Apart from the five obligatory prayers of Sub’hi, Zuhr, Asr’, Maghrib and Isha’i, there are also supererogatory prayers (variously referred to as nafl’, nawafil or nafila among others).
Thought they are optional, performing them definitely earns us extra reward.
According to Sahih Muslim, it is narrated by Ummi Habibah (RA) that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has said: “Any Muslim slave of Allah who prays for the sake of Allah 12 raka’ats every day other than the obligatory (prayers) Allah will build for him a house in Jannah.”
Some of the benefits of nawafil include: They bring more reward to Allah’s servant, as increasing voluntary prayers is the best of supererogatory acts after Jihad in the cause of Allah; they compensate and make up for any shortcoming or incompleteness in the obligatory prayers; they increase the light of Eeman (faith) in the heart, as each prayer brings light to the heart of Muslim.
And it is also narrated by Aaisha (RA) that the Prophet (SAW) said; “The two raka’at (Sunnah of Fajr prayer) are better than this world and what it contains.” – Sahih Muslim P251 V.1).
Although reciting the Fatiha in supererogatory prayers is acceptable, it is reported that Prophet Muhammad did recite ayah (verses) of the Glorious Qur’an after the Fatiha, and has been reported to consistently recite Surah Kafirun and Ikhlas in the two rakats of Raka’atanil Fajr respectively after the Fatiha. He was also known to recite long verses during the mid-night nawafil (Tahajjud or kiyam-u-lael).
Apart from the all-important Raka’atanil Fajr that is observed before the Sub’hi (Fajr) Salat, some other nawafil are listed below and they are inexhaustible.
Tahiyatul-Wudu: Two raka’ats after performing ablution. Abu Hurairah (RA) narrates that once Prophet Muhammad asked Bilal (RA) at Fajr Salat: O Bilal! Tell me that deed of yours which is most hopeful (for reward) after embracing Islam, for I heard your footsteps in front of me in Paradise (in my dream). Bilal replied: I have not done anything extraordinary except that whenever I perform Wudu during the day or night, I ‘salat’ (tahiyatul-wudu) after that, as much as was written or granted for me. (Sahih Bukhari).
Tahiyatul-masjid (Mosque greeting): Two raka’ats before one sits down or do other lawful activities in the mosque.
They should however not be performed during the improper (makruh) times (Especially when the sun rises, when it is at Zenith and when it sets.)
•Salat Zuhri: There are two/four rakats before and also after.
• Bayna-wa-bayna: Two/four raka’ats observed between the Zuhri and Asr.
• Salat Asr’: There are two/four rakats before.
• Salat Maghrib: There are two before and two/four and six after.
•Salat al-Awwabin (prayer of the Oft-Returning): two-six raka’ats between Maghrib and Isha’i prayer.
• Salat Isha’i: There are two/four before and two/four after (excluding the Shafu’i and Witri).
• Ishraaq: Two or four raka’ats to be offered 15 to 20 minutes after the sunrise.
Safar (journey): When one undertakes a journey he should offer two raka’ats at home before preceding and on return first go to the mosque and offer two raka’ats before coming home.
•Dhuha: Two to 12 raka’ats when the sun has risen high and there is heat in its rays.
•Many scholars have said that the commencement of the time of Dhuha is the same as that of Ishraaq (i.e. immediately after sunrise) and that if there is no time, one can perform the Ishraaq and Dhuha together.
*Some scholars however made a distinction between Al-Ishraaq and Dhuha saying Ishraaq is done after sun rise (around 15 minutes after) while Dhuha Prayer is done much later.
•Tawbah (forgiveness): Two/four rakats to seek forgiveness of Allah from sins. This can be recited after the taslim “Allah-humma innee atoobu ilaika minhaa laa arji-’u ilaihaa abadaa al – lah-humma maghfira-tuka aw-sa-’u min dhunoobee wa rahmatuka arjaa ‘indee min ‘amalee.” O Allah! Behold, I turn unto Thee from this (sin). I shall never return unto it. O Allah! Thy forgiveness is wider than my iniquities, and I have better hope in Thy mercy, than in my conduct.
