problems with 5 salat daily timings as per The Quran
It is a common occurrence to find people advocating 5 salat daily from The
Quran, however in
my view every single person that has done so repeats the
same erroneous arguments or at the very least
misrepresents the information, i.e. so it looks like there
may be 5.
Of course, it is possible such advocates are not aware of
past discussions on 5 salat
timings and/or are unaware of the problems with
their own view. With this in mind, this article is an
attempt to summarise the common problems so students of
The Quran can
weigh and consider the information for themselves and make
up their own minds.
whilst my view is that The Quran does not state 5 salat daily (read my
view on salat
here), that does not mean I consider it wrong for a
uphold 5. It does not matter to me what a fellow
brother/sister does when it comes to their personal
relationship with God. My only issue arises when claims
are made, such as "Quran
Traditional Islamic history openly admits that before the
alleged "isra &
journey & ascension) story involving prophet Muhammad
in 17:1, there were only two salat daily, or perhaps 2 + 1 extra
during the night, see sources: famous
scholar Ibn Kathir and academic
topic. For those unfamiliar with the alleged isra & miraj story, please
use a search engine. For a possible explanation of 17:1 as
please see here.
Thus, according to tradition, after this event there
became 5 daily salat.
The following are some typical examples of articles
arguing for 5 daily salat from The Quran:
A) Joseph Islam: http://quransmessage.com/articles/the%20five%20prayers%20from%20the%20quran%20FM3.htm
(accessed Feb 9th 2014)
B) Muhammad Shaikh:
C) Rashad Khalifa et al:
brief content regarding the timings)
D) Dr Ahmad
There are other articles, however their arguments are
very similar and discuss the same verses. I will use the
contents of article (A)
as the primary reference, listing examples of problems,
and alongside each numbered point I shall reference
which other articles from the above also have
same/similar issues. It should be noted that the other
articles above do not discuss certain aspects of their
proposed view, thus are not detailed enough to determine
if they contain some of the problems below or not.
1) B, C, D.
Quote from article: "This article will
attempt to show that not only are the 5 prayers
strongly alluded to (and sometimes mentioned by
Quote: "The Fajr prayer
is actually mentioned by name in the Quran as is the
The first point to note is that the author openly admits
names of some salat are
given (i.e. fajr and
nowhere in the article is it considered why only these
two are named.
After the small error of incorrectly using the plural
"prayers" when 11:114 uses the singular "salat" (this is
done several times throughout the article), the author
"In the above verse, Fajr prayer is mentioned
along with Isha prayers and are described as prayers
at the two ends of the day (Salata Tarafayi = two
The end of the night can be perfectly reconciled
with the actual moment at which the sun starts to
lighten the sky whilst remaining well below the
horizon. This is known as dawn and is a period before
actual sunrise (Fajr as it is read today). The end of
the day would be the point at which the sun's rays no
longer illuminate the sky. This period would not be
sunset (as the sun's light still illuminates the sky
even though the sun is below the horizon at sunset),
but rather would correspond to 'layl' (night). It is
at this point Isha prayer is due."
Thus, according to the author:
two ends of the day = fajr and isha
end of night = dawn / morning twilight (fajr is due)
end of day = no light / night / layl (isha is due)
Thus, clearly, the author considers morning and evening
twilight part of the day and not part of the night. This
will be returned to later.
"In this verse, we also find mention of the
approach of the night (wa zulafan mina al-layli) which
is discussed in the section dealing with Maghrib
A minor inconsistency in the article, i.e. "zulafan" is Arabic
plural (i.e. 3 or more) meaning it should be "approaches of/from the
3) B, C, D.
It should be noted that 11:114 may not necessarily refer
to 3 salat, as it can be taken to refer to 2 salat, i.e.
two ends of the daytime and the adjacent/near parts from
the night. This can refer to two time-ranges, giving a
self-contained explanation for salat (of) fajr (begins
at morning twilight and ends when the sun rises above
the horizon) and salat (of) isha (begins at sunset and
ends when this light disappears i.e. dark night). In
this interpretation night includes the twilights, and
satisfies the plural "zulafan"
salat we may
expect to see the singular zulfa. Thus, it is an assumption to
consider 11:114 refers to 3 salat, when this is not the
4) B, C, D.
The author then references 30:17 (and later 30:18) to
support the morning and evening timings mentioned
previously (i.e. fajr & isha). The word salat does not
occur in 30:17, thus there is an assumption here, that
the word assumed to allude to salat is sbh/glorify.
