Question # 25: Can you please explain the number of rak’ahs offered by Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) (Sunnah Prayers) during each of the five daily prayers?


bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: Confirmed Rawatib (regularly-performed) salat by Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) were ten rak’ahs: two rak’ahs before the Fajr Prayer, two before the Dhuhr Prayer and two after it, two after the Maghrib Prayer, and two after the lsha’ Prayer. The unconfirmed rawatib (without equal regularity in performance) includes four rak’ahs are to be performed before the Dhuhr Prayer (instead of two), four rak’ahs before the ‘Asr Prayer, two rak’ahs before the Maghrib Prayer, and two rak’ahs before the Isha’ Prayer.

Long Answer: Voluntary prayers are performed in different forms, at different times, and still on different occasions. These forms of prayer include voluntary prayers which are performed regularly and those which are performed irregularly, as well as the Witr Prayer, the Duha Prayer, the Istikharah Prayer, prayer after ablution, the Eclipse Prayer, and the lstisqa’ Prayer.

Voluntary prayer is very important for the Muslim because what is deficient from the obligatory prayer – and much indeed this deficiency is – will be compensated through the prayers performed voluntarily. It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) that Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “The first thing for which a servant (of Allah) will be called for account on the Day of Resurrection is Prayer. If he performs it completely, (it will be recorded as perfectly performed), otherwise Allah, Glorified and Exalted be He, will say (to His angels), ‘See if My servant performed any voluntary (prayers).’ If there are any voluntary (prayers that he performed), He will say, ‘Complete with them (what he did not perform of) the obligatory (prayers)?” (Narrated by At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa’i) For this very important reason the Muslim is quite recommended to be keen on performing the voluntary prayers.

STRESSED SUNNAH PRAYERS (AS-SUNNAN AL-MU’AKKADAH)

First of all, the Muslim should know the voluntary prayers which are performed regularly and which are known as rawatib (regularly-performed). They are as follows: two rak’ahs before the Fajr Prayer, two before the Dhuhr Prayer and two after it, two after the Maghrib Prayer, and two after the lsha’ Prayer. This counts ten rak’ahs which are mentioned in the following narration on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar who said, “I remember ten (voluntary) rak’ahs from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم): two rak’ahs before the Dhuhr Prayer and two after it, two rak’ahs after the Maghrib Prayer, two rak’ahs after the Isha’ Prayer, and two rak’ahs before the Subh (Morning) Prayer.” (Narrated by AI-Bukhari, At-Tirmidhi, and others) These are the rawatib which are “confirmed”.

NON-STRESSED SUNNAH PRAYERS (AS-SUNNAN GHAIR AL-MU’AKKADAH)

Yet there are other rak’ahs which are attached to the pinpointed ten rak’ahs but without equal “confirmation” and regularity in performance as derived from the practical performance of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). These unconfirmed rawatib are (in addition to the first ones): four rak’ahs are to be performed before the Dhuhr Prayer (instead of two), four rak’ahs before the ‘Asr Prayer, two rak’ahs before the Maghrib Prayer, and two rak’ahs before the Isha’ Prayer. (‘Al-Fiqhul-Muyassaru minal-Qur’ani was-Sunnah’ by Muhammad M. ‘Abdul-Fattah)

Evidences:

Four rak’ahs are to be performed before the Dhuhr Prayer

‘A’ishah said, “The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) would not miss four rak’ahs before the Noon prayer and two before the Morning prayer.” (This hadith is saheeh. See Shaykh al-Albani, Saheeh Sunan Nasa’i. Recorded by Bukhari, Abu Dawood and Nasa’i)

Four rak’ahs before the ‘Asr Prayer

‘Ali said, “The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to pray four rak’ahs before the Afternoon (‘Asr) prayer. He would separate between them by (during the tashahhud) giving salutations upon the angels near (to Allah) and those who followed them of the Muslims and the believers.” (This hadith is hasan; See Shaykh al-Albani, Saheeh Sunan Tirmidhi. Recorded by Tirmidhi)

Ibn ‘Umar narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “May Allah have mercy on a person who prays four (rak’ahs) before the Afternoon (‘Asr) prayer.” (This hadith is hasan. See Shaykh al-Albani, Saheeh Sunan Tirmidhi. Recorded by Tirmidhi and Abu Dawood) (‘The Concise Presentation of the Fiqh of the Sunnah and the Noble Book by Dr. Abdul-Azeem Badawi)

Two rak’ahs before the Maghrib Prayer

Al-Bukhari records, from ‘Abdullah ibn Mughaffal that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Pray before maghrib, pray before maghrib,” and after saying it a third time, he said: “For whoever wishes to do so,” not wanting the people to take it as a sunnah. Ibn Hibban records that the Prophet prayed two rak’ahs before maghrib prayer. Muslim records that Ibn ‘Abbas said: “We would pray two rak’ahs before maghrib, and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) would see us but he would not order us to do so, nor would he prohibit us.”

Two rak’ahs before the Isha’ Prayer

‘Abdullah Ibn Mughaffal narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “Between the two calls, (Adhan and Iqama) there is a prayer. Between the two calls, there is a prayer.” Upon saying that a third time, he said, “For whoever wills (to pray it).” (Recorded by Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i and lbn Majah) (‘Fiqh Us-Sunnah’ by As-Sayyid Sabiq)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam