Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 2: Supererogatory Prayers
Volume 2, Page 1a: Their significance
At-tatawwu', or nawafil or supererogatory prayers, have been legislated to make up for any deficiencies left in the performance of fard salah (obligatory prayers). In salah, there are virtues that are not found in any other form of worship. Abu Hurairah reports that the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam said: "The first thing that the people will be called to account for on the Day of Resurrection will be the prayers. Our Lord will say to the angels although He knows better: 'Look into the salah of my servant to see if he observed it perfectly or been negligent in it. So if he observed it perfectly it will be recorded to his credit, but if he had been negligent in it in any way, Allah would say: See if My servant has any supererogatory prayers. Then if he has any supererogatory prayers, Allah would say: Make up the deficiency in My servant's obligatory prayer with his supererogatory prayers.' Thereafter all his actions will be examined in like manner" (Abu Dawud).
Abu Umamah narrates that the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam said: "Allah does not listen to anything from His slave as He does to the two rak'at (of prayer) that he offers. Mercy descends over the servant's head as long as he remains in prayer" (Ahmad and at-Tirmizhi). As-Sayuti grades it sahih. In al-Muwatta', Malik says: "It has reached me that the Prophet said: '(Try to) keep to the straight path although you won't be able to do so completely; and know that the best of your deeds is the salah, and only a (true) believer preserves his wudu.'" Muslim records from Rabi'ah ibn Malik al-Aslami that the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam said: "Ask (anything)." Rabi'ah said: "I ask of you to be your companion in paradise." The Prophet said: "Or anything else?" Rabi'ah said: "That is it." The Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam said to him: "Then help me by making many prostrations (i.e., supererogatory prayers)."Volume 2, Page 2: Offering Supererogatory Prayers in One's House
Ahmad and Muslim relate from Jabir that the Messenger of Allah said: "If one of you offers his prayers in the Mosque then he should make a portion of his prayers in his house, as Allah has made his prayers in his house a means of betterment (for him)."
Ahmad records from 'Umar that the Messenger of Allah said: "The nawafil salah of a man in his house are a light; whoever wishes should lighten up his house."
'Abdullah ibn 'Umar reports that the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam said: "Make some of your prayers in your houses and do not turn your houses into graves." This statement is related by Ahmad and Abu Dawud. Abu Dawud records from Zaid ibn Thabit on sound authority that the Messenger of Allah said: "A person's salah in his house is better than his salah in my mosque, except for the fard salah."
These hadith prove that it is preferred to say one's nawafil prayers in one' s house since prayers in one ' s house are better than those that he performs in the mosque. An-Nawawi says: "The Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam encouraged one to offer nawafl in one's house because then the prayers are more private and will have less of a chance of being done for show and will be free from defects that vitiate good deeds. Furthermore, this will be a blessing for the house as mercy and angels will descend on it while Satan flees from it."Volume 2, Page 2a: Supererogatory prayers, their Elongation
It is preferred to prolong the reciting by making many rak'at. The group, except for Abu Dawud, reports that al-Mughirah ibn Shu'bah said: "The Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam would stand and pray until his feet or shanks swelled. When he was asked about it, he said: 'Should I not be a thankful slave?"' Abu Dawud records from 'Abdullah ibn Hubshi al-Khath'ami that the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam was asked: "What is the best deed?" He said: "Prolonging the qiyam; (standing) [in the prayer]." Then it was asked: "What is the best charity?" He replied: "The sacrifice made by one who has little to give." Then it was asked: "What is the best migration?" He responded: "The migration from what Allah has forbidden." Then it was asked: "What is the best jihad?" He replied: "Whoever strives against the polytheists with his wealth and soul." They asked: "What is the most honorable death?" He answered: "He whose blood is spilled and whose horse is wounded."Volume 2, Page 3: It is allowed to make supererogatory prayers while in julus (sitting)
It is acceptable for one to make nawafil while sitting even though he has the ability to stand. It is also acceptable for one to make part of such prayers sitting and part of them standing even if all of that is in one rak'ah, (i.e., one sits for part of the first rak'ah and then stands for the rest of it, or vice versa). All of that is acceptable without any dislike for it. One may sit in any manner one likes although it is preferable to sit cross-legged. Muslim records that 'Alqamah asked 'Aishah: "How did the Prophet perform two rak'at while sitting?" She replied: "He would recite while sitting and then when he wished to make ruku', he would stand and bow." Ahmad, Abu Dawud, at-Tirmizhi, an-Nasa'i, and Ibn Majah record that she said: "I never saw the Messenger of Allah ever sitting while reciting during the night prayer until he became old, then he would sit until when about thirty or forty verses were left of his recital then he would stand, finish the recital and make ruku'..."Volume 2, Page 3a: Different Types of Nawafil
Nawafil may be divided into two types: general and specific prayers. The nawafil are said to be those prayers which are in addition to the fard salah, as prayed by the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam.