Further, and perhaps more critically, sbh is used many
times in The Quran, sometimes with references to timings
but the author does not discuss all of these timed-sbh
verses and equate them with salat. If one is going to equate a
timed-sbh verse with salat
then one must equate them in all timed-sbh verses
and determine the result. Note the author's later use of
30:18 which uses hmd/praise and not salat.
methodology is explained as to why certain timed-sbh/hmd
verses are cited and some not. Without explanation this leaves the presentation of information open
to bias, i.e. the author only gives us the timing
examples which seemingly support the position of 5 salat
daily. It is
possible this is selective presentation of information
based on the author's pre-conceived notion /
(also called confirmatory bias or myside bias) is the
tendency of people to favor information that confirms
their beliefs or hypotheses (e.g. the 5 salat
daily theory). People
display this bias when they gather or remember
information selectively, or when they interpret it in
a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally
charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs.
People also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as
supporting their existing position.
The translation given for
30:18 may not be correct, quote:
"Unto Him be praise in
the heavens and the earth! - and at night (Arabic:
Ashiyyan) and in the noonday (Arabic: Tuz’hirun - at
The word "tuz'hirun" is actually a verb (not
a noun as the article seems to imply) and occurs 7
times in The Quran and in no other occurrence does
it mean "you are at noon". It more commonly means
"you are revealed/exposed". When we insert this
understanding into 30:18 it seems more fitting, i.e.
covers both situations, at night and when one is
exposed/revealed (in the day).
6) B, D.
The translation given of 17:78 contains a clear
insertion on the author's part, quote:
"...and the morning praet) will determine
whether one accepts this as a reference to all prayers
from noon to sunset (Dhuhr, Asr and Maghrib) or
exclusively to 'Maghrib'."
It cannot be a reference to "all prayers from noon to
sunset (Dhuhr, Asr and Maghrib)" as the singular salat is used and
only one time-period is given i.e. "establish salat at A ila/to
B". I am not aware of an example in Quran wherein "A
ila/to B" is stated and the intended meaning is it is to
be separated into multiple parts.
It is a common error for other articles promoting 5 to
contain this obvious problem, or at least certainly do
not provide any supporting evidence. In this case the
author opts for it referring to one salat, e.g. the
It should be noted that since layl/night is dark according to the
author, to say "darkness of the night" is
redundant/superfluous. According to The Quran, layl/night contains
light (e.g. twilight), see 36:37, or further reading see
50:39 is cited with "sbh
bi hmd" assumed to refer to salat. An issue
with this assumption arises when we read the following
So be patient to
what they are saying, and glorify with
praise of your Lord before the rising of the
sun and before the setting, and from the night
sbh/glorify Him and ends (of) the sujud/prostration/submission.
According to the author's position, this would mean
these verses tell us to perform a salat:
1) before the rising of the sun
2) before its setting
3) from the night
4) at ends of the sujud
An attempt to explain (4) is made later by the author,
see point (17) below. For a discussion on the meaning of
"sujud" see here,
e.g. completing a command can be a "sujud".
The author incorrectly translates 20:130,
exposing a potential problem in his theory, quote:
"Also, we note in 20:130 that the two ends of
the day (watarafa l-nahari) are used as separate
periods along with the period just before the setting
of the sun (Shamsi waqabla ghurubiha) which clearly
indicates the period of Asr prayers.
“Therefore be patient with what they say, and
celebrate (constantly) the praises of thy Lord, before
the rising of the sun (Arabic: Qabla taluhe- Shams -
i.e. Fajr), and before its setting (Arabic: Qabla
gharubiha - i.e. Asr); yea, celebrate them for part of
the hours of the night, and at the sides of the day
(Arabic: Watarafa l-nahari - i.e. Fajr and Isha): that
you may have (spiritual) joy”
(ends/sides) is actually an Arabic plural meaning 3 or
more. Note how it is different to the dual form "tarafay" used in 11:114.
cannot mean "two ends of the day". It more correctly
means "3 or more ends/sides of the day". Of course,
once this correction is inserted into the author's
interpretation it causes a problem.
how also the author assigns a salat
for each time-point given EXCEPT "hours of
the night". See point (15) later.
Thus, using the author's reasoning, we have:
1) before the rising of the sun = Fajr
2) before its setting = Asr
3) from hours of the night = ?
4) 3 or more sides/ends of the day = Fajr + Isha + ? (+?
Why The Quran has redundant and potentially misleading
repitition is not discussed by the author, e.g. why
mention Fajr twice. From my experience, 20:130 is a
frequent cause of issues for those advocating 5 salat
daily from Quran.
11) B, C, D.
