2:187)
    • The night begins when the sun is covered [beneath the horizon] (91:4, 92:1)
  • nahar (daylight) – the time from dawn to sunset
    • This is the duration when we abstain from food, until we break the fast (2:187)
    • The daylight begins when the sky is brightened by the sun (91:3, 92:2)

Quran tells us that the contact prayer is prescribed at specific times (4:103)1, that are based on the position of the sun in a day:

1 Dawn فَجْرِ
  • At one end of daylight (nahar) (11:114)
  • i.e., the dawn twilight time before sunrise (50:39, 20:130)
  • Mentioned as salatul fajr (24:58).
2 Noon    دُلُوكِ الشَّمْسِ/ ظهر
  • When the sun declines from the highest point at noon (17:78, 30:18).
3 Middle prayer / Afternoon وُسْطَى / عصر
  • At the other end of daylight (nahar) (11:114)
  • i.e., the time before sunset [of duration equivalent to that of dawn] (50:39, 20:130)
  • Mentioned as salatul wusta, the middle prayer (2:238).
4 Early night / Dusk  زُلَفًا مِنَ اللَّيْلِ / مغرب
  • During the approaches / early part of the night (11:114)
  • The period of the night after sunset, and before complete darkness sets in
  • i.e., the dusk twilight time (when complete darkness is “approaching”).
5 Late night عِشَاءِ
  • Mentioned as salaatul ‘isha (24:58)
  • Late night, when the sky is completely dark (30:18, 20:130, 50:40)

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Ablution

When getting up for the contact prayer, perform the ablution, that consists of (1) washing the face, (2) washing the hands till the elbows, (3) wiping the head (4) washing the feet till the ankles. (5:6)

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Direction of prayer

The direction to face when performing the prayer (qibla) is the Sacred Mosque in Makkah (2:144). Since the earth is spherical, the direction will be along the geodesic connecting our current location with the Sacred Mosque.

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Sequence of the contact prayer
  1. The contact prayer starts in standing position.2
  2. The contact prayer is initiated with the takbir (magnification) – the recitation of allahul kabir – اللَّهُ الْكَبِيرِ (God is the All Magnificient).3
    • We also recite it every time we are transitioning from one position to the next.
  3. Recite the Sura Fatiha in the standing position.4
  4. Bow down.5
    • Recite subahana rabbi al adheem – سُبْحَانَ رَبِّيَ الْعَظِيمِ (Glory be to my Lord, the Great)6 in every bowing.
  5. Return to standing position, in preparation for prostration.
  6. Go down into prostration.7
    • Recite subahana rabbi al a’laa – سُبْحَانَ رَبِّيَ الْأَعْلَى (Glory to my Lord, the Exalted)8 in every prostration.
  7. Rise from prostration and be seated, to pause between prostrations.
  8. Go down into prostration again.
    • Steps 1-8 complete one cycle (raka’a) of the contact prayer.9
  9. In the last prostration of the contact prayer, also recite what God commanded us to say in 17:111:
    • alhamdu lillah hillazhee lam yattakhizhu waladan, walam yakullahu shareekum fil mulki walam yakullahu walliyyum minazh-zhul
    •  الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي لَمْ يَتَّخِذْ وَلَدًا وَلَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ شَرِيكٌ فِي الْمُلْكِ وَلَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ وَلِيٌّ مِنَ الذُّلِّ
    • Praise God the One who has not begotten a son nor does He have any partners in kingship and He has no heir because of need.
  10. At the end every two cycles, and at the end of the last cycle, be seated and recite the shahada: ash-hadu alla ilaha illallah [I testify that there is no god except God].10
  11. End the prayer, while seated, with as-salaamu ‘alaikum, turning to the right and left.12

These videos contain useful sample demonstrations of the contact prayer.

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Number of cycles

The number of cycles in the prayer are as follows:

Dawn فَجْرِ 2
Noon    دُلُوكِ الشَّمْسِ/ ظهر 4
Afternoon وُسْطَى / عصر 4
Dusk  زُلَفًا مِنَ اللَّيْلِ / مغرب 3
Late night عِشَاءِ 4

The number is cycles is a well established, about which there is no contention. The existence of cycles is confirmed in 4:102, and the cycle count does not contravene any part of the Quran. This alone is sufficient to preserve the count of cycles.

