The Quran about prayer

In the name of God the Gracious, the Merciful

At all times of the humanity, God has never left people without guidance to the straight path. Unfortunately, people, for the sake of their own passions, have been going astray, distorting it. The last sent down guidance from The Lord of the worlds is the Quran. In this Book, our Sovereign enjoined a quantity of regulations, fulfilment of which leads to the salvation of personality on the Day of Debt.

One of the prescriptions of the Quran is prayer. To date, the most common word for prayer is the word “namaz”. This Persian word, borrowed from Sanskrit, means “greeting”, by which the Krishnaites welcome their god Rama, and it came from Zoroastrians who performed prayers five times a day and by which they welcomed the supreme deity Ahura Mazda and six other deities – his assistants.

In Arabic, word prayer sounds like “solāat”.  Bases of this word are “sylatun”, “uasola” meaning “connection”, “to connect”. From this, we can conclude that “solāat” means – prayerful communication with God. That is to say, our Creator commands us to connect with Him. In the Quran, this command is reflected in many places:

And establish prayer and give purifying expenditure and bow with those who bow (2:43)

And establish prayer and give purifying expenditure, and whatever good you put forward for yourselves – you will find it with God. Indeed, God of what you do, is Seeing! (2:110)

Tell My servants who have believed to establish prayer and spend from what We have provided them, secretly and publicly, before a day comes in which there will be no exchange, nor any friendships! (14:31)

Appeal to Him, turning in repentance to Him! Beware of Him! Establish prayer and do not be of those who associate others with God. (30:31)

O you who have believed! When you are called for the prayer on the day of gathering, then proceed to the remembrance of God and leave trade. That is better for you, if you only knew! (62:9)

Human being, who wants to execute the order of God in a perfect way, has to learn how, when, and what is the “quality” of the prayerful communication, because otherwise we may turn out to be heedless.

So woe to those who pray, who are heedless of their prayer! (107:4-5)

However, to understand the signs of God in a correct way, we first need to look at following fragment:

It is He who has sent down to you the Prescription. In it are precise signs – they are the foundation of the Prescription – and others similar. As for those in whose hearts is deviation, they follow that of it which is similar, seeking to charm and seeking to interpret it. And no one knows its interpretation except God! But those who firm in knowledge say, “We believe in it. All is from our Lord!” And no one will be reminded except those of understanding. (3:7)

Proceeding from it we can see, that precise signs are considered together with the similar ones, i.e. they amplify and help to understand the precise sign more completely. However drawing a conclusion relying only on similar signs without considering the precise ones is incorrect.

Let’s examine in what condition we should be before the prayerful communication.

Condition before the prayerful communication


O you who have believed! When you rise to prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles. And if you are in a state of sexual defilement, then purify yourselves. But if you are ill or on a journey or one of you comes from the toilet or you have contacted women and do not find water, then seek clean earth and wipe over your faces and hands with it. God does not intend to make difficulty for you, but He intends to purify you and complete His favor upon you that you may be grateful. (5:6)

Conditions during the prayerful communication

Understanding of the appeal

O you who have believed! Do not approach prayer while you have intoxicated mind until you know what you are saying… (4:43)

Most of the non-Arab Muslims do not know Arabic language. However, since ancient times they pray repeating words memorized by transcription of the Arabic original.

Can we pray not knowing the meaning of the text?  In the previous fragment, the word “sukara” is used, which is translated as “intoxicated”. Word “sukara” literally means to shut, to lock, to intoxicate, to candy. The word additionally has meaning, “not distinguish” (ex. Colors). Notably, in the previous fragment it’s clearly said, that believers should not pray, while their mind is closed from understanding. Many different aspects may cause state of not understanding: ignorance of the language, anger, side effects of pharmaceuticals, recreational drugs, state of prostration, affect, drowsy condition etc. We should not primitively think, that it is told only about the use of alcohol.

In order not to violate God’s command, for people who do not understand Arabic text is acceptable to pray using their native language. After all transcription is often distorted from the original pronunciation, which may lead away from the actual meaning of the original script, while incomprehension of what you read from the Quran leads to contradiction with God’s command to reflect upon the Quran. In order to avoid that, it is recommended to pray on your own language. Such approach won’t lead to violation of the laws of God. This opinion may be proved by following fragments:

And We did not send any messenger except [speaking] in the language of his nation to state clearly for them, and God sends astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise! (14:4)

Do you not see, that God is exalted by those within the heavens and the earth, and the birds flying in rows? Each knows his prayer and exalting, and God is the Knowing of what they do. (24:41)

These fragment show that the truth may be apprehend on native language and prayer can be established in the same way. After all, to suppose that every creation speak in one Arabic language is unwise.


