14
Aug
07

What Is Salat?

By Layth Al-Shaiban (e-mail: laytth@hotmail.com)


 

The word “Salat” and its derivates occur in the Scripture over 70 times and is emphasized by God Almighty as a critical aspect for the spiritual development and progress of believers.

 

The Sunni and Shia sects have all claimed that the Quran does not contain the details of Salat and that such omission is enough to reject God’s assertion that the Quran is complete and detailed. 

 

This article will attempt to deconstruct the myths and lies that have been associated with this topic for far too long.

 

What is Salat?

 

The masses have been taught to associate the word Salat with “prayer”. When asked about Salat they say it is to “pray” to God and that such prayer has been commanded by God to take place at specific times during the day (5 times a day according to Sunnis, and 3 times a day according to Shias). However, the word Salat is derived from the Arabic root word “Silla” which, in its most basic form, means: ‘to link/connect.’

 

If Salat is a link/connection, then the obvious question is: To link/connect to what?

 

This is where the greatest confusion regarding the subject of Salat emanates from. Most people do not attempt to break this topic down to its core and therefore end-up performing a futile ritual under the impression that such ritual is pleasing to God!

 

However, before answering this question, it is worth reviewing a few of the benefits of Salat as outlined in the Quran which will give greater insight into the subject:

 

“And seek help through patience, and through the Salat/Connection. It is a difficult thing, but not so for the humble” (2:45)

 

“Recite what is inspired to you of the Scripture, and hold the Salat/Connection, for the Salat/Connection prohibits evil and vice; but certainly the remembrance of God is the greatest. God knows everything you do.” (29:45)

 

The act of “Salat” helps people who are seeking help, as well as prohibits such people from committing evil and vice.

 

Can those who carry out a ‘ritual’ called Salat claim to have achieved such goals?

 

 

 

Obviously there is something that is wrong here. Either God has not spoken the truth (which is not a possibility), or, that the ritual of Salat that such people carry out has no relation to the Salat that God has spoken of.

 

What Do We Connect To?

 

Many would say that we are connecting to God through this vehicle called Salat. While that answer may sound plausible, we need to remind that God is connected with us since the day we are born (or even before that) until the day we die:

 

“And We have created man and We know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than his jugular vein.” (50:16)

 

“He knows what is in the heavens and the Earth, and He knows what you conceal and what you declare. And God is aware of what is inside the chests.” (64:4)

 

Now, if God is with us all the time and is aware of what we declare and what we conceal, then who/what are we connecting to?

 

“And they ask you concerning the Spirit. Say: ‘The Spirit is from the authority of my Lord; and the knowledge you were given was but very little.'” (17:85)

 

Soul or Spirit?

 

In modern times, the word Spirit (Rouh) has been mistakenly confused with and used to mean the same as the word Soul (Nafs).

 

We can see this confusion very clearly when on the news the speaker would say that so and so died and a prayer will be held for her/his Rouh (Spirit) whereas what they should have said is that so and so died and a prayer will be held for his/her Nafs (Soul).

 

The Soul (Nafs) is that part that resides in a person, makes them who they are, and is taken by God when they pass away. It is the Soul/Nafs that will stand judgment before God on the day of days:

 

“God seizes the souls (Anfus) at the time of their death; and for those that have not died, during their sleep. He then keeps those that have been overtaken by death, and He sends the others back until a predetermined time. In that are signs for a people who will think.” (39:42)

“And the horn is blown on the promised Day. And every soul (Nafs) is brought, being driven, and with a witness.” (50:20-21)

As for the Spirit (Rouh), it is that part of God that has been entrusted to our species to give us authority and knowledge over all His creation:

“And your Lord said to the angels: “I am creating a human being from a hardened clay. So when I perfect him, and blow of My Spirit in him, you shall yield to him.” (15:28-29)

“For your Lord said to the angels: ‘I am creating a human being from clay. So when I have evolved him, and breathed into him from My Spirit, then you shall yield to him.'” (38:71-72)

While the Spirit resides in every man, woman, and child of our species, the access to this great gift is only possible under specific circumstances and in a specific setting….Hence: Salat.

