We saw in verse 6:160 above that Muhammad was following the order of Abraham. The Reading is not a new revelation or a new guidance from God. It is the same set of decrees prescribed to Abraham and Moses. The essence of all the Scriptures is the same.
In-naa haza lafi suhufil ulaa, suhufi ibrohim wa-musaa. (87:18-19)
Indeed, this is what is in the Scriptures of old, the Scriptures of Abraham and Moses. (87:18-19)
We have seen that Abraham used the word Sol-laa in his own language, Moses in his and Jesus in his. The word Sol-laa appears for the first time in the Reading at 2:2-3:
That book is infallible, a guide for those who are observant, they believe in the unseen and uphold their commitments (Sol-laa-ta) and from Our provisions to them they give. (2:2-3)
The word Sol-laa at the beginning of surah 2 refers to those who are observant and believe in the unseen God. They are committed to the tenets in the Quran and they are charitable to others. This is part of their commitment. Reading further, one sees verses detailing additional commitments. 2:4 says, ‘They believe in what was revealed to you from your Lord, and what was revealed before you, and they are positively certain about the Hereafter’. We should also note: it also says ‘those who believe in the previous Scripture’ which means, there is a link between the Reading and the previous revealed Books.
Those who believe that the Reading is from God are committed to accepting the whole of it. The word Sol-laa in verse 2:3 cannot mean ritual prayer because we cannot do charity through ritual prayers and we do not believe in God’s books through ritual prayers.
If we believe the Scripture, we will see all the prescribed decrees in the Book. With God’s blessing, He will open up our hearts to peacefulness when our hearts say, ‘We hear and we obey’. That is the moment when we enter into agreement with God:
You shall be appreciative of God’s blessing upon you and uphold the covenant He has made with you when you said, “We hear and we obey.” You shall observe God, and God is fully aware of your innermost thoughts. (5:7)
We do not see our Creator, but the Reading says His power is able to know our innermost thoughts. The moment our heart says we hear and we obey to His prescribed way we have agreed to uphold our Sol-laa.
Recite what is revealed upon you from the Scripture and uphold the commitments (or to what you have committed to i.e the revealed tenets you read from the scripture). Surely your commitments will keep you from evil and it is also for the remembrance of God, which is even greater. (29:45)
The explanation in the bracket is my own. God assures us in 29:45 that if we recite His Scripture and commit ourselves to the values prescribed by Him – it will keep us from doing bad things or getting involved in evil works. It is a method of remembering Him, which is a great achievement. In other words, one way of remembering God is through upholding our commitments of the Quranic teachings and keep the teachings pure at all time – maintain such attitude as an ongoing process as a way of life ‘from sunrise to sunset and during parts of the night’. For as long as we remember Him we are committed to doing good deeds in our lives.
You shall uphold what was prescribed to you, and also those who repented with you, and not transgress. Indeed, He knows whatever your deeds are, watching. Do not incline to those who are wicked. That will make you suffer the Fire. And there is none for you except God as a protector and you will not be helped. And uphold your commitments (aqimi-Sol-laa-ta) through the ends of the day and the parts from the night. Indeed the good deeds nullify the bad. That is the remembrance for those who want to remember. You shall be steadfast. God never fails to reward the righteous. (11:112-115)
The meaning of Sol-laa in the above verses is crystal clear. It has nothing to do with ritual prayers. The Sol-laa is to be observed as a means of remembering our Lord the Creator and to commit ourselves to doing good deeds which will obviously nullify all the negative elements in our life. There is nothing magical about the process.