We make direct contact with God through the Contact Prayer (al-Salat) for redemption of our sins as well as for the growth of our souls that would be used as quantitative data to determine our destination establishing scales on a Day of the Judgment (21:47). The Contact Prayer came down to us from the time of prophet Ibrahim through practicing of people generation after generation like other religious rites of Islam such as Zakat (Obligatory Charity), Siyaam (Ramadan Fasting) and Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca) (4:125, 6:161, 16:123, 22:78). However, all aspects of Salat had been perfected incorporating updates and clarifications where needed specifying the prayer times in the Quran counting 5 times a day. It is unfortunate that the different aspects of Salat have been corrupted over the period of time, even adding extra prayers to the specified prayer times as decreed for us by God (4:103). The daily 5 times prayers are named according to the prayer times, which are corrupted with Tarawih during Ramadan, Eidul Fitr, Eidul Adha, salatul tawaf (after circling the Ka’ba), salatul Qadr, Tahajjad, Ishrak, Chasht, Istekhar, and many others while the practices of Tarawih, Eidul Fitr, Eidul Adha, salatul Qadr, salatul tawaf, Tahajjad are very common among the traditional Muslims.
Details of verses in the Quran specifying the prayer times
God has blessed us to confirm the specified times for the prayer reviewing the relevant verses of the Quran as detailed out below counting 5 times (waqt) Salat prayer during the day and night:
[4:103] So when you have completed the Contact Prayer, then you shall remember God while standing, and sitting, and on your sides. But when you have been secure, then you shall observe the Contact Prayer as the Contact Prayer has been on the believers a decree at specified times (inna al-salata kaanat `alaa al-mu’mimeena kitaaban mawquutan).
Note: Here is the commandment to observe salat at specific times as per schedule given by God, Lord of the universe.
[2:238] You shall be consistent on the Contact Prayers (haafizuu `alaa al-salawaati), and the middle Prayer (wal-salati al-wusta) when you shall stand before God being the reverent (wa-quumuu lillahi qaaniteena).
Note: Here is the reference not to miss any prayer directing to observe the middle prayer (Asr prayer) being reverent to God when people are usually exhausted, and there is also indication of odd number of prayer times.
[11:114] And you (Muhammad) shall observe the Contact Prayer at both ends of the day (wa-aqimi al-salata tarafayi al-nahari), and the first part of the night (wa-zulafan mina al-layli). Indeed, the righteous works remove the evil works. That is a reminder for those who take heed.
Note: Here are the references of three prayers: (1) the Noon (Zahur), (2) the Sunset (Maghrib) and (3) the Night (Isha) while both ends refer to (1) the Noon (Zahur) prayer and the first part of the night refers to (2) the Sunset (Maghrib) and (3) the Night (Isha) prayers. Here, there is also a reminder that the righteous works remove the evil works.
[17:78] You (Muhammad) shall observe the Contact Prayer when the sun declines towards darkness of the night (aqimi al-salata lidulooki al-shamsi ilaa ghasaqi al-layli) and shall recite Quran at the dawn. Indeed, reciting Quran at the dawn is witnessed.
Note: Here is the commandment for the prophet to observe the Noon prayer (Zahur) as well as to recite Quran at the dawn.
[20:130] Therefore, you (Muhammad) shall be patient to what they say, and shall glorify with praise of your Lord (wa-sabbih bihamdi rabbika) before rising of the sun (qabla tuloo’i al-shamsi) and before its setting (wa-qabla ghuroobihaa), and during the part of the night (wa-min annai al-layli), while you shall glorify at ends of the day (fa-sabbih wa-atraafa al-nahari), so that you may be thankful.
Note: Here are the specific times for the Contact Prayer as scheduled by God have the references of five prayers: (1) the Dawn (Fajr), (2) the Afternoon (Asr), (3) the Sunset (Maghrib), (4) the Night (Isha), and (5) the Noon (Zahur) prayers while glorifying with praise before the rising of the sun refers to the Dawn (Fajr), before its setting refers to the Afternoon (Asr), and during the part of the night refers to the Sunset (Maghrib) and the Night (Isha) prayers, and glorifying at both ends refers to the Noon (Zahur) prayer according to the definition of the night (al-layl) and the day (al-nahaar) given in (25:62) while the Arabic word, “yawm” means a day that indicates both the night and the day.
[24:58] O you who believed, permission must be requested by your servants and the children who have not attained puberty (before entering your rooms). This is to be done in three times – before the Dawn Prayer ( min qabli salati al-fajri), at noon when you change your clothes to rest, and after the Night Prayer (wa-min ba’di salati al-`ishaa-i). These are three private times for you. At other times, it is not wrong for you or them to mingle with one another. God thus clarifies the revelations for you. God is Omniscient, Most Wise.
