Traditional Muslims conduct their Salat in units which they call ‘raka’. One raka is a cycle of standing, bowing and prostrating. They also follow a strict format for the Salat which is 2-4-4-3-4. This means that the first of their Salat (Fajr) has 2 raka, the second of their Salat (Zhohr) has 4 raka and so on. We don’t find this format, nor any other format, in the Quran. In addition, the word raka itself is not found in the Quran.
The Quran gives us the following assurances:
(6.114) Should I seek other than God as a source of law when He has brought down to you this book fully detailed?(6.38) ” …. nothing has been left out of the book”
“If the Quran has all the details as you claim, then can you show me where do we find the number of raka in the Quran?”
To start, the fact that the Quran has all the details is not a claim which we make, but an assurance given by God in the Quran. What they do not realise is that their question (above) endorses a clear admission that they do not believe 6.114 and 6.38!
Indeed the Quran does not have any number of raka, but it is not because the Quran does not have all the details, but because the concept of raka itself is not authorised by God.
The Quranic Salat is simply made up of standing, bowing then prostrating in that order. This means that as soon as prostration is made, the Salat is complete.
To observe one sequence of standing, bowing and prostrating does not mean that the Salat will be reduced to a very short time either! Not at all, those who observe Salat are free to spend as much or as little time in each of the three positions. One can stand in prayer for two minutes, twenty minutes or for any duration of time. The same can be said of bowing and prostrating.
Some have also suggested that in 4.101 God gives us the concession to shorten our Salat at times of war or danger, as a result they claim that the Salat must be made up of at least 2 raka since it is not possible to shorten one raka!
Once again, the error in their interpretation is because they chose a starting point (number of raka) which is not a Quranic concept, thus their result is also un-Quranic.
Shortening the Salat is related to the overall time that is given to the Salat and not to the number of units (raka) observed. How can it be related to the number of units (raka) when the whole concept of raka is not Quranic?
What this means is that if we normally spend 10 or 15 minutes in our Salat, at times of war this can be shortened to only a few minutes. In all cases, the Salat would still be comprised of standing, bowing then prostrating.
In addition, we are given Quranic evidence in 4.102 that prostration marks the end of the Salat. The words in 4.102 which speak to the prophet (or to any leader of the Salat at times of war) say:
(4.102) And if you are among them and you lead the Salat for them, let a group of them stand with you and let them hold on to their weapons. Then once they have prostrated let them be positioned behind you and let another group, who have not yet observed the Salat, observe the Salat with you while remaining cautious and while holding on to their weapons.
The words “once they have prostrated” are very clear and they indicate that as soon as any group has prostrated, this would mark the end of their Salat. Note that God never said that they should prostrate a number of times, nor did God say that they should stand and repeat the cycle. A clear Quranic proof that the Salat is complete after the first prostration.