Muslims in Brunei as do Muslims throughout the world pray five times a day - Subuh (Dawn Prayer), Zuhur (Noon Prayer), Asar (Afternoon Prayer), Maghrib (Sunset Prayer) and Isyak (Evening Prayer). Each prayer has different rakaats. If you are a Muslim, you would know that Nabi Muhammad SAW received the divine command for all Muslims to perform the five-time daily prayers during Israk Mikraj but have you ever wondered how the prayer times were derived and how the rakaats are determined?
I remembered reading about this quite a long long time ago and accidentally found the publication while searching for something else. It was in one of those Pusat Dakwah Islamiah publications in English - Understand Islam Series No.6 which talks about the Rationalistic Teachings of Islam. This must have published in the early 1980s because I don't think I have seen it anymore at Pusat Dakwah. I have been in the habit of collecting and keeping these and I remembered thinking then that this might come in useful one day and this is one of those times when it did.
So how were the prayer times derived and why the different rakaats for each prayer?
It is said that the prayers are following or according to the practices of some of the earlier Prophets of Allah. The Dawn or Suboh Prayer is said to have been offered by Nabi Adam A.S., the Noon or Zuhor Prayer by Nabi Ibrahim A.S., the Afternoon or Asar Prayer by Nabi Sulaiman A.S., the Sunset or Maghrib Prayer by Nabi Isa A.S. and the Night or Isyak Prayer by Nabi Musa A.S.
The form and the sequence of the 'Call' for prayer may have differed during the time of the other prophets but the prayers of the five stipulated periods were of the same form as they are today.
There are also many reasons given for the varying number of Rakaats in each prayer at the prescribed periods but the one described by the publication by Pusat Dakwah is considering the rationale which the Almighty has endowed man with the many blessings of which the greatest of them is the blessing known as the "Five Senses" or the "five kinds of knowledge" or Hawassul-Khams. These are the five kinds of knowledge we derive through our five senses of Smell, Taste, Touch, Sight and Hearing.
The two Rakaats of Suboh Prayer at Dawn are offered in gratitude for the Almighty's blessings for giving the Sense of Smell which can be both sweet and foul. The four Rakaats of Zuhor prayer is for the four responses to the Sense of Taste - Sweetness, Sourness, Bitterness and Astrigence. The four Rakaats of Asar prayer is for the four responses to the Sense of Touch - Hot, Cold, Hard or Soft. The three Rakaats of Maghrib prayer is for the three directions of our Sense of Sight - Front, Right or Left. The four Rakaats of Isyak prayer is for the four directions of our Sense of Hearing - all four directions.
If you want to read the full text of the above, refer to yesteday's postings on www.bruneiummah.blogspot.com.