The Excellence of Optional Prayers (Sunnah Mu'akkadah) along with the Obligatory Prayers

 
1097. Umm Habibah (May Allah be pleased with her) the Mother of the Believers reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying, "A house will be built in Jannah for every Muslim who offers twelve Rak`ah of optional Salat other than the obligatory Salat in a day and a night (to seek the Pleasure of Allah).''
[Muslim].
Commentary: Tatawwu` means to offer more Nawafil (optional prayers) on one's own after performing the Faraid (obligatory prayers). Thus, this Hadith tells us the merits of optional prayers and holds promise of (Jannah) for those who make it a practice.
1098. Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: I performed along with the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) two Rak`ah of optional prayers before Zuhr and two after the Zuhr (noon prayer), and two after the Friday prayer, and two after the Maghrib (evening) prayer, and two after the `Isha' (night) prayer.''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: There are two kinds of Nawafil which are performed before or after the obligatory prayer. Firstly, the one which were performed by the Prophet (PBUH) more frequently. According to the present Hadith, their total comes to ten Rak`ah while in other Ahadith their total is twelve or fourteen Rak`ah. They are called Sunnah Mu'akkadah or As-Sunnan Ar-Rawatib That is, the Rak`ah which are proved from the saying and practice of the Prophet (PBUH) and which were performed by him usually. These are said to be Compulsory prayers. Secondly, such Nawafil which were not performed by the Prophet (PBUH) regularly. These are called Sunnah Ghair Mu'akkadah and are said to be Optional prayers. In any case, Nawafil have great importance in creating a special link between the worshipper and Allah, and for this reason the believers do not neglect them. But their status in Shari`ah is of Nawafil the performing of which is rewarding and omission of which is not sinful. One thing that should be borne in mind in respect of As-Sunnan Ar-Rawatib or Mu'akkadah is that it is better to perform them at home. This was the usual practice of the Prophet (PBUH), and this is what he ordained the Muslims.
1099.`Abdullah bin Mughaffal (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "There is a Salat (prayer) between every Adhan and Iqamah; there is a Salat between every Adhan and Iqamah.'' (While saying the same for the) third time (he (PBUH) added), "It is for him who desires (to perform it).''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: The two Adhan  here means Adhan and Iqamah, as has been elucidated by Imam An-Nawawi. That is, offering of two Rak`ah between Adhan and Iqamah is Mustahabb (desirable). It comes in the category of Ghair Ratiba or Ghair Mu'akkadah Nawafil. These Nawafil can be performed after the Adhan of every Salat before the congregation stands for the obligatory Salat.
 Emphasis on Performing two Rak'ah Sunnah before Dawn (Fajr) Prayer
1100. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) never omitted four Rak`ah prayer before the Zuhr prayer and two Rak`ah prayers before dawn (Fajr) prayer.
[Al-Bukhari].
Commentary: This Hadith tells us the practice of the Prophet (PBUH) in respect of the four Rak`ah Sunnah of Zuhr prayers and the two of Fajr prayers. He (PBUH) used to perform both regularly. Such Rak`ah are called Sunnah Rawatib or Sunnah Mu'akkadah (compulsory prayers).
1101. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) did not attach more importance to any Nawafil prayer than the two Rak`ah of prayer before dawn (Fajr) prayer.
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: This Hadith tell us about the special preparation which the Prophet (PBUH) used to make for performing the two Rak`ah of Fajr prayers.
1102. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) said, "The two Rak`ah before the dawn (Fajr) prayer are better than this world and all it contains.''
[Muslim]
   Another narration goes: "The two Rak`ah before the dawn (Fajr) prayer are dearer to me than the whole world.''
Commentary: This Hadith tells us the merits of the two Rak`ah of Fajr prayers.
All the Ahadith mentioned above prove that the two Rak`ah of Fajr are highly meritorious, and one should not show any slackness or negligence in offering them.