After a questionable translation of "wa
most remote from the extremes. See its other
adjective/noun usage below:
And as such, We have
made you a WaSaTan nation... [2:143]
God will not hold
you for your unintentional oaths, but He will hold you
for what oaths you have made binding; its cancellation
shall be the feeding of ten poor from the aWSaTi of what you feed your
The aWSaTu of them said: "Did I
not say to you: why do you not glorify God?"
Therefore, in terms of simple probability, the
in 2:238 more likely refers to the figurative meaning of
can be seen, the middle (wusta) prayer is the central
prayer and is the one that approaches sunset or
corresponds to the period of late afternoon."
It should be noted that the author infers this "middle
prayer" to refer to "Asr" in late afternoon, but this is
not the literal middle of the day, as that would be noon
(i.e. Dhuhr). Interestingly even in the article's quoted
part of Lane's lexicon it gives a use of "wusta"
referring to "the middle/midst of the sky" which also
indicates noon. Thus, strictly the article means
"middle" as in middle of the theorised 5 salat daily
sequence, i.e. the 3rd one of the day, i.e. "Asr". Thus,
the so-called "middle prayer" is not in the middle of
Also, technically if it is the "middle" salat, then we
are not told in The Quran which is the first salat of
the alleged five, thus cannot identify which one is the
"middle". It could be inferred however that the first
salat of the alleged five would be the first one of the
day, i.e. salat al fajr, thus making "Asr" the "middle"
salat. Ideally in this argument, accompanying
information showing when day begins as per Quran would
"This prayer has been
given special attention and has been singled out
for mention in the ‘group’ of prayers (salawaat -
The author does not provide any reasoning/evidence
for why it has allegedly been singled out. This is
likely because there is no explanation from The
Quran. This is perhaps why the author (and others)
conveniently translate "wa" as "especially", as simply
translating "wa" as "and"
would make readers ask: why has the middle "salat" been
redundantly singled out when it is already included in "salawat" mentioned
previously? Hence, I suspect that by assigning a
questionable "especially" status, may help give some
credence to this view.
After saying "guard the salawat" it is
redundant to say "and the middle salat", as the
latter is already included in the former.
Another problem for the author's view arises with the
Guard over the salawat; and
the middle salat;
and stand/observe dutifully for God. [2:238]
So if you fear
then on foot or riding, then when you are secure then
remember God as He has taught you what you did not
Does 2:239 refer to "the middle salat" or "salawat"? It will
be an assumption to choose one over the other, although
the flow and structure seems to favour "al salat al wusta"
in my view. For an explanation of my view, please see
Further, the Arabic form of the term "al salat al wusta"
in 2:238 is different to the form "salat al fajr" and
"salat al isha"
in 24:58, and clearly indicates it is a description
whilst the latter two are a specific reference, i.e.
salat al fajr ~ salat (of) fajr/dawn
salat al 3sha ~ salat (of) 3sha/evening
al salat al wusta ~ the wusta/balanced salat
Many of those who advocate a middle salat incorrectly
refer to it as "salat
al wusta" as if to imply it occurs in the same
form as "salat al
fajr"/"salat al isha" in Quran.
Lastly, the word "wusta" is superlative in 2:238,
meaning of the highest quality/degree, hence the more
apt translation of "most
balanced/equitable/just/excellent". Note that a
superlative requires a comparison in context, which
could explain the prior mentioned "salawat", see note.
Thus, to those who argue for it meaning "middle" it more
correctly would have to mean "most middle" - thus an
explanation would be required to make sense of the
difference between "middle" and "most middle", if one
can be found.
As a side note, "wusta"
has never been a reference/name for a salat in
Traditional Islamic history as far as I'm aware. And for
those that claim it refers to a clear/known period of
the day, they should note that there is variance in
Traditional sources about which salat it may refer
to, and without evidence such a claim is baseless.
Commenting on 11:114, quote:
"...we were also informed about the prayer at
the approach of the night (wa-zulafan mina
al-layl)..." i.e. evening twilight.
The author follows up by clarifying what this period
refers to, quote (underline mine):
"..therefore the period of
maghrib can be correctly deduced as it is a period
the onset of night (Arabic: layl) and after
sunset." i.e. evening twilight.
words: "zulafan* mina al layl" =
approach* of the
night = maghrib = evening twilight, and this period precedes
night, i.e. is NOT part of the night. Also
see point (2) above to confirm this.
plural, i.e. 3 or more, thus author should actually
render it as "approaches"
Unfortunately for the author the Arabic "min/mina"
in "zulafan mina al layl" is a
partitive preposition in this construction, thus the
"approaches" must be from (i.e. a part of) the night/layl. To evidence
this point, please see the below references:
Introduction to Classical and Koranic Arabic' by W.M.