An-Nawawi says: "If one decides to make nawafil prayers and he does not make any intention concerning the number [of rak'at] he shall make, then he may end the prayer after one rak'ah or make it two rak'at or increase it to three or one hundred or one thousand, and so forth. If he prays a number of [rak'at], without knowing how many, and then ends the prayer his salah will still be valid." There is no difference of opinion on this. The Shaf'iyyah are in agreement with it and there is a text attributed to ash-Shaf'i on this point.
Al-Baihaqi records with a chain of narrators, that Abu Zharr prayed many rak'at and then concluded his salah. Al-Ahnaf ibn Qais asked him: "Do you know if you finished on an odd or an even number?" He replied: "Even if I do not know, Allah knows. I heard my friend Abu al-Qasim say: 'No slave makes a sajdah to Allah without Allah raising him a degree and wiping out one of his sins due to it."' This is related by ad-Darimi in his Musnad with a sahih chain, but it should be noted that there is a difference of opinion over the integrity of one of its narrators.
The specific nawafil prayers are referred to as al-sunan ar-ratibah, or the sunnah prayers that have a specific order, number, and so on. These include the sunnah prayers of fajr, zuhr, 'asr, maghrib, and 'isha.Volume 2, Page 4: The Two rak'at of Fajr
There are a number of hadith that state the virtues of observing the sunnah prayer at dawn time. For example: 'Aishah relates that the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam said about the two rak'at before the fajr "They are dearer to me than the whole world." This is related by Ahmad, Muslim, and at-Tirmizhi. Abu Hurairah reports that the Prophet said: "Do not leave the two rak'at of the fajr, even if you are being attacked by a cavalry." This is confirmed by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, al-Baihaqi, and at-Tahawi. The message of the hadith is that one should not leave the two rak'at of the fajr no matter what the excuse, even while under enemy attack or under most trying conditions. 'Aishah says: "The Messenger of Allah was not so particular about observing any supererogatory prayer as he was in observing the two rak'at before salatul fajr." This is related by al-Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad, and Abu Dawud. She also reports that the Prophet said: "The two rak'at of the fajr are better than this world and all it contains." This is reported by Ahmad, Muslim, at-Tirmizhi, and an-Nasa'i. Ahmad and Muslim also record that she said: "I have never seen him [the Prophet] more in haste to do a good deed than he was to perform the two rak'at before the morning [prayer]."Volume 2, Page 4a: To Make Them Quickly
It is well-known that the Prophet would make a very short recital in the two rak'at before the dawn. Hafsah reports: "The Prophet would pray the two rak'at of fajr before the dawn in my house and he would make it very quick." Naf'i states: "Abdullah [Ibn 'Umar] would also make it very quickly." This is related by Ahmad, al-Bukhari, and Muslim. 'Aishah narrates: "The Prophet would pray the two rak'at before the dawn prayer in my house so quickly that I wondered if he had recited the Fatihah in them or not." This is related by Ahmad and others. She also said: "When the Prophet prayed the two rak'at before the dawn prayer I estimated the time that he took in recital was like what it takes to recite al-Fatihah. This is related by Ahmad, an-Nasa'i, al-Baihaqi, Malik, and at-Tahawi. It is preferred to recite what has been related from the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam: 'Aishah reports that the Prophet would silently recite the following in the two rak'at before salatul fajr
"Say: O disbelievers," and "Say: He is Allah, the One."
