The first person to offer the two rak’ats of Fajr salaat was Hadhrat Adam alayhis salaam. He was taken out of Paradise, which was illuminated, and sent into the world. When he arrived here it was night-time. This made him deeply anxious and distressed. Slowly it began to light up and subha sadiq appeared. Hadhrat Adam alayhis salaam felt revivified. Before sunrise he offered two rak’ats of salaat by way of thanksgiving. The first rak’at was for the dispelling of darkness and
the second in gratefulness of the daylight. Almighty Allah liked this prayer so much that He made the two rak’ats of Fajr salaat obligatory on the Ummat of Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam (E’nayah).
The first person to offer the four rak’ats of Zuhr salaat was Hadhrat Ibrahim alayhis salaam. The salaat was performed after successfully fulfilling the command of Almighty Allah and offering his son Hadhrat Ismail alayhis salaam for sacrifice. The first rak’at was performed to thank Almighty Allah for helping him overcome this difficult test; the second for substituting a ram (from Paradise) for Hadhrat Ismail alayhis salam; the third for the direct address he received from Almighty Allah, saying: “And We called out to him: “O Ibrahim! You have fulfilled the dream (vision)!” Verily! Thus We do reward the Muhsinun” (i.e. good-doers, who perform good deeds totally for Allah’s sake only, without any show off or to gain praise or fame etc. And do them in accordance to Allah’s Orders) (The Qur’an, As-Saffat 37:104-5). The fourth rak’at was performed to thank Almighty Allah for granting him such a patient child. Had Hadhrat Ismail alayhis salaam flinched, it would have been difficult for Hadhrat Ibrahim alayhis salaam to fulfil the command of Almighty Allah. Accordingly, after seeing the dream Hadhrat Ibrahim alayhis salaam consulted with his son: “O my son! I have seen in a dream that I must sacrifice you. So what do you think?” The son replied: “O my father! Do that which you are commanded, Insha’Allah, you will find me amongst the patient.” Almighty Allah liked this prayer of Hadhrat Ibrahim alayhis salaam so much that He made the four rak’ats of Zuhr salaat obligatory on the Ummat of Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam (E’nayah).
The first person to perform the four rak’ats of Asr salaat was Hadhrat Yunus alayhis salaam. Almighty Allah has reported his plea while inside the belly of the fish as follows: “But he cried through the darkness (saying): La ilaha illa Anta [none has the right to be worshipped but You (O, Allah), Glorified (and Exalted) be You above all that (evil) they associate with You]. Truly, I have been of the wrongdoers.” So We answered his call, and delivered him from the distress. And thus We do deliver the believers” (i.e. who believe in the oneness of Allah, abstain from evil and work righteousness)” (The Qur’an, Al-Ambiyya 21:87-88). After being taken out of the fish's belly, he offered thanksgiving prayer of four rak’ats for being freed from four states of darkness. Firstly, the darkness of the fish’s stomach; secondly, the darkness of the water; thirdly, the darkness of the clouds; and fourthly, the darkness of the night. Almighty Allah liked this prayer of Hadhrat Yunus alayhis salaam so much that He made the four rak’ats of Asr salaat obligatory on the Ummat of Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam (E’nayah).
The first person to perform the three rak’ats of Maghrib salaat was Hadhrat Dawood alayhis salaam. Prophets alayhis salaatu wassalam are innocent and do not commit sins. However, if they make any mistakes or errors, albeit slightly, they are duly admonished. Hadhrat Dawood alayhis salaam once happened to err. Subsequently, Almighty Allah pardoned him: “So We forgave him” (The Qur’an, Saad 38:25). By way of thanksgiving, Hadhrat Dawood alayhis salaam commenced four rak’ats of salaat. He had performed the first three rak’ats when contrition so overtook him, he was unable to proceedwith the fourth rak’at. Accordingly, he terminated the salaat after the first three rak’ats (Bazlul Majhood). Almighty Allah liked this prayer of Hadhrat Dawood alayhis salaam so much that He made the three rak’ats of Maghrib salaat obligatory on the Ummat of Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam.
There are two reports regarding the wisdom of the four rak’ats of Isha’ salaat. The first says that Hadhrat Musa alayhis salaam was the first person to perform this salaat. He had stayed with Hadhrat Shuayb alayhis salaam for ten years and was returning with his family to Misr (Egypt). While travelling he was besieged with four anxieties: first, his honourable wife was expecting; secondly, the journey was particularly lengthy; thirdly, he was concerned about the welfare of his brother Hadhrat Harun alayhis salaam; and fourthly, he was worried about his mortal enemy Fir’awn. With these four worries he was travelling and then they got lost which added to the distress. He walked in a perplexed state until they approached Mount Toor, standing on the right side facing the west. It was a dark and cold night. The honourable wife’s labour had begun, and the flint stone did not produce a spark. In this agonising and distressing situation, he saw a fire from Mount Toor. He told his family members to remain behind while he went to Mount Toor to collect some flames. When he reached Mount Toor he was favoured with the special privilege of conversing with Almighty Allah, Who said: “And when he came to it (the fire), he was called by name: “O Musa! Verily! I am your Lord! So take off your shoes, you are in the sacred valley, Tuwa. And I have chosen you. So listen to that which is inspired to you” (The Qur’an, Ta-Ha 20:11-13). This honour of talking to Almighty Allah removed from Hadhrat Musa alayhis salaam all four anxieties he had faced. Someone has aptly remarked: If I find you there is no illness, If I don’t, there is no cure.
It was Isha’ time when Hadhrat Musa alayhis salaam performed the four rak’ats of thanksgiving for the removal of all four anxieties. Almighty Allah liked this prayer so much that He made the four rak’ats of Isha’ obligatory on the Ummat of Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam (E’nayah).
According to the second report, the first perform to perform the four-rak’ats of Isha’ salaat was Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam (Bazlul Majhood).
-Abdur Rauf's 'Some Serious Mistakes in Salaat'