(+genitive) from/among/amongst/in (in a partitive
of Classical Arabic' by Wolfdietrich Fischer
Quote: "If the sense is partitive, it is combined with
the dependent genitive by min"
Quote: "In combination with terms that denote place and
time, min refers
to a certain segment of the place or time, e.g. min al-layli 'in a
part of the night"
Note that in 11:114 "al
layli" in "zulafan
mina al layli" is in the genitive case, thus is
meant in the partitive sense.
Thus, this finding contradicts the article.
13) B, C, D.
Quote (underline mine):
Arabic root word Zay-Lam-Fa (from the word wazulafan)
means to be close to in position or approaching, in this case, the end of
Note that the underlined part is an interpretative
assumption, as "near parts" (zulafan) needs a reference point, i.e.
near to what? And in 11:114 the ONLY
reference point given prior is "two ends/edges of the
daytime", thus that is the more correct reference point
according to the Arabic. The author has interpreted his
own reference point of one end of the day, i.e. the
latter end of the day. You may see here
for further elaboration.
We know from 20:130 that daytime has 3+ edges (atraf),
thus if 11:114 mentions two edges (tarafay) we
need to know which are these two edges, and The Quran
provides an answer by mentioning the "adjacent/near
parts from the night" - thus, this provides a perfect
self-contained explanation, referring to dawn/dusk time
ranges. Also if someone were to independently consider
when "two ends of the daytime" were, I think it highly
unlikely times other than dawn/dusk would be thought of
- but this would only provide a time, not a time-range,
hence perhaps explaining "and the near parts from the
night". These two statements together provide a
14) B, C.
making a case for "Isha"
salat, the author cites examples from The Quran that
allegedly reference this salat, e.g. 3:17, 39:9, 25:64. It
should be noted however the word "salat" (or its root
do not appear in these verses. The reference to "salat" is therefore
an unstated assumption.
15) B, C, D.
In "the tahajjud prayer"
a significant inconsistency in the author's argument is
"This particular prayer has only been mentioned
once in the Quran and has been enjoined on the
Prophet. It has been enjoined to a singular person and
from the context, it is clear that this command is
directed at the Prophet. This is not for the believers
as a specific prayer to undertake albeit believers can
pray as much as they desire without any restrictions
given by scripture except that one does not overburden
oneself and keeps a balance (73:20)."
The article then highlights the singular address in
17:79 and tries to make the case that this "tahajjud prayer"
is only for the prophet whilst seemingly forgetting that
the prior verse 17:78 is also in the singular address
but was used by the author to clearly imply it is an
instruction for all believers!
To make matters worse, the author again cites 50:39-40
and 20:130 but this time uses them to imply parts of
them are only applicable to the prophet whilst
previously the author used the same verses to extract
timings that were applicable to all believers.
Since the author does not explain his methodology for
determining what verse is applicable to whom (i.e.
prophet and/or all believers), it could be that what
underpins this selective approach is simply confirmation
It should be noted that to my knowledge, the only plural
address to believers for a timed salat verse is
24:58, wherein only "salat
al fajr" and "salat
al isha" are mentioned. This is commonly not
mentioned in articles.
16) B, D.
A more accurate translation of 17:79 is shown below:
Establish the salat
setting of the sun to the darkness of the night; and
the reading (of) dawn; indeed,
the reading (of) dawn is
And from the night
so remain awake with it
additionally for yourself, perhaps your Lord will
raise you (to) a status praiseworthy. [17:79]
The "with it" (Arabic: bi hi)
refers to a preceding masculine noun, and thus can ONLY
refer to "reading" (Arabic: quran). Note that "salat" is a
feminine noun. Thus, the idea of "the tahajjud prayer"
is not possible unless one considers it as a reading
(also see 73:20).
"50:39 ...in the
night-time hymn His praise, and after the (prescribed)
prostrations (Arabic: wa adbara-sajud)”
From this the author deduces: "After the prostrations
here can only refer to Isha prayers."
The above deduction is an
assumption and is not the only option. See
point (9) above. The Arabic more literally says "and (at)
ends/backs (of) the sujud/prostration/submission",
as "sujud" is
18) B, C, D.
Readers should note that by the end of the article, no
definitive timings are concluded, i.e. start point AND end
point for each alleged salat.
This issue is prevalent in all articles advocating 5 daily
salat. It is thus
sometimes argued that The Quran only makes reference to
time periods, and therefore leaves it to us to determine
the specific times. It should be noted that this is an
assumption, a forced one, resulting from holding the 5 salat daily view.
This view must be balanced with The Quran's claims of
being clear, detailed etc see here.