This is related by Ahmad and at-Tahawi. He would recite them after al-Fatihah as there is no prayer without the recital of al-Fatihah, as we have already discussed. She also reports that the Prophet said: "These are the two most blessed surahs," and he would recite them in the two rak'at before salatul fajr. This is related by Ahmad and Ibn Majah. Jabir relates that a man stood to pray the two rak'at before the dawn prayer and recited "Say: O disbelievers!" in the first rak'ah until he finished the surah. The Prophet said: "That slave knows his Lord." In the second rak'ah he recited: "Say: He is Allah, the One"...to the end of the surah. The Prophet said: "That slave (of Allah) believes in his Lord." Talhah said: "I love to recite these two surahs in these two rak'at." This is related by Ibn Hayyan and at-Tabarani. Ibn 'Abbas reports that the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam would recite the following in the two rak'at before the dawn prayer: "Say: We believe in Allah and what has been revealed to us,"' and from surah al-Imran, 'Come to common terms as between us and you.' This is related by Muslim.Volume 2, Page 5: First rak'ah of fajr
In the first rak'ah, after al-Fatiha, he would recite the verse: "Say: We believe in Allah, and the revealation given to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob and the tribes, and [in what] was given to Moses and Jesus, and what was given to the Prophets, from their Lord and we do not differentiate between any of them. And we are Muslims."Volume 2, Page 5a: Second rak'ah of fajr
In the second rak'ah he would recite: "Say: O People of the Book, come to a statement that is common between us and you; that we shall not worship any save Allah and we shall not associate any partners with Him and we shall not take others as Lords besides Allah. And if they turn away then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered unto Him."
He also reports, in a version recorded by Abu Dawud, that in the first rak'ah the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam would recite: "Say: We believe in Allah..."
In the second rak'ah he would recite: "But when Jesus became conscious of their disbelief, he cried: 'Who will be my helpers in the cause of Allah?' The disciples said: 'We will be Allah's helpers. . . ' "
From the report of 'Aishah, mentioned earlier, it is concluded that it is permissible just to recite al-Fatihah in each rak'ah.Volume 2, Page 6: Supplication after finishing the two sunnah rak'at before the fajr prayer
An-Nawawi says in al-Azhkar. "It is related in the book of Ibn as-Sanni from Abu al-Malih (whose name was 'Aamr ibn Usamah) on the authority of his father that his father had prayed the two rak'at of the dawn [before salatul fajr] and the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam was praying the two rak'at close to him, and he heard the Prophet say, while sitting:
'O Allah, Lord of Jibrail, Israfeel, Mikail, and Muhammad, the Prophet, I seek refuge in Thee from the Fire,'"...three times.
He also records from Anas that the Prophet said: "Whoever says, on Friday morning before the salatul fajr,
'I seek the forgiveness of Allah, there is no other god except Him, the Living, the Sustaining, and I repent unto him,' three times, Allah will forgive his sins even if they were as abundant as the foam on the sea."Volume 2, Page 6a: Lying down after the two sunnah rak'at of fajr
'Aishah says: "After the Prophet had prayed the two [sunnah] rak'at of the fajr, he would lie down on his right side." This is related by the group. They also record that she reported: "After the Messenger of Allah had prayed the two [sunnah] rak'at of the fajr, he would lie down if I was asleep or would talk to me if I was awake."