Salat = Connecting to the Spirit

Why would people want to connect to the Spirit?

While most of us may have become completely drawn-in to the material life and the material world, we may see no benefit in connecting to a supernatural element, especially  since most people associate spirituality with hippies, Sufis, Buddhists and other such happy-go chanting groups.

However, this is exactly what Satan and his kind want us to think. They want us to stay as far away as possible from God’s gift and remain content with our material/physical state.

“O Children of Adam, do not let the devil afflict you as he evicted your parents from the paradise; he removes from them their garments to show them their bodies. He and his tribe see you from where you do not see them. We have made the devils as allies for those who do not believe.” (7:27)

Seeing our bodies is reverting to our primal/physical states. However, connecting to the Spirit is transcending the body and reaching out to that great source that gives our species authority and knowledge.

“And they ask you concerning the Spirit. Say: ‘The Spirit is from the authority of my Lord; and the knowledge you were given was but very little.'” (17:85)

How to Connect?

 

If you have found the above explanation convincing for what the purpose and objectives of Salat are, then the following is the methodology for reaching the elevated state as outlined from the Quran.

 

Timing for Salat

 

According to the Quran, the optimal times for carrying out the Salat are during the hours around dusk and around dawn.

 

“And you shall hold the Salat at the two edges of the day, during the near parts of the night*. The good deeds take away the bad. This is a reminder to those who remember.” (11:114)

 

“You shall hold the Salat at the setting of the sun until the darkness of the night; and the Qur’an at dawn; the Qur’an at dawn is witnessed.” (17:78)

 

* The above verse is normally translated as referring to three Salat times (the two edges of the day and a part of the night), however, the Arabic word used is “zulfan” which is a plural form meaning “the near parts” (see 34:37, 39:3 for the singular use of the word). The correct meaning therefore is the two edges of the day, moving towards the adjacent parts of the night.

The time frame that is being looked at for the Salat is around 45-60 minutes (from the beginning of sundown until the darkness of the night, and, from the dark part of the night until the first rays of light appear).

 

It can be deduced that these time-frames are selected based on two factors:

  1. the ease with which such time-frame is remembered simply by having the marker of sundown and sunset;

  2. the tranquility that these two times posses both in terms of reduced sunlight, as well as the free-time that would be found by such time-frames being before the beginning of a work day or after its end.

An interesting point of comparison is the recommended optimal times for conducting Yoga (a spiritual reaching-out). The optimal times are gives as very early in the morning and in the early part of the night:

 

“The very best time to practice yoga is first thing in the morning before breakfast. Upon waking, empty the bowels, shower if you wish, then commence the day with your regime of yoga practices. The second most conductive time is early evening, around sunset.”

 

http://www.healthandyoga.com/html/yoga/advice.html

 

Purification/Cleansing of the Body

 

The second step to holding the Salat is one of ritual washing/cleaning of the body using either water or clean dry soil:

 

“O you who believe, if you rise to hold the Salat, then wash your faces and your hands up to the elbows, and wipe your heads and your feet to the ankles; and if you have had intercourse, then you shall bathe. And if you are ill, or traveling, or you have excreted feces, or you have had sexual contact with the women, and you cannot not find water, then you shall select from the clean soil; you shall wipe your faces and your hands with it. God does not want to place any hardship on you, but He wants to cleanse you and to complete His blessings upon you that you may be appreciative.” (5:6)

 

Be of a Clear Mind

 

“O you who believe, do not approach the Salat while you are intoxicated, until you know what you are saying. Nor if you have had intercourse, unless traveling, until you bathe. And if you are ill, or traveling, or one of you has excreted feces, or you had sexual contact with the women, and could not find water, then you shall select from the clean soil; you shall wipe your faces and hands. God is Pardoning, Forgiving.” (4:43)

 

Being of a clear mind is a requirement to achieving success in the connection to the Spirit.

