With the name/assistance of The God/Divine,
The Almighty/Originator, The Merciful/Embracing
Allahi ar-rahmani ar-raheemi
The root of "salat" are the Arabic letters:
ص ل و (right
to left in Arabic)
Saad-Lam-Waw (slw). E.W. Lane's Arabic-English
lexicon/dictionary gives the following possible meanings of the root:
prayer, supplication, petition, oration, eulogy, benediction,
commendation, blessing, honour, magnify, bring forth, follow closely, walk/follow behind closely, to remain attached, to contact
or to be in contact.
In a horse race when the second horse follows the first one so
closely that its head always overlaps the first horse’s body that horse is called AL-MUSSALLI (i.e. the one
who follows closely or remains attached).*
of the back, portion from where the tail of an animal comes out, the rump.
*the word 'musalleena' (plural) is used in al quran
(the reading), please see 70:22, 74:43, 107:4.
But surely the best explanation should be taken from the Words
of God, so what does Al Quran (The Reading) say about slw?
In this article I will try to be brief but accurate:
From 75:31-32 it can be seen that
the basic meaning of salla* is to 'go/turn towards', because it is contrasted/compared (i.e. put opposite to)
Furthermore, every single occurrence of the root slw is used in a positive manner, thus if this information
is taken along with the root meanings, we can expand the basic meaning a little further to: to go/turn towards in a close/positive
*in this verse salat (noun) is in its verb (2nd
form) as salla.
31. For he did not confirm (saddaqa*)
nor go/turned towards (salla).
32. But he denied (kaththaba)
and went/turned away (tawalla). **
*be careful not to confuse saddaqa (confirm) with
**it is also interesting to note that al quran's rhythmic style is also utilised
in the comparison.
One could substitute this term with similar words such as link/bond/connect,
remain attached, continue contact, follow closely or commitment, i.e. a word which implies to go/turn towards.
slw = go/turn towards. This is the core
meaning of a general concept.
Allow me an analogy to demonstrate its general meaning, if I
say to you: "go/turn towards justice". You could acheive this in many ways. For example you could start with yourself, make
sure you act just, you could become a lawyer, you could help raise funds to set up law courts, you could educate others on
justice, give a truthful testimony in a court case, you could become a policeman etc. Note that there are many activities
you can do to "go/turn towards justice". In otherwords, to "go/turn towards" something is a general term and can be applied
(I simply chose "justice" as an example of a concept/object you
could go/turn towards, I could have said democracy, wealth, health etc.)
One may ask, well, what are we supposed to "go/turn towards"?
It depends on context, however, the core meaning of "go/turn towards" is always implied.
Please apply this basic/core connotation/meaning/implication
to any verse with the root of salat (i.e. slw = sawd-lam-waw) to see if it fits. These verses can be found in
the following link:
(Be careful not to confuse Sawd-Lam-Waw with the root Waw-Sawd-Lam, which occurs in 4:90,
6:136, 11:70, 11:81, 13:21, 28:35, 2:27, 13:21, 13:25, 5:103, 28:51, despite what the above link states)
Once you have done that. You should study the following list
in which additional information about salat is presented, from al quran:
As you will hopefully see, the concept of slw (i.e. to
turn/go towards) is very broad and can be applied to many things. That is why in al quran, we see it being applied
in a general, specific and varied manner, e.g:
those who set-up partners can repent and uphold the salat
if they trangressed in the system [9:5, 9:11-12]
Can salat mean 'prayer' in this verse? Does
The God force people to perform 'prayer' or they will be killed? How would idolaters (i.e. those who set-up partners) pray?
Does this make sense to you? Please see these verses in conjunction with 2:256. [additional information]
The salat can be neglected, in favour of following desires
Interestingly, this verse implies following desires is different
(or even in contrast) to maintaining/upholding the salat. Where do desires come from? Ourselves. How can we make sure we dont
follow our own desires? What should we follow?
One's salat is to/for God [6:162]
salat is possible between people [33:56,
That is why when Zachariah calls/prays (daAAwa) to his
Lord, he is considered to be in the act of slw (turning/going towards, linking/bonding/connecting) when communication
comes to him. [3:38-39, 19:2-11]
To gain a better understanding of The System/Obligation, it is
clear a better understanding of al quran would be required. That is why a regular/timed salat is given. In this
regular/timed salat, reading / reflection / oration of al quran is prescribed. This can be done alone or in a group/community setting.
