One of my maternal uncles argued that, since the Qur'an does not explicitly say anything about praying 5 times a day, it may be considered as optional/less important.

What argument can I place against his view? As the argument is coming from a Qur'an-only perspective, I am particularly interested in arguments that don't rely on hadiths.

  • 2
    If you're seeking responses from a Qur'an-only perspective, you should update your question to make this more clear. As worded, it is ambiguous. – goldPseudo Jun 28 '12 at 20:43
up vote 9 down vote accepted

We all know that the Quran is the primary source for anything about Islam, but it is more likely to be a kind of abstract this means when it comes to details we need the sunna as a 2nd reference.

Now, let's see what we can find in the Quran:

  1. Maintain with care the [obligatory] prayers and [in particular] the middle prayer and stand before Allah , devoutly obedient. -- al-Baqara 2:238

  2. And establish prayer at the two ends of the day and at the approach of the night. Indeed, good deeds do away with misdeeds. That is a reminder for those who remember. -- Hud 11:114

  3. O you who have believed, let those whom your right hands possess and those who have not [yet] reached puberty among you ask permission of you [before entering] at three times: before the dawn prayer and when you put aside your clothing [for rest] at noon and after the night prayer. [These are] three times of privacy for you. There is no blame upon you nor upon them beyond these [periods], for they continually circulate among you - some of you, among others. Thus does Allah make clear to you the verses; and Allah is Knowing and Wise. -- an-Nur 24:58

Verse 1 tells us that there is a middle prayer which means there are at least 3 prayers and doesn't mention the exact number of prayers.

Verse 2 tells us that during daylightv (the time gap between fajr and maghrib) we have 2 prayers (duhr and a'sr) and one when the night approaches (al-maghrib) (see also this Fatwa): With (only) this information it's still possible that we only have 3 prayers, but

Verse 3 which teaches us about the resting times mention clearly the fajr/sobh prayer and the I'sha prayer as the fajr itself is a not mentioned time in the 2 Verses before we find out we really have 5 prayers mentioned in the Quran!

Now we find we have 5 prayers or prayer times mentioned in the Quran.

By the way we could also include some other Verses to explain for example:

Establish prayer at the decline of the sun [from its meridian] until the darkness of the night and [also] the Qur'an of dawn. Indeed, the recitation of dawn is ever witnessed. -- 17:78

Which mentioned indirectly the prayers from duhr until i'sha' and by the mentioned recitation of dawn the fajr prayer! See also this Fatwa in Arabic.


Just as an addition:

the sentence أقِمِ الصلاة = establish prayer (singular form) was quoted 5 times in the Quran. The sentence أقيموا الصلاة= establish prayer (plural form) was quoted 12 times in the Quran.

As we know 12+5=17 which is the sum of the raka'at of our daily fard prayers!

The Verse 1 from above is written in the moshaf as follows حَفِظُوا عَلَى الصَّلَوَتِ وَالصَّلَوةِ الْوُسْطَى وَقُومُوا لِلَّهِ قَنِتِينَ.

If we count the number of Arabic letters at the right and left from the expression وَالصَّلَوةِ الْوُسْطَى = and the middle prayer.

We find it to be the exact middle of the Verse and each part at the left and right has 14 Arabic letters and if we ignore the independence of the letter "وَ" before "قُومُوا لِلَّهِ قَنِتِينَ" (and this makes this count a bit weak in my opinion) we could say that each part left right and middle of this Verse consists of 3 words and again 3+14=17.

Although the Qur'an does not specifically say the amount of prayers that people should pray, it has said multiple times to follow and obey the prophet's commands. And of the prophets commanded, praying five times a day was certainly one of them.

Obey Allah (Ta’ala) and His Beloved Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) (3:132) (4:13) (4:59) (4:69) (4:80) (9:71) (24:52) (24:54) (24:56) (33:71) (49:14) (64:12)

Follow the Commands of Allah (Sub’hanahu wa Ta’ala) and of His Beloved Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wa Sallam) (33:36)

