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Salat "al-Wusta" (Verse 2:238) Surah Al-Baqrah


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Author Topic: Salat "al-Wusta" (Verse 2:238) Surah Al-Baqrah  (Read 32 times)
Ruhi_Rose
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« on: July 09, 2019, 09:48:10 am »



 BismEm


ḥāfiẓū ala al-salawati wal salati al-wusta waqumu lillahi qānitīna  (Verse 2:238)

"Guard strictly (on) the prayers, and the prayer - (the) middle, and stand up for Allah devoutly obedient."  (Literal translation from Corpus Quran of V.2:238).

"Maintain with care the [obligatory] prayers and [in particular] the middle prayer and stand before Allah , devoutly obedient."  (The Sahih International translation of V.2:238).


As-Salam Alaykum and hi to all my MV dear, dear friends and colleagues.  I need someone to interpret Verse 2:238.  The Quranic term "salati al-wusta" is explained by all traditional sources as the middle prayer.  And since there are 5 prayers each day, obviously they pick the middle prayer to be the Asr prayer.  Is this explanation correct?  My husband and I have been constantly focused on this, trying to analyze it.  We know that all 5 prayers are important.  Allah does not express the concept anywhere in the Quran that any one of the 5 salats is more important than the other or others.  As we have learned, all salats are important.  So we began to think to what extent the interpretation of al-wusta translated as 'middle' is accurate.  We need your feedback, would really appreciate that.


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Heba E. Husseyn
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« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2019, 11:15:15 am »




Walakum As-Salam dear sister.  That's a very good point you and your husband have been studying.   We too researched this term in the past.   Yes true, the traditional sources interpret "wusta" as 'middle' and thus explain it as Asr prayer.  But that interpretation is most likely not correct.  The Arabic word وسط 
(wasat) actually means balanced or excellent or best.  I think from the word 'balanced' the Arabic grammar has  deduced the term 'middle' (probably alluding to the concept of moderate).

Furthermore, those who claim Verse 2:238 refers to Asr prayer have taken it from a hadith (I don't know the particulars of that hadith) which mentions something to the effect that during the Battle of Trench everyone was so busy defending themselves from the enemy that the time for Asr prayer passed and the Muslims remembered it when the sun was about to set and subsequently the Prophet (pbuh) cursed the enemy forces for depriving everyone of "salat-al-wusta."   As we can gauge, this is no reliable evidence for a conclusion.  Also, even if anyone is convinced this hadith is authentic, there is no indication here  to determine Asr prayer as the most important of all.   As you rightly said, all 5 salats are very important for sure, no doubt about that.

All well-read sources and intelligent analysts are of the opinion that the term "wusta" (from root letters wst) in the Quran refers to 'excellent' or 'balanced.'   Also we must know that the word salawat (also contained in V.2:238)  is the plural of 'salat' (from root letters saad, laam, waw or ص.ل. و) which means "prayer, salutation, greeting and mercy".    Therefore, salawat refers to all prayers taken collectively.  It can be all 5 prayers of the day or the number of prayers a person has offered in a month or a year or throughout their lives.   So, in V.2:238 when Allah mentions that we must be mindful or guard the "salawat and the salat al-wusta" then in this Ayat "salat-ul-wuta" is a complimentary quality of the ideology of salawat or prayers - that is, the best, excellent and balanced salat as we must always offer.  In other words, "salat-al-wusta" is the excellent quality of every salat (or prayer) that a believer must remember and thus we must offer every salat with devotion and obedience standing before Allah (as confirmed in the last line of this Verse).   I repeat, 'salat-al-wusta' does not allude to a specific salat but to the beautiful quality of all salats.

Another point which would help as evidence to understand Verse 2:238 correctly is that according to all who are well-versed with Quranic grammar, the word "wal" in the Quran has two functions.  It can either be used for separately mentioning two different subjects or it can also be used for mentioning two different qualities of the same subject.   Get my point?    For example, take a look at Verse 4:113 as follows:

"wa-anzala  Allahu alayka al-Kitaba wal-hikmata ..."  (V.4:113)

"And Allah has revealed to you the Book and wisdom"  (Translation of V.4:113).

The words "al-Kitaba wal-hikmata ..." that is, "the Book and Wisdom .."  refers to the Quran.  It's the Quran that is the Book as well as the Widsom or the Book that contains Wisdom.  It would be wrong to presume that "Wisdom" refers to something else.    Similarly when Allah Almighty says in V.2:238  "al-salawati wal salati al-wusta" it refers to prayers (or all prayers) and the excellent quality or the merit of the prayer.  And for this reason we must offer our prayer with devotion and obedience.

Hope my explanation is clear.  And only Allah knows best.

The rules of Arabic grammar are different from English and other languages.  In fact the rules of grammar of all languages carry their own different styles.  Awareness of this point will further help to understand the Noble Quran.