Note: Here are the references of two prayers by name: (1) the Dawn (Fajr) and (2) the Night (Isha).
[30:18] And to Him belongs all praise (wa-lahu al-hamdu) in the heavens and the earth, and at night (wa-`ashiyyan) and when you enter noon (wa-heena tuz’hiroona).
Note: Here are the references of two prayers: (1) the Night and (2) the Noon.
[40:55] So, you (Muhammad) shall be patient, God’s promise is true, and shall ask forgiveness for your sin, and shall glorify with praise of your Lord (wa-sabbih bihamdi rabbika) in the night (bil-`ashiyi) and the morning (wal-ib’kaari).
Note: Here are the references of two prayers: (1) the Night and (2) the Dawn.
[50:39] So, you (Muhammad) shall be patient to what they say, and shall glorify with praise of your Lord (wa-sabbih bihamdi rabbika) before rising of the sun (qabla tuloo`i al-shumsi) and before the setting (wa-qabla al-ghuroobi).
Note: Here are the references of two prayers: (1) the Dawn and (2) the Afternoon.
[62:9] O you who believed, when a call is made for the Contact Prayer on a day of Friday (lilsalati min yawmi al-Jumu`ati), then you shall hasten to the commemoration of God, and shall leave the business. That is better for you, if you knew.
Note: Here is the commandment of the Friday prayer, which is observed instead of the Zahur prayer on every Friday.
The literary details of 5 times prayer at specific times during day and night found in 10 verses across 10 suras, has also a mathematical confirmation. The total of the relevant sura and verse number is a multiple of 19 =>1102 = 19x58 (see the table below for details):
Note: The Quran has confirmed 5 times Contact Prayer at day and night mentioning 2 prayers by name such as Fajr (Dawn) and Isha (Night) and specifying the times for the other 3 prayers such as Zahur (Noon), Asr (Afternoon) and Maghrib (Sunset) while one of the prayers is designated as the middle prayer.
Here are the numeric properties associated with the names of the five times Salat prayers to have a look for better understanding of 5 times Salat prayer at specific times:
Note: In the above table, there are 2 references for Asr prayer instead of 3 and 6 references for Isha prayer instead of 5 as the reference of Asr prayer in 50:39 is misplaced in the table.
5 times Contact Prayer at a glance
The Quran has confirmed 5 times Contact Prayer during the day and night mentioning 2 prayers by name such as Fajr and Isha. Below are the names of all the prayers when they become due:
1. The Dawn Prayer (Fajr in Arabic) must be observed before the dawn, i.e., before the appearance of first light in the sky during sunrise.
2. The Noon Prayer (Zahur in Arabic) is due when the sun declines from its highest point at noon.
3. The Afternoon Prayer (Asr in Arabic) is the middle prayer, which can be observed during the 2-3 hours preceding sunset.
4. The Sunset Prayer (Maghrib in Arabic) must be observed during the twilight in the sky, i.e., during sunset.
5. The Night Prayer (Isha in Arabic) is due after the disappearance of twilight from the sky, i.e., after sunset.
Commemoration of God
It has been confirmed from the above verses the commandment to observe the Contact Prayer in specific times in specific format to remember God while He has also commanded us to commemorate Him once the Contact Prayer is completed. Thus, God has made a clear distinction between Salat prayer and other forms of commemoration or imploring Him, which could be done at anytime, anywhere and in any format or language but should not be confused with the Salat prayers that have reflected in the following verses of the Quran:
[3:41] He said: “My Lord, give me a sign.” He said: “Your sign is, cannot speak to the people for three days except gesture, and increase remembrance of your Lord, and glorify in the evening and the morning ( wa-sabbih bil-`ashiyi waal-ib’kari).”
Note: Here is the commandment for Zachariah to increase the remembrance of God for giving him good news of a son at his old age.
[17:79] And of the night (wa-mina al-layli) that you shall meditate with it (Quran) (fa-tahajjad bihi) as extra (reward) for you, perhaps that your Lord may raise you to a high rank.
Note: Here is the commandment for the prophet to study the Quran at the night like at dawn, which is a continuation from the previous verse (17:78) while this verse is often misinterpreted to be a hint of the tahajjad Salat prayer at night.
[19:11] Then he (Zachariah) came out to his people from the sanctuary and signaled to them to glorify the morning and the evening (an sabbihoo buratan wa-`ashiyyan).
Note: Here is the reference to increase the remembrance of God for the family of Zachariah because of good news to have a son while he could not communicate to the people for three days except sign.