And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the reverent. (2:45)

Successful are those believers, who during prayer are reverent. (23:1-2)


O you who have believed! Seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, God is with the patient. (2:153)

Beware of God

We have been commanded to humble themselves before the Lord of the worlds, and to establish prayer and beware of Him! And it is He to whom you will be gathered!” (6:72)

Pronouncing aloud

Say, “Call upon God or call upon the Gracious! Whichever [name] you call – to Him belong the best names!”

And do not recite loudly in your prayer or quietly but seek between that an [intermediate] way! (17:110)

That is ORDER of God to the prophet, thus to all believers. Considering impartially, this fragment has no other ways of understanding it. We must think about why most of the Muslims, regardless of God’s command establish their prayers inaudible in the daytime?! After all, holiday prayers and Friday prayer are established ALOUD!

Declaring approach of following the example of the prophet, which is called “sunna”, Muslims mostly follow legends (traditions) based on memory of people from those who have lived thousand years before us. However, true “sunna” is the Quran, because the prophet followed prescriptions undeviatingly, thus recited aloud during prayerful communication.

From the above mentioned excerpts, we can see that prayerful communication is significant for believer, so the Most High prescribed to maintain it.

Maintaining prayers

This is a Prescription which We have sent down, blessed and confirming what was before it, that you may warn the “mother” of settlement and those around it, to those who believed him and believed in the Hereafter, and they are maintaining their prayers! (6:92)

…they who maintain their prayers! (23:9)

…those who maintain their prayer. (70:34)

Muslims often ask what movements must be done during prayerful communication, if we neglect the traditions. If we trust God, and read the Quran carefully, we will find instructions sufficient to perform prayerful communication.


Stand for prayer at the decline of the sun until the darkness of the night and the Literature (Quran) recite at dawn. Indeed, the Literature (Quran) of dawn and of the night is ever witnessed! (17:78)


When We made the firmly established house a secure place for meeting people, We prescribed: “And take from the standing place of Abraham a place of prayer!.”

We charged Abraham and Ishmael: “Purify My house for those circling, devoting, kneeling and prostrating.” (2:125)

Your patron is none but God and His messenger and those who have believed – those who establish prayer and give purifying expenditure, and they kneel. (5:55)

Bow to the ground (prostration)

We designated for Abraham the place of the House, “Do not associate anything with Me and purify My house for those who walk around, and those who stand, kneel and prostrate! (22:26)

We can clearly see from this ayat that performing prayerful communication believer, firstly must stand, secondly kneel and finally prostrate.

Undoubtedly, traditional Muslim may come up with the question: “How many times this complex of movements, also known as “rakaat”, should be performed?

God does not want make it difficult for us, but wants to make it easier:

And if you fear anything, then you can pray on foot or riding. But when you are secure, then remember God, as He has taught you that which you did not know. (2:239)

Therefore, proceeding from a situation, Creator allowed us to shorten prayerful communication:

And when you travel throughout the land, there is no offence upon you for shortening the prayer, if you fear that those who closed themselves may tempt you. Indeed, the closed ones are ever to you a clear enemy. (4:101)

In this particular fragment, the prescription is for those who have believed, but not for the prophet. From the next fragment, we will see description of the shortened collective prayer for believers:

And when you are among them and lead them in prayer, let a group of them stand [in prayer] with you and let them carry their arms. And when they have prostrated, let them be [in position] behind you and have the other group come forward which has not [yet] prayed and let them pray with you, taking precaution and carrying their arms. Those who closed themselves wish that you would neglect your weapons and your baggage so they could come down upon you in one [single] attack. But there is no offence upon you, if you are troubled by rain or are ill, for putting down your arms, but take precaution. Indeed, God has prepared for the closed a humiliating punishment! (4:102)

In previous fragments, periodicity of a complex of movements (rakaat) is obviously shown. Shortened prayerful communication consists of one complex (rakaat), whereas full prayerful communication consists of two movement complexes (rakaats).

How is that defined? In previous fragment, it is clearly directed, that replacement of troops of believers is to be after a bow to the ground (prostration), which is the tailpiece of one movement complex (rakaat).

Why full prayerful communication consists of two movement complexes? The matter is that the messenger, in this particular case, conducted prayerful communication up to the end, and change of places during prayerful communication is shown by the example of two troops, which is obviously shows us that full prayerful communication for the messenger consists of two complexes of movements (rakaat).

