The Recommended Voluntary Prayers
Muslims are required to offer only five prayers a day.
However, Islam encourages them to offer other recommended prayers, for doing so makes them worthy of Allah’s love and serve to make up for any deficiencies in the performance of the obligatory prayers.
The following are some of the most important supererogatory prayers:
- The Supererogatory Prayers Accompanying the Obligatory Prayers (As-Sunan Ar-Rawaatib): These are the prayers that are offered before or after the obligatory prayers and Muslims generally do not neglect them. Regarding the reward for performing these prayers, the prophet ﷺ said, “Allah will build a house in Paradise for any Muslim who prays twelve units of voluntary prayer during the night and day.” (Saheeh Muslim: 728) They are as follows
|1||Two units before the Fajr prayer|
|2||Four units before the Dhuhr prayer, reciting the tasleem after each two units; and two other units after the Dhuhr prayer|
|3||Two units after the Maghrib prayer|
|4||Two units after the ‛Ishaa’ prayer|
- The Witr Prayer: the Arabic word witr means “odd number” and refers to odd-numbered prayer offered after the ‛Ishaa’ prayer. It is considered to be one of the best and most meritorious of all supererogatory prayers. The prophet ﷺ once commanded the Muslims, “Followers of the Qur’an! Perform the witr prayer.” (Sunan At-Tirmidhee: 453, Sunan Ibn Maajah: 1170)
The best time to offer the witr prayer is in the later part of the night before the Fajr prayer, but a Muslim may perform it at any time between the Ishaa’ and the Fajr prayers. The minimum number of units for the witr prayer is one, but it is better to offer three. A Muslim may offer more if he wishes, but the maximum number of units which the Prophet r used to perform was eleven. The units of the supererogatory prayers are generally offered two by two, followed by the tasleem. The witr prayer is no exception. However, if a Muslim wants to conclude his prayer, he must add one single unit, during which he may recite a special supplication, known as qunoot supplication. This supplication is recited after rising from the bowing position and before prostrating. After this supplication, he may pray to Allah and ask Him for whatever he wishes, holding his hands in front of him with both palms up.
Times During Which It Is Not Permissible to Offer the Supererogatory Prayers
A Muslim may offer a supererogatory prayer at any time, except at such times during which it is prohibited to offer them, as they are generally times specified for prayers offered by some non-Muslims. During these times, he is only allowed to make up for the obligatory prayers he may have missed or the supererogatory prayers which are offered for a reason, such as the prayer of tahiyyatul-masjid, ‘‘greeting the mosque”, a prayer which consists of two units and is performed upon entering the mosque and there is enough time to perform it before the obligatory prayer commences. A Muslim may, however, invoke Allah and recite supplications at any time.
These times are as follows:
|1||From the time following the Fajr prayer until the sunrises above the horizon by the length of a spear, a short period of time specified in Islamic Law and is equal to approximately twenty minutes in countries with a temperate climate.|
|2||From the time the sun is at its zenith until it declines westward from the middle of the sky. This is a short period of time preceding the beginning of the time of the Dhuhr prayer.|
|3||From the time following the ‛Asr prayer until sunset|
It is strictly prohibited to offer the optional prayers from the time following the ‛Asr prayer until sunset. .