The Historical Account of Namaz or Salat- The First Prayer in Islam (Part 9)
By Nastik Durrani, New Age Islam
28 March, 2014
Ahmad Bin Wazeh al-Yaqoobi has reported that the first prayer enjoined upon the Prophet of Islam (pbuh) was the afternoon prayer (Salat-ul-Zuhar). The apostle of God, Gabriel came to the Prophet (pbuh) and taught him to perform ablution. Then, the apostle offered the prayer in order to show the Prophet (pbuh) the way of doing it. The Prophet (pbuh) then offered the prayer in the same way (1). This view has been endorsed by Naf’e too (2).
To my view, neither the reports stands up to scrutiny, because some of the Qur’an exegetes hold that the Zuhar prayer is the “middle prayer” , as outlined in the holy Qur’an: “maintain with care the [obligatory] prayers and [in particular] the middle prayer and stand before Allah , devoutly obedient” (3). So, if the Zuhar prayer is supposed to be the middle prayer, it should come between two prayers. But this is something which stands contrary to the Prophet’s first prayer, which should have been the first and the last prayer, in case it is supposed to be the middle prayer. Moreover, most of the revealed religions have prescribed their prayers to be offered in the morning and evening, as the determination of time is relatively easy in either of these times. Going by this, it is not rational to say that the Salat-ul-Zuhar was the first prayer in Islam.
This issue, right from the beginning, has been an apple of discord in Islam. Some Qur’an exegetes have referred to the Fajr as the middle prayer, while some others have referred to the prayer of Isha (the night prayer). Some declared the Jumu’ah as the middle of the prayers (4), while others have stated that it is “the collective prayer” or “Salat-ul-Khauf”. This contention went to the extent that even the prayers of Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Azha and Witr have also been declared as the middle prayer by some or the other commentators of the holy Quran. On the other hand, a few of the scholars have maintained silence over this matter due to the conflicting reports and failed to determine any particular prayer as the middle. Consequently, the issue has not been resolved from the time of the Prophet’s holy companions until today (5).