SUNNAH AND NAFL SALAAH
1. At fajr time, it is sunnah to offer two rakaats of salaah before the fard salaah. These two rakaats have been emphasized greatly in the Hadith and should not be left out at any time. If on some day, it gets extremely late and very little time is left for the salaah, then at such a time of necessity; one should only offer the two rakaats of fard salaah. However, when the sun rises considerably, then one should make qada of the two rakaats of sunnah.
2. At zuhr time, one should first offer four rakaats of sunnah, then the four rakaats of fard and again two rakaats of sunnah. These six rakaats of sunnah are also necessary. There is great importance in offering them and it is a great sin to leave them without any valid reason.
3. At asr time, one should first offer four rakaats of sunnah and then the four rakaats of fard. However, the sunnah of asr time is not emphasized. If a person does not offer this sunnah, he will not be sinning. But the person who offers them will be greatly rewarded.
4. At maghrib time, one should first offer the three rakaats of fard and thereafter two rakaats of sunnah. These two rakaats are also necessary. Not offering them will amount to sinning.
5. At esha time, it is better and mustahab to first offer four rakaats of sunnah. Thereafter, the four rakaats of fard and again two rakaats of sunnah. If one wishes, he could also offer two rakaats of nafl thereafter. According to this, there are six rakaats of sunnah. If a person does not offer all these rakaats, then he should first offer the four rakaats of fard, and then two rakaats of sunnah, and thereafter he should offer his witr salaah. These two rakaats of sunnah after the fard salaah are necessary. Not offering them will amount to sinning.
6. In the month of Ramadaan, the taraweeh salaah is also sunnah. It has also been emphasized. Leaving them out and not offering them is a sin. Many women leave out the taraweeh salaah - they should never do this. Twenty rakaats of taraweeh have to be offered after the fard and sunnah of esha salaah. These could be offered either by making intention for two rakaats at a time or for four rakaats at a time. However, it is preferable to offer two rakaats at a time. The witr salaah should be offered after completing these twenty rakaats. Note: Those sunnahs that are necessary to offer are called sunnat-e-mu'akkadah. There are twelve such sunnah rakaats in a day: two rakaats of fajr, four rakaats before zuhr and two rakaats after, two rakaats after maghrib and two rakaats after esha. In Ramadaan, the taraweeh is also sunnat-e-mu'akkadah. Some ulama have also regarded tahajjud to be sunnat-e-mu'akkadah.
7. These are the salaahs that have been stipulated by the Shariah. If anyone wishes to offer more than these, then he can offer as much as he wishes and whenever he wishes. However, he has to bear in mind that he should not offer any salaah in those times when it is makruh to do so. Whatever salaahs apart from fard and sunnah that he may offer, are known as nafl. The more nafl salaahs a person offers, the more reward he will receive - there is no limit to this. There were such great servants of Allah in the past, who used to offer nafl salaah throughout the night and never used to sleep.
8. There are a few nafl salaahs the performance of which is greatly rewarded. It is therefore better to offer these nafl salaahs as opposed to the other nafl salaahs. Due to a little effort, one is greatly rewarded. These nafl salaahs are: tahiyyatul wudu, ishraaq, chaasht, awwaabeen, tahajjud, and salaahut tasbih.
9. Tahiyyatul wudu is that after a person makes wudu, he must offer two rakaats of salaah. Great virtue with regard to this salaah has been mentioned in the Hadith. However, it should not be offered at those times when nafl salaah is makruh.
10. Ishraaq salaah is offered in the following way: after the fajr salaah one should not get up from his musallah. Instead, he should sit in the same place and occupy himself in reading durood shareef, or the kalimah, or the remembrance of Allah Ta'ala. He should not involve himself in any worldly talk, nor in any worldly activity. When the sun rises considerably, he should offer two or four rakaats of salaah. In doing so, he will get the reward of one hajj and one umrah. If a person gets occupied in some worldly activity after the fajr salaah, and after sunrise he offers ishraaq salaah; this will also be permissible. However, the reward will be less.
11. Thereafer, once the sun rises quite high, and it gets quite hot; one should offer at least two rakaats of salaah. If he wishes, he could offer more. That is, four, eight, or twelve rakaats. This is known as chaasht salaah. There is a lot of reward in offering this salaah.
