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Sunnah and Nafl prayers are acts of worship that are not obligatory which the Holy Prophet performed either regularly or occasionally. There are different categories of optional salaah, viz. Sunnatu Mu’akkadah – prayers that the Holy Prophet observed regularly and strongly encouraged his followers to do likewise. Sunnatu Ghair-il-Mu’akkadah – prayers that the Holy Prophet did not perform regularly and may therefore be offered at our discretion. The Sunnah prayers linked to the 5 fard salaah are called Raatibah Prayers of which 10 raka’ahs are Mu’akkadah, and 12 are Ghair-il-Ma’akaddah. Nafl prayers are optional prayers for which no particular time, place nor purpose is prescribed. It may be offered at all times except at the pro¬hibited times for salaah. It is permissible to offer even one rak'ah of this salaah in the usual manner, reciting Tashahhud (attahiyaat) at the end and pronouncing Salaam. When a worshipper desires to offer more thanone rak'ah, it is sunnah to recite Tashahhud and to pronounce Salaam at the end of every two rak'ahs.


Sunnatu Mu’akkadah Salaah
Described below are two highly recommended Sunnah Salaah.


The Odd- Numbered Prayer WITR, meaning literally 'an odd number,' is a SUNNAH MU¬AKKADAH prayer to which the Prophet, (peace and bles¬sings be upon him) attached the greatest

importance. It is related that he once said, "WITR is truth: whoever gave it up is not of us; WITR is truth; WITR is truth; WITR is truth: whoever gave it up is not of us." The Holy Prophet used to observe WITR along with TA¬HAJJUD prayers. Sometimes he prayed it at the end of the ISHAA prayer. The general practice is to say the WITR at the end of the ISHAA prayer though the period for this prayer extends up to FAJR SAADIQ, i.e., the genuine DAWN. Abu Hurairah reported that “the Messenger of Allah comman¬ded me to say the WITR before going to sleep." THE NUMBER OF RAK'AHS IN WITR. In WITR the least number of RAK'AHS is one and the maximum eleven. Three RAK'AHS represent its least complete form. If three RAK'AHS are offered this should be done in units of two and one, i.e. , SALAAM should be given after the two RAK' AH S and after the one. It will be MAKROOH to offer all three RAK'AHS as one unit or with one SALAAM.




Nawaitu usallee sunnatal witr, rak-'ataini
adaa-an lillaahi ta-'aalaa.
I hereby resolve to pray two RAK'AHS SUNNAH of WITR within its appointed time for the sake of Allah, the Most High.


Nawaitu usallee sun¬nata witr, rak-'atan
waa-hidatan adaa-an lillaahi ta-'aalaa.
I hereby resolve to pray one rak'ah sunnah of Witr within its appointed time for the sake of Allah, the Most High.

It is sunnah to recite the following Surahs in the Witr prayer:¬
In the first rak'ah: Sura-tul-Kaafiroon (S109)
In the second rak'ah: Sura-tul-Lahab (S111)
In the third rak'ah: Sura-tul-Ikhlaas (S112)
Sura-tul-Falaq (S113)
Sura-tun-Naas (S114)

During Ramadaan Witr is offered in congregation after Taraweeh prayers, the Imaam reciting audibly in the three raka’ahs. According to the Shafi'i Madh-hab the QUNOOT is recited in the final rak’ah of Witr after the Rukoo from the sixteenth night of Ramadaan.

According to the Hanafi Madh-Hab, Witr is Waajib and consists of three rak'ahs said together with one Salaam as in the three rak'ahs of the Maghrib Fard. In each of the three rak'ahs a Surah or some Quranic verses should be recited. After saying the first two rak'ahs, one should only recite the Attahiyyaat in the first QA'¬DAH and then rise for the third rak'ah.

During the third rak'ah, before the Rukoo and after the TAKBIR (Allahu Akbar) the hands should be raised and the QUNOOT recited inaudibly. If one does not know the QUNOOT, the following Du' aa may be recited:

Rabbanaa aatinaa fid dun¬ yaa hasana-taw wa fil aa¬khirati hasana-taw wa qi¬naa 'adhaa-ban naar. Our Lord! grant us good in this world and good in thehereafter and save us from the chastisement of the fire.If one does not know the above Du’aa, then one may recite:

Allah-hum-magh fir lee
O Allah! forgive me.

