Section 8: The Times of the Daily Prayers
فَاصْبِرْ عَلَي مَا يَقُولُونَ وَسَبّـِحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبّـِكَ قَبْلَ طُلُوعِ الشَّمْسِ وَقَبْلَ غُرُوبِهَا وَمِنْ ءَانآئِ اللَّيْلِ فَسَبّـِحْ وَأَطْرَافَ النَّهَارِ لَعَلَّكَ تَرْضَي
130. “So be patient with what they say, and glorify your Lord by praising Him before the rising of the sun and before its setting, and during (some) hours of the night also glorify (Him) and during parts of the day, that you may be pleased.”
This verse, similar to verse No. 45 from Surah Al-Baqarah, No. 2, which says:
invites the Prophet (S) to patience and praise of the Lord. Of course, the addressee of the verse is apparently the Prophet (S), but it is evident that the content of the verse is for all.
Allah has enjoined the Prophet (S) to patience in nineteen occurrences of the Qur’an.
According to some traditions and the viewpoint of some commentators, this verse adapts to the statutory prayers; and the objective meaning of ‘during parts of the day’, mentioned in the verse, is the daily supererogatory prayers.
However, the verse, addressing the Prophet of Islam (S), implies: now that these wrong doers are not to be punished at once, he should be patient with them.
The verse says:
So, in order to strengthen the spiritual conditions of the Prophet (S), and to comfort him, He commands him to glorify his Lord through prayers.
The verse continues saying:
This commandment was for the sake that the Prophet’s heart might not be worried because of their hurtful sayings. No doubt, this glorification and praising was a struggle against polytheism and idolatry, accompanied with patience before the ill-speaking and evil words of the polytheists.
وَلاَ تَمُدَّنَّ عَيْنَيْكَ إِلَي مَا مَتَّعْنَا بِهِ أَزْوَاجاً مّـِنْهُمْ زَهْرَةَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا لِنَفْتِنَهُمْ فِيهِ وَرِزْقُ رَبّـِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَي
131. “And do not stretch your eyes to that thing which We have given parties of them to enjoy; (this is) the splendour of the life of the world that We may try them in it; and the provision of your Lord is better and more lasting.”
There has been narrated a tradition from Imam Sadiq (as) who said:
“Whoever longs for the people’s help, his sorrow will prolong and his rage will remain.”1
The Qur’an considers the wealth of the world as goodness, virtue, and adornment and counts the enjoyment of it lawful and permissible, yet it condemns intensive love unto it, because the life in this world is like a bud or a blossom, which has a short lifetime and, with a faint wind or breeze easily vanishes.
In this verse the Prophet (S) has been ordered some instructions which are completive to the statement of patience that was mentioned in the previous verse. These instructions, in fact, are for all Muslims.
At first, it says:
Yes, these worldly bounties are temporary and unstable. They are blossoms of the life of this world, the blossoms which soon open, and fade soon and fall on the ground. They remain stable only for a few days.
The verse says:
In the meantime, all these are for that they may be tried by them. The verse continues saying:
And, however, whatever Allah has provided as sustenance for you is better and is more lasting. The verse says:
Allah has bestowed on you kinds of bounties and graces, including: Faith and Islam, the Qur’an and Divine Signs, lawful and pure provisions, and finally, the permanent blessings of the Hereafter. These provisions are stable and everlasting.
وَأْمُرْ أَهْلَكَ بِالصَّلاَةِ وَاصْطَبِرْ عَلَيْهَا لاَ نَسْأَلُكَ رِزْقاً نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُكَ وَالْعَاقِبَةُ لِلتَّقْوَي
132. “And bid your family to pray and be constant therein. We do not ask you sustenance, (but) We give you sustenance, and the (good) end is for (the people of) righteousness.”
A considerable number of Islamic traditions indicate that after the revelation of this verse, for several months the Prophet (S) used to knock at the door of the house of Ali (as) and Fatimah (as), and loudly said: /as-salat/ (prayer), then he began reciting the verse of sanctification.23
Whenever the life of the Messenger of Allah (S) was straitened, he recited the above-mentioned verse and then he told his family members to establish prayer.4
The Qur’anic phrase /’istabir ‘alayha/ (be constant therein) means that you should be severe and constant both on keeping prayer and bidding others to it.
In order to comfort the Prophet (S), and to strengthen his heart, in this verse the Qur’an says:
The reason of it is that, this very prayer, for you and your household, is the source of sanctification, serenity of the heart (mind), strengthening of the spirit, and duration of the remembrance of Allah.
