As Salamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu
As-Salat (the Prayer)
Muqatil bin Sulaiman said: “Salat (prayer) was established as an obligatory ritual at an early stage of the Islamic Call, a two rak‘ah (unit of prayer) Salat in the morning and the same in the evening;
“And glorify the praises of your Lord in the ‘Ashi (i.e. the time period after the mid-noon till sunset) and in the Ibkar (i.e. the time period from early morning or sunrise till before mid-noon).” [Surah Ghafir 40:55]
Ibn Hijr said: “Definitely the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) used to pray before ‘The Night Journey’ but it still remains a matter of controversy whether or not the prayer was established as an obligatory ritual before imposing the rules of the usual five prayers a day. It is related that obligatory prayer was established twice a day, in the morning before sunrise and after sunset. It is reported through a chain of narrators that when the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) received the first Revelation, Gabriel - the angel, proceeded and taught him how to observe Wudhu (ablution). When the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) had finished, he took a handful of water and sprinkled it on his loins.
Ibn Hisham reported that when it was time for prayers, the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) and his Companions went into a mountain valley to pray secretly. Abu Talib once saw the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) and Ali praying, he asked them what they were up to. When he got to know that it was obligatory prayer, he told them to stay constant in their practice.
The Quraishites Learn About The Call
This stage of the Call, even though conducted in a clandestine manner and on an individual basis, its news leaked out and assumed a public interest all over Makkah. In the beginning, the Makkan leaders did not care much about Muhammad (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) and took no heed of his teachings. At first, they thought that Muhammad (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) was merely a religious philosophist like Omaiyah bin Abi As-Salt, Quss bin Sa‘idah, ‘Amr bin Nufail and their ilk who used to philosophize on godship and religious obligations. But this attitude of indifference soon changed into real apprehension. The polytheists of Quraish began to watch Muhammad’s movements closely and anxiously for fear of spreading his Call and producing a change in the prevalent mentality.
For three underground years of activism, a group of believers emerged stamped by a spirit of fraternity and cooperation with one definite objective in their mind: propagating and deeply establishing the call unto Islam. For full three years Muhammad (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) had been content to teach within a rather narrow circle. The time had, however, come to preach the faith of the Lord openly. The angel Gabriel had brought him down a further Revelation of Allah’s Will to confront his people, invalidate their falsehood and crush down their idolatrous practices.