Short answer: The Sunnah prayers “complement any shortcomings in our obligatory prayers.” Following Prophet Muhammad’s example brings us immense blessings both in this life and in the next life.
Salam Dear Reader,
Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.
We’re pleased that you’re asking such important question.
We pray that Allah Almighty helps you in doing all the beneficial, spiritually uplifting acts of worship that would bring you benefit in this life and the next, insha’Allah.
With regards to your question, the Sunnah prayers are very important as they complement any shortcomings in our obligatory prayers.
Many of us end up praying the fardh (obligatory prayers) in a hurry or without humility and concentration.
If we were to give, let’s say, a mark or a grade on the quality of some of those prayers, it wouldn’t exceed 50%.
But when we add the Sunnah prayers, it tops up to a fuller mark as we show Allah, Glorified and Exalted, that we are trying our best for Him.
Also, the Sunnah prayers have immensely great rewards
For example, the Noble Prophet (peace be upon him) says:
Whoever persists in performing twelve Rak’ah from the Sunnah, a house will be built for him in Paradise: four before the Zuhr, two Rak’ah after Zuhr, two Rak’ah after Maghrib, two Rak’ah after the ‘Isha’ and two Rak’ah before Fajr.’” [Sunan Ibn Majah]
They will have whatever they wish therein, and with Us is more. [Quran 50:35]
Maintaining those prayers could insha’Allah make up any shortcomings in the fardh prayers, as well as guarantee great rewards and a house in Paradise.
There is also a Sunnah for ‘Asr Prayer as per the following hadith:
Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “May Allah show mercy to a man who prays four rak’ahs before the afternoon prayer.” [Sunan Abi Dawud]
And the virtue, as you can see, is entering the fold of Allah’s immense mercy.
Why should you perform those prayers?
Whatever the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) taught us is a means for us to get even closer and closer to Allah Almighty and to earning His love and forgiveness.
Say, [O Muhammad], “If you should love Allah, then follow me, [so] Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” [Quran 3:31]
And He says:
And whatever the Messenger has given you – take; and what he has forbidden you – refrain from. [Quran 59:7]
And He Almighty told us:
There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often. [Quran 33: 21]
So basically, following what the Messenger taught us brings us immense benefit spiritually, physically, and personally, and it also elevates us in the hereafter.
After all, the Messenger was sent to show us the way and guide us to what’s beautiful, enlightening, healing and rewarding in this life and the next.
Certainly did Allah confer [great] favor upon the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from themselves, reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom, although they had been before in manifest error. [Quran 3: 164]
So, may Allah facilitate for you and all of us performing those beautiful acts of worship, and make them a means for us to connect even further with our Creator and get closer and closer to Him in this life and the next.
I hope this helps answer your question.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)