•Salat-e-tasbih: Prophet Muhammad had taught these four rakats to his uncle Abbas and had said that by offering this Salat all your previous and future sins will be forgiven. If possible offer it daily, if not weekly, monthly or once in a year, if even this is not possible offer it at least once in one’s life time. The procedure for performing it is as follows:
1. ‘Subhanallah wal-hamdulillahi wala ilaha illallahu wallahu akbar’ is recited 15 times after reciting the Fatiha standing.
2. 10 times in ruku (25).
3. 10 times standing from the ruku before sujud (prostration) (35).
4. 10 times during the first sajdah (45).
5. 10 times sitting (after the first sajdah) (55)
6. 10 times in the second sajdah (65).
7. 10 times (stooping) before one rises for the second raka (75).
The same procedure is followed in the second, third and fourth rakats before the teslim (salamah).
•Salat-ul-Kusuf (prayer on a solar eclipse) and Salat-ul-Khusuf (Prayer on a lunar eclipse): The two are observed in similar way with two rakats each, but each of the rakats has two ruku’ (bowing) unlike the conventional one ruku applicable to other rakats of prayers.
Sheikh Salman al-Oadah while giving a summary of the hadeeth from of Aishh, Ibn Abbas, Jabir, and others said: “In the first unit of prayer, we recite Sûrah al-Fatihah, then follow it with the recitation of another very long chapter of the Qur’an. Then we bow for a protracted period of time and stand up a second time in the same unit of prayer to again recite Surah al-Fatihah (all aloud) and another long chapter before bowing a second time. Then, we complete the first unit of prayer as usual by offering two long prostrations. The same procedure is then repeated for the second unit of the eclipse prayer.”
•Istikhara (seeking divine guidance): Two rakats to seek good from Allah before one decides to take an important step or decision. The prayers to be recited are available in books.
•Hajat (seeking Allah’s Help): Two rakats for seeking Allah’s help when we need or wish to have something.
•Tahajjud (night prayer): Two to 10 rakats or more or less, and can be combine with Shafa’i and Witr especially at the third parts of the mid-night.
•Witr (odd): One rakat. Like the rakatanil-fajr is Sunnah Muakkadah (highly recommended sunnah). It can be combined by Tahajjud or observed after at least two rakats (known as shafu’i).
•Tarawwiy: This is observed during the blessed month of Ramadan and can replace Tahajjud observed after Isha’i.
•Salat al-Fath (victory prayer): Prophet Muhammad observed it in the morning he entered Makka (in Bukhari and Muslim) and this has become the Sunnah of Muslim military leaders upon entering a newly conquered region.
•Khawf (war prayer): It is actually not a supererogatory prayer but a substitute for the normal obligatory prayers during war (on battle fields) or extreme fear, but with two rakats only for Zuhr, Asr and Isha’i (like that of Qasri –travellers’ prayer).
•Salat al-Eidain (Eid prayers): These are Eid al-Fitr (celebrated after Ramadan) and Eid al-Adha (celebrated with slaughtering of specified animals during the month of Hajj). Both the Eids are collectively known as Eidain (two celebrations).
The two rakats of the Eidain are observed with the first rakat beginning just like all other prayers, by the Takbiratul-Ihram, then by making seven more takbirat (totalling eight); and in the second rakat, making five more takbirat after the takbir of standing (totalling six).
•Istisqa (Prayer for rain): Two rakat observed during drought like the Eidain. The Imam however is recommended to recites surah al-A’la after al-Fatihah. And in the second rak’ah, he recite al-Ghashiyah after al-Fatihah, and he delivers a khutbah before or after the salah. As soon as he finishes the khutbah, the people present should turn their outer garments around, each placing its left side on his right side and its right side on his left, face the qiblah, supplicate Allah and raise their hands while doing so.
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