Malicious allegation about reducing prayer from fifty to five
Fatwa No: 326143

Question

Assalaamu alaykum. A disbeliever raised a question about the fact that the Muslims pray five times a day because of the hadith in saheeh Al-Bukhari in which it is mentioned that Allaah reduced 50 prayers a day to 5 prayers a day. In the end, the hadith states, “These are 5 prayers, and the reward is equal to 50 prayers, for my words does not change.” He said that if the word of Allaah does not change, then is the fact that He reduced the prayers from 50 to 5 not a change of word? Why is it that Allaah did not just say that you have to pray 50 as my word cannot be changed?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger. 

There is no contradiction in this hadeeth. Out of His all-inclusive mercy, Allaah, The Exalted, decreed that the obligatory prayers be reduced to only five prayers instead of fifty. Prayers were initially ordained as fifty prayers so that the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, would go back and forth and implore Allaah to reduce them, as learned from the famous story in this regard as a manifestation of the mercy and care of Allaah, The Exalted, for His slaves, by relieving them from the obligation of performing fifty prayers, praise be to Him.

As for the interpretation of the statement, 'My word does not change,' this word is that if you perform five prayers, you receive the reward of fifty. The divine word that does not change is that the reward of five will be equal to the reward of fifty, not that what is obligatory is fifty. Al-Qaari  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote, “... but they are fifty means like fifty prayers in reward ... It may also mean that Allaah decreed that the reward of the five obligatory prayers is equal to that of fifty prayers and that this decree does not change. It may also mean that Allaah decreed that the obligatory prayers are five instead of fifty and that this decree does not change...” [Mirqaat Al-Mafaateeh Sharh Mishkaat Al-Masaabeeh]

As the meaning of the hadeeth becomes clear to you, all seeming contradiction is removed; praise be to Allaah.

Allaah knows best.

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