The Middle Prayer
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

What is the true implication of the verse 238 of Sūrah Baqarah keeping in view the fact that it is placed among the verses relating to some instructions regarding divorce. Also, please inform me about the true meanings of the words ‘Salātu’l-Wustā’ (the middle prayer) used in the referred verse; some say it means Salātu’l-‘Asr and some declare it to be Salātu’l-Fajr.


The placement of 2:238 has generated a lot of debate among the exegetes. It reads thus:

حَافِظُوا عَلَى الصَّلَوَاتِ وَالصَّلَاةِ الْوُسْطَى وَقُومُوا لِلَّهِ قَانِتِينَ(٢٣٨:٢)

Guard strictly your prayers, especially the Middle Prayer; and stand before Allah in a devoutly. (2:238)

To me the most plausible opinion is that of Islāhī1  according to whom this verse is actually the last of the directives stated in Sūrah Baqarah regarding the Sharī‘ah that began with verse 177. Verse 177 also mentions the prayer. In this way, a section which began with the prayer also ends with it keeping in view its supreme importance in Islam.

The words ‘Salātu’l-Wustā’, in my opinion, do not connote  a specific prayer. They actually mean ‘Salātu’l-Wustā bayna’l-‘amal’. This implies every prayer that comes in between any activity. In other words, it does not connote any specific prayer but rather any prayer that might seem to interrupt some work/activity/routine one might be doing. Muslims are told to be specially mindful of such a prayer and to guard it with more diligence since one tends to be a little careless about such a prayer and is always thinking of postponing it.



1. For details, see: Islāhī, Amīn Ahsan, Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān, 2nd ed., vol. 1, (Lahore: Faran Foundation, 1986), p. 527

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