Interestingly, in such an explanation this may make it
difficult to perform a coherent salat in a group, i.e. the start/end
point is not defined thus would have to be agreed
beforehand. Also, since the times are not defined in such
a view, an individual could spend most of the day
with little or no break inbetween periods. Further, in
such a view, it could be the case that a person is
performing their "Asr salat"
and another could be performing their "Dhuhr salat", both at
the same time of the day.
Some advocates attempt to remove this problem by citing
precedent, i.e. the timings allegedly instituted by the
earliest Muslim community that have been passed down
through the generations can be used by believers today as
an example to follow. Some may find this explanation
19) B, C, D.
Even if we accept it is left to us to determine the
specific times, one should note the
inconsistent/asymetrical timings, i.e. some salat have specific
start points some do not, some have specific end points
some do not, some could have specific start and end points
some may not, there could be differences in length of the
time periods of each one etc.
Of course there is no statement in Quran that the time
periods must be equal in length, or must have an
identifiable start and/or end point but one would have
thought this information would make them much more
practicable, especially for groups.
A relatively common problem in such
articles is that whilst verses are cited to indicate
times, the specific times are not clearly explained and
defined. This is likely because specifics do not exist.
For clarity, it is preferable to have the following
basic information made clear IF it is available, for
name/reference for salat
as per Quran, if any (verse references for this)
range: start point and end point (verse references for
20) B, C, D.
It should be noted that according to the 5 salat daily
view, a salat called
"Dhuhr" and a salat called
"Asr" are claimed to be due from noon onwards, however
according to 24:58 it was common practice for believers
within their households to discard their clothes at/from
noon (likely due to the heat*), and this period of undress is
described as "private parts/times" (3awrat) for us.
During these private times others are asked to seek our
permission in order to mingle with us. Thus, questions
arise: when is salat
meant to be offered in this private time of
believers uphold the alleged Dhuhr/Asr salat privately? Can they uphold them naked? Do they
uphold Dhuhr, then undress, then re-dress and uphold
Asr, then undress etc - is this what is being suggested?
It could be argued that we are meant to apply some sort
of common sense, for example, when noon arrives, one
would uphold both these salat immediately or soon after, then
go to their homes (or if already in the home) and
discard their garments, but unfortunately for such an
explanation 24:58 states at/from noon. Perhaps some
might accept this explanation. Of course, some advocates
of 5 salat daily argue for the alleged "Dhuhr" and "Asr"
time periods to extend well into the afternoon and even
until start of sunset.
*It should be
noted that the hottest part of the daytime tends to be
post-noon, i.e. in the afternoon. At noon, direct
sunlight is at its maximum, however it takes some time
for the sun to heat up the atmosphere (see here).
21) B, C, D.
All such 5 salat daily articles do not discuss how their
alleged timings can be calculated by an ordinary person
in a practical manner (using natural phenomenon). That
is why it is commonly said in Traditional Muslim sources
that one can use the shadow of a stick as a guide, even
though this timing guide is inconsistent as it depends
on where one is located. For example, at the equator it
is commonly said the time of "Dhuhr" (noon) begins when
there is no (or very little) shadow but this is not
applicable if living away from the equator (i.e. the
majority of the world's population). Thus, there is
variance amongst 'schools of thought' on how Dhuhr/Asr
times are determined. In addition, in certain parts of
the world, the sky is frequently overcast which makes
the use of shadow difficult to impossible. You will find there is less variance
amongst Traditional Muslims when it comes to the timing
of sunrise and sunset salat.
Please note that the above highlighted problems may not
be the only ones. It is hoped that this article will
allow readers to weigh and consider information more
accurately. The reader is recommended to re-read and
reflect upon the findings of this work. All feedback is
welcome, especially corrections. Thanks.
This new article reinforces the above findings also: the
SaBiH from The Quran
update: Critique and Refutation of Joseph Islam's
article 'Five prayers from The Quran'
Root List - Quran concordance, grammar and
Quranic Arabic Corpus
of The Holy Quran' by Abdul Mannan Omar
would not have been possible without the
many people who have contributed to this
topic, and without the resources now
available to anyone wishing to study The
Quran in detail. For these stepping
stones, I am indebted and truly thankful.
This work reflects my findings and
personal understanding, as of February 9th
2014. Seeking knowledge is a continual
process and I will try to improve my
understanding of the signs within 'the
quran) and out with it, unless The
God wills otherwise. All
information is correct to the best of my
knowledge only and thus should not be
taken as a fact. One should always seek
knowledge and verify for themselves when
possible: 17:36, 20:114, 35:28,
do not follow what you have no knowledge
of; surely the hearing, the sight and the
heart, all of these, shall be questioned
about that. [17:36]