However, there are some mathematical signs that confirm the number of cycles:

  1. 24434 is a multiple of the common denominator of the Ultimate Mathematics of the Quran – 19 1286.
    • The 1st initialed sura with 286 verses follows the Fatiha recited in the prayer.
    • 1+2+8+6 = 17, which signifies the number of cycles.
  2. Two fundamental numbers on which the Ultimate Mathematics of the Quran are based, are 19 and 114 (the number of suras).
    • 114 written in base 19, equals 2 * 4 * 4 * 3 * 4
  3. Sura 19 has many amazing signs associated with it, that confirm the total verses in the Quran and in sura 9.
    • Till the end of sura 19, there are 17 unnumbered basmalahs, that signifies the number of cycles.
    • Till the end of sura 19, there are 2363 verses including these 17 unnumbered basmalas.
      • 2363 = 17 * 139
      • 17 again signifies the number of units.
      • 139 is the number of letters in the Fatiha.
      • Which confirms we recite the Fatiha 17 times in the salat in a day.
  4. The primes with indices 2,4,4,3,4 are 3,7,7,5,7
    • 37757 is a product of primes – 17 * 2221
    • Again, 17 signifies the number of cycles.
    • 2221 is the 331st prime. 331 is the 67th prime.
    • 67 is the total number of times the word “salat” is mentioned in the Quran. 67 is also the 19th prime number.

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Footnotes
  1. (a) Note that God says that the contact prayer is prescribed at specific times, He does not say that they are prescribed with “specific names”. This has been a source of confusion for some Quranists, who try to look for “named prayers” in the Quran. In fact, 24:58 is not specifying the times of prayer at all, or introducing two new prayers. It is describing the times of privacy for adults when they retreat to sleep. The period of privacy at night is specified using the night prayer and the dawn prayer as reference markers. And it is evident that people were already praying at these times, and familiar with their names, even before this verse was revealed to clarify the times of privacy. The times of the 5 prayers are described clearly in the Quran, and not restricted to those prayers mentioned by a name. Some of those searching for “named prayers” in the Quran count the middle prayer mentioned in in 2:238, and arrive at 3 prayers, while others discount it as a named prayer, and settle for 2 prayers. It is interesting that they have arrived at different combinations of 3 or 2 prayers, that cover all the 5 times described in the Quran. (b) Another misconception is that Shia Muslims have only 3 times for prayer. In fact Shia Muslims also follow 5 times, but they also follow a concept of “combining the times” (which is not prescribed in the Quran). Sunni Muslims allow “combining” under specific conditions, like travel, while Shia Muslims allow combining unconditionally. Still praying them separately, in their prescribed 5 times, is considered better, even by the Shia.
  2. Confirmed in 2:238, 3:39, 22:26.
  3. Performing the takbir (magnification) in the contact prayer is confirmed in 17:111. Further 17:110 asks us to call upon God with His beautiful names in the contact prayer. God’s beautiful names is one of the most common themes of the Quran. Al kabir [The All Magnificient] is one of the many (more than 100) names of God that the Quran teaches us (4:34, 13:9, 22:62, 31:30, 34:23, 40:12), and the name using which we magnify Him. Interestingly, the name akbar [greater], traditionally used to magnify God, is not one of His names. It is a word frequently used in the Quran to compare two things relative to each other (2:217,219, 4:153, 40:10:57, 43:58, 29:45 etc.).  It is also the word used by Abraham to refer to an idol – the sun (6:78), when he was still astray. We should follow the wisdom that God teaches us, regardless of what people in the past may have practiced (2:134,141).
  4. The Fatiha is the only Sura in the Quran given to us to recite to God in its entirety. Like the words that Adam received from God, through which God accepted his repentance (2:37), the opening sura of the Quran is the key to our worship of God, and finding our way to the straight path.
  5. Confirmed in 22:26,77, 2:43, 2:125, 5:55, 3:43.
  6. Confirmed in 56:74,96, 69:52.
  7. Confirmed in 22:26,77, 96:10-19, 2:125, 3:43, 4:102, 7:206, 41:37, 53:62.
  8. Confirmed in 87:1, 92:20.
  9. raka’a (cycle) has the same root as ruku’ (bowing). Every cycle as one bowing. The cyclic aspect of the contact prayer is confirmed in 4:102.
  10. The testimony of faith, 3:18.
  11. See 50:17-18.

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