The Late Night Prayer

TAHAJJUD, from the verb TAHAJJADA meaning "to stay awake at night , keep a night vigil , spend the night in prayer," is the prayer which is offered during the latter part of the night before dawn or FAJR. The Quran has commended it again and again to the be¬lievers and the laudatory manner in which it speaks of those who offer it denotes its great importance. Says the Quran: O thou folded in garments! Stand (to prayer) by night, but not all night,¬ Half of it, or a little less,
Or a little more; and recite the Quran in slow, measured rhythmic tones.

Soon shall We send down to thee a weighty Message. Truly the rising by night is most potent for governing (the soul), and most suitable for (framing) the Word (of prayer and praise). (73:1-6) And pray in the small watches of the morning: (it would be) an additional prayer (or spiritual profit) for thee. (17:79)

The time for offering TAHAJJUD as well as for WITR which Imaam Shafi'i also called TAHAJJUD, is from the com¬pletion of SALAAT-UL-ISHAA and its SUNNAH prayers until the time of SALAAT-UL-FAJR. The Prophet used to get up from sleeping after midnight, or sometimes before midnight, and sometimes when the cocks were crowing. The best time is the last third of the night.


There is no fixed number of RAK'AHS in TAHAJJUD prayer. The great object is to have communion with one's Creator when the whole of nature is in a state of quiet and the mind of man himself free generally from all anxieties and worries. The number of RAK'AHS is not limited for prayer at night, and it is considered that we have offered it if we offer one RAK'AH of WITR after the SUNNAH prayers of ISHAA. It is reported from Abdullah ibn Abbas, "The Messenger of Allah, (peace and blessings be upon him) commanded us to perform the prayer at night, and requested us (eagerly) to perform it until he said, 'Look to your prayer at night, even if it be one RAK'AH."

The best is to perform regularly either 11 or 13 RAK'AHS (plus 2 RAK'AHS IFTITAAH) - that is, eight or ten RAK'AHS plus three RAK'AHS of WITR.

The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) per¬formed TAHAJJUD according to two general methods:
a) combining SALAAT-UT-TAHAJJUD with SALAAT¬UL-WITR, and
b) offering SALAAT-UL-WITR only.

Among the ways of offering TAHAJJUD combined with WITR are:
1, A Method from Ayesha - The Prophet began Prayer at Night with two RAK'AHS offered lightly (IFTITAAH). After that he performed ten RAK'AHS of TAHAJJUD with five SA¬LAAMS, followed by one RAK'AH of WITR.
2, A Method from Ibn Yazid - The Prophet offered thir¬teen RAK'AHS, that is : two RAK'AHS IFTITAAH, eight RAK'AHS of TAHAJJUD, and three RAK'AHS of WIT'R.
3. A Method from Umar - The Prophet performed eight RAK'AH S of TAHAJJUD with four SALAAMS and then he performed one RAK'AH of WITR.
4. It is also permissible to offer six, four or two RAK'AHS of TAHAJJUD with three, two or one SALAAM respectively and then offer one RAK'AH of WITR. This would be in con¬formity with the HADITH:
Ibn Umar said: Aman asked the Prophet while he was on the pulpit. What dost thou say about the night prayer? He said: "Two (RAK'AHS) at a time; and when one of you knows (that) the dawn (is near), he should add one (RAK' AH) - this will make his prayer WITR."

It is SUNNAH to make the first two RAK'AHS easy and short. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "If one of you stands (to pray) at night, then let him begin his praying with two RAK'AHS offered lightly."

It is more praiseworthy to lengthen the standing posi¬tion and the recitations therein than to increase the number of RAK'AHS.
Huzaifah once performed the TAHAJJUD SALAAH behind the Prophet.

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He heard the Prophet recite SURAHS BAQA¬RAH, AALI IM RAAN and NISAA.