Next question common among Muslims is about what should be recited during prayerful communication?


Indeed, I am God. There is no deity except Me, so serve Me and establish prayer for My remembrance! (20:14)

He has certainly succeeded who purified himself!

Mentioned the name of his Lord and prayed! (87:14, 15)

The remembrance we may find in the Quran, as well as an appeal to Him. Moreover, God allows us to recite from the Quran what is easy for us:

So recite what is easy of the Literature (Quran). He has known that there will be among you those who are ill and others traveling throughout the land seeking [something] of the bounty of God and others fighting for the way of God.

So recite what is easy from it and establish prayer and give purifying expenditure and loan God a goodly loan. And whatever good you put forward for yourselves – you will find it with God. It is better and greater in reward.

And seek forgiveness of God. Indeed, God is Forgiving and Merciful! (73:20)

Believers should not wait for others to figure everything out for them. Muslims need to show some striving (jihad) and find fragments with remembrance and appeals to Him themselves. Those that you like can be recited in prayerful communication. As for the question when to recite this or that passage from the Quran, it is upon each person individually.

There has to be an order in any matter and prayerful communication is not an exception. Our Creator has defined the number of prayers and periods when it should be performed.

Number and periods of daily prayers

Preserve the prayers and the middle prayer (Aş-Şalāati Al-Wusţá). Stand before God, devoutly obedient. (2:238)

Establish prayer at the two sides of the day and at the approach of the night. Indeed, good deeds move away misdeeds! That is a reminder for those who remember! (11:114)

Stand for prayer at the decline of the sun until the darkness of the night and the Literature (Quran) recite at dawn. Indeed, the Literature (Quran) of dawn and of the night is ever witnessed! (17:78)

O you who have believed! Let those who are dependent on you and those who have not reached puberty among you ask permission of you at three times: before the dawn prayer and when you put aside your clothing at noon and after the night prayer, – three times of privacy for you. There is no blame upon you nor upon them, for they continually circulate among you. You are for each other. Thus does God make clear to you the signs! God is Knowing and Wise! (24:58)

O you who have believed! When you are called for the prayer on the day of gathering, then proceed to the remembrance of God and leave trade. That is better for you, if you only knew! (62:9)

Having analyzed these fragments, we can see that there are only three daily prayers mentioned in the Quran by names, followed by specific periods of daytime, and one social: morning (Şalāati Al-Fajri), night (Şalāati Al-`Ishā), middle (Aş-Şalāati Al-Wusţá), as well as the prayer on the day of gathering (Şalāati Al-Jum’a).

Three periods for prayer depicted in surah 11:114: at the two sides of the day and at the approach of the night – after sunset.

Morning and night prayer mentioned in surah 24:58. Moreover, the fragment depicts periods of taking clothes off when human lays down to rest. Logical conclusion is that morning prayerful communication is established after the sleep, evening (or night) prayerful communication before going to sleep.

Surah 17:78 depicts middle prayer, and shows the period to establish it, from zenith until sunset.

Let’s take a look at specifications of Arabic language. Numerical expressions have three forms in Arabic: singular, dual, and plural (more than two).

In surah 2:238 “prayers” is in plural form, means more than two, i.e. minimum number of prayerful communications should be three, not 5. Middle prayerful communication may only be considered in odd number of prayers. Since number of prayers mentioned in verses does not exceed three, thus middle prayerful communication is in between two other prayerful communications.

Why the period from a zenith until sunset (17:78) has to be considered as the time for middle prayer? Simple exclusion rule has to take a place. The matter is, that there are only two periods named after the periods of the day: morning (Şalāati Al-Fajri) and night (Şalāati Al-`Ishā), and the other prayer is middle (Aş-Şalāati Al-Wusţá).

What are the borders of the periods for prayerful communications?

Borders of the middle prayerful communication are from zenith until sunset that is neatly defined in surah (17:78). Because the sun starts to decline after it passes the highest point (zenith), and dusk starts after sun disappears from the sky (sunset).

Borders of the night prayerful communication are from sunset until dawn. Night starts after sun sets down:

Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding. (3:190)

No one can state that day continues after sunset, so, in accord to previous God’s sign, night starts after day ends. Night is not necessarily a complete gloom, but it steps gradually same as day does:

And We have made the night and day two signs, and We erased the sign of the night and made the sign of the day visible that you may seek bounty from your Lord and may know the number of years and the account. And everything We have set out in detail! (17:12)

We learn that God counts night only to dawn from the following fragment:

Indeed, We sent it down in the night of might.