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Zeynab
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« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2019, 11:26:12 am »



That's wonderfully explained dear Sister Heba.  I have read this Verse so many times and somehow it never struck me to probe into the translation.  Many thanks also to Sister Ruhi and her husband for bringing up this query.  It was very educational for me.  May The Almighty bless all of you.  Ameen.  May Allah The Almighty accept our efforts, ameen ya Allah.



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Heba E. Husseyn
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« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2019, 11:28:03 am »



A big welcome Sister Zeynab ......     Smiley
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Ruhi_Rose
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« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2019, 07:46:49 am »



Oh!  A ton of thanks dear Sis.  We knew something was amiss in most of those translations.  So, the real definition of "wusta" is 'excellent or best' and the translation 'balanced' represents the same positive aspect of the definition.   Right? 

Seems to me that the variation of 'middle' came about by stretching the meaning 'balanced' a bit too far.  I would understand that 'balanced' in explaining the Arabic term 'wusta' defines the all-inclusive ideology, a comprehensive concept, which is what salat is .. representing the complete code of laws as stated by The Almighty in the Noble Quran.  Plus, it also tests the extent of our commitment and the depth of our respect to Him.  All aspects taken together, it represents the excellence of salat.   It's the far stretched variation of 'balanced' that brings the idea of 'middle.'   So, when some translations mention it as "middle prayer" it's obviously taken as the Asr prayer which comes in the middle of the total 5 prayers of each day.  But certainly this isn't what V.2:238 means. 

From what I assume, the term "wusta" has been further extended in Urdu as 'connection' often pronounced as 'wasta.'  This ensues from the already broadened (and inaccurate) definition of "middle" where the word 'middle' is taken as a connecting source of any two things - persons, families, groups, institutions, countries, cities etc. 

Thanks again Sister Heba.   I'll share this with my husband right away, Insh'Allah.


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« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2019, 10:41:34 am »



From what I assume, the term "wusta" has been further extended in Urdu as 'connection' often pronounced as 'wasta.'  This ensues from the already broadened (and inaccurate) definition of "middle" where the word 'middle' is taken as a connecting source of any two things - persons, families, groups, institutions, countries, cities etc.   

Yes, right.

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« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2019, 02:13:14 pm »



Certainly a very useful thread for our readers.  Alhumdulilah.

Furthermore, hadith says that the last portion of V.2:238 - "and stand before Allah , devoutly obedient."- taught the Muslims not to speak or chat while offering salat. 

"In the life-time of the Prophet we used to speak while praying, and one of us would tell his needs to his companions, till the verse, 'Guard strictly your prayers (2.238) was revealed. After that we were ordered to remain silent while praying."  Hadith No: 292 - Actions while Praying (Sahih Bukhari), narrated by Zaid bin Arqam.

I know that this portion of the Verse emphasizes not to be distracted during prayers, and also there are many more Verses that emphasize the same.  Allah Almighty has underscored the importance of complete concentration during prayers and the sublime status of prayers throughout His Noble Message.  It's not just one Verse that highlights this aspect but many Verses.

For example  ..  .. 

“Verily, prayer restrains (oneself) from shameful and unjust deeds...”  29:45

“Without doubt, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction.”  13:28

“Successful indeed are the believers, who are humble in their prayers.”  23:12

“And perform prayer… surely the good deeds remove the evils deeds.”   11:114
 
“Seek help in patience and prayer.”    2:153

And enjoin upon thy people worship, and be constant therein.   20:132

Surely, success does come to the believers, Who are humble in their Prayers, And who shun all that which is vain, .... (23:2-4)


The following Verse denounces people who stand up to pray heedlessly and disrespectfully:

"When they stand up to worship they perform it languidly and to be seen of men, and are mindful of Allah but little;"   4:142

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Ruhi_Rose
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« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2019, 02:24:34 pm »



Right brother. 

Everyone knows that during salat we must silently focus on our recitation.  Our salat contains the original words of the Noble Quran.  While uttering the words of Allah The Almighty no one chats or talks nor glances around.   Verse 2:238 (Al-Baqrah) which commands and reminds the human society of respect and obedience during prayers was revealed in Medinah.  By that time the Muslims were well acquainted with the practice of offering salat.  While only Allah knows best, I don't think that it was as late as the Medinah period when the Muslims realized that they shouldn't be talking during prayers.   Verse 2:238 is yet another very important reminder to the ever-erring human community of planet earth.

The hadith institution is constantly in the habit of constructing its own stories by picking up Verses of the Noble Quran.


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« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2019, 02:28:10 pm »



 

............   Verse 2:238 (Al-Baqrah) which commands and reminds the human society of respect and obedience during prayers was revealed in Medinah.  By that time the Muslims were well acquainted with the practice of offering salat.  While only Allah knows best, I don't think that it was as late as the Medinah period when the Muslims realized that they shouldn't be talking during prayers.   Verse 2:238 is yet another very important reminder to the ever-erring human community of planet earth.

The hadith institution is constantly in the habit of constructing its own stories by picking up Verses of the Noble Quran.


Yes that makes sense. 

Unfortunately, the hadith does have that very stubborn habit.

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