Chapter 1, Hadith & Seerah, The Authority of Sunnah / Sunday, August 17th, 2008

The Holy Quran has repeatedly ordered the Muslims to establish Salah (the prayer) and to be steadfast in it. In the following verse, after repeating the same order, the Holy Quran gives a special concession to the Muslims that in the state of war, when they fear an attack from their enemy, they can perform the prayer in whatever way they can, either riding on horses or camels or walking on their feet. But after the danger of the enemy is over, they are ordered to perform the prayer in its normal way.
This principle has been laid down in the following words:

“Take due care of all the prayers and the middle prayer, and stand before Allah in total devotion. But if you are in
fear, then (pray) on foot or riding, but when you are in peace, then recite the name of Allah in the way He taught you.” (2:239,240)

A number of points are worth consideration in these verses:

Firstly, the verse assumes that there are more than one prayer obligatory on the Muslims, but the exact number of the prayers has not been given, neither in this verse nor at any other place in the Holy Quran. That the number of obligatory prayers is five is only mentioned by the Holy Prophet (SAWS). The Holy Quran by saying ‘Take due care of all the prayers’ confirms what the Holy Prophet (SAWS) prescribed for the Muslims.

Secondly, the verse lays special emphasis on the “Middle Prayer’, but does not define it. The definition has been left to the Holy Prophet (SAWS).

Thirdly, the most important sentence in relation to our subject is, ‘when you are in peace, then, recite the name of Allah in the way He taught you’. It goes without saying that the ‘recitation of the name of Allah’ means here ‘to perform the prayer’ as the context does not permit any other meaning.

Now, the Holy Quran directs the Muslims that in the state of peace they should perform the prayer in its normal way which has been taught to them by Allah. It is an express indication that the normal way of performing prayers has been taught to the Muslims by Allah Himself. But no such way has ever been mentioned in the Holy Quran. There is no verse in the Holy Book mentioning the detailed way of performing prayer. It is only the Holy Prophet (SAWS) who educated the Muslims as to how they are to perform it. But the Holy Quran holds the teaching
of the Holy Prophet (SAWS) to be the teaching of Allah.

It means that Allah has taught the way of prayer to the Holy Prophet (SAWS) through some ‘unrecited revelation’ not contained in the Holy Quran, and the Holy Prophet (SAWS) taught it to the Muslims.

Thus, the Muslims have been taught by Allah through the teaching of the Holy Prophet (SAWS). However, the teaching of the Holy Prophet (SAWS) is described in the Holy verse as the teaching of Allah, because it was based on the ‘unrecited revelation’.

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