O Allah! praise be to Thee, Thou art the Guardian of the heavens and the earth, and of those that are therein. Praise be to Thee, Thou art the light of the heavens and the earth and of those that are therein. Unto Thee belongeth the praise. Thou art the Sovereign of the heavens and the earth, and of those that are therein. Thou art True; True is Thy promise; True is our meeting with Thee; True is Thy Word; True is Heaven; True is Hell; True are the Prophets; True is Muhammad, and true is the Hour of Judgement. O Allah: unto Thee do I surrender; in Thee I have faith; upon Thee do I rely; unto Thee do I turn. With Thy help do I con¬tend; and unto Thee do I seek judgement. So forgive me for that which I expedite, and that which l defer, and that which I conceal, and that which I reveal, and also for that (sin) of mine whereof Thou art better aware than I. Thou art the Expediter and Thou art the Deferer. There is no god save Thee and there is no god other than Thee.

Nafl Salaah
Described below are 4 types of Nafl Salaah

The Prayer of Respect to the Mosque
As a form of respect to the mosque, it is SUNNAH to offer two RAK'AHS of prayer known as TAHIYYAT-UL-MASJID. Abu Qataadah reported that the Prophet said:
"When any one of you enters the mosque, let him pray two RAK'AHS before he sits."
This prayer should be offered immediately upon entering the mosque and before sitting down. The opportunity, how¬ever, will not be considered to have been missed by the worshipper sitting down through ignorance or forgetfulness, or for the purpose of drinking a little water. If it is not possible to offer the prayer then the following words should be said four times:

Subhaa-nallahi wal hamdu¬lillaahi wa laa ilaaha il¬lallahu wallahu akbar
Glory be to Allah, and praise be to Allah; There is no deity save Allah; And Allah is Great.


Nawaitu usallee rak-'ataini ta-hiyya-tal masjid, lillaa¬hi ta-'aalaa
I hereby intend to pray two RAK'AHS as a greeting to the MASJID for the sake of Allah, the Most High. If some FARD or SUNNAH prayer is offered immediately upon entering the mosque, TAHIYYAT-UL-MASJID need not be performed.

Abu Usaid said the Messenger of Allah said:
"When one of you ENTERS the mosque, he should say,

Allahum-maf-tah lee abwaaba rahmatik
O Allah! open for me the doors of Thy mercy; and when he GOES OUT, he should say,

Allahumma innee as¬aluka min fadlik
O Allah! I beg of Thy grace of Thee

The Prayer for Divine Guidance
ISTIKHAARAH (literally, the asking of KHAIR, i.e., good or blessing) means the asking of Divine blessing in the doing of a thing which a man intends to do. Great merit has been attached to this prayer by the Prop¬het. ' In matters such as the following, it is SUNNAH first to offer SALAAT-UL-ISTIKHAARAH:
a)  Before any business undertaking.
b)  Before setting out on a long journey.
c)  Before getting married.
d) Before occupying a house for the first time.
e)  Immediately upon entering one's house after return¬ing from a long journey.
f) Before commencing the first marital act (for both the bride and the groom).
g) On arrival in a land never visited before.

It is SUNNAH to offer two RAK'AHS ISTIKHAARAH prayer as an individual prayer in order to seek Allah's blessings. Thereafter the DU' AA given below should be recited. The best time for ISTIKHAARAH is after the ISHAA prayer. The prayer maybe continued for several days until the mind through Divine help is settled o n an affair. Jabir said: The Messenger of Allah used to teach us ISTIKHAARAH in all matters, as he used to teach us a chapter of the Quran. He said: "When one of you intends the doing of a thing, he should say two RAK'AHS besides the obligatory prayers, then he should pray (as follows) -


Allahumma innee as¬takhee-ruka bi-'il¬mika * wa as-taqdi¬ruka bi-qud-ratika wa as-a-luka min fadlikal 'azeemi fa¬innaka taqdeer * wa laa aqdiru wa ta'la¬mu wa laa a'lamu wa anta
'allaa-mul ghu¬yoob * allahumma in kunta ta'lamu anna haadhal amra khairul lee fee deenee wa ma-'aashee * wa 'aa¬qibati amree aw 'aa¬jili amree wa aajili¬hee * faqdurhu lee wa yassirhu lee *thumma baarik lee feeh * wa in kunta ta' lamu anna haadhal amra sharrul lee fee dee¬nee wa ma-'aashee wa 'aaqibati amree aw fee 'aajili amree wa aajilihee * fas¬rifhu 'annee was rifnee anh * waqdur lil khaira khaithu kaana ardinee bihee

