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Why Do Extra Worship? 5 Advantages of Nawafil

The nafilah (pl. nawafil, Arabic for Supererogatory or Optional Prayers) is an exuberant Arabic term denoting manifold meanings foremost among which is the meaning of increase.

Technically speaking, nafilah means to perform an additional amount or number of the acts of worship (`ibadat) other than that which is obligatory upon the worshipper.

Remarkably, some people tend to think that nawafil are restricted to salah only. But, in Islam, each and every act of worship has its related obligatory as well as supererogatory acts.

Similarly, as salah has its supererogatory acts, zakah, sawm and Hajj have their own supererogatory acts as well.

It is a sign of the greatness of Islam that it ordains as obligatory the minimum amount or number of any of the acts of worship, leaving the door open for voluntary or supererogatory acts without limitation for the worshipper. It leaves the door open for noble competition, {…Then for this, let the competitors for Allah’s Pleasure compete!} (Al-Mutaffifun 83:26)

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How inattentive the one who turns away from nawafil and only performs the fara’id (pl. of faridah; Arabic for obligatory acts of worship) is?!

In so doing, one actually deprives himself of the great goodness promised by Allah the Almighty to His worshippers who endeavor to get nearer to Him through performing nawafil.

By leaving nawafil, one will end up either neglectful of an obligation, or a perpetrator of a sin. Actually, a Muslim needs nawafil to make up for one’s negligence and/or failure in doing what has to be done. Allah the Almighty says in the Ever-Glorious Quran what may mean,

{…Indeed, good deeds remove misdeeds. This is a reminder for those who would be mindful and reflect on this admonition}. (Hud 11:114)

However, some Muslims are heedless of the significance of nawafil and thus do underestimate them. If it happens that one asks any of these inattentive Muslims to perform two rak`ahs after Zuhr Prayer for example, he would answer him back as saying: It is only ‘supererogatory/optional’!

And, if you remind one of them as saying, you should observe fasting on the Day of `Arafah. He would then answer you back as saying: It is only ‘supererogatory/optional’!

These answers and the like suggest that the term “supererogatory” – in the eyes of that heedless Muslim – is equal to ‘not to do’. Indeed, this is nothing but great ignorance about the Prophetic Sunnah, its facts and functions and it is also ignorance about the many secrets and benefits nawafil have.

Read about the fruits of nawafil in the next page.

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About Dr. Ali Al-Halawani
Dr. Ali Al-Halawani is Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Translation Studies. He is an author, translator, and writer based in Canada. To date, Al-Halawani authored over 400 original articles on Islam and Muslims, most of which can be accessed on and other famous websites. He has recently started to self-publish his articles and new books, which are available on Amazon and Kindle. You can reach him at [email protected].