The Types and Virtue Importance of Nawafil
The Need for Nawafil
The Hadith Sharif states that on the Day of Judgment, a person’s first account will be taken for their obligatory prayers. If the obligatory prayers are found to be in good order, the person will be successful and prosperous. However, if the obligatory prayers are deficient, the person will be a loser and in great loss. If there are shortcomings in the obligatory prayers, it will be directed by the divine guidance that see, this person has some voluntary (Nawafil) prayers as well. Should they be available, they can be used to complete the deficiencies in the obligatory prayers. Afterward, the remaining deeds like fasting, giving Zakat, and so on, will be accounted for.
From this Hadith Sharif, it is evident that a person should also maintain a reserve of voluntary prayers to compensate for any shortcomings in obligatory prayers. If there are deficiencies in the obligatory acts, the voluntary acts can help fulfill the requirements. In this way, if one’s good deeds outweigh their bad deeds, they will enter paradise; otherwise, they may be cast into hell. (Fazail-e-Zikr, p. 75)
Sheikh-ul-Hadith Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Zakariya Kandhlawi (رضي الله عنه) quoted this narration with reference to Allama Suyuti (رضي الله عنه), indicating that seventy voluntary prayers are equivalent to one obligatory prayer. This underscores the importance of performing the obligatory prayers with great care, as the reserve of voluntary prayers will be crucial in making up for any deficiencies in the obligatory ones. Therefore, every Muslim should dedicate some time for voluntary prayers alongside the obligatory ones. If we examine the lives of the elders, we find that despite their scholarly and religious commitments, they used to recite voluntary prayers frequently.
Hazrat Imam Abu Yusuf (رضي الله عنه) used to pray two hundred Rak’ahs of voluntary prayers every day, reciting them with a single Wudu. Saeed ibn Al-Musayyib (رضي الله عنه) mentioned that he recited fifty years of voluntary night prayers with a single Wudu, and he wrote that Imam Abu Hanifa (رضي الله عنه) prayed forty years of night prayers, reciting them with a single Wudu. Hazrat Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (رضي الله عنه) used to recite three hundred Rak’ahs of voluntary prayers every day. Hazrat Imam Ghazali (رضي الله عنه) transmitted from Abu Talib Maki (رضي الله عنه) that it is established through continuous narrations from forty Tabi’een that they recited the Fajr prayer with the Wudu of Isha.
Types of Nawafil
Sunnah Mu’akkadah (emphasized Sunnah) prayers are also a form of Nawafil, such as the four Rak’ahs before Asr and the four Rak’ahs before Isha. There is also great virtue mentioned in Hadith Sharif regarding these prayers, so they should also be observed with care.
Some Nawafil are related to specific times, such as Duha (forenoon) prayer, Ishraq (morning) prayer, Awwabin (repentance) prayer, Tahajjud (night vigil) prayer, Tahiyyat al-Wudu (prayer after ablution), and Tahiyyat al-Masjid (prayer upon entering the mosque). Some are associated with specific situations and conditions, such as Salat al-Hajah (prayer for needs), Salat al-Tawbah (prayer of repentance), Salat al-Istikhara (prayer for guidance), and others. Hadith Sharif mentions twenty different types of Nawafil related to various needs and situations. These Nawafil should also be performed at their appropriate times.
It is mentioned in Hadith Sharif that a person continues to offer Nawafil to get closer to Allah, to the extent that Allah says, “My servant keeps on coming closer to Me with Nawafil until I love him. When I love him, I become his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his leg with which he walks. If he asks Me, I will give to him, and if he seeks My refuge, I will protect him.”
Below, both types of Nawafil mentioned above are outlined. It is essential to pay attention to all these Nawafil in their appropriate times and situations because through Nawafil, one can attain closeness to Allah, complete obligatory acts, have prayers accepted, and achieve higher ranks.
Even those who strictly adhere to the five daily prayers should also focus on the following Nawafil, as they are a means to attain Allah closeness and higher ranks. Only the virtues of these Nawafil have been mentioned here. For further details and rulings regarding them, one should consult scholars.