O Allah! Behold, I ask of Thee the good through Thy knowledge, and ability through Thy power, and beg (Thy favours), out of Thine infinite bounty. For, behold, Thou hast power; I have none. Thou knowest, I know not; and Thou art the Great Knower of things hidden.

O Allah! If in Thy knowledge, this matter be good for my faith, for my livelihood, and for the issue of mine affair (or for the beginning or end thereof), then ordain it for me, and make it easy for me, and bless me therein.

But if in Thy knowledge, this matter be bad for my faith, for my livelihood, and for the issue of mine affair, or for the commencement or end thereof, then turn it away from me, and turn me away there-from, and ordain for me the good wherever it be, and cause me to be pleased therewith. He (the Prophet) said, "And he should say what he wants."


The Prayer of Divine Glorification offering SALAAT-UT-TASBEEH daily is excellent. If it is not possible to offer this SUNNAH Prayer daily, it maybe offered once in seven days or once a month, or once a year, or at least once in a person's life-time. This SUNNAH Prayer of four RAK'AHS is best offered with two SALAAMS but may be offered even with one SA¬LAAM. In every one of the four RAK'AHS after reciting the FATIHAH and a SURAH, the worshipper will recite the SUB-HAAN ALLAH KALIMAH:

Subhaa-nallah-hi wal hamdu lillaahi wa laa ilaa-ha il-lallah-hu wallah-hu akbar * wa laa hawla wa laa quwwata illaa billaa¬hil aliy-yil 'azeem. All glory be to Allah, and all praise be to Allah. There is none worthy of being worshipped except Allah, and Allah is Greatest. There is no power nor might except what comes from Allah, the Most High, the Great.

This KALIMAH will be recited as follows:
15 times in the QIYAAM
10 times in the RUKOO
10 times in the I'TIDAAL
10 times in the 1st SUJOOD
10 times in the JALSAH
10 times in the 2nd SUJOOD
10 times in the ISTIRAAHAH.

There will thus be 75 recitals of TASBEEH (i.e. glori¬fication of Allah) in each RAK'AH and 300 in all four RAK'¬AHS. The TASBEEH will be recited in each posture after recital of the DHIKR prescribed for each. The worshipper will pronounce TAKBIR when he goes to the ISTIRAAHAH position but not when he rises from it to go to the QIYAAM or standing position. The ten recitals of TASBEEH due in the position of ISTIRAAHAH will be made in the position for ATTAHIYYAAT before commencing the recital of ATTAHIYYAAT. It is permitted to recite the 15 TASBEEH due in the standing position before the recital of FATIHAH instead of after, and the 10 TASBEEH due in the ISTIRAAHAH position after the FATIHAH. When a worshipper forgets to recite the 10 TASBEEH due in the RUKOO and comes up to the I'TIDAAL, it will not be proper for him either to go back to the RUKOO or to double the 10 TASBEEH in I'TIDAAL. The omitted TASBEEHS should be added to the TASBEEHS in the SUJOOD.

The Prayer of Repentance. When anyone commits an unlawful act, he should turn unto Allah repentent, and offer two RAK'AHS of NAFL SALAAH. He should implore the forgiveness of the Most High and re¬solve not to commit such an act again, After SALAAH he should raise both hands in supplication and say:

Allah-humma innee atoobu ilaika min¬haa * laa arji-'u ilaihaa abadaa * al - lah-humma magh¬fira-tuka aw-sa-'u min dhunoobee wa rahmatuka arjaa ‘indee min 'amalee

O Allah! Behold, I turn unto Thee from this (sin). I shall never return unto it. O Allah! Thy forgiveness is wider than my iniquities, and I have better hope in Thy mercy, than in my conduct.

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