 

Be in Groups or Alone

 

“And if you are with them and you hold the Salat for them, then let a group from amongst them stand with you and let them bring their weapons; and when they have prostrated then let them stand guard from behind; and let a group who has not yet connected come and connect with you, and let them be wary and let them bring their weapons with them. The rejecters hope that you would neglect your weapons and goods so they can come upon you in one blow. There is no sin upon you if you are impeded by rainfall, or if you are ill, that you place down your weapons. And be wary. God has prepared for the rejecters a humiliating retribution.” (4:102)

 

“The angels called to him whilst he was standing, Yusali (Connecting), in the temple enclosure: ‘God gives you good tidings of John, authenticating the word from God, and a master, and steadfast, and a prophet from the upright.'” (3:39)

 

The Salat can be attempted alone or in groups. There is no set preference beyond what works for each person.

 

Be in a Stationary Position

“Maintain the connections, and the balanced Salat; and stand dutiful for God. But if you are in a state of worry, then you may do so while walking or riding. If you become secure, then remember God as He has taught you what you did not know.” (2:238-239)

The normal mode for achieving the Salat is to be in a stationary position. However, if there are impeding circumstances, then a person may attempt to achieve the Salat while walking or riding.

 

Be Standing, sitting, or Lying Down

 

“Those who remember God while standing, and sitting, and on their sides, and they ponder in the creation of the heavens and the Earth: “Our Lord you did not create this without purpose, be You glorified, spare us the retribution of the Fire!” (3:191)

 

To achieve the focus required for a successful connection, the person may be standing, sitting or lying down depending on their individual circumstance/preference.

 

Have a Purpose

 

“And if My servants ask you about Me, I am near answering the calls of those who call to Me. So let them respond to Me and believe in Me that they may be guided.” (2:186)

 

Rather than simply connecting through the Spirit for the sake of connecting, the person performing the Salat should have a specific purpose which is identified (seeking an answer to a question, seeking knowledge, making a request, etc.). Calling on God through the Spirit takes patience and effort, both of which are not to be wasted lightly.

 

Call on God’s Attributes

 

Say: ‘Call on God or call on the Almighty. Whichever it is you call on, for to Him are the best names.’ And do not be too loud in making your Salat, nor too quite; but seek a path in between.” (17:110)

 

From the start Salat, a person is to seek God’s help by calling on His many attributes. This calling on God may be continued throughout the process as and when required.

 

Seek Refuge From Satan

 

“When you read the Qur’an, you shall seek refuge with God from Satan the outcast. He has no authority over those who believe, and who put their trust in their Lord. His authority is over those who follow him, and set him up as a partner.” (16:98-100)

 

Before moving on to the next step in the Salat (reciting from the Scripture), it is advisable to seek God’s help against the interferences of the devil. Such imploring may take the form of a general call for assistance, or, by reciting from the words and verses in the Scripture which implore God’s help against the whispers of the devil (see 114:1-6).

 

Recite From the Scripture

 

“Recite what is inspired to you of the Scripture, and hold the Salat, for the Salat prohibits evil and vice; but certainly the remembrance of God is the greatest. God knows everything you do.” (29:45)

 

“You shall hold the Salat at the setting of the sun until the darkness of the night; and the Qur’an at dawn; the Qur’an at dawn is witnessed.” (17:78)

 

The words from the Scripture are the “key” to helping a person achieve the state of Salat. Various phrases may be read out from the Scripture, or various verses, each depending on the need and situation of the person conducting the Salat. Some verses are in the form of a plea, while others are an invocation upon God to assist and to protect from the devil and his whispers/influence. There is no right or wrong in which verses to select. Each verse from the Quran has its own unique aspects and its own unique purpose.

