With regards to the words spoken during the Salat, and remembering that the purpose of the Salat is to commemorate and glorify the name of God alone, we find guidance in the Quran with respect to the following matters:
First : All the words of the Salat should be from the Quran.
Second : Specific Quranic phrases are to be spoken during the Salat.
First : The words of the Salat should be from the Quran.
(18.27) Recite what is has been inspired to you of your Lord’s book. There is no changing to His words and you will not find any refuge besides Him.
This verse does not specify any one activity, as a result reciting Quranic words can be done at all times including while we are worshipping God through Salat.
(29.45) You shall recite what is revealed to you of the book and observe the Salat.
This verse speaks of two activities, the recitation of the Quran and also the Salat. The fact that God speaks of the two activities in the same verse provides us with good advice to use the Quran during our Salat.
(3.113) They are not all the same; among the people of the book are an upright nation, they recite God’s revelations during the night while they prostrate.
This verse goes one step further, it speaks of the righteous and how they recite the scripture while prostrating. As we know prostrating is one of the acts of Salat, and therefore there is a stronger indication here that the words recited during the Salat must be from the scripture (in our case the Quran).
4-In 20.14 we are told that the salat is observed for the purpose of commemorating (zhikr) God:
(20.14) I am God, there is no god but Me, therefore you shall worship Me and observe the Salat to commemorate Me.
(17.46) ” …… and when you mention your Lord in the Quran alone, they turn their backs and run away in aversion.”
Second : Which Quranic words to be recited during the Salat?
It must be mentioned here that except for words in items 2 and 6 (below) which are clearly mentioned in the Quran in connection to the Salat (17.111), the other items (below) are not by any means the only words to use in our Salat. We can say these words and also add to them if we wish other words from the Quran which glorify God.
Reciting the items below during Salat fulfils a number of objectives. Item 1 (the Fatihah) is the only sura in the Quran which comprises a prayer solely addressed to God. Items 3 and 4 are words which glorify God and which we are commanded by God to recite, so including them in the Salat or outside Salat is advisable, while as item 5 comprises the essence of monotheism so should be a declaration to utter at all times, so where better than during our Salat?
Before we commence the Salat we must seek refuge in God from the devil, the Arabic words are: “A’uzu b”Allah min Al-Shaytan Al-Rajeem”, and in English we should say: I seek refuge in God from the rejected devil.
This is because during the Salat we would be reading Quranic words and we are told to seek refuge in God every time we read the Quran:
(16.98) When you read the Quran, you shall seek refuge in God from the rejected devil
We are commanded in 6.162 to devote every word in our Salat to the name of God alone, and thus these words must be said before we start the Salat and not during the Salat.
1– Although there is no specific command to read the Key (Fatihah) in particular in the Salat, yet since it is the opening of the book and it comprises a call to God in all its words, then it is appropriate to read it in the opening of our Salat.
Bearing in mind that God informs us that He does not wish us any hardship in practicing our religion, thus it is sensible to read the relatively longer passages (such as the Key) in the standing position rather than the bowing or prostrating so that the ill and old would not over-burden their frail bodies. Consequently, the recitation of the Key (Al-Fatiha) in the standing position is what all Muslims do.
3– “Sobhan Rabi Al-Azeem” (Praise my Lord the Great). This is in compliance with: “Glorify the name of your Lord, the Great” 56.74. These words can be uttered at any time during the Salat, and preferably in all positions.
4– “Sobhan Rabi Al-Aala” (Praise my Lord the Most High). This is in compliance with: “Glorify the name of your Lord, the Most High” 87.1. These words can be uttered at any time during the Salat, and preferably in all positions.
Praising God is encouraged at all times and specifically after prostration:
(50.40) And during the night, you shall glorify Him and also after prostrating.
5– The Shahada (Testimony of Faith) is the first pillar of Islam and is a declaration of our monotheistic faith. The Shahada may be uttered at any stage in the Salat and any number of times:
The words of the Shahada are : “Ash”hadu ana la illaha ila Allah” (I bear witness that there is no God other than God).