1103. Abu `Abdullah Bilal bin Rabah (May Allah be pleased with him) the Mu'adhdhin of Messenger of Allah (PBUH) reported: I went to inform the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) about the time of the dawn (Fajr) prayer, and `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) kept me busy and began to ask me about something till the day grew bright. Then I got up and informed the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) of the time of Salat. I informed him again but he did not came out immediately to lead As-Salat. When he came out, he led As-Salat. I said to him: `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) kept me busy and thus diverted my attention by asking about something and the morning grew bright. You also came out late. Upon that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "I was engaged in performing two Rak`ah of Fajr prayer.'' Bilal (May Allah be pleased with him)said: "O Messenger of Allah! You delayed As-Salat so long as the morning grew bright.'' He (PBUH) replied, "Even if the morning had become brighter than it had, I would have performed two Rak`ah of prayer in an excellent manner.''
[Abu Dawud].
Commentary: This Hadith also tells us about the importance of the two Rak`ah of Fajr prayers and stresses the need to perform them with full concentration.
 Briefness to be Adopted in Performing the two Rak'ah Sunnah before Fajr Prayer, their time and the Surah to recite in them
1104. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) used to perform two Rak`ah short prayer between the Adhan (call to prayer) and the Iqamah of the dawn (Fajr) prayers.
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
    In another narration, `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) said: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) used to perform two supererogatory Rak`ah prayer of Fajr and make them so short in duration that I used to think whether he (PBUH) had recited Surat Al-Fatihah (in it) or not.
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
   In the narration of Muslim, `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) said: When the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) used to hear the Adhan (of Fajr prayer) he would perform two supererogatory Rak`ah prayer and would make them short.
Commentary: "Takhfif'' here means that the Prophet (PBUH) used to shorten the standing, recitation, bowing, prostration, etc., in the two Rak`ah of Fajr prayer because soon after performing them he had to lead the Fajr prayer in which he would prolong his recitation. He would also offer these two Sunnah soon after the daybreak or Adhan, which gives an idea of the preparation he made for them.
1105. Hafsah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) used to perform two short Rak`ah prayer when it was dawn and the Mu'adhdhin had called Adhan (for the Fajr prayer).
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: This Hadith tells us that the two Rak`ah of Fajr prayer should be performed after the daybreak not before it. One should also be brief in these two Rak`ah so that he is active and alert for performing the Fard (obligatory prayer).
1106. Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) used to perform his optional night prayers at night, two Rak`ah followed by two Rak`ah, and at the end he would conclude with an odd Rak`ah (Witr). Then he would perform two Rak`ah prayer before the dawn (Fajr) prayer after hearing the Adhan, and he would make them so brief as if he could hear the Iqamah being called.
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: "As if he could hear the Iqamah being called'' here means that he would hasten the two Rak`ah of Fajr prayer to the point that one had the impression that he was hearing the voice of Iqamah and he was making haste for fear of missing of the Salat.
This Hadith also makes the following three points:
1.The optional prayer of the night should be offered in a series of two Rak`ah.
2.One Rak`ah of Witr is also correct.
3.The Sunnah of Fajr prayer should be offered soon after the Adhan, and one should be brief in them.
1107. Ibn `Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) used to recite during the two Rak`ah of Fajr prayer: "Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us...'' (2:136) which is in Surat Al-Baqarah in the first Rak`ah and the Verse: "We believe in Allah, and bear witness that we are Muslims (i.e., we submit to Allah.'' (3:52) in the second Rak`ah.
   According to another narration, he (PBUH) recited from Surat Al-`Imran the Verses: "Come to a word which is just between us and you...'' (3:64).
[Muslim].
Commentary: In the two Sunnah of Fajr prayer, the Prophet (PBUH) used to recite the two short Verses mentioned in this Hadith, after Surat Al-Fatihah.
1108. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) recited in the two supererogatory Rak`ah of the Fajr prayer Surat Al-Kafirun (No. 109) [in the first Rak`ah], and Surat Al-Ikhlas (No. 112) [in the second Rak`ah].
[Muslim].