What do you know about the night of might?

The night of might is better than a thousand months.

The maintainers and the Spirit descend therein by permission of their Lord with every command!

Peace it is until the emergence of dawn! (97:1-5)

It is obvious, that night ends at dawn.

Borders of the morning prayerful communication are defined by dawn until zenith. We figure out the beginning of period of morning prayer by its name – Şalāati Al-Fajr.

Word “fajr” means to crack, to dig out, and to shed. That is, night as if being cracked by light, light starts to shed, what is called dawn.

What about the end of period of morning prayer? Traditionally, sunrise ends the period of morning prayer. However, there is no such statement in the Quran. Then, how to define the end of the period?

To do that, we have to comprehend the ayat (11:114), where it is clearly said that prayerful communication is established at two sides of the day. Sides of day are two halves that are divided by zenith. If day starts with dawn, then first half ends at noon, and second starts from noon and ends at sunset, what is proved by s17:78.

Additionally, we can make a simple analogy in the same way with night period. Word “`Ishā” means to be weak-sighted, to see badly. These meanings clearly indicate dusk. That is, the name of the night prayerful communication identifies the beginning of the prayer’s period, and about the end of the period, we learn from the fragments about the signs of the night. In the same way, we may consider the name of the morning prayerful communication (Şalāati Al-Fajr) as start of morning prayers’ period – dawn, and from fragments about the sides of the day, we learn about the end of the period – noon, zenith.

Some fragments in the Quran contain references for states, merits, actions and times peculiar to prayerful communication, not mentioning the prayerful communication directly:

Bow to the ground (prostration), kneeling and standing

Indeed, those who before Lord are not prevented by arrogance from His service, they exalt Him, and to Him they prostrate! (7:206)

Gladden those who has believed: the repentant, the worshippers, the praisers, the travelers, those who bow and prostrate, those who command the approved and detain from disapproved, and those who preserve the limits of God! (9:112)

To God prostrates whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth, of creatures and the maintainers, and they are not arrogant! (16:49)

They fall upon their faces weeping, and it (Quran) increases them in obedience! (17:109)

… those who spend night before their Lord prostrating and standing! (25:64)

Say, “Enjoy your closed nature for a little; indeed, you are of the inhabitant of the Fire! Is one who is devoutly obedient during periods of the night, prostrating and standing, fearing the Hereafter, hopes for the mercy of his Lord?”

Say, “Are those who know comparable to those who do not know?” Indeed, remember only those of understanding! (39:8-9)

And of His signs are the night and day and the sun and moon. Do not prostrate to the sun or to the moon, but prostate to God, who created them, if it should be Him that you serve! (41:37)

Prostration by periods and with laudation of God

And to God prostrates whoever is within the heavens and the earth, willingly or by compulsion, in the mornings and the afternoons! (13:15)

So praise your Lord with glory and be of those who prostrate. (15:98)

Indeed, those believe in Our signs who, when they are reminded, fall down in prostration and praise with glory their Lord, and they are not arrogant! (32:15)

Mention the name of your Lord in the morning and evening of the night! Prostrate to Him and exalt Him a long night! (76:25-26)

Mentioning God by glory and praise, with humility, regulated by time

Mention your Lord within yourself, trembling and in fear. Do not pronounce words loudly in the mornings and the evenings. Do not be among the heedless. (7:205)

So be patient over what they say and praise your Lord with glory before the rising of the sun and before its setting, and at nighttime! Also praise at two ends of the day, maybe, you will be satisfied! (20:130)

So praise God at evening and morning periods! To Him glory in the heavens and the earth, at evening and noon periods! (30:17-18)

O you who have believed! Remember God with much remembrance and praise Him morning and afternoon! (33:41-42)

So be patient over what they say and praise your Lord with glory: before the rising of the sun and before its setting, and at the night praise Him, prostrating. (50:39-40)

Be patient for the decision of your Lord, indeed, you are right before Our eyes. Praise your Lord with glory when you rise at night and praise Him at disappearance of stars. (52:48-49)

Mention the name of your Lord and devote yourself to Him, renouncing. (73:8)

Mention the name of your Lord in the morning and evening of the night! Prostrate to Him and praise Him a long night! (76:25-26)

Assuming that mentioning (remembrance) of God should be considered as prayerful communication, even then, those fragments from the Quran indicates only three periods.