Verses linking slw to al quran: 2:43-45,
4:103, 5:12-13, 7:169-170, 8:2-3, 19:58-59, 29:45, 31:2-7, 33:33-34, 17:78.
the salat should be done during/close to the morning &
evening twilight times (i.e. 2x per day) [11:114, 17:78, 24:58]
When one undertakes this regular/timed salat, one should
follow the specific guidelines given, e.g: be clean [5:6, 4:43] , clear mind [4:43],
moderate tone [17:110] (although this may only apply when in groups due to the context of
this verse) etc.
This regular/timed salat is only obligatory upon the mumin
(believers/faithful/trustful). Mumin is different to muslim. This is a very important point to consider.
Who are the mumin? To find out, see the articles below:
This makes sense because it is only the mumin (believers/faithful/trustful)
who are upholding the scripture. For them, to uphold/maintain the going/turning towards (i.e. link/bond) will be more specific
and thus directly related to what the scripture contains, hence reading of it regularly.
Additional reading material.
If you read everything above (including the links) several times,
the concept of salat should be much much clearer.
Lastly, I'd like to mention the concept of zakat.
A word often used along with salat. Its commonly taken to mean "charity" but charity is only one aspect of zakat*.
Its primary usage in al quran is to mean purification/betterment. If this meaning is taken along with what I've discussed
here, it makes much more sense:
When one upholds/maintains (aqimu) the going/turning towards
(link/bond) one is then in a position to 'bring forth / produce / show' (atawoo) the purification/betterment. Simple.
The two terms reinforce and complement each other.
If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask. I'll try and answer
them if I can.
email the author: 786kas (at) lineone . net
(at) = @
also delete the spaces in the address.
Peace be upon the reader.
NB: an important issue that I have only begun to study is that
all the "verses"/signs/ayatin which refer to a time for slw are addressed to the messenger in the Arabic singular
(unlike other commands, such as "fasting"/abstinence/sawm), thus may not be applicable to everyone. This for example,
may solve the problem of unworkable sun-based schedules in northern countries, e.g. Sweden/Norway during some parts of the
year. Also, for orbiting astronauts in space. Therefore, it has been suggested that the timing systems described for slw
are meant to be taken as an example, not that they should be applicable to everyone everywhere. Thus, instead of morning &
evening, it would be at the start of the working day and at the end (implied in 24:58), whatever that may be for each individual.
This aspect of this article will be updated as soon as I have researched it thoroughly.
Please note that 2:185, abstinence
is only upon those who are able to witness the month. No such clause exists for salat.
*The traditional understanding of "zakat" is that
it means "charity". Interestingly, however, even though the word appears over 30 times, not once is it equated/defined as charity, not even a reasonable implication to mean such a thing. The root (Zay-Kaf-Waw)
can mean the following: it increased/augmented, it throve/grew well/flourished/prospered and produced fruit, it was/became
pure, purification, goodness/righteousness, lead/enjoy a plentiful/easy/soft/delicate life, put into a good/right state/condition,
End note: This independent study of slw took place
over a period of 4 years. I did not expect to end up with this conclusion, however the evidence was overpowering and I was
forced to reject my traditional understanding (based mainly on man-made books) and submit to al quran's teachings.
Interestingly, other studies (which I was not aware of at the time) also came to similar conclusions. [see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7]
This article should be utilised in conjunction with the following
If you are reading this and still feel that salat=prayer,
and we should rely on traditional hadith (sayings/narrations/stories) to form the sequence/movements/form/recitations
of the prayer, ask yourself: does the traditional hadith contain the necessary information to do this? You may be surprised
at what you find: members.aol.com/Mamalek2/qbook11.htm
Other sources used to add to or check this article:
Lexicon' by E.W. Lane
'Dictionary of The Holy Quran' by Abdul Mannan Omar
'Concordance of Quran' by Hanna E. Kassis
author of think786.cjb.net
member of the free-minds network
The above article should be read in conjunction with the following