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Why Do We Pray Five Times Each Day?. by Taamas111 (m): 3:11am on January 11
Rufai Oladimeji
Lagos State University
100Level, Nigeria.

I read in the Qur’aan that a man
should pray three times: before
sunrise, after sunset and in the
middle of the day. So why do we
pray five times? I hope that you will
not give me the story that 50,000
prayers were enjoined then it was
reduced to five. I want a convincing


Praise be to Allaah.
1 – What is mentioned in the
question about the number of
prayers is mistaken. It was 50 then
it was altered to 5 prayers, a favour
from the Lord of the Worlds to the
2 – The rules of sharee’ah may be
divided into two categories: those
which may be understood on a
rational basis; and those which are
purely worship, the wisdom behind
which is concealed from us and is
not mentioned in either the Qur’aan
or the Sunnah.
Examples of the first include: the
prohibition on alcohol and gambling.
Allaah has told us the reason why
they are forbidden, which is:
“Shaytaan (Satan) wants only to
excite enmity and hatred between
you with intoxicants (alcoholic
drinks) and gambling, and hinder
you from the remembrance of
Allaah and from As‑Salaah (the
prayer). So, will you not then
[al-Maa'idah 5:91]
And there are other similar rulings.
Examples of the second kind include
offering Zuhr prayer when the sun
has passed its zenith,
circumambulating the Ka’bah with it
on one's left (i.e., anticlockwise),
the nisaab of gold being a quarter of
ten percent; Maghrib prayer being
three rak’ahs, and many other such
What is mentioned in the question
falls into this second category,
which is things for which we do not
know the reason from the Qur’aan
or Sunnah, so we have to submit to
the command of Allaah. This applies
to all such rulings.
The Muslim has to accept the things
for which Allaah has not explained
the reason, and say as the believers
say: “We hear and we obey.” He
should not be like the Children of
Israel who said: “We hear but we
Accepting what Allaah says
(interpretation of the meaning): “He
[Allaah] cannot be questioned as to
what He does, while they will be
questioned” [al-Anbiya’ 21:23] is
better for the believer in his
religious and worldly affairs, for he
is a slave who has a Lord, and the
slave has no right to ask his Lord
why He enjoined something. Rather
he has to submit to His command. If
he tells us why, we should do it,
and if He does not tell us why, we
should still do it.
3 – In al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-
Kuwaitiyyah (1/49-51) there is a
useful discussion which we will
quote here:
With regard to understanding the
reasons why things have been
prescribed, we may divide the issues
of fiqh into two categories:
1 – Rulings whose wisdom may be
understood on a rational basis,
either because the reason is stated
in the texts, or because it is easy to
work out.
Such rulings are the majority of
those that Allaah has prescribed,
such as enjoining prayer, zakaah,
fasting and Hajj in general, and
such as enjoining the mahr (dowry)
in marriage, ‘iddah (waiting period)
following divorce or widowhood,
spending on one’s wife, children and
relatives, divorce when married life
becomes unbearable, and many
other such issues of fiqh.
2 – Ruling which are enjoined on us
as a kind of pure worship. These are
rulings in which the connection
between the ruling and the action is
not clear, such as the number of
prayers, the number of rak’ahs and
most of the actions of Hajj. By the
mercy of Allaah, such rulings are
few in relation to the rulings the
wisdom behind which may be
rationally understood. These rulings
are prescribed as a test to
demonstrate whether a person is a
true believer. It should also be
noted that sharee’ah – both general
principles and minor details – does
not prescribe anything that
contradict common sense, but it
may prescribe something the reason
for which cannot be understood.
There is a big difference between
the two. If a person is rationally
convinced that Allaah exists and
that He is wise, and that He alone
deserves to be acknowledged as
Lord, and he is rationally convinced
that the Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) is a
true Prophet, then he affirms that
Allaah is the Sovereign and the Lord,
and that he is His slave. Then if he
is commanded to do something or is
forbidden to do something, and he
then says, “I will not follow this
ruling until I know the reason
behind this command or
prohibition,” then he has proven
himself to be false in his claim to be
a believer in Allaah and His
Messenger. The human mind has a
limit beyond which it cannot go.
The one who rebels against the
rulings of Allaah that have to do
with rituals is like a sick person who
goes to a trustworthy doctor who
prescribes various kinds of medicine
for him, some to be taken before
eating, some to be taken during the
meal and some to be taken
afterwards, in various amounts, and
he says to the doctor: I will not take
your medicine until you explain to
me the reason why this one should
be taken before eating and this one
afterwards, and this one during the
meal, and why are they are varying
amounts, some small and some big?
Does this patient really trust his
doctor? The same may be said of a
person who claims to believe in
Allaah and His Messenger, then he
rebels against the rulings the
wisdom behind which he does not
understand. The true believer, if he
is commanded to something or
forbidden to do something, says, “I
hear and I obey,” especially when
we have explained that there are no
rulings that can be rejected on the
basis of reason. Not knowing
something does not indicate that it
is not true. How many rulings are
there, the reason for which has
been concealed from us in the past,
then we discovered that there is
great wisdom behind them? The
reason why pork is forbidden was
unknown to many people, then we
found out that it carries germs and
disease and other bad things, and
Allaah wanted to protect the Muslim
society against them. The same may
be said concerning the command to
wash vessels that have been licked
by a dog seven times, one of which
should be with earth… and other
rulings the wisdom behind which
may be discovered one day even
though it is hidden from us now.
And Allaah knows best.


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