[25:64] And those who stay awake at night (yabeetoona) for their Lord prostrating and standing.
Note: Here is the reference to meditate at night to gain extra reward.
[26:218] The One who sees you (yaraka) when you stand (heena taqoomu).
Note: Here is the reference that God is aware of all good works of the prophet.
[33:41] O you who have believed, you shall remember God a frequent remembrance
[33:42] And you shall glorify Him morning (buk’ratan) and evening (wa-aseelan).
Note: Here is the commandment for the believers to glorify Him morning and evening following the message given to prophet Muhammad as well as the message in the verse, (33:41).
[39:9] Is he who meditates during the night (am’man huwa qaanitun aanaa-a al-layli), prostrating and standing, fearing the Hereafter and expecting the mercy of his Lord? Say: “Are those who know equal to those who do not know?” Only those who possess intelligence will take heed.
Note: Here is the reference of those who would meditate during the night to increase their knowledge.
[50:40] And of the night that you shall glorify Him (wa-mina al-layli fa-sabih’hu), and after prostrating.
Note: It is better for him to glorify God at the night being reverent to Him, is a continuation of the commandment in 50:39 to observe the Contact Prayer before the sunrise (Fajr prayer) and the sunset (Asr prayer).
[51:18] And in the morning (wa-bil-as’haari) they ask forgiveness (hum yastaghfiroona).
Note: Here is the reference for asking God in the morning for His forgiveness.
[52:48] You shall be patient for your Lord command, for you are in our sights, and shall glorify with praise of your Lord (wa-sabbih bihamdi rabbika) when you get up (heena taqoomu).
[52:49] And of the night (wa-mina layli) that you shall glorify Him (fa-sabbih’hu), and the setting of the stars (wa-id’bara al-nuzoomi).
Note: Here is the commandment for the prophet to remember his Lord day and night and the 2nd person singular masculine form confirms that the above two verses are directed to the prophet.
[73:2] You (Muhammad) shall meditate of the night (qumi al-layli) except for a little.
Note: Here is the commandment for the prophet to meditate God in the night as much as possible.
[73:20] Indeed, your Lord knows that you meditate a little less than two thirds of the night, and half of it, and one third of it (inna rabbaka ya’lamu annaka taqoomu adnaa min thuluthyi al-layli wa-nis’fahu wa-thuluthahu), and a group of those who are with yours. And God designs the night and the day. He knows that you cannot always do this, so He has pardoned you. So you shall recite what has been easy of the Quran. He knows that there will be sick among you, and others are travelling in the land seeking from God’s bounty, and others who are fighting in God’s path, so you shall recite what has been easy of it. And you shall observe the Contact Prayer, and shall give the Obligatory Charity and shall loan God a loan of righteous. And whatever good you send forth for yourselves, you will find it with God, it is a better and a greater reward. And you shall ask God’s forgiveness; indeed, God is Forgiving, Merciful.
Note: Here is a reference of meditation for the prophet and those who are with him with the Quran in the night as much as possible for additional reward as well as of asking God for His forgiveness.
[103:1] By the afternoon (wal-`asri).
[103:2] Indeed, the human is in loss.
[103:3] Except those who believed and do good works, and support one another with the truth and support one another with the patience.
Note: By taking oath God informs that people are usually exhausted in the afternoon and some of us may not be enthusiastic to do righteous works but those who are true believers never fail to do that and they do the right things at all of their circumstances. However, no direct relation is stated to be the reference of the Afternoon prayer.
The study confirms that God has decreed the Contact Prayer for us to observe it at specified times throughout a day and its counting is 5 times. The practice of 5 times Salat prayer as given by God has a great importance in our life while practicing them in a perfect way should not be taken lightly keeping in mind that the unauthorized or incorrect practicing is a gross sin being idol worship. It is the most honorable among the traits of the believers while it is noticeable that it is the most corrupted one. It is practiced by different sects of Muslims all over the world in different ways, even corrupting it with adding many extra prayers while the practice of Tarawih, Eidul Fitr, Eidul Adha, salatul Qadr, salatul tawaf, Tahajjat as invented by the so called scholars or the tradition are very common among the Muslim circle around the world. The Quran being the final edition of God’s scripture as well as the reminder of the world has given us an opportunity to expose all the extra prayers, and to remove them from our practices, even confirming with the tool given in it as the reminder for the generation fitting to it (74:30-37). Now those who can reflect to both logical and physical facts from the Quran, and can do the right thing in a right way, they may expect to go to the right place that we all should do.
Peaceful Friday, salaam and God bless.