(3.18) God bears witness that there is no god but He, and so do the angels and those who possess knowledge.
6– In 17.111 we read the following words:
(17.111) Al-Hamdu l’Allah alazhee lam yattakhizha waladan, wa lam yakun lahu shareekun fee al mulk, wa lam yakun lahu waleyyon min al zhol
These words translate to:
(17.111) Praise be to God who has never taken a son, nor does He did He ever have a partner in His kingship, nor did He ever have any ally out of weakness.
In 17.110 God commands us to use a moderate voice in our Salat, immediately after which God commands us:
“and say: “Praise be to God, who has never taken a son…….”
The words “and say“ at the beginning of verse 111 indicate that the subject is still the Salat (the subject of 110). This means that we are to utter these specific words during our Salat.
It is interesting to note that these 3 phrases have significant meanings:
a- “Praise be to God who has never taken a son“
These words purify us from the claim of the Christians who gave God a son (6.101).
b- “nor did He ever have a partner in His kingship“
These words purify us from the corrupt Muslims who made Muhammad a partner with God in everything they say or do (12.106).
c- “nor did He ever have an ally out of weakness“
These words purify us from the Jewish scholars who claim that God’s hands are tied and thus He is not able to do certain things (5.64).
In effect, by uttering these words, and constantly being aware of the danger and corruption of these groups, we purify our souls and maintain the purity of our religion. These words must be uttered during our Salat.
To follow these words we should then magnify God frequently (Allah Akbar) ….
7– The “ending” of the Salat
Since the ending of the Salat conducted by almost all Muslims today does not conform to Quranic teachings, thus this issue will be given special analysis here.
The traditional ending spoken by most Muslims today is:
“Al-Salamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatu“. (Peace be upon you as well as God”s mercy and His blessings). This phrase is uttered twice at the conclusion of the Salat, once with the head turned to the right and once with the head turned to the left.
However, if we were to pause and consider the validity of saying these words at the end of the salat we would immediately be faced with the following questions:
A– Who are we addressing when we utter these words? Surely we cannot be addressing God because we cannot be saying to God, “may God’s mercy and blessings be upon you“!
Some will say that these words are addressed to other fellow believers who are praying alongside us. But this excuse is false, simply because these words are spoken by believers even when they are praying all on their own!
Some others will say that these words are addressed to the two angels who are recording all our deeds, one of whom is on our right shoulder and one is on our left.
Here we must inquire why should we address the angels? After all, our Salat is not directed to them! The Quran makes the point very clear that every word in our Salat should be to God and nobody else:
To direct any words in our Salat to any other than God is indeed against the teachings of the Quran and must be totally rejected.
B– If these words are not directed to God and must thus be rejected, then what are the correct words to be uttered to end our Salat? As usual, God has once again shown us that the Quran offers explanations to all things (16.89). Indeed, God has given us in the Quran the exact words that should be uttered to end the Salat. These are found in the following verse:
(10.9-10) Those who believe and do good deeds, their Lord guides them by virtue of their faith. Rivers will flow beneath them in the gardens of bliss. Their prayer therein is: “Be You glorified our god,” their greeting therein is, “Peace,” and the end of their prayer is: “Praise be to God, Lord of the worlds.”
This verse speaks of the model believers who will be rewarded in the gardens of heaven. We are told about the last words in their prayers “Al-Hamdu l’Allah Rab Al-Alameen” (Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds). It makes perfect sense that we should follow their example (if we would like to end up in heaven too) and end our prayers in praise of Almighty God rather than bid farewell to the angels!
Summary of the Quranic words for Salat:
Before we start the salat we should say:
(16.98) A”uzu b”Allah min Al-Shaytan Al-Rajeem (I seek refuge in God from the rejected devil)
During our Salat we say the words below plus any other words we may choose from the Quran. We can repeat any of these words any number of times and we can say any of them during any of the three positions. The idea is to be spiritually free while we worship God.
