Fatwa ID: 04688
Answered by: Maulana Yusuf Zaman
Where did the number of rakaats come from?
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
“When the prayers were first enjoined they were of two Rakat each. Later the prayer in a journey was kept as it was but the prayers for non-travellers were completed. (Bukhari)
عن ابن عباس قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أمني جبريل عليه السلام عند البيت مرتين فصلى بي الظهر حين زالت الشمس وكانت قدر الشراك وصلى بي العصر حين كان ظله مثله وصلى بي يعني المغرب حين أفطر الصائم وصلى بي العشاء حين غاب الشفق وصلى بي الفجر حين حرم الطعام والشراب على الصائم فلما كان الغد صلى بي الظهر حين كان ظله مثله وصلى بي العصر حين كان ظله مثليه وصلى بي المغرب حين أفطر الصائم وصلى بي العشاء إلى ثلث الليل وصلى بي الفجر فأسفر ثم التفت إلي فقال يا محمد هذا وقت الأنبياء من قبلك والوقت ما بين هذين الوقتين
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: Jibraeel (peace be upon him) led me in prayer at the House (i.e. the Ka’bah). He prayed the Zuhr prayer with me when the sun had passed the meridian to the extent of the lace of a sandal; he prayed the Asr prayer with me when the shadow of everything was as long as itself; he prayed the Maghrib prayer with me when one who is fasting breaks the fast; he prayed the Esha prayer with me when the twilight had ended, and he prayed the Fajr prayer with me when food and drink become forbidden to one who is keeping the fast.
On the following day, he prayed the Zuhr prayer with me when his shadow was as long as himself; he prayed the Asr prayer with me when his shadow was twice as long as himself; he prayed the Maghrib prayer at the time when one who is fasting breaks the fast; he prayed the Esha prayer with me when about a third of the night had passed, and he prayed the dawn prayer with me when there was a fair amount of light.
Then turning to me he said: Muhammad, this is the time observed by the prophets before you, and the time is anywhere between these two times. [Abu Dawud]
The number of Raka’as of each prayer is known through the narrations of the companions who spent many years praying behind the Prophet. This knowledge about the prayers was brought to us in the same way the Qur’an was brought to us. So, the prayers were brought to us for generations after generations. No one has ever doubted this whether a knowledgeable person or a normal person from the public.
Only Allah Knows Best
Written by Maulana Yusuf Zaman
Checked and Approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham