يسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
والحمدلله لله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على أشرف الأنبياء والمرسلين
In the name of God, the Most Merciful the Most Compassionate
All praise and thanks be to God, and may peace and blessings be upon the most noble of Prophets and Messenger
The “nawafil” are the non-obligatory prayers that the Prophet (pbuh) would pray. They have tremendous virtue, but before we commence discussion on the nawafil, a more important topic should be addressed, and that is the prayer itself.
The prayer of five different people
Prayer is center to our lives because it connects us to God. Allah prescribed to us 5 daily prayers so that we are constantly reminded of our purpose and what is important. It could have been that we are commanded to pray for one hour in the morning and we would be done for the day. Yet the prayer is spread out in our day, so that whatever we are doing, we go back to Allah. If we are at work, and it is time for dhuhr, we stop to remember God. Before we leave work, and are tired after the long day, we remember Allah during asr. When we get home, again we pray maghrib. Before we sleep, we remember Allah again by praying isha. During the night, we interrupt our sleep to pray fajr.
Yet we will all be at varying degrees in our khushoo’ (devotion). The following describes 5 types of people when they pray:
1- People who pray late, perform the actions of prayer incorrectly (due to laziness and not because they were taught wrongly or don’t know better), and perform their wudhu incorrectly.
These people are punishable by Allah.
2- People who pray more or less on time, who perform the wudhu and outward actions of prayer correctly, but their hearts are absent and they do not have khushoo’ internally. These people have performed the obligation of prayer but are not rewarded, because we are rewarded according to our devotion.
3- People who pray on time, who perform the wudhu and outward actions of prayer correctly, and their khushoo’ fluctuates during the prayer. They have khushoo’ sometimes, then get distracted, then fight the whispering of shaitan and have khushoo’, then get distracted again in a cycle. These people get two rewards; the reward for the parts of the prayer which they had khushoo’, and reward for their jihad against the shaitan.
4- Those who do all of the above but with excellent khushoo’- they get distracted minimally . These people are given the reward for their prayer in full.
5- People who are so devoted in their prayer and so immersed in the conversation they are having with their Lord that their soul is no longer with them, but is with God.
There are certain things that can help with khushoo’. One is to leave a sin that we are persisting with and repent, as this sometimes causes a barrier between us and Allah. Second is to understand what we are doing and the significance of our words and actions. These are two very brief points as the topic of khushoo’ is quite vast and needs more than one article!
Our Prophet (pbuh) was so connected to Allah that he taught us different prayers for everything; if we need to make a decision, we pray istikhara. If we have need, we pray salaat al-haaja (the prayer of need). There is a special eid prayer. There is a special prayer for when a person passes away. And there is even a prayer for when we see a solar or lunar eclipse. He taught us to constantly turn back to Allah. Here we will be discussing some of these nawafil and their virtues.
The rawatib are the sunnah prayers we pray alongside our fardh (obligatory) prayers.
The Prophet (pbuh) said:
“Whoever prays twelve rak’ahs during the night and day, a house will be built for him in Paradise: four before dhuhr and two after, two rak’ahs after maghrib, two rak’ahs after ‘isha’ and two rak’ahs before fajr prayer” (tirmidhi)
Imagine having a house built in Paradise for you, a house that is unlike any you have seen in this dunya and better than it.
And specifically about the two rak’as before fajr, the Prophet (pbuh) said: “The two rak’as before fajr are better than the entire dunya and what is in it” (muslim)
It was reported that the Prophet (pbuh) would always pray the sunnah of fajr even when he was traveling. Aisha (ra) also reported that these prayers were short.
Sunnan ghayr mu’akkadah
These sunnah prayers were prayed sometimes by the Prophet (pbuh).
– Four rak’as before asr. The Prophet (pbuh) said: “May Allah have mercy on a person who prays four rak’as before asr” (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Ahmad)
– Two rak’as before maghrib. The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Pray 2 rak’as before maghrib, pray 2 rak’as before maghrib, pray 2 rak’as before maghrib” and then he said “for whoever pleases” so that people would not take it to be an obligatory act. (Bukhari)
The witr prayer is considered a sunnah mu’akkada (a confirmed sunnah), which means the Prophet (pbuh) never left it, as opposed to the category above. “Witr” literally means one or odd number. He (pbuh) said about the witr prayer, “Allah is Witr and loves what is Witr. So perform Witr prayer. O followers of Qur’an, observe Witr (prayer).” (tirmidhi, abu dawud) “Allah is Witr” means He is One in Attributes and Actions and has no equal.
Ali (ra) said that the Prophet (pbuh) never left it no matter the situation. It was reported that the Prophet (pbuh) would wake up Aisha (ra) to pray the witr (muslim).
As for when the witr prayer is to be prayed, the Prophet (pbuh) said: “He who apprehends that he may not get up in the later part of the night, should observe the Witr prayer in the first part of it; and he who is certain to get up in the last part of it, he should observe Witr at the end of the night, because prayer at the end of the night is attended (by the angels), and that is better.” (muslim) It is reported that Abu Bakr (ra) would pray in the beginning of the night for fear of not waking up, while Umar (ra) would pray at the end of the night.
