What Are the Merits of Sunnah Prayers?

04 February, 2019
Q Dear Sir, as-Salamu `alaykum. I would be highly grateful if you could provide me with an appropriate answer to the following question: What are the merits of sunnah (supererogatory or optional) prayers? How many rakahs of these prayers should be performed daily?

Answer

Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.


In this fatwa:

1- A Muslim should be keen on offering sunnah prayers, for the simple fact that it’s the practice and tradition of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). In addition to this, sunnah (supererogatory) prayers entail great benefits and rewards.

2- On some of the merits of the sunnah prayers, the Prophet said: “A house will be built in Paradise for every Muslim who offers twelve units of Prayers other than the obligatory ones in day and night, to seek pleasure of Allah.” (Muslim)


Sheikh Muhammad Saleh Al-Munajjid, the prominent Saudi Islamic lecturer and author, states: 

“The mother of the believers, Umm Habibah Ramilah bint Abu Sufyan (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that she heard the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) saying: “A house will be built in Paradise for every Muslim who offers twelve units of Prayers other than the obligatory ones in day and night, to seek pleasure of Allah.” (Muslim)

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “My Khalil (close friend), i.e., the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) advised me to observe three things and I shall not leave them until I die: 1. “To observe fasting three days every (lunar) month; 2. To perform the Ad-Duha prayer; 3. To offer Witr Prayer before sleeping.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Aishah, the mother of the believers, quoted the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying : “The two rakahs before Dawn (Fajr) Prayer are better than the word and all that which it contains.” (Muslim)

Umm Habibah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Whoever sticks to the habit of offering four rakahs before Noon Prayer and four rakahs after it, Allah will shield him against the Hell-Fire.” (Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi)

One should make Witr as the last Prayer at night. Abdullah Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) quoted the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying: “Make Witr as your last Prayer at night.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

If anyone enters a mosque, he should offer two rakahs before sitting. Abu Qatadah (may Allah be pleased with him) the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying: “If any one of you enters a mosque, he should pray two rakahs before sitting.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him): “Tell me about the best of your deeds (i.e. one which you deem the most rewarding) since your embracing Islam because I heard your footsteps in front of me in Paradise.” Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) replied: “I do not consider any act of mine more rewarding than that whenever I make ablution at any time of night or day, I perform Prayer for as much as was destined for me to do.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)”

In his The Reliance of the TravelerAhmad ibn Naqeeb Al-Misri, explains the sunnah Prayers before and after the prescribed Prayers, as follows: 

“It is sunnah to diligently perform the non-obligatory Prayers that are offered before and after the prescribed ones.

The optimal number of these is two rakahs (Prayer units) before the Fajr Prayer, four before and after the Zhuhr Prayer, four before the Asr Prayer, two after the Maghrib Prayer, and two after the Isha Prayer.

The confirmed Prayers of these, which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did not leave whether traveling or at home, consist of ten rakahs:

1- Two before the Fajr Prayer,

2- Two before and after the Zhuhr Prayer,

3- Two after the Maghrib Prayer, and

4- Two after the Isha Prayer.

It is recommended to pray two rakahs before the Maghrib Prayer.

The Sunnah of the Jumuah (Friday Prayer) are the same as those of the Zhhur Prayer.”

Almighty Allah knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.