1- Al-Fatiha (The Key)
(56.74) Sobhan Rabi Al-Azeem (Praise my Lord the Great)
(87.1) Sobhan Rabi Al-Aala (Praise my Lord the Most High)
5- The Shahada (Testimony): (3.18) “Ash’hadu alla illaha ila Allah” (I bear witness that there is no God other than God).
(17.111) Al-Hamdu l’Allah alazhee lam yattakhizha waladan, wa lam yakun lahu shareekun fee al mulk, wa lam yakun lahu waleyyon min al zhol”. (Praise be to God who has never begotten a son, nor does He have a partner in His kingship, nor does He need an ally out of weakness).
7- The Salat ends with the words:
(10.10) Al-Hamdu l’Allah Rab Al-Alameen (Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds)
As mentioned, the above words can be spoken in any of the three positions (standing, bowing and prostrating), and also repeated once or as many times as we wish.
It must also be made clear that apart from items 2 and 6 above, which we must utter in our Salat (17.111), all the others words are up to us to utter or to mix with other Quranic words which glorify God alone. Hence, there can be other equally correct words for Salat.
Different believers will have different Quranic words which they favour and which they will utter during their Salat and that is perfectly alright.
This issue is different during congregational prayer where the group of believers will follow the words spoken by the Imam who leads the prayer.
A selection of Quranic words
(2.255) God; there is no god but He, the Living, the Eternal. Never does a moment of unawareness or slumber overtake Him. To Him belongs what is in the heavens and what is in the earth. Who is he who could intercede with Him, except with His permission? He knows their present and their future, and they do not attain any of His knowledge except as He wills. His throne encompasses the heavens and the earth, and preserving them never burdens Him. He is the High, the Great.
(2.286) Our Lord, do not place on us a heavy burden as that which You placed on those before us. Our Lord do not place on us what we cannot bear and pardon us, forgive us and have mercy on us. You are our Master so support us against the disbelieving people.(3.26) Say, “Our god: possessor of all sovereignty. You grant sovereignty to whomever You please, and You snatch sovereignty from whomever You please; and You grant dignity to whomever You please, and You commit to humiliation whomever You please. In Your hand are all good things. You are capable of all things.(3.27) You merge the night into the day and merge the day into the night. You extract the living from the dead and extract the dead from the living and You provide for whom You please without count.”(4.77) Say, “The enjoyments of this world mean little, while the Hereafter is far better for those who revere God and you will not incur the least injustice.”(6.14) Say, “Shall I take other than God as an ally, the Initiator of the heavens and the earth and He feeds but is not fed?”(6.164) Say, “Shall I seek other than God as a lord, when He is the Lord of all things?(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.(9.51) Say, “Nothing will befall us, except what God has decreed for us. He is our Master. In God the believers shall trust.”(13.30) Say, “He is my Lord. There is no god but He. In Him I put my trust and it is Him whom I turn to.”(23.118) Say, “My Lord, forgive and have mercy. Of all the merciful ones, You are the Most Merciful.”(34.36) Say, “My Lord expands the provision to whomever He wills, or restricts it, but most people do not know.”(34.50) Say, “If I go astray, I go astray because of my own shortcomings. And if I am guided, it is because of my Lord’s inspiration. He is Hearer, Near.”(39.11) Say, “I have been commanded to worship God, devoting the religion purely to Him alone.”(39.14) Say, “God is the One I worship, devoting my religion purely to Him alone.”(39.46) Say, “Our god, Initiator of the heavens and the earth, Knower of the unseen and the seen, You judge between Your servants regarding what they disputed in.”(112.1) Say, “He is God, He is One.(112.2) God, the Absolute.(112.3) He begets not, nor was He begotten.(112.4) And none is akin to Him.”(113.1) Say, “I seek refuge in the Lord of the daybreak(113.2) from the evil of what He has created.(113.3) and from the evil of darkness as it falls(113.4) and from the evil of the women blowing in knots(113.5) and from the evil of the envious one when he envies.”(114.1) Say, “I seek refuge in the Lord of the people.(114.2) The King of the people.(114.3) The god of the people(114.4) from the evil of the sneaky whisperer(114.5) who whispers into the chests of the people,(114.6) be they of the jinn, or the people.”