Then, the verse adds:
This prayer does not increase anything to the greatness of Allah, but it is a great capital for the development of men and a high training class for them.
And, at the end of the verse, it continues saying:
That which that will remain with Allah (s.w.t.) and its end is useful, constructive, and enlivening is piety and righteousness. Finally, the pious people are victorious and impious ones are condemned to failure.
وَقَالُوا لَوْلاَ يَأْتِينَا بِاَيَةٍ مِن رَّبّـِهِ أَوَ لَمْ تَأْتِهِم بَيّـِنَةُ مَا فِي الصُّحُفِ الأُولَي
133. “And they said: ‘Why does he not bring us a sign (a miracle) from his Lord?’ Has there not come to them a clear proof of what is in the former Books?”
This verse points to one of the pretexts of the disbelievers. They said why the Prophet (S) did not bring a miracle for them as they themselves liked.
Then, the holy Qur’an immediately answers this question, implying that whether the clear news of the former nations, which had been mentioned in the former Divine Books, did not come to them that they repeatedly did pretext and asked for bringing miracles, and after when they saw those miracles they continued their disbelief and rejections for which the grievous punishment of Allah encompassed them.
Do they not know that if they pave the same way they will confront the same fate?
The verse continues saying:
Yes, there is the quality of the stubborn and proud persons that they put aside the clear existing proofs and miracles of the Qur’an and obstinately expect another miracle.
وَلَوْ أَنَّآ أَهْلَكْنَاهُم بِعَذَابٍ مِن قَبْلِهِ لَقَالُوا رَبَّنَا لَوْلآ أَرْسَلْتَ إِلَيْنَا رَسُولاً فَنَتَّبِعَ ءَايَاتِكَ مِن قَبْلِ أَن نَذِلَّ وَنَخْزَي
134. “And had We destroyed them with a punishment before him (the Messenger), they would certainly have said: ‘Our Lord! Why did You not send us a Messenger so that we might have followed Your Signs before that we were humiliated and disgraced.”
The mission of the prophets to prophethood has been for completing the argument so that people may not pretext their own unawareness. Therefore, these seekers of pretexts are not some people who seek the Truth.
They are ceaselessly in the thought of seeking a new pretext, even in a state that, as Allah says:
But, now that this great holy Prophet (S) with this magnificent Book, the Qur’an, has come to them, every day they express a new vain statement and, in order to escape from the truth, they bring a new excuse.
قُلْ كُلٌّ مُّتَرَبّـِصٌ فَتَرَبَّصُوا فَسَتَعْلَمُونَ مَنْ أَصْحَابُ الصّـِرَاطِ السَّوِيِّ وَمَنِ اهْتَدَي
135. “Say: ‘Each one (of us) is awaiting, therefore do await, then soon you will come to know who is the follower of the straight and even way, and who is guided’.”
The holy Prophet (S) is a missionary of warning. Therefore, in this verse the Qur’an implies that he should tell them that all of you and us are waiting. We are awaiting for the promises of Allah about you, and you are awaiting that difficulties and calamities surround us.
The verse says:
Now that the case is like that, the verse continues saying :
And, by this decisive and expressive sentence, he concludes his speaking here with these obstinate and disbelieving seekers of pretexts.
In short, since this Surah was sent down in Mecca, at the time when the Prophet of Islam (S) and the Muslims were under a harsh pressure from the side of the enemies of Islam, at the end of this Surah through some revelations Allah comforts them. Sometimes He says that the wealth and properties of the disbelievers, which are the fleeting capitals of this world and are given to them for their trial, should not attract your eyes to themselves.
Sometimes He orders them to establishing prayer and being constant in order to strengthen their spiritual power in front of the mass of their enemies.
And, at last, He gives glad tidings to the Muslims that if this group do not believe, such people will have an evil and dark fate, for which hey must wait.
However, the objective meaning of the Qur’anic phrase /’ashab-us-sirat-is-sawiy/ mentioned in the holy verse is the immaculate Imams and the purpose of the phrase /man-ihtada/ is their helpers.5
Imam Kazim (as), upon the commentary of the last part of the verse, said:
“The straight path is the path of our Qa’im (as), and the guided one is he who may be guided to obeying him.”6
O’ Lord! Set us among the guided ones and the people of the straight path!
O Lord! Do bestow on us that power and bravery that we be afraid of neither the mass of enemies nor do we fear from the dreadful events and difficulties!
O Lord! Make separate the spirit of obstinacy and seeking pretexts from us and bestow on us the succour of accepting the Truth.