12. After offering the fard and sunnahs of maghrib salaah, one should offer at least six rakaats and at the most, twenty rakaats of nafl salaah. This is called awwaabeen.
13.There is great virtue in getting up in the middle of the night and offering salaah. This is called tahajjud salaah. This salaah is most acceptable in the sight of Allah, and one gets the most reward for it. The minimum for tahajjud salaah is four rakaats and the maximum is twelve rakaats. If not, even two rakaats will suffice. If one does not have the courage to offer it later, then he could offer it after esha. However, he will not receive the same reward. Apart from tahajjud, one could offer as many nafl salaahs as he wishes at night.
14. When one is offering nafl salaah during the day, then he should make intention of offering two rakaats at a time; or if he wishes, four rakaats at time. It is makruh to offer more than four rakaats of nafl at a time (with one salaam) during the day. As for nafl salaah at night, it is permissible to make intention for six or even eight rakaats at a time. To make intention for more than this at night is also makruh.
15. If a person makes intention for four rakaats (of nafl), then when he sits down after the second rakaat, he has the choice of reading durood and a dua after the at-tahiyyaat and then standing up for the third rakaat and commencing with Surah Faatihah after reciting the thanaa' and the ta'awwudh. Alternatively, he could stand up after reciting the at-tahiyyaat only and thereafter commencing with Surah Faatihah in the third rakaat. He should then sit down in the fourth rakaat and recite the at-tahiyyaat, all the other duas, and then make the salaam.
If he made intention for eight rakaats and wishes to offer all eight rakaats with one salaam, then he still has the same two options as mentioned above. He could recite the at-tahiyyaat, durood shareef and a dua, and stand up and thereafter recite the thanaa'; or he could stand up after reciting at-tahiyyaat and commence with Surah Faatihah. He has the choice of doing the same thing for the sixth rakaat as well and thereafter sitting for the eighth rakaat and reciting everything that is necessary therein. In the same way, he has the choice of doing both things in every two rakaats.
16. It is wajib to recite a Surah after Surah Faatihah in every rakaat of a sunnah or nafl salaah. If a person intentionally leaves out a Surah, he will be committing a sin. But if he forgets to recite a Surah, he will have to make sajdah-e-sahw. The masa'il related to sajdah-e-sahw will be explained in a later chapter.
17. Once a person commences with a nafl salaah, it now becomes wajib upon him to complete it. If he breaks it, he will be sinning and he will also have to make qada of it. However, every two rakaats of a nafl salaah are considered separate. If a person makes intention of offering four or six rakaats, then it will only be wajib on him to complete two rakaats. All four rakaats will not become wajib. So if a person makes intention of four rakaats of nafl salaah and then makes salaam after two rakaats, there will be no sin on him.
18. If a person made intention of four rakaats of nafl salaah and thereafter broke it before he could offer even two rakaats, he will only have to make qada of two rakaats.
19. If he made intention of four rakaats and already completed two rakaats and broke his salaah in the third or fourth rakaat, then the following rules will apply: if he had sat down after the second rakaat and recited the at-tahiyyaat, etc., he will only have to make qada of two rakaats. And if he did not sit in the second rakaat and stood up either forgetfully or intentionally without reciting the at-tahiyyaat, then he will have to make qada of all the four rakaats.
20. If a person breaks the four rakaats sunnah of zuhr salaah, then he will have to make qada of all four rakaats irrespective of whether he sat down after the second rakaat for at-tahiyyaat or not.
21. It is permissible to offer nafl salaah while sitting. However, by sitting down, he will only get half the reward. It is better to stand and offer the salaah. The nafl salaahs after the witr salaah are also included in this rule. However, if a person cannot stand up because of some sickness, then he will receive the full reward. As for fard and sunnah salaahs, as long as a person does not have a valid excuse, it will not be permissible to sit and offer them.
22. A person commenced offering a nafl salaah while standing, but he sat down in the very first or second rakaat. This is permissible.
23. A person stood up and offered his nafl salaah. However, because of some weakness, he got tired. So it will be permissible to lean against a pole or wall and get support from it. This is not makruh.