 

Ask and You Shall Receive

“Surely, those who have said: ‘Our Lord is God,’ then they did right, the angels will descend upon them: ‘You shall not fear, nor shall you grieve. Rejoice in the good news of Paradise that you have been promised. We are your allies in this worldly life and in the Hereafter. In it you will have anything your soul desires, and in it you will have anything you ask for.'” (41:30-31)

God has pledged that He will answer the calls of those who seek Him alone. Amongst those who have designated to respond to the request made through the Spirit are the angels, who have all been commanded to yield to Adam once the Spirit was given to him. As such, it is not uncommon that a person would have their request responded to not only by the Spirit, but by angels who are given instructions through the Spirit to carry out certain tasks.

To support such a statement, the reader is invited to examine the verse below which speaks of God sending the angels to answer specific requests/prayers and to notice the emphasis on the act that is being carried out while such response is received:

“It was then that Zachariah called on his Lord, he said: ‘My Lord, grant me from You a good progeny, You are the hearer of prayers.’ The angels called to him whilst he was standing, Yusali (Connecting), in the temple enclosure: ‘God gives you good tidings of John, authenticating the word from God, and a master, and steadfast, and a prophet from the upright..'” (3:38-39)

End the Connection

 

Once the person has connected with the Spirit and has achieved the answers sought or has made the request desired, then the connection is to be ended through a physical acknowledgement (i.e. prostration) and with praise and glorification to God:

 

“And if you are with them and you hold the Connection for them, then let a group from amongst them stand with you and let them bring their weapons; and when they have prostrated then let them stand guard from behind; and let a group who has not yet connected come and connect with you, and let them be wary and let them bring their weapons with them. The rejecters hope that you would neglect your weapons and goods so they can come upon you in one blow. There is no sin upon you if you are impeded by rainfall, or if you are ill, that you place down your weapons. And be wary. God has prepared for the rejecters a humiliating retribution.” (4:102)

 

“And say: ‘Praise be to God who has not taken a son, nor does He have a partner in sovereignty, nor does He have an ally out of weakness.’ And glorify Him greatly.” (17:111)

 

Believers Vs. Submitters

While there is no doubt that any person may attempt to connect to the Spirit as he/she wishes, a study of the Scripture reveals that the main people who will be successful at making the connection on a regular basis are ones who have  advanced to the stage of being Mumins (believers).

“O you who believe, do not approach the Salat while you are intoxicated, until you know what you are saying. Nor if you have had intercourse, unless traveling, until you bathe. And if you are ill, or traveling, or one of you has excreted feces, or you had sexual contact with the women, and could not find water, then you shall select from the clean soil; you shall wipe your faces and hands. God is Pardoning, Forgiving.” (The Message 4:43)

 

“So when you are done making the Salat, then remember God while standing, or sitting, or on your sides; then, when you are relieved, you shall honor the Salat. Indeed, the Salat for the believers is a timed decree.” (The Message 4:103)

 

While most people may not realize the difference, the Scripture has made a clear distinction between ‘Muslims’ (those who simply have submitted to God) and ‘Mumins’ (those who have advanced and strive with their wealth and lives in the sake of God):

 

“The Nomads said: ‘We believe.’ Say: ‘You have not believed; but you should Say: ‘We have submitted (Aslamna)’, for belief has not yet entered into your hearts.’ If you obey God and His messenger, He will not put any of your works to waste. God is Forgiver, Merciful. Believers (Muninoon) are those who believe in God and His messenger, then they became without doubt, and they strive with their money and their lives in the cause of God. These are the truthful ones.” (49:14-15)

 

Therefore, if you are not able to connect with the Spirit on a regular basis, or if you are not able to connect at all, do not despair, the connection will happen eventually when you have calmed your mind through patience and have nourished your soul through good works.

 


 

Possible Additional Benefits from the Spirit

Beyond the ability to receive guidance/answers (see 11:87), and purify ones soul through the Spirit (see 29:45), there are other benefits that exist as mentioned in the Quran but that may not be accessible except to those advanced enough to purify themselves completely (mainly those who have reached the status equivalent or close to that achieved by Prophets and Messengers). Some of these attributes may be, but not limited to:

1.      The ability to communicate with and/or command other creatures/elements

 

“And Solomon inherited from David, and he said: “O people, we have been taught how to understand the speech of the creatures that fly, and we have been given from everything. This is indeed an evident grace.” (27:16)

 

“And they said: ‘Our Lord, hasten for us our punishment, before the Day of Reckoning.’ Be patient to what they say, and recall Our servant David, the resourceful. He was obedient. We committed the mountains to glorify with him, during dusk and dawn. And the birds were gathered; all were obedient to him.” (38:16-19)

 

The Quran tells us that Solomon and David had the ability to command over certain elements (wind, earth), and that both were also able to communicate and command creatures to varying degrees (see also 34:12, 21:79).

 

2.      The ability to see/know future events

 

“’Joseph, O man of truth, explain to us the matter regarding seven fat cows being eaten by seven thin ones, and seven green pods and others which are dry? Then perhaps I may go back to the people so they will know.’ He said: ‘You will plant regularly for seven years, and whatever you harvest you must leave it in its pods, except for the little that you will eat. Then there will come seven after that which are severe and which will consume all that you plant except for what you have stored. Then after that will come a year in which the people will have abundant rain and which they will be able to produce once again.’” (12:46-49)

 

“So they came upon a servant of Ours whom We had given him mercy from Us and We taught him knowledge from Us. Moses said to him: ‘Can I follow you so that you will teach me from the guidance you have been taught?’” (18:65-66)

 

Joseph was strong in this attribute and had the ability to decipher visions/messages of future events that normal people were experiencing while in a dream state. Also, the man who became tutor to Moses was strong in the ability to see and also act based on future events yet to occur.

 

3.      The ability to move/transport physical objects at will

 

“He said: “O commanders, which of you can bring me her throne before they come to me in submission?” A powerful being from among the Jinn said: “I will bring it to you before you rise from your station. For I am strong and trustworthy.” And one who had knowledge from the Scripture said: “I will bring it to you before you blink.” So when he saw it resting before him, he said: “This is from the grace of my Lord, so that He tests me whether I am thankful or whether I reject. As for he who is thankful, he is thankful for himself, and as for he who rejects, then my Lord is Rich, Bountiful.” (27:38-40)

 

From amongst those in Solomon’s army was a man who had gained the knowledge to transport physical objects at will (teleportation). It is not clear whether people can be teleported by this knowledge, but for a certainty it can be said that non-living objects can.

 

4.      The ability to increase life-span

 

“And We had sent Noah to his people, so he stayed with them one thousand less fifty years. Then the flood took them while they were wicked.” (29:14)

 

Although it is not certain whether Noah’s longevity was related to the cycle of the Earth being faster than it is today (i.e. a year in Noah’s time as measured by one rotation around the sun could have been much shorter than the time it takes for such rotation today since the Earth is constantly slowing down) it is worth mentioning that the extended life-span may be a direct result of Noah’s ability to connect with the Spirit as he was receiving instructions and guidance.

 

5.      The ability to heal oneself or others

 

“And recall Our servant Job, when he called upon his Lord: “’The devil has afflicted me with an illness and pain.’ ‘Rapidly move with your foot, here is a cold spring to wash with and to drink.’” (38:41-42)

 

Job was able to heal himself by seeking guidance/instruction from God. The other person who is mentioned in the Quran as being extremely strong in this ability is Jesus, however, this is to be viewed as an exception rather than the norm since Jesus, by his miraculous birth, was granted access to the Holy Spirit.

 

6.      Gaining physical sustenance

 

“So her Lord accepted her a good acceptance, and made her grow into a good growth, and charged Zachariah with her. Every time Zachariah entered upon her in the temple enclosure, he found provisions with her. He said: “O Mary, from where did you get this?” She said: “It is from God, God provides for whom He wishes without reckoning.” (3:37)

 

Mary was able to receive provisions of food delivered to her while she remained where she was. This ability was also manifest with Jesus who requested and received a full feast delivered at the request of his disciples (see 5:114-115)

 

Some Prophets Preferred

 

It is worth noting that the above miracles/signs were sometimes shared by more than one person, or, were sometimes unique, depending upon the strength in Spirit of the recipient. This is why God has mentioned that some Prophets were ‘preferred’ over others.