1109.Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: I observed the Prophet (PBUH) for one month reciting in the two supererogatory Rak`ah of the Fajr prayer Surat Al-Kafirun (No. 109) [in the first Rak`ah], and Surat Al-Ikhlas (No. 112) [in the second Rak`ah].
[At-Tirmidhi].
Commentary: One can recite any Surah or Ayah in the two Sunnah of Fajr prayer, but if one recites the Verses mentioned in this Hadith, he will have the benefit of following the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH). Every Muslim should strive to follow the practice of the Prophet (PBUH) for the enrichment of his mind, soul and actions.
 
 Sunnah of Zuhr Prayer
1113. Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: I performed with the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) two Rak`ah before and two after Zuhr prayers.
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: This Hadith has already been mentioned. See Commentary on Hadith No. 1098.
1114. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) never omitted four Rak`ah supererogatory prayer before Zuhr prayers.
[Al-Bukhari].
Commentary: Some Ahadith state that he (PBUH) used to perform two Rak`ah before and two after Zuhr prayer. The present Hadith says that he used to perform four Rak`ah before Zuhr prayer. Both narrations are correct and can be followed according to conditions and circumstances.
1115. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: Whenever the Prophet (PBUH) stayed in my house, he would perform four Rak`ah (supererogatory prayer) before Zuhr prayer. Then he would go out and lead Salat. He (PBUH) would then come back and perform two Rak`ah (supererogatory prayer). He would lead the Maghrib prayer and come back and perform two Rak`ah (supererogatory prayer). When he (PBUH) had led the `Isha' prayer, he would enter the house and perform two Rak`ah (supererogatory prayer).
[Muslim]
1116. Umm Habibah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Whoever observes the practice of performing four Rak`ah before Zuhr prayer and four after the Zuhr prayer, Allah will shield him against the Fire (of Hell).
[Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi].
Commentary: This Ahadith mean that a person who follows this course of practice, will die as a Muslim and will not remain in Hell for ever like the Kuffar (infidels) unless Allah has forgiven all his sins for him and would, as a result, save him from Fire altogether. That is, Almighty Allah will not let him live in Hell for ever. According to some Ahadith, the fire of Hell will not touch him, which also amounts to saying that he will not be kept in Hell for all eternity. If a Muslim is liable to punishment, his stay in Hell - for a few days or weeks or months depending on the nature of his sins - is not a contravention of such Ahadith because he will ultimately be released from Hell and brought to Jannah. "Allah will shield him against the Fire'' should not be taken to mean that a Muslim will not be sent to Hell no matter what he does. If Almighty Allah does not forgive him in the very first instance, he will have to suffer the torment of Hell as long as He would like and then he will be sent to Jannah.
1117. `Abdullah bin As-Sa'ib (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) used to perform four Rak`ah prayer after the declining of the sun before Zuhr prayer and would say, "This is an hour at which the gates of heaven are opened, and I like that my good deeds should rise to heaven at that time.''
[At-Tirmidhi].
Commentary: The Prophet (PBUH) used to perform the four Rak`ah Sunnah of Zuhr prayer when the sun started declining. In fact, except for `Isha' prayer, he would perform every Salat at its early hours.
The phrase "the gates of heaven are opened'' to means that the good deeds that people do are lifted to heavens at that time.
1118. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: If the Prophet (PBUH) could not perform four Rak`ah before Zuhr prayer, he would perform them after it (i.e., after the obligatory prayer).
[At-Tirmidhi].
Commentary: This Hadith tells us about the preparation which the Prophet (PBUH) used to make for performing the Sunnah. Every Muslim should, therefore, make full preparation for performing Sunnah. If one is unable to perform it before the Fard prayer, then one must do it afterwards.
 Sunnah of the 'Asr Prayer
1119. `Ali bin Abu Talib (May Allah be pleased with him)reported: The Prophet (PBUH) used to perform four Rak`ah before the `Asr prayer, separating them with Taslim (i.e., offering blessings) on the favourite angels who are near Allah's proximity and the Muslims and the believers who come after them.
[At-Tirmidhi].
Commentary: The phrase "separating them with Taslim'' means that he would perform four Rak`ah in two couplets.