There is quite a difference of opinion over this point. Apparently, it is preferred for one to do so if one prays these sunnah rak'at in one's house and not in the mosque. Ibn Hajar says in Fath al-Bari: "Some of the early scholars were of the opinion that it is preferred to do so if one prays in one's house rather than in the mosque." This has been recorded from Ibn 'Umar. Some of our scholars reinforce this argument by stating that there is no evidence that the Prophet ever did so in the mosque. It has also been authentically recorded from Ibn 'Umar that "he would throw pebbles at anyone who did so in the mosque," and this was related by Ibn Abi Shaibah. Imam Ahmad was asked about it and he said: "I do not do it but if a person does it, it is good."Volume 2, Page 7: Belated performance of sunnah rak'at of fajr
Abu Hurairah reports that the Prophet said: "Whoever fails to pray the two [sunnah] rak'at of the fajr until the sun rises, [he should then] pray them." This is related by al-Baihaqi. About its chain an-Nawawi says it is good.
Qais ibn 'Umar relates that he went to the dawn prayer and found the Prophet praying fajr. Although Qais had not prayed the sunnah prayer, he joined the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam and prayed with him. When he had finished salatul fajr, he prayed the two rak'at (sunnah) prayer. The Messenger of Allah passed by him and inquired: "What is this prayer?" Qais then informed him of all that had happened. The Prophet kept silent and did not say anything. This is related by Ahmad, Ibn Khuzaimah, Ibn Hibban, at-Tirmizhi, Abu Dawud, and Ibn Majah. Al-'Iraqi says its chain is hasan.
Ahmad, al-Bukhari, and Muslim relate from 'Imran ibn Hussain that, during a journey, the Prophet slept past the time of salatul fajr and when he woke he waited for the sun to rise a little and then he ordered the mu'zhzhin to make the azhan. Then, the Prophet prayed the fajr sunnah, after which he ordered the iqamah to be made and prayed salatul fajr. It is apparent from this hadith that one is to make up the sunnah prayer before or after the sun rises, regardless of whether only sunnah prayer is missed or both sunnah and fard are missed, and whether there is a valid excuse or not. It may be made up by itself or with the obligatory dawn prayer.Volume 2, Page 7a: The Sunnah Prayer Of Zuhr
It has been related that the sunnah rak'at at zuhr are four, six, or eight.Volume 2, Page 7b: Reports concerning four rak'at
Ibn 'Umar said: "We observed and preserved from the Prophet ten rak'at [of sunnah prayers]: two before zuhr and two after it, two after maghrib in his house, two after 'isha in his house and two rak'at before the fajr." This is related by al-Bukhari.
Al-Mughirah ibn Sulaiman reports that he heard Ibn 'Umar say: "The Prophet never left the two rak'at before zuhr and two rak'at after it, two rak'at after maghrib, two rak'a~ after 'isha and two rak'at before fajr." This is related by Ahmad with a good chain.Volume 2, Page 8: Reports concerning six rak'at
'Abdullah ibn Shaqiq said: "I asked 'Aishah about the prayer of the Prophet and she said: 'He would pray four rak'at before zuhr and two after it."' This is related by Ahmad, Muslim, and others.
Umm Habibah bint Abu Sufyan reports that the Messenger of Allah said: "Whoever prays twelve rak'at during the day and night will have a house built for him in paradise: four rak'at before zuhr and two after it, two rak'at after maghrib, two rak'at after 'isha, and two rak'at before fajr." This is related by at-Tirmizhi who called it hasan sahih. Muslim reports it briefly.Volume 2, Page 8a: Reports concerning eight rak'at
Umm Habibah reports that the Prophet said: "Whoever prays four rak'at before zuhr and four after it, Allah will forbid that his flesh be in the fire." This is related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, an-Nasa'i, Ibn Majah, and at-Tirmizhi who calls it sahih.
