As-Salaat (Gist)- What Quran Says- Allama Parwez Rahimahullah.
“The place and importance of as-salaa (obligatory prayer) – or, namaaz, as it is known in Persian – in the Muslim scheme of things cannot be overstated. It has been said that, on the Day of Judgement, the very first inquiry made by the Almighty of a Muslim is going to be about prayer; a Persian saying states: awwalleen pursish e namaaz bood. To offer prayer regularly and punctually is considered to be the first and foremost duty of every Muslim man and woman; it is illustrated in Prophetic Tradition (Hadith) by the incident when Ali ibn Abu Taalib missed his ‘asr (late afternoon) prayer and the Prophet miraculously instructed the Sun to roll back Time a little – which it duly did – so that Ali could perform his prayer at the right time. Also, great emphasis is laid upon performing and ‘acting out’ one’s prayer meticulously. In this regard, a number of points are discussed ranging from the geographical accuracy of qiblah (direction) to the precise gap between one’s feet while in qiyaam (standing position).
Despite all that, we are faced with the undeniable fact that the Quran, the Muslim Scripture, does not contain detailed, categorical instructions about this ritual of primary importance. At best, one finds somewhat vague information on the timing and certain body movements. There is certainly nothing to be found about the number of daily prayers neither is there any guidance about the changes this ritual may go through while a Muslim is travelling in space, living on planets other than Earth, or even certain regions of Earth itself, such as the Poles. To compound matters further, the term as-salaa has been used in the Quran for expressions and meanings which are very clearly other than the ritual obligatory prayer.
This state of affairs gives rise to a number of intriguing and nagging questions. Is as-salaa the equivalent of namaaz? Why is the Quran vague on this popularly the most important ritual? Is it a ritual, anyway? Or, is it an institution with a much wider context than being one of the personal rituals? What broader picture emerges if one considers various linguistic applications of as-salaa? In short, what is the Quranic concept of it as compared to the Islamic? These, among others, are the questions which have been dealt with in this translation of an excerpt from Lughaat al Qur’aan (‘Language od the Quran’), pp. 1034-46, the monumental Urdu work on the lexicon of the Muslim Scripture by the late Mr G A Parwez, the founder of the Tolu-e-Islam Movement, published in January, 1961, by Idara Tolu-e-Islam, Lahore, Pakistan.”
Khalid Mahmood Sayyed