The Types and Virtue Importance of Nawafil11 min read

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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.

Tahiyat al-Wudu

It is recommended to perform two Rak’ahs of prayer called Tahiyat al-Wudu after completing the ablution (wudu). In Sahih Muslim, there is a Hadith that states that whoever performs ablution and then prays two Rak’ahs in such a way that their focus remains on both their outward and inward selves, Paradise becomes obligatory for them.

Tahiyat al-Masjid

When entering a mosque, it is recommended to pray two Rak’ahs of prayer called Tahiyat al-Masjid (the greeting of the mosque) before sitting down. The Prophet Muhammad () said that when one of you enters the mosque, they should not sit down until they have prayed two Rak’ahs.

Tahajjud Prayer

The Tahajjud prayer is one of the most important voluntary prayers and holds special significance among the Nawafil. It is highly recommended to pray Tahajjud, especially in the last third of the night when Allah special mercy descends. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said, “The most virtuous prayer after the obligatory prayers is the night prayer (Tahajjud).” The time for Tahajjud starts after the Isha prayer and continues until the pre-dawn (Fajr) prayer. If waking up in the middle of the night is difficult, then after the Isha prayer, one can pray 4, 2, or any number of Rak’ahs with the intention of Tahajjud.

Salat al-Ishraq

Salat al-Ishraq is a two Rak’ahs prayer performed shortly after the sunrise. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) advised that whoever prays the Fajr prayer with the congregation and then stays in their place of prayer, remembering Allah until the sun has fully risen and then prays two Rak’ahs, they will receive the reward of a complete Hajj and Umrah. Another narration mentions that the person’s skin will be protected from the Hellfire.

Salat al-Duha

Salat al-Duha, also known as the Forenoon prayer, is a voluntary prayer performed during the forenoon hours. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) emphasized the importance of Duha prayer and stated that those who regularly offer it will be protected by Allah. The recommended number of Rak’ahs for Duha prayer is between 4 and 12, depending on personal convenience. Duha prayer can be performed after the sun has risen a certain height until just before the time for the Dhuhr prayer begins.

Salat al-Awwabin

Salat al-Awwabin is a voluntary prayer consisting of six Rak’ahs that are prayed in pairs, with the intention of seeking forgiveness from Allah. It is recommended to pray Salat al-Awwabin after the Maghrib prayer. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) mentioned that one who prays six Rak’ahs after Maghrib without speaking to anyone in between, their past sins will be forgiven, even if they are as numerous as the foam on the sea.

Salat al-Zuhr

After the sun has passed its zenith (midday), it is recommended to pray four Rak’ahs of Salat al-Zuhr. There is a Hadith that states that whoever prays four Rak’ahs (in addition to the Sunnah Mu’akkadah) after the Zuhr prayer, Allah will build a house for them in Paradise.

It is essential to perform these voluntary prayers with sincerity and devotion, as they are a means to draw closer to Allah, seek His forgiveness, and attain higher ranks in the Hereafter.

Salat al-Tawbah

It is narrated from Hazrat Hasan Basri (رضي الله عنه) that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, ‘Whosoever commits a sin, then performs ablution (wudu) and does it well, then turns towards a clean piece of ground (a pure place), and there he offers two units of prayer (Rak’ahs), and then seeks forgiveness from Allah the Almighty for that sin, Allah the Almighty will forgive him.’ (Shu’ab al-Iman) If one ever commits a sin, they should immediately seek forgiveness from Allah the Almighty through Salat al-Tawbah. Through the blessings of this prayer, sins are forgiven, and the courage to avoid future sins is also instilled.

Salat al-Hajat

Whenever there is a need, whether it is related to the Owner of the Kingdom or a fellow human being, one should perform the Duha (forenoon) prayer and then pray to Allah. It is narrated from Hazrat Abdullah Abi Aufa (رضي الله عنه) that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, ‘When anyone has a need, whether it is with Allah the Almighty or with a creature, they should perform ablution, perform two units of prayer, then praise and glorify Allah, and send blessings upon the noble Prophet (ﷺ). Then, with these words, they should make their supplication, and Insha’Allah, their need will be fulfilled.’ The supplication is as follows:

لا إلٰہ إلا الله الحلیم الکریم،سبحان اللہ رب العرش العظیم،الحمدلله رب العالمین،أسألک موجبات رحمتک وعزائم مغفرتک،والغنیمة من کل برٍّ والسلامة من کل إثم، لا تدع لی ذنبا إلا غفرتہ، ولا ھما إلا فرجتہ، ولا حاجة ھی لک رضا إلا قضیتھا یا أرحم الراحمین.(جامع الترمذی)

Afterwards, whatever need is presented, one should supplicate in their own language.

Salat al-Shukr (Prayer of Gratitude)

When a moment of happiness or joy occurs, the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) would prostrate in gratitude to Allah, offering thanks. It is well-known that during expressions of gratitude, the Prophet (ﷺ) would offer lengthy prayers. We too, in times of joy and happiness, should offer Salat al-Shukr (Prayer of Gratitude) to Allah. This not only increases blessings but also draws us closer to Allah. It is a common practice of the Companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) and the pious predecessors to perform Salat al-Shukr when receiving a blessing or ease.