These are two ways in which to perform witr depending on which opinion you follow:
1- Three rak`ahs exactly as we perform the Maghrib Prayer (Hanafi School)
2- One sole rak’a of witr, which is usually preceded by two rak`ahs (called al-shaf’), unless one is praying in the last part of the night and has no time for the 2 rak’as shaf’. (Maliki school and others)
Sometimes we find ourselves in a distressing situation, and we do not know what to do. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “Whoever is in need of something, then let them perform ritual ablutions well and then pray two rak’as. After that, let them praise Allah and send blessings on the Prophet (pbuh). After this, let them say,
لا إِلَهَ إِلا اللَّهُ الْحَلِيمُ الْكَرِيمُ
سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَرْشِ الْعَظِيمِ
الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِين
أَسْأَلُكَ مُوجِبَاتِ رَحْمَتِكَ وَعَزَائِمَ مَغْفِرَتِكَ وَالْغَنِيمَةَ مِنْ كُلِّ بِرٍّ وَالسَّلامَةَ مِنْ كُلّإِثْمٍ
لا تَدَعْ لِي ذَنْبًا إِلا غَفَرْتَهُ وَلا هَمًّا إِلا فَرَّجْتَهُ وَلا حَاجَةً هِيَ لَكَ رِضًا إِلا قَضَيْتَهَا يَا أَرْحَمَ الرَّاحِمِينَ
There there no god but Allah the Forbearing and Generous.
There is no god but Allah the High and Mighty.
Glory be to Allah, Lord of the Tremendous Throne.
All praise is to Allah, Lord of the worlds.
I ask you (O Allah) everything that leads to your mercy, and your tremendous forgiveness, enrichment in all good, and freedom from all sin.
Do not leave a sin of mine (O Allah), except that you forgive it, nor any concern except that you create for it an opening, nor any need in which there is your good pleasure except that you fulfill it, O Most Merciful!” (Tirmidhi)
Thereafter one should make passionate du’a for the fulfillment of his need.
We are always faced with decisions, big and small. The Prophet (pbuh) advised us to pray istikhara for any of these decisions, regardless of whether it is for marriage or which jacket to buy. The Prophet (pbuh) said: ‘If any one of you is concerned about a decision he has to make, then let him pray two rak’ahs of non-obligatory prayer, then say:
Allaahumma inni astakheeruka bi ‘ilmika wa astaqdiruka bi qudratika wa as’aluka min fadlika, fa innaka taqdiru wa laa aqdir, wa ta’lamu wa laa a’lam, wa anta ‘allaam al-ghuyoob. Allaahumma fa in kunta ta’lamu haadha’l-amra (then the matter should be mentioned by name) khayran li fi deeni wa ma’aashi wa ‘aaqibati amri faqdurhu li wa yassirhu li thumma baarik li fihi. Allaahumma wa in kunta ta’lamu annahu sharrun li fi deeni wa ma’aashi wa ‘aaqibati amri fasrifni ‘anhu [wasrafhu ‘anni] waqdur li al-khayr haythu kaana thumma radini bihi
(O Allaah, I seek Your guidance [in making a choice] by virtue of Your knowledge, and I seek ability by virtue of Your power, and I ask You of Your great bounty. You have power, I have none. And You know, I know not. You are the Knower of hidden things. O Allaah, if in Your knowledge, this matter (then it should be mentioned by name) is good for me in my religion, my livelihood and my affairs, then ordain it for me, make it easy for me, and bless it for me. And if in Your knowledge it is bad for me and for my religion, my livelihood and my affairs, then turn me away from it, [and turn it away from me], and ordain for me the good wherever it may be and make me pleased with it.” (Bukhari)
Sometimes we need to make a decision on the spot and have no time to pray; in this case, we can just say the du’a mentioned above or the following du’a:
Allahuma khir-ly wa ikhtarly
“O Allah, choose and select for me [the better of the two things]” (tirmidhi)
Salaat al-dhuha can be prayed from 20 minutes after fajr until about 20 minutes before dhuhr. As such it is such a simple prayer because we have the choice of performing it in such a wide margin of time. You can pray 2, 4, 6 or 8 separate rak’as for dhuha.
The Prophet (pbuh) said, “In the morning, charity is due on every joint bone of the body of everyone of you. Every utterance of Subhan Allah is an act of charity, and every utterance of Al-hamdu lillah is an act of charity and every utterance of declaration of La ilaha illAllah is an act of charity; and enjoining M`aruf (good) is an act of charity, and forbidding Munkar (evil) is an act of charity, and two Rak`ah Duha prayers which one performs in the forenoon is equal to all this (in reward).” (muslim)
Abu Hurayra (ra) also said: My close beloved friend (khalil- the Prophet (pbuh)) directed me to fast three days of each month, and to observe two Rak`ah Duha (optional prayer) at forenoon, and to perform the Witr prayer before going to bed. (bukhari/muslim)
Allah (swt) said in the Quran:
“O you [Prophet], enfolded in a cloak! Stay up throughout the night, all but a small part of it., half or a little less, or a little more.; recite the Quran slowly and distinctly: We shall momentous message down to you. Night Prayer makes a deeper impression and sharpens wods – you are kept busy for long periods of the day – so celebrate the name of Your Lord and devote yourself wholeheartedly to Him.” [Surat Al-Muzzammil, 73:1-8]
Praying tahajjud at night is one of the most beautiful prayers because you are waking up when most people are sleeping, to talk to and ask of Allah. In a hadith qudsi, it is reported that Allah descends to the lowest heaven during the last third of the night, inquiring: ‘Who will call on Me so that I may respond to him? Who is asking something of Me so I may give it to him? Who is asking for My forgiveness so I may forgive him?’ [Bukhari]
The Prophet (pbuh) said about Abdullah bin Umar (ra): “What an excellent man `Abdullah is! If only he could perform optional prayers at night.” Salim said that after this, (his father) `Abdullah slept very little at night. (Bukhari, Muslim)