1120. Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) said, "May Allah have mercy on a man who performs four Rak`ah before the `Asr prayer.''
[Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi].
Commentary: These four Rak`ah can be performed in two couplets also, as was the practice of the Prophet (PBUH), according to the preceding Hadith. It can be performed with one Taslim also. Both forms are correct and permissible. Some scholars are of the opinion that the former method is better. `Ulama' have stated that these four Sunnah of `Asr prayer are Ghair Mu'akkadah (optional prayers). Its importance is however evident from the fact that the Prophet (PBUH) prayed for mercy on those who performed these Sunnah.
1121. `Ali bin Abu Talib (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) used to perform two Rak`ah before the `Asr prayer.
[Abu Dawud].
Commentary: We learn from this Hadith that one can also perform two Sunnah before `Asr prayer. But Sheikh Al-Albani has stated that the word "two Rak`ah" occurring in this Hadith is rare. Four Rak`ah are secure and should, therefore, be preferred.
 Sunnah of the Maghrib Prayer
[In the previous chapter, the practice of the Prophet (PBUH) has been reported by `Umar and `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with them) that he (PBUH) used to perform two Rak`ah Sunnah after the obligatory Maghrib prayer].
1122. `Abdullah bin Mughaffal (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) said, "Perform two Rak`ah before Maghrib prayer.'' He (PBUH) repeated it twice; when repeating it for the third time he added: "He who may so wish.''
[Al-Bukhari].
Commentary: This Salat means that the two Rak`ah are performed after the Adhan of Maghrib prayer but before the Fard Salat. This is elucidated by other Ahadith. Although this has the position of Sunnah Ghair Mu'akkadah, its importance is evident from the fact that the Prophet (PBUH) stressed it three times. Usually an order (Amr) signifies that the act is "essential" but here the decency embedded in the words "He who may so wish" has turned it to "desirable". In any case, inducement and stress of the Prophet (PBUH) on this Salat has left no room to doubt that it is desirable. Ahadith which follow lend further support to this contention.
1123. Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I saw the principal Companions of Messenger of Allah (PBUH) rushing to the pillars (of the mosque) to perform two Rak`ah prayers behind them before the Maghrib prayer.
[Al-Bukhari].
Commentary: "Rushing to the pillars" here refers to the haste which the Companions of the Prophet (PBUH) usually showed in occupying the place near the pillars to perform the two Rak`ah before Maghrib prayer. Thus, this Hadith confirms the practice of the Companions of the Prophet (PBUH) in respect of the two Rak`ah performed before Maghrib prayer.
1124. Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: In the lifetime of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH), we used to perform two Rak`ah (optional prayer) after sunset before the Maghrib prayer. It was asked: "Did Messenger of Allah (PBUH) perform them?'' He replied: "He saw us performing it, but he neither ordered us to perform them nor did he forbid us from doing so.''
[Muslim].
Commentary: This Hadith mentions the practice of the Companions of the Prophet (PBUH) in respect of two Rak`ah performed before Maghrib prayer. They sometimes performed these Rak`ah in the presence of the Prophet (PBUH). Thus according to the narration of Anas (May Allah be pleased with ihm) their being in practice is proved. But this statement of Anas is according to his own knowledge, otherwise, we have already seen a Hadith in which the Prophet (PBUH) stressed the need to perform them by way of inducement. Thus, it is proved by his speech as well.
1125. Anas bin Malik (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: When we were in Al-Madinah, the moment the Mu'adhdhin finished the Adhan of the Maghrib prayer, the people hastened to the pillars of the mosque and performed two Rak`ah prayer behind them. A stranger coming into the mosque would think that the obligatory prayer had already been performed because of the number of people performing them.
[Muslim].
Commentary: This Hadith shows that it was usual with the Companions of the Prophet (PBUH) to perform two Rak`ah before Maghrib in the Prophet's mosque. But in spite of this fact these are Sunnah Ghair Mu'akkadah while the two performed after the Salat are Sunnah Mu'akkadah.
