SCOPE OF THE SALAT
Salat is performed with a view to remembering God (20 Taha, 14). However, it is performed in stated times and on a clean state, i.e. having performed ablution. It is a prayer performed even when there is a war going on.
102 – When you are with them, and stand to lead them in prayer, let one party of them stand up with you, taking their arms with them; when they finish their prostrations, let them take their position in the rear. And let the other party come up which has not yet prayed and let them pray with you…
4 The Women, 102
It appears that salat existed even from the time of Abraham (14 Abraham, 40). Even the heathen people who had captured the Kaaba, where Abraham used to pray, performed the ritual prayer, though in a strayed fashion (8 The Spoils of War, 35). The habit to pray had been abandoned afterward because of the lust of past generations.
59 – But after them there followed a posterity who missed prayers and followed after lusts; soon, then, will they face destruction.
19 Mary, 59
The salat involves three main acts: namely, kýyam (standing up), ruku (bowing) and suju (prostration). Although there is no mention in the Quran about the obligation to recite it while performing the salat, we are told that the Quran is described as a remembrance (zikr) of God. This is an indication that in performing the salat the Quran is our guide. His compassion, beneficence, grace, creation of hell and paradise, among other things, and omniscience are all mentioned in the Quran. In performing the salat we are not obliged to recite the Quran in the Arabic language. While there is not even the mention of the obligation to recite the verses of the Quran, how are we to deduce that what is to be recited should be in Arabic, since a person who keeps on repeating words he has learned by memory is unable to concentrate on the words his lips pronounce? In this way, the automatic repetition of verses in a language other than one’s own risk having their meaning lost. You may have witnessed many performers of the salat confess to have been thinking about other things while their lips kept repeating the words learned by heart.
43 – O you who believe! Approach not prayers while intoxicated until you can understand all that you say…
4 The Women, 43
The above verse indicates the importance of a clear mind during the salat in which God’s name is to be pronounced and the individual is obliged to understand what he is saying. If understanding is important, how can a man, who speaks no Arabic, understand what he is reciting? What difference can there be between a person whose mind is clear reciting verses the meaning of which he does not understand and the intoxicated whose mind is clouded?
The Quran commands man to ask for help from God with patience (2 The Cow, 45). How can a man who performs his salat not, in his vernacular, ask for help from God? Do those who are against the performance of salat in one’s own tongue not prevent the fulfilment of this command? All the minor formal details in the performance of the salat may be duly obeyed, but real communication of the individual between him and his God is thus hampered due to Arabophilia. To summarize:
1) During the salat one praises God, therefore one’s consciousness must be clear (20 Taha, 14).
2) Salat requires pious reverence and awe (23 The Believers, 2).
3) Salat restrains a person from evil deeds (29 The Spider, 45).
Praying in one’s vernacular is essential for the establishment of communication between the individual and his Creator. If you accept the fact that not everybody can learn the Arabic language, praying in one’s tongue becomes indispensable.
18 – The places of worship are for God, so invoke not any one along with God.
72 Jinn, 18
It is worth remembering that help is asked only from God and not from prophets, from so-called awliya (saints) and from the departed.