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Are sunnah prayers obligatory?

Mu' meneen Brothers and Sisters,

As Salaam Aleikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.  (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)

 

One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:

AssalamAlaikum. Respected Brother Burhan. My question is why do we have to say the `Sunnah rakats` with every obligatory prayers. like with namaz-e-fajr, we have to say 2 sunnah , with namaz-e- zuhr 4 sunnah , with namaz-e-maghrib 2 sunnah and with namaz-e-isha 2 sunnah. i once had a talk with a shia friend of mine about it and she said that we sunnis have made the sunnah rakats as equal to the actual obligatory rakats. if the sunnah rakats are "farz " then what is the difference left between sunnah and obligatory rakats ? and is there any sin on one who doesn`t say sunnah rakats with every namaz.

please reply me at your earliest about my query.

Jazak Allah.

your sister in Islam.

 

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Answer:

 

Are sunnah prayers obligatory?

In the name of Allah, We praise Him, seek His help and ask for His forgiveness. Whoever Allah guides none can misguide, and whoever He allows to fall astray, none can guide them aright. We bear witness that there is no one (no idol, no person, no grave, no prophet, no imam, no dai, nobody!) worthy of worship but Allah Alone, and we bear witness that Muhammad (saws) is His slave-servant and the seal of His Messengers.

 

Firstly, please allow us to clarify the difference between Fard, Sunnah and Nafl prayers.

 

Fard prayers: These are the five obligatory prayers at their appointed times of the day. If one prays them, he will earn a huge reward from Allah Subhanah; and if one does not pray them, it will be considered a grave sin in the sight of Allah Subhanah, and one will have a severe accounting for missing his obligatory prayers in the Presence of the Majestic Lord on the Day of Judgment.


 

Nafl prayers: These are the voluntary prayers. If one prays them, he will earn a huge reward from Allah Subhanah; and if one does not pray them, there is no sin.

 

Sunnah prayers: These are the Nafl or voluntary prayers which were prayed by the Messenger of Allah (saws), and thus they become his (saws) Sunnah for us. If one prays them, he will earn a huge reward from Allah Subhanah; and if one does not pray them, there is no sin. The most that can be said of one who does not pray the Sunnah prayers is that he lost a great opportunity to earn huge rewards from Allah Subhanah.

 

Your Question: i once had a talk with a shia friend of mine about it and she said that we sunnis have made the sunnah rakats as equal to the actual obligatory rakats.

Your friend has obviously misunderstood the concept of the obligatory Fard and the voluntary Sunnah and Nafl prayers. Under no circumstances can the rewards of the obligatory Fard prayers be compared to the Sunnah or Nafl voluntary prayers.

 

Fiqh-us-Sunnah Fiqh 2.1

Their Significance, Supererogatory (Sunnah and Nafl) Prayers

The Sunnah or Nawafil (supererogatory prayers), have been legislated to make up for any deficiencies left in the performance of Fard salah (obligatory prayers). In Salah, there are virtues that are not found in any other form of worship. Abu Hurairah reports that the Prophet (saws) said: "The first thing that the people will be called to account for on the Day of Resurrection will be the prayers. Our Lord will say to the Angels, although He knows better: 'Look into the (Fard) Salah of my servant to see if he observed it perfectly or been negligent in it. So if he observed it perfectly it will be recorded to his credit, but if he had been negligent in it in any way, Allah would say: See if My servant has any supererogatory prayers. Then if he has any supererogatory prayers, Allah would say: Make up the deficiency in My servant's obligatory prayer with his supererogatory prayers.' Thereafter all his actions will be examined in like manner"

Related by Abu Dawud.

 

Your Question: if the sunnah rakats are "farz " then what is the difference left between sunnah and obligatory rakats ?

There are no Fard or obligatory prayers to be performed everyday apart from the five appointed obligatory prayers; all the other prayers are voluntary.

 

Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 1.44 Narrated by Talha bin Ubaidullah

A man from Najd with unkempt hair came to Allah's Messenger (saws) and we heard his loud voice but could not understand what he was saying, till he came near and then we came to know that he was asking about Islam. Allah's Messenger (saws) said, "You have to offer prayers perfectly five times in a day and night (24 hours)." The man asked, "Is there any more (praying)?" Allah's Messenger (saws) replied, "No, but if you want to offer the Nawafil prayers (you can)." Allah's Messenger (saws) further said to him: "You have to observe fasts during the month of Ramadan." The man asked, "Is there any more fasting?" Allah's Messenger (saws) replied, "No, but if you want to observe the Nawafil fasts (you can.)" Then Allah's Messenger (saws) further said to him, "You have to pay the Zakat (obligatory charity)." The man asked, "Is there any thing other than the Zakat for me to pay?" Allah's Messenger (saws) replied, "No, unless you want to give alms of your own." And then that man retreated saying, "By Allah! I will neither do less nor more than this (the obligatory duties)!." Allah's Messenger (saws) said, "If what he said is true, then he will be successful (i.e. he will be granted Paradise)."

 

Your Question: and is there any sin on one who doesn`t say sunnah rakats with every namaz.
There is no sin on the person who, for any reason whatsoever, does not perform the Sunnah or Nafl voluntary prayers; the most that can be said of such a person is that he missed an opportunity to earn huge rewards from Allah Subhanah for not observing his Sunnah and/or Nafl voluntary prayers.

 

Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allahs Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.

 

Your Brother in Islam,

 

 

Burhan

 


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