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To ‘Perform’ or to ‘Establish’ Prayers?

No one can deny the importance of as-Salah as it is one of the things emphatically or unequivocally known to be part of the faith of Islam. However, though most of us realize this fact, do all of us establish or properly perform the as-Salah as it is prescribed by Allah the Almighty?

Or, do we just make some lifeless movements and utter some repeated utterances without being heedful of what is said or what is done?!

Here, we will show the real difference between establishing the as-Salah as ordained by Allah and just doing its movements; a matter which is crucial and necessary for a faithful Muslim’s as-Salah to be accepted by Allah the Almighty. Surely, no one wants his Salah to be unaccepted or rejected.

Iqamat as-Salah in the Quran

Establishing or properly performing the prayer is the alternative translations of the Arabic term iqamat as-Salah. Amazingly, the Ever-Glorious Quran always uses the collocation or word combination ‘iqamat as-Salah’ in various forms and derivations. However, it never uses terms such as ada’ as-Salah or any of its derivatives because Allah does not like as-Salah to be performed without spirit or in a mechanical way. This shows that iqamat as-Salah is something more than just carrying it out. Therefore, the praying person should perform his as-Salah in accordance with the prescribed manner along with feeling a strong sense of unity with all other praying persons all over the world. Describing good and righteous believers, Allah the Almighty says in His Ever-Glorious Quran what may mean,

{Who believe in the Unseen, and perform (yuqeemuna) the prayer…} (Al-Baqarah 2:3)

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Difference between ada’ and iqamat as-Salah

As for ada’ as-Salah, it means to perform the shariah-based ritual and the prescribed parts of as-Salah by the discerning Muslim adult, man or woman, at a specific time. Hence, it is to carry out all its pillars in a complete manner.

However, Iqamat as-Salah, on the one hand, goes beyond the mere performance of its prescribed movements as to experience the feeling of perfect submission and humility before Allah the Almighty. On the other hand, it denotes the idea of one’s commitment to be regular and constant on accomplishing as-Salah regardless of all odds.

In addition, Allah threatens those who carry out as-Salah without observing the above meanings as they perform it with negligence and inattentiveness. In so doing, they disregard the real objective of as-Salah, its essence and spirit. He says what may mean,

{Ah, woe unto worshippers. Who are heedless of their prayer.} (Al-Ma`un 108:4-5)

Given this, not everyone who performs as-Salah is a muqim, i.e. heedful regular observant of as-Salah.

Among the many things denoted by the word combination ‘iqamat as-Salah’ is to do it faithfully and with tranquility. This means that the praying person should complete his Salah’s bowings, prostrations, standings, recitations, and glorification of Allah with perfect heedfulness and consciousness.

Therefore, anyone who violates any of these, such as not perfecting the bowings or prostrations, is sinful because this is considered as stealing from one’s own Salah as described by the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) in the hadith that reads,

The worst thief amongst people is the one who steals from his as-Salah.’

The Companions asked, ‘Oh, Allah’s Messenger! How does he steal from his as-Salah?’

He replied, ‘He does not perform its bowing or prostration in a perfect manner.‘”[1]

Were Salah a form without reality that incurs benefit, it would have benefited the hypocrites who were performing it with the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him). Rather, they were doomed to Hellfire because they did not perform as-Salah out of faith, devotion, love and fear of Allah. Their hearts were neither open for as-Salah, nor did they feel tranquility therein, nor did they duly glorify Allah. Rather, they came to as-Salah lazily and just to be seen by others. This is evident in Allah’s saying which may mean,

{Lo! The hypocrites seek to beguile Allah, but it is Allah who beguileth them. When they stand up to worship [as-Salah] they perform it languidly and to be seen of men...} (An-Nisa’ 4:142)

In addition, as-Salah – when performed perfectly – should prevent the praying person from committing any abomination or enormity as can be seen in some ayahsof the Quran as previously mentioned.

In the same vein, iqamat as-Salah is not just another daily routine. Rather, it is an action that requires physical preparation “the outer adornment” along with spiritual preparation “the inner adornment”. Both are perfectly summarized in Allah’s saying which may mean,

{O Children of Adam! Look to your adornment at every place of worship.} (Al-A`raf 7:31)

It is a divine ordinance as can be seen in the above ayah. Moreover, Allah warns the believing men and women against coming to as-Salah while they are in a state of inability to accomplish it in the most appropriate manner. He says what may mean,

{O ye who believe! Approach not Prayers with a mind befogged, until ye can understand all that ye say…} (An-Nisa’ 4:43)

As mentioned earlier, the Quran uses the term al-iqamah to denote performing as-Salah in a perfect way and the only time it uses the term al-musalli, i.e. the praying person, is when it describes the hypocrites. This indicates that those who just carry out as-Salah are numerous, whereas those who really accomplish it and perform it properly are significantly few in number.[2]

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About Dr. Ali Al-Halawani
Dr. Ali Al-Halawani is Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Translation Studies. He is an author, translator, and writer based in Canada. To date, Al-Halawani authored over 400 original articles on Islam and Muslims, most of which can be accessed on and other famous websites. He has recently started to self-publish his articles and new books, which are available on Amazon and Kindle. You can reach him at [email protected]