 Sunnah of the 'Isha' Prayer
[Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) has narrated that he performed two Rak`ah after the Fard prayer of `Isha' with the Prophet (PBUH). `Abdullah bin Maghaffal has narrated that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) has said, "There is a Salat between every Takbir and Adhan.''
This proves that apart from the four Rak`ah Fard, there are also two Rak`ah Sunnah of the `Isha' prayer). See Ahadith No. 1098 and 1099.
 Sunnah of Friday Prayer
`Abdullah bin `Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: I performed along with the Prophet (PBUH) two Rak`ah (Sunnah prayer) after the Jumu'ah prayer.
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
1126. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him)reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "If anyone of you performs the Friday prayer, he should perform four Rak`ah (Sunnah) after it.''
[Muslim].
1127. Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) would not perform any Salat (in the mosque) after the Friday prayer till he had returned to his house. He would then perform two Rak`ah there.
[Muslim].
Commentary: In one Hadith, there is mention of four Rak`ah, while in the other it is mentioned as two Rak`ah. It can be deduced that both of these are acceptable. `Ulama' are of the opinion that one who performs them in the mosque, should perform four Rak`ah; whereas the one performing them at home, should perform two Rak`ah with one Taslim. It is better to perform them in twos as the Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said, "Perform the Nawafil of the day and night in twos.'' (Al-Bukhari).


 Desirability of offering Nawfil (Voluntary or Optional) Prayers at Home

 

 
1128. Zaid bin Thabit (May Allah be pleased with him)reported: The Prophet (PBUH) said, "O people! perform your (voluntary) Salat (prayers) in your homes because the best Salat of a man is the one he performs at home, except the obligatory Salat.''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: This Hadith tells us that the Nawafil and Sunnah prayers should be performed at home. It goes without saying that all the Fard constituents of every Salat are to be performed in the mosque (Masjid) in congregation. The order to perform the Nawafil prayers at home shows its merits. Firstly, it saves a person from showing off, and secondly, houses are blessed due to them.
1129. Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) said, "Observe part of the [Nawafil (voluntary)] Salat (prayers) in your homes. Do not turn your homes into graves.''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: "Observe part of the Salat (prayers) in your homes'' here means Nawafil and Sunnah. The houses in which Nawafil are not performed are like graveyards. Such houses are like graves which have no scope for action and worship and are thus deprived of their reward, which is a great deprivation indeed.
1130. Jabir (May Allah be pleased with him)reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "When you have finished your (Fard) Salat (prayer) in the mosque, you should observe some of your (Sunnah and Nawafil) Salat at home; Allah will bless your homes because of your Salat (in your homes).''
[Muslim]
Commentary: This Hadith has the same message which is conveyed by the preceding Ahadith namely that the Fard Salat should be performed in the Masjid (mosque) while some of the supererogatory, optional and voluntary prayers should be performed at home.
1131. `Umar bin `Ata reported that Nafi` bin Jubair sent him to Sa'ib bin Ukht Namir to ask him about something that Mu`awiyah had seen him doing in Salat (prayer). He said: "Yes, I performed the Friday prayer along with him in the enclosure (Maqsurah), and when the Imam concluded the Salat with Taslim, I stood up in my place and performed the Sunnah prayer. When Mu`awiyah went home, he sent for me (and when I came) he said: "Never do again what you have done. When you have observed the Friday prayer, you must not start another Sunnah prayer till you have spoken to some one or have shifted your place; because the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) ordered us not to follow up the congregational Salat with any other Salat until we have talked (to some one) or moved from the place."
[Muslim].
Commentary: "Maqsurah'' was an enclosure in a mosque or a place which was made there for the security of rulers. When Muslim caliphs and rulers used to perform their prayers in congregation, they would occupy this place. The word "Friday" (Jumu`ah) has been mentioned here because of the incident reported in it, otherwise, this order applies to every Salat and is not restricted to Jumu`ah alone. There is a standing order that one must separate the Fard and the Sunnah of a Salat by some means, like thikr, conversation, changing place of the Salat, going out of the Masjid, etc.,
 
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