 

“And your Lord is fully aware of who is in the heavens and the Earth. And We have preferred some prophets over others, and We gave David the Psalms.” (17:55)

 

The preference was not about God’s like or dislike, but can be understood as the power that such Prophets had when it came to connecting to the Spirit. This would also explain why God compares Jesus with Adam (see 3:59), for Adam was pure in his connection to the Spirit when the gift was first given, much like Jesus who was born pure in his connection to the Spirit (without suffering from the interference/taint that has accompanied humankind since eating from the cursed tree).

 

Science Meets Religion

 

In a strange mixing of paths, scientific study has found that there exists in every human being a part of the brain that has been identified as the “God Module”. This module was found to be stimulated by meditation and prayer causing dramatic experiences in the brain ranging from hearing voices to mystical and paranormal experiences.

 

In comparative terms, it seems that the actions of Salat as described in the Quran seem to be a stimuli for the activation of such a neurological portal thus inducing the “Connection” with the Spirit.    

 

 

“Findings seem to point to a region of the brain commonly referred to as the ‘God Spot’ or ‘God Module’, that when stimulated creates hallucinations that are interpreted as mystical or spiritual experiences. This ‘spot’ is stimulated during meditation and prayer and is affected by electromagnetic fields and epilepsy. The resulting hallucinations may be the cause of mystical, spiritual and paranormal experiences as they can give feelings such as a presence in the room or an out of body experience. In the case of epileptics, this may be the reason for many of them becoming obsessed with religion. For those who experience the stimulation it is explained related to their own personal beliefs; a visit from an angel or lost loved one, an extraterrestrial encounter, a higher plane of consciousness or a visit from God. “

 

http://atheistempire.com/reference/brain/main.html/

 

Beware!

 

“The devil only wants to cause strife between you through intoxicants and gambling, and to repel you away from remembering God and from the Salat. Will you be deterred?” (5:91)

 

Then generations came after them who lost the Salat, and followed desires. They will find their consequences.” (The Message 19:59)

 

“Those who believe, then reject, then believe, then reject, then they increase in rejection; God was neither to forgive them nor to guide them to the path.” (4:137)

 

The devil is on a quest to destroy humankinds chances at gaining God’s favor and reaching paradise. As such, one of his most important missions is to keep humankind away from their true potential and power. This can only be achieved if he is able to keep us away from the Connection, be it by making us lose focus, or by causing interference which distracts from making a successful link to the Spirit, or, by making us lose the knowledge of the Spirit all together.

 

Many times the devil has been successful in not only making us lose our connection or forgetting its purpose, but in also turning believers who have advanced and attained the level of development necessary for connection to the Spirit to become rejecters and/or hypocrites who openly turned against the fellow believers and attempted to cause them harm (see 9:1-11)

Will we discard our ability to connect to the Spirit and turn the Salat into mindless rituals as the generations before us have done?

Will we be deterred?

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3 Responses to “What Is Salat?”


  1. 1 sukran
    August 15, 2007 at 10:11 am

    Thanks for this response, I have been doing the same mistake about soul and spirit.:)

    Article has influences both from Christianity and Athesim such as indicating the existence of first sin as a negative beginning for every human and introducing another position/authority (The Spirit?) to connect, seperated from the God, besides the God and at some some point the Spirit has even become the God.

    Atheists are usually missing the fact that there are eight or nine more dimensions we exist in, but other than we live in and we can sense. Appearantly, we cannon determine in sure all of the paranormal experiences are not normal and only produced by our religious minds.

    They also believe that there is bread(God) because we are hungry, if we are not hungry there would not be the bread. Ok, reality check, we are created to get hungry, so there has to be bread. And it seems even the bread is unable to obstruct our slaughtery and maliscious acts against each other.

  2. 2 azeez muhideen ishola
    June 4, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    i am very satisfied with the things l come across on this page and l may Allah reward the writers abundantly ishallahu amen.


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