Salat Pre-Requisites

A Muslim pilgrim prays at the top of Mount Noor in Mecca

Before observing the Salat, believers are to adhere to a number of pre-requisites. These are Intention, Devotion, Ablution, and Direction.

1- Intention

This first pre-requisite is the conscious intention to establish contact with God Almighty. This intention cannot be present if one is under intoxication:

(4.43) O you who believe, do not approach the Salat while intoxicated, until you know what you are saying.

Salat is not accepted from anyone who is intoxicated from the effect of alcohol or drugs. As a matter of fact, intoxicants present the only case in the Quran where the human being is deprived from the blessing of Salat. This is not because taking intoxicants is the greatest sin, but rather because a person who is intoxicated would simply not know what he/she are saying.

If one is unaware of what they are saying, the first pre-requisite for prayer would thus be absent; that being the intention to commemorate and worship God. In other words, it is not the sin of taking intoxicants in itself that robs the man from the blessing of Salat, but it is the effect of the sin on the mind that is the cause of the prohibition.

In effect, there is no sin (excluding idol worship) in itself that warrants the prohibition of Salat. For that matter it is more accurate to say that intoxicants do not prohibit Salat, but rather deprive a believer from the benefit of Salat.

The Quran asserts the fact that no believer is ever deprived of the gift of Salat, provided that he/she are in their full senses, even after committing the most gruesome of sins. Sins and good deeds are independent of each other, each will be recorded and judged equitably. No sin will erase a good deed:

(99.7-8) Whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it and whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it

However, and because God is the Most Merciful, He has decreed that for the believers, their good deeds will wipe out their sins:

(11.114) “…………. the good deeds wipe out the bad deeds”

And as if that was not enough to demonstrate God’s boundless mercy He has also decreed that for those who believe and lead a righteous life, He will even transform their sins into credits:

(25.70) “…….. God transforms their sins into credits, God is Forgiver, Merciful”

For all that it becomes apparent why we should increase our good deeds, specially and immediately after committing a sin.

The confirmation that alcohol in itself does not prohibit Salat but it is the effect of alcohol that is the cause, is found in the following words:

(4.43) O you who believe, do not approach the Salat while intoxicated, until you know what you are saying.

In other words, if one drinks alcohol and gets drunk one is forbidden from observing the Salat, but when the effect of alcohol wears out and one is conscious once again one can observe the Salat, even though the alcohol still runs in the blood, and will continue to be in the blood for a number of days.

2- Ablution

(5.6) O you who believe, when you rise to observe the Salat, you shall wash your faces and your arms to the elbows and wipe your heads and your feet to the ankles.

This is the ablution that is decreed in the Quran. This consist of four simple steps:

1- Wash the face 2- Wash the arms to the elbows 3- Wipe the head 4- Wipe the feet to the ankles.

In spite of this very clear command in the Quran, the majority of Muslims today perform their ablution in a different way. The ablution they perform is taken from the “Sunna” (methodology of the prophet), they believe that this way of ablution was the way the prophet did his ablution. To the four steps prescribed in the Quran they add washing the hands to the wrists, the mouth, the nose, the ears, the neck.

They argue that since “cleanliness is part of a good belief” (as a famous “hadith” says), then the cleaner one is before the Salat the better. These additional measures that are not found in the Quranic ablution raise the following questions:

1– Is it conceivable that the prophet whom we are told in the Quran was a “fine example” for the believers, and who was blessed with receiving the Quran, and who was commanded by God to follow the Quran and nothing else (5.48), has in fact ignored the Quranic ablution and followed a different one?

2– Is the ablution prescribed by God inadequate? Has the prophet in fact devised a better and cleaner method of ablution?

3– All this ultimately leads to the crucial question; is the purpose and aim of ablution cleanliness after all?

The reply to all these three questions is the negative. For more details about the purpose of ablution, please check the following article:

The Purpose of Wudu (Ablution)

3- Devotion

(6.162-163) Say: “My Salat, my worship practices, my life and my death, are all devoted to God, the Lord of the worlds. He has no partner. This is what I was commanded with and I am the first to submit”

(20.14) I am God, there is no god but Me, therefore you shall worship Me and observe the Salat to commemorate Me.

In accordance to the above Quranic commands, believers must devote and dedicate ALL their Salat (as well as all other rituals) to the name of God alone. The commemoration of any names other than God in the Salat is an act of idol worship.

Those who dedicate all their religion to God alone are given the title of “Ebad Allah Al-Mukhlaseen” which translates to God’s pure servants. The word Mukhalseen comes from the Arabic word “Khales” which means pure. The phrase “Al-Deen Al-Khales” as in 39.3 means the Pure Religion, and it describes the religion that is devoted absolutely to God alone.

(39.2-3) We have brought down to you the book truthfully, so worship God devoting the religion purely to Him. Absolutely, the religion should be devoted purely to God.

One other sign of devotion to God is the expression of reverence to God during the Salat:

(23.1-2) Successful indeed are the believers, who are humble in their Salat.

4- Direction (Qibla)

With the revelation of the Quran our Qibla has been set as the Masjid Al-Haram (2.144). In addition, we are given a command to turn our faces towards the Masjid Al-Haram wherever we are when we observe the Salat (2.149-150):

(2.149) And from wherever you set off, you shall turn your face towards the Masjid Al-Haram. This is the truth from your Lord and indeed God is not unaware of what you do.
(2.150) Indeed from wherever you set off, you shall turn your face towards the Masjid Al-Haram and wherever you may be, you shall turn your faces towards it so that the people will have no claim against you, except the transgressors among them. Therefore do not fear them, but fear Me instead so that I may complete My blessings upon you and so that you may be guided.
For more info about the Qibla please check the following page: The Qiblah : Old & New

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