Salat al-Safar (Prayer of Travel):

When the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) intended to travel, he would perform a two-unit prayer (Rak’ahs) before setting off on his journey, and upon returning from the journey, he would again offer this two-unit prayer. When embarking on a journey, it is recommended for us to observe these voluntary prayers as well.

Salat al-Manzil (Prayer of Arrival):

Upon arriving at a place of residence during a journey, it is recommended to perform a two-unit voluntary prayer (Rak’ahs) before sitting down.

Salat al-Kusuf (Prayer of the Eclipse):

Salat al-Kusuf refers to the prayer offered during a solar eclipse, as per Islamic jurisprudence. During a solar eclipse, it is Sunnah to perform a two-unit congregation prayer.

Salat al-Khusuf (Prayer of the Eclipse):

Salat al-Khusuf refers to the prayer offered during a lunar eclipse, as per Islamic jurisprudence. During a lunar eclipse, it is recommended to perform the prayer individually. Hazrat Abdullah bin Mas’ood (رضي الله عنه) narrates that the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said: ‘When you see an eclipse, remember Allah with Takbir, Tahmid, and Tasbih, and then perform a prayer. Continue until the eclipse is over.’

Nafl (Voluntary) Prayer during Times of Calamity:

Hazrat Hudhaifah (رضي الله عنه) reported that during times of distress and calamity, the Prophet (ﷺ) would offer voluntary prayers. Numerous narrations highlight that the Companions, during times of hardship and difficulties, would hasten to the mosques, as if the Day of Judgment had arrived. Hazrat Abu Darda (رضي الله عنه) reported that when strong winds blew, the Prophet (ﷺ) would immediately go to the mosque, and Hazrat Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه) said that during the daytime when darkness covered the sky, he would perform a two-unit prayer and recite, ‘Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un’ (Verily, we belong to Allah, and to Him we shall return). Then he said, ‘We should do what Allah has ordained.’ (‘And seek help through patience and prayer.’) Prayer is a great mercy from Allah, so when we turn to prayer in times of hardship and calamity, it is as if we are turning to Allah’s mercy. When Allah’s mercy is on our side, what room is there for distress or calamity to remain?

Salat al-Qatl (Prayer for a Murdered Person)

When a Muslim is facing the punishment of death or is about to be killed in any way, it is recommended to perform a two-unit prayer (Rak’ahs) and supplicate to Allah for the forgiveness of their sins. This prayer and seeking forgiveness serve as the final acts in this world.

Salat al-Istikhara (Prayer of Guidance)

When someone intends to make an important decision or undertake a significant task, they should seek advice from Allah the Almighty through Salat al-Istikhara, which is a prayer of guidance. There is great emphasis on this practice in the Hadith. Hazrat Jabir ibn Abdullah (رضي الله عنه) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) taught them to seek guidance through Istikhara in all matters. One should perform this prayer after performing ablution, then offer a two-unit voluntary prayer (Rak’ahs), and afterward, sincerely recite the supplication

اللّٰہم إني أستخیرک بعلمک، وأستقدرک بقدرتک، وأسئلک من فضلک العظیم، فإنک تقدرو لا أقدر، وتعلم ولا أعلم، وأنت علام الغیوب․ اللّٰہم إن کنت تعلم أن ھٰذا الأمر خیر لي في دیني ومعاشي وعاقبة أمري فاقدرہ لي، ثم بارک لي فیہ، وإن کنت تعلم أن ھٰذا الأمر شر لي في دیني ومعاشي وعاقبة أمري فاصرفہ عني، واصرفني عنہ، واقدر لي الخیر حیث کان، ثم أرضني بہ۔


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Salat al-Tasbeeh (Prayer of Glorification)

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once asked his uncle, Hazrat Abbas (رضي الله عنه), if he would like to receive a gift, forgiveness, or something else. He then taught Hazrat Abbas a special prayer that includes ten attributes of Allah. The Prophet explained that when one performs this prayer, Allah will forgive all their sins, whether they are old or new, unintentional or deliberate, minor or major, and public or hidden. If possible, it should be prayed daily, but if that’s not feasible, it can be prayed on Fridays, monthly, or even once in a lifetime. It is highly recommended for those seeking entry into Paradise.

Salat al-Istisqa (Prayer for Rain)

When a region experiences a drought and there is a scarcity of rain, it is recommended for the community to gather for a congregational prayer seeking Allah’s mercy and rain. The Muslims should repent for their sins, pray a specific prayer without adhan or iqamah, followed by two khutbahs (sermons). Afterward, the Imam and the congregation should raise their hands in supplication, asking Allah for His mercy and rain. This practice should be continued for three days.

Salat Hifz al-Quran (Prayer for Memorizing the Quran)

If someone is experiencing difficulties in memorizing the Quran or has forgotten portions of it, they can pray a special four-unit prayer on Friday night. This prayer is believed to be beneficial for strengthening memory and aiding in the memorization of the Quran. The complete method for this prayer is detailed in a book by Sheikh Zakariya titled “Fazail-e-Quran.

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