It is related that Abu Ayyub al-Ansari would pray four rak'at before zuhr. The people said to him: "You made that prayer continue too long!" He said: "I saw the Messenger of Allah doing so. I asked him about it and he said: 'It is a time in which the doors of the heavens are opened and I wish that my good deeds be raised (to heaven) during it.'" This is related by Ahmad with a good chain.Volume 2, Page 8b: The merits of four rak'at before zuhr
'Aishah said: "The Prophet never left praying four rak'at before zuhr and two rak'at before fajr under any circumstances." This is related by Ahmad and al-Bukhari. It is also related from her that during those four rak'at, he would prolong the qiyam [the portion in which one recites the Qur'an] and perfect the ruku' and sujud therein.
There is no contradiction between the hadith of Ibn 'Umar, which states that the Prophet prayed two rak'at before zuhr, and other hadith which state that the Prophet prayed four rak'at before zuhr. Ibn Hajar writes in Fath al-Bari: "It is better to take them as describing different circumstances, sometimes he prayed two rak'at and sometimes he prayed four rak'at. Some say that it may be construed that if he prayed them in the mos que , he prayed only two rak'at, and when he prayed in his house, he prayed four rak'at. On the other hand, it could imply that he prayed two rak'at in his house and then went to the mosque and prayed two rak'at there also. Ibn 'Umar only saw what he prayed in the mosque and not what he prayed in his house, while 'Aishah was aware of both of them. The first interpretation is strengthened by what Ahmad and Abu Dawud recorded from 'Aishah, namely, that the Prophet prayed four rak'at in his house before zuhr and then he went to the mosque."
Abu Ja'far at-Tabari says: "Most of the time he prayed four rak'at and occasionally he prayed two rak'at."
If one prays four rak'at before or after the noon prayers, it is preferred to pray them in two sets consisting of two rak'at each, although it is permissible to make them together with only one taslim at the end of the four rak'at, as the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam said: "The prayers of the night and day are (sets of) two [rak'at]." This was related by Abu Dawud with a sahih chain.Volume 2, Page 9: Making up the missed sunnah of zuhr
'Aishah reports that if the Prophet missed the four rak'at before zuhr, he would pray them afterward. This is related by at-Tirmizhi who calls it hasan ghareeb. Ibn Majah records that she said: "If the Prophet missed the four rak'at before zuhr, he would pray them following the two rak'at after zuhr."
The preceding is concerned with making up the sunnah prayers that one is to pray before zuhr. Concerning making up the two rak'at after zuhr, we have the following reports as recorded by Ahmad.
Umm Salamah says: "The Prophet prayed zuhr and then he received some wealth and he sat to distribute it [and continued to do so] until the mu'azhzhin made the azhan for 'asr. He prayed 'asr and came to me, as it was my day, and he prayed two quick rak'at. I said: 'What are those two rak'at, O Messenger of Allah? Have you been ordered to perform them?' He said: 'No, they are the two rak'at that I perform after zuhr but I was busy distributing this wealth until the azhan was made for 'asr and I hated to miss them.'" This is related by al-Bukhari, Muslim, and by Abu Dawud in somewhat different wording.Volume 2, Page 9a: The sunnah of maghrib
It is sunnah to pray two rak'at after maghrib. Earlier we mentioned that Ibn 'Umar narrated that the Prophet would not miss them. As to their content, it is preferred to recite, after al-Fatihah: "Say: O Disbelievers," and "Say: He is Allah, the One," in the sunnah prayer after salatul maghrib.
Ibn Mas'ud says: "I cannot count how many times I heard the Messenger of Allah recite, in the two rak'at after maghrib and in the two rak'at before fajr 'Say: O disbelievers,' and 'Say: He is Allah, the One.'" This is related by Ibn Majah and at-Tirmizhi. The later grades it hasan.
It is preferred to pray this sunnah prayer in one's house. Mahmud ibn Labid reports that the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam prayed maghrib with the tribe of 'Abd al-Ashhal. After he made the taslim, he told them: "Perform these two rak'at in your houses." This is related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, at-Tirmizhi, and an-Nasa'i. We have already mentioned that the Prophet prayed them in his house.Volume 2, Page 10: The sunnah of 'Isha
We have already mentioned the hadith which record that the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam prayed two rak'at after 'isha.