This is the fourth installment from a series of posts aimed at making The Ultimate Conspectus accessible to readers who have never read fiqh before.
The original meaning of the word “ṣalāt” is supplication (“dūʿa”). Its technical meaning in the books of fiqh is a set of actions and utterances that begins with saying, “Allāhu akbar,” and ends with saying, “al-salāmu ʿalaykum,” performed according to specific conditions.
The textual foundation for the obligation to pray comes from the Quran and Sunnah. Allah Most High says, “…Indeed, prayer has been decreed upon the believers a decree of specified times,” [Q4:104.] The Prophet ﷺ said, “Islam is based on five pillars: testifying that there is no deity except for Allah and that Muḥammad is the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, establishing prayer, offering zakāt, performing Ḥajj, and fasting Ramaḍān.” Prayer is also mentioned in the well-known hadith where Jibril (peace be upon him) came to the Prophet ﷺ and asked about the practices and beliefs of Islam (islām and īmān), and about its perfection (iḥsān) and the signs of the Final Hour (ʿalmāt al-ṣāʿah). When asked about Islam, he ﷺ mentioned prayer and the remaining five pillars.