Why prayers are different
Mu’meneen Brothers and Sisters,
As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh. (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)
One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:
I have a very simple question...when we
Muslims know about the Sunnah of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and
the way he led his life then, why do we see Muslims performing Salaat in different ways and at different times? What is the right way? What are the correct number of prayers in a day?
(There may be some grammatical and spelling errors in the above statement. The forum does not change anything from questions, comments and statements received from our readers for circulation in confidentiality.)
In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is no one (no idol, no person, no grave, no prophet, no imam, no dai, nobody!) worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.
There are many aayah in the Holy Quran regarding prayers, their virtues and their implied timings. Regarding the virtues of ‘salaah’,
Allah says in the Holy Quran in Chapter 29 Surah Ankabut verse 45:…and establish Regular Prayer: for Prayer restrains one from shameful and evil deeds. And the remebrance of Allah, without a doubt, is the greatest thing. And Allah knows the deeds that you do.
The command to ‘establish Regular Salaah’ appears several times throughout the Quran, and its importance is also signified to the extent that Salaah is considered one of the pillars of Islam.
The correct way to offer the ‘salaah’ is the way the Prophet (saws) offerred them. The Prophet (saws) himself learned the rites of ‘salaah’ directly from Gibrael (a.s.) at the very beginning of his (saws) term of Prophethood in Makkah. During that time the Prophet (saws) and the believers used to pray the ‘salaah’ in two ‘rakah’ formations. The commandment of the five obligatory prayers were received one year prior to the Hijrah, during the night of Isra-wal-Mairaaj (Night of Accession of the Prophet(saws) to the Heavens).
The Quran itself is silent on the actual rituals or acts of prayer. But this is an act, which was conducted by the Prophet (saws) five times a day until his (saws) death, and witnessed by tens of thousands of his companions (r.a.). Whatever the Prophet (saws) said, saw, did, approved and dissapproved, some noble companions (r.a.) wrote it down for future generations to follow.
There is actually no dispute between all the factions of Islam on the fundemental rites of ‘salaah’ and almost all the sects pray in a similar manner. For instance, there are absolutely no disputes in the following matters in any sect of Islam:
1. To observe 5 obligatory prayers
2. The number of rakahs in each obligatory prayer.
3. To observe ‘Taharat’ before the prayer. (wudoo, clean place, clean clothes, etc.)
4. To face towards the Ka’abah.
5. To make intention before ‘salah’ (Neeyah).
6. To make ‘Takbeer’ before the start of prayer
7. To do qiyam(stand) during prayer.
8. To pray Surah Fateha and another Surah (in the first two ‘rakahs’ only).
9. To make ‘ruku’ (bow down) after every ‘rakah’.
10. To make two ‘sajdah’ (prostrations) after every ‘ruku’.
11. To pray ‘tashahood’ and ‘taheeyat’ after every two rakahs.
12. To end the pray with the act of ‘salaams’.
There is absolutely no difference in the majority (maybe 99%) of the rites of ‘salah’ in any school or sect of Islam. Yes, there are small differences in various sects and schools of Islam, like standing with ones hands folded or straight, etc., but these do not in any way negate the ‘salah’. If anyone’s intention is that either by folding his hands or keeping his hands straight in prayer, he is following the Sunnah of the Prophet (saws), there is absolutely no harm in either. But if one knows that an act he does in the ‘salah’ is an innovation added by somebody to the rites observed by the Prophet (saws), then he should not do it.
It has been reported in an authentic narration that the Prophet of Allah (saws) said: “Whoever introduces a ‘bida’ (innovation) in this deen brought by me (saws), it will be rejected.”
Yes, what you ask is unfortunately true in Islam today, that it looks as if the Muslims are all praying differently, each according to their sects and schools of thought. One congregation refuses to pray behind the congregation of another imam and so forth. Each of them claims that they follow the exact tradition of the Prophet (saws). This is an Islamic ‘fiqh’ (jurispudence) matter, and we leave the leaders and the personalities, who propagated the division of Islam into sects, to answer Allah on the Day of Judgement.
Just look at the Anger and Wrath of Allah described on those who break up their religion into sects:
Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 23 Surah Mu’minoon verse 52-54:And you all belong to one and the same ummah, and I am your Lord; so fear Me Alone! Yet afterwards the people divided themselves into different sects, and each sect rejoices in what it has. Well, leave them deeply involved in their heedlessness up to an appointed time.
Allah says in the Holy Quran Chapter 30 Surah Rome verse 31-32:… and turn wholly towards Allah, and fear Him, and establish Salah, and do not be of the ‘mushriks’ (people who invoke others with Allah), who have set up their separate creeds and divided themselves into sects, each sect rejoicing in what it has.
The major issue in Islam today is not that one is doing his acts and rituals in this way or the other. The major issues are of ‘aqeedah’ (belief), ‘shirk’ (invoking others with Allah) and ‘bida’ (innovation). What we need to do is come back to the guidance of the Holy Quran, and follow the traditions of the Prophet (saws).
The deen of Islam is the same deen that was brought by all the Prophets of Allah, as revealed in the Holy Quran Chapter 11 Surah Hud verse 61:The Prophet said: “O my people! Worship Allah Alone. You have no other deity other than He.”
May Allah make us of those who understand and appreciate his blessing of making us muslim. May Allah make us of those who read, understand and appreciate His Divine Message, the Al-Quran, and follow the traditions and ways of our Prophet Mohamed (saws).
Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allah’s Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.
Your brother in Islam,
Your brother and well wisher in Islam,