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Last Updated: 2010/05/17
Summary of question
When the Quran is speaking of the times of ‘salat’, what is meant by ‘salat’, is it supplication and asking for forgiveness, or prayer?
"There is no prayer after Asr until the sun has set and there is no prayer after Fajr until the sun has risen, Does the term ‘prayer’ here refer to salat or supplications (du'a)?
Concise answer

The term ‘salat’ in Quranic verses that are mentioning the times for prayer, refers to prayer. Quranic verses that state the times for prayer can be categorized into different categories in which we will list in the detailed answer.

Detailed Answer

Verses that speak of the times of daily wajib prayers, can be found in several surahs and can be categorized into different categories. In verse 238 of surah Baqarah,[1] all that is mentioned is the time for one of the prayers. The ‘middle’ prayer that this verse speaks of refers to the Dhuhr prayer.[2] Sometimes verses will point to the time of three of the daily prayers, like verse 114 of surah Hud which reads: “وَ أَقِمِ الصَّلاةَ طَرَفَیِ النَّهارِ وَ زُلَفاً مِنَ اللَّیْل”. In this verse, “طرفی النهار” is referring to salatul fajr and maghrib, “زُلَفاً مِنَ اللَّیْل” refers to salatul Isha.[3] And sometimes, all five prayers are mentioned in a general manner, such as verse 78 of surah Isra’ which says: “Maintain the prayer from the sun's decline till the darkness of the night, and [observe particularly] the dawn recital. Indeed the dawn recital is attended [by angels].”

Although the term ‘salat’ has also been used in the Quran to denote supplication,[4] but in the aforementioned verses, it has been used for prayer. Of course, prayer also encompasses supplication and praise.

[1]حافِظُوا عَلَى الصَّلَواتِ وَ الصَّلاةِ الْوُسْطی

[2] Makarem Shirazi, Naser, Tafsir Nemouneh, vol. 12, pg. 223.

[3] Ibid, pg. 223.

[4] For example, take the verse in which Allah (swt) says: “وَ صَلِّ عَلَیْهِمْ إِنَّ صَلاتَکَ سَکَنٌ لَهُمْ وَ اللَّهُ سَمیعٌ عَلیمٌ”. In this verse, the term ‘salat’ means supplication. Tawbah:103. See: Terihi, Fakhroddin, Majma’ul-Bahrain, vol. 1, pg. 266.

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