The prophet was told in his journey isra and mi'raj to observe 5 prayers

Then the prayers were enjoined on me: They were fifty prayers a day. When I returned, I passed by Moses who asked (me), 'What have you been ordered to do?' I replied, 'I have been ordered to offer fifty prayers a day.' Moses said, 'Your followers cannot bear fifty prayers a day, and by Allah, I have tested people before you, and I have tried my level best with Bani Israel (in vain). Go back to your Lord and ask for reduction to lessen your followers' burden.' So I went back, and Allah reduced ten prayers for me. Then again I came to Moses, but he repeated the same as he had said before. Then again I went back to Allah and He reduced ten more prayers. When I came back to Moses he said the same, I went back to Allah and He ordered me to observe ten prayers a day. When I came back to Moses, he repeated the same advice, so I went back to Allah and was ordered to observe five prayers a day. When I came back to Moses, he said, 'What have you been ordered?' I replied, 'I have been ordered to observe five prayers a day.' He said, 'Your followers cannot bear five prayers a day, and no doubt, I have got an experience of the people before you, and I have tried my level best with Bani Israel, so go back to your Lord and ask for reduction to lessen your follower's burden.' I said, 'I have requested so much of my Lord that I feel ashamed, but I am satisfied now and surrender to Allah's Order.' When I left, I heard a voice saying, 'I have passed My Order and have lessened the burden of My Worshipers." - Sahih Al-Bukhari 5.227

full hadith can be found here

Also, the Qur'an does not only talk about 3 prayers

You shall observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) at both ends of the day, and during the night. The righteous works wipe out the evil works. This is a reminder for those who would take heed 11:114

This verse says both ends of the day and night, so the ends of the day must be fajr and maghrib, and the one at night is i'sha

You shall observe the Contact Prayer (salat) when the sun declines from its highest point at noon, as it moves towards sunset. You shall also observe (the recitation of) the Qur'an at dawn. (Reciting) the Qur'an at dawn is witnessed. 17:78

The highest point at noon is dhuhr prayer and dawn is fajr, once again.

Maintain with care the [obligatory] prayers and [in particular] the middle prayer and stand before Allah, devoutly obedient. 2:238

The middle prayer is salat asr

So as you can see the Qur'an did mention all the prayers, and even if the Qur'an did not name all of them, the prophet did, and specifically ordered us to pray 5 prayers. And furthermore, there is no evidence that we may only pray 3 prayers.

  • but quran does not say that middle prayer is asr. it is said only in hadithes. – qdinar Aug 30 '15 at 19:31
  • but he did not say anything about 3 salats – qdinar Aug 30 '15 at 19:45

This is a strictly Sunni view (AFAIK):

The number of prayers is already strictly mentioned in Hadith, but I will show the evidence in the Quran itself for five prayers. See this ayah:

حَافِظُوا عَلَى الصَّلَوَاتِ وَالصَّلَاةِ الْوُسْطَىٰ وَقُومُوا لِلَّهِ قَانِتِينَ

"Maintain with care the [obligatory] prayers and [in particular] the middle prayer and stand before Allah , devoutly obedient."

Al-Baqarah (2:238)

Now we need to look closely at this ayah. In Arabic, there are two types of plural: duals (two of the noun) and plurals (three or more of the noun). The word الصَّلَوَاتِ is a three or more plural of صلاة (prayer). So we know that it refers to three or more prayers. Then it mentions another prayer, the middle prayer. This other prayer is connected with the others using the conjunction و which translates to and. Most scholars agree that this is a non-inclusive and, i.e. the middle prayer is distinct from the other prayers referred to as الصَّلَوَاتِ.

Since it is a middle prayer we know that the sum of all prayers must be an odd number, as even numbers don't have a middle. It can't be three, since we know that الصَّلَوَاتِ is at least three itself (without the middle prayer). Which concludes that the number of prayers is (at least) five.

The number of prayers can be derived from two verses of Qur’an:

أَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ لِدُلُوكِ الشَّمْسِ إِلَىٰ غَسَقِ اللَّيْلِ وَقُرْآنَ الْفَجْرِ ۖ إِنَّ قُرْآنَ الْفَجْرِ كَانَ مَشْهُودًا

[17:78] Establish prayer at the decline of the sun [from its meridian] until the darkness of the night and [also] the Qur'an of dawn. Indeed, the recitation of dawn is ever witnessed.

And

وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ طَرَفَيِ النَّهَارِ وَزُلَفًا مِّنَ اللَّيْلِ ۚ إِنَّ الْحَسَنَاتِ يُذْهِبْنَ السَّيِّئَاتِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ ذِكْرَىٰ لِلذَّاكِرِينَ

[11:114] And establish prayer at the two ends of the day and at the approach of the night. Indeed, good deeds do away with misdeeds. That is a reminder for those who remember.

Also other verses talk about prayers.

protected by Community Oct 19 '13 at 15:57

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