Interpretation of Sura Cow - Verse 238
238. " Guard your prayers, and (especially) the middle prayer and stand devoutly before Allah."
Occasion of Revelation
At the time of revelation of the Divine Messages, a group of hypocrites did not participate in congregational prayer under the pretext of the hot weather in order to disturb the order of the rows of Muslims. Tracing and following them, some of the true Muslims did not take part in the congregational prayer, either. The Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) was annoyed about it so that he threatened them with a probable intense heavenly punishment.
So, as it is narrated in a tradition, in the extraordinary hot middays of summer, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) performed the prayer (midday prayer) in congregation. That prayer was the most grievous canonical prayers for the companions of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) so that it happened that usually there stood no more than one or two lines of them behind the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) for midday prayer. In that circumstance, he (p.b.u.h.) said he had decided to burn the houses of those who did not participate in their prayer there. Then the verse was revealed and the importance of the noon prayer (in congregation) was emphasized thereby.
The importance of the prescribed daily prayers, especially the midday prayer, is emphasized repeatedly in the verses of the Qur'an, for prayer is the most effective factor in the connection of man with Allah. As an instance, in the above verse it says:
" Guard your prayers, and (especially) the middle prayer ..." The verse recommends to stand humbly, and truly obedient, before the Lord.
"... and stand devoutly before Allah." Beware that the heat and the cold of weather, or the engagements of the world, such as: wealth or wife and children, do not hinder you from this great duty. The purpose of /salat-il-wusta/ (the midmost prayer) is the very 'midday prayer'.
The Arabic term /wusta/, used in the above verse, means: ' middle, or the best, or the most excellent '. Commentators differ as to the exact meaning of this phrase. The weight of the authorities seems to favour interpreting it as the 'asr or the midday prayer, since it is mostly neglected and yet it is most necessary to remember Allah in the midst of the worldly engagements.
Adapted from the book: "The Light of The Quran - Interpretation of Sura Al-Baqarah (The Cow)" by: "Sayyid Kamal Faghih Imani and A Group of Muslim Scholars"
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