The Meaning of Salat

by Simone Jamila

The meaning of l-salat

I do not agree with the understanding that l-ṣalata means prayer or 5 daily prayers. I have found the word ‘connection’ fits better and that there are rituals to follow before we أَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ (establish the connection), which in turn will lead to following, reading, and implementing the Qur’an. 

In most Lexicons the root word Sad-Lam-Waw = prayer, honour, magnify, follow closely, to remain attached. In a horse race when the second horse follows the first one so closely that its head always overlaps the first horse’s body that horse is called AL-MUSSALLI (i.e., the one who follows closely / remains attached). 

This is the basic meaning according to: The Arabic English Lexicon by E.W Lane.  Keep in mind that we must also determine meaning according to context. The meaning to “follow closely” in my opinion does not do the word l-ṣalata justice, I feel the word translates better as connection like a bond. Does the word prayer fit in every instance? Does it make sense in every occurrence?

There are components to أَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ (establishing l-ṣalata), one being a ritual wash (5:6) which purifies us before we settle down to study, call out, and humble ourselves before إِلَٰهَ.

 5:6 is very specific, and by no means is a normal way of washing.  For instance, how is im’saḥū = WIPING over our heads and feet going to make us clean? Some say that we are told to fa-igh’silū = WASH.  This is false, the word is to wipe not to wash.

إِلَٰهَ tells us why we need to taṭhīran (purify) ourselves in this manner, and the situations that necessitate this ritual cleansing.  In 4:43 إِلَٰهَ also points out, that you must know what you are saying, so speaking clearly is important to reading or reciting the Qur’an, which would need a clear head, and of course it would make sense to be clean – if you smell bad who is going to listen to you?

The reading/recitation of the Qur’an is at the two edges of the day, near to the night.  إِلَٰهَ  directs us in 4:103 that l-mutaqīna (those who are conscious of Him) “aqimi l-ṣalata (establish connection) by reading, mawqūtan at (fixed times).

These ayatin specifically mentions times and names:

17:78 – qur’āna l-fajri: reading at dawn.

24:58 – ṣalati l-fajri: dawn reading/recital. ṣalati l-ʿishāi: late evening, dusk reading/recital.

51:18 – a time of asking for forgiveness (du’a). 113:1 – seeking refuge.

16:98 – seeking refuge before reading/reciting the Qur’an.

It might be worth pointing out that Scientist and Doctors agree that we are predisposed to perform rituals, and that some rituals are good for our mental wellbeing. Simple rituals like brushing our teeth every morning, making our bed, the list is endless, so it would make sense for there to be a ritual component to performing l-ṣalata(the connection): for the sole purpose of, remembering رَبَّنَا (our Lord), to increase our guidance, and not to forget our servitude toward this world and our communities: as we can be greedy, forgetful, and ever so contentious! Surat Al-Kahf: 54

 2:45 – ” And seek help through patience and salaat and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive.”

The above ayatin suggest that it is not so easy to perform salaat, and that the Book is a clear guide for l-mutaqīna = those who are conscious of (Him). 

To conclude: the ayatin below gives me the complete understanding of how and why we must “aqimi l-ṣalata (establish the connection), not only to ut’lu (Recite) the Book and proclaim the message, but to also do righteous deeds and obey إِلَٰهَ commands and directives, in order to l-dhik’ra l-lahi, remember our Lord / رَبَّنَا (rabbanā)  and to keep us from l-munkari (wrong doings), and l-faḥshāi (immorality).

 29:45 – “Recite what has been revealed to you of the Book THUS aqimi l-ṣalata (the connection). Salat precludes indecency and wrongdoing. And remembrance of Allah is greater still. Allah knows what you do.”


  1. Does salat mean connection?
    When all occurrences are checked solaa (and its derivatives) this meaning has to be shoehorned and simply does not fit in some verses e.g 4.101, 2.157 etc.

    Also the spelling of Allah in Arabic differently is odd, especially as the proper word exists and is used in the Quran.

    Is the purpose not to get back to the original Quran text rather than new innovations?

    This writer is making assertions without any support.

    • Peace and greetings! Thank you for taking the time to read! The Arabic is just another style no mystery to it! Paigham I did not think you would agree as you do not believe in the ritual washing let alone reading at the two edges of the day! ☮️🌈🤓

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