Sunday, August 21, 2011

Random Facts about Prayers - Part 2

by Syed Adam Alhabshi

This is a simple series on some interesting facts on our obligatory prayers. For all of the articles in this series please click here.



Fact 3: Qasar Prayers
In general, subuh is two raka’at, zuhur, as’r and isya’ is four and maghrib is three.

When we are travelers, the Prophet SAW taught us that the number of all the four prayers can be shortened to only two raka’at and we can combine the prayers as well. This is called, Jama’ wa Qasar (to combine and to shorten).

This is what I learned early this year from my spiritual teacher.


Initially, before Isra’ Mi’raj (the Night which the Prophet was transported to Masjid Aqsa and then raised to the heavens to meet Allah riding a Buraq and accompanied by Jibril AS), prayers were only two raka’at. Any single prayer was only two raka’at and if one wanted to add, one would add another two and then another two and so on.

Prayer is also the ONLY revelation that the Prophet received DIRECTLY from Allah and not via any angelic intermediary.

This fact raises the importance of the five daily prayers. The Prophet also mentioned "Between man and polytheism and unbelief is the abandonment of salat" [From Muslim- Book 1, Number 0147].

See how heavy the weight of prayers is? Missing it is akin to being called a disbeliever…

Anyway, my teacher told me that Isra’ Mi’raj increased the initial two raka’at prayers to three and four whilst subuh remained at two. Since it is not possible to do 1.5 raka’at, so maghrib cannot be shortened. As for zuhur, asr and isya’, travelers are allowed and encouraged to shortened it to two prayers.

Here’s an interesting lingual fact: Apparently, the word qasr also means original. So when we say to qasr a prayer i.e. to shorten a prayer, it also means we are shortening it to its original state before Isra’ Mi’raj

Fact 4: Ruku’ and Raka’at
Raka’at is a single act of ruku’.

A ruku’ (according to Islamic-Dictionary.com) is a form of prostration done in prayer. It is like a half prostration. It is initiated from a standing upright position and it precedes the sujood (complete prostration). The ruku’ is complete when the person rises back to stand in the upright position.

The way to calculate how many raka’at in a prayer is to count how many ruku’ we make in that prayer.

In a jama’ah (congregational) prayer, if we manage to catch doing ruku’ with the Imam, then that raka’at is counted for and we do not need to add another raka’at after the prayer.

For example, the Imam has already started praying and after completing his recitation of Qur'an, he says Allahu Akbar and does his ruku’. You just arrived at the saf (row). You say your takbiratul ihram and then say Allahu Akbar to join the ruku’. After that, the Imam says Sami Allahu Liman Hamidah. That means you have managed to capture that raka’at with the Imam and do not need to add another raka’at.

In other words, the ruku’ is the cut-off point to get the raka’at with the Imam.

So if you see your Imam doing ruku’, do not hesitate to join him and you would get that raka’at with him. If you join him when he is in his i’tidal (the standing after ruku'), than you have to add another raka’at after the Imam gives his salam in order to complete your raka’at.


For your further information, the terminology used to describe this is masbuq, which means latecomer. This has no importance as it is just a terminology to call a latecomer.

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