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To ‘Perform’ or to ‘Establish’ Prayers?

Iqamat as-Salah in the eyes of earlier Muslim scholars

Earlier Muslim scholars had various insights of what is meant by iqamat as-Salah as will be shown here.

  • It is reported that Ibn `Abbas said that it means, “To complete the bowings, prostrations, recitation, humbleness and attendance for the prayer.”
  • To Qatadah, iqamat as-Salah means,

“To preserve punctuality, and the ablution, bowings, and prostrations of the prayer.”

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  • As for Muqatil ibn Haiyyan, it means,

“To preserve punctuality for it, as well as completing one’s purity for it, and completing the bowings, prostrations, recitation of the Quran, Tashahhud and blessings for the Prophet. This is iqamat as-Salah.[3]

  • In the same vein, Imam Malik said,

“It is said that there is defraud and fulfillment in everything. So, if Allah threatens those who defraud in weighing goods, what about those who defraud in as-Salah?”

It is understood that everything in this life can be measured on a fulfillment or defraud spectrum. When one commits himself to doing as-Salah at its prescribed times and as properly as ordained by Allah, he will be fulfilling what he is asked to do. However, if he shows negligence through delaying or even ignoring his as-Salah,this will surely be defrauding not in the right of Allah Alone, but in the right of the worshipper himself as Allah is Self-Sufficient and thus He is in need of nothing from His creation.

A final word

It is now clear that iqamat as-Salah stands for performing it in the most appropriate and perfect manner in terms of observing humility, tranquility and maintaining its boundaries as iqamat as-Salah necessitates abstaining from lewdness, iniquity and falsehood. It also protects the praying person from committing sins and evils.

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Doing or copying the Salah in form only is nothing but doing mere physical exercise or movements that have no further effect on one’s life, manners and behavior towards others. This is not a genuine or perfect performance of as-Salah as enjoined by the Quran and explained in the Prophet’s Sunnah.

Let us quote Ash-Sharif who addresses iqamat as-Salah in a unique way as he states,

iqamat as-Salah cannot be achieved unless two things are taken care of. First, to adhere to the exact form of as-Salah and thus, fulfill the prescribed shariah-based ritual. Second, to attend to its reality and essence that paves the way towards Allah’s acceptance. If the praying person fulfills these two things together, he will surely achieve great success![4]

Accordingly, the term al-ada’ refers only to the first thing which is the form or shape of as-Salah, but it overlooks the essence or reality of as-Salah with which Allah’s acceptance is gained. The term that can denote this second meaning is nothing but al-iqamah as elucidated earlier.

Last but not least, I ask Allah the Almighty to educate us all about his ordinances and the prescribed acts of worship and to position us among those who establish and perfectly perform the as-Salah. Amen!


[1] Ibn Rahawaih, Ishaq (161-238 AH). Musnad. Vol. 1, P. 356. E-book:www.saaid.net.

[2] Al-Qasimi, Muhammad Jamal Ad-Din (1994). Mahasin at-Ta’wil (Attractions of Interpretation). Ed. Muhammad F. `Abdel Baqi. First Edition. At-Tarikh al-`Arabi Foundation. Beirut.

[3] Al-Mubarakpuri, Safiur-Rahman (2000). Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Abridged. Dar-u-ssalam Publications, Riyadh. Vol. 1, P. 114.

[4] Ash-Sharif, `Abdul Khaliq Hassan (1993). Al-Hidayah ar-Rabbaniyyah: Sharh al-Arba`in an-Nawawiyyah (Divine Guidance: Explanation of An-Nawawi Forty Hadiths). Book 3, Third Hadith, The Pillars of Islam, P. 92. Islamic INC. for Publishing and Distribution, Cairo, Egypt.

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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 www.aboutislam.net 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]