Bow with those who bow (Q2[Baqarah]:43)

Status and Rulings of Nawafil

Abu Hurayrah (RA) narrated that the Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: AlIaah, the Almighty "My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more beloved to Me than the religious duties that I have imposed upon him; and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works such that I love him. “ (Bukhari)


Allaah has obligated certain deeds upon his slaves. These are deeds a servant is required to perform in order to demonstrate his willingness to submit to Allaah and to protect himself from His punishment. These are the obligatory deeds (faraaidh). Beyond the obligatory deeds however, there are deeds which the servant voluntarily perform to demonstrate his sincerity to Allaah and his true willingness to please Allaah.


This is no longer a matter of fulfilling a command from Allaah or rescuing oneself from punishment. Now the servant is doing the deeds to get even closer and becoming more beloved to Allaah. In the shariah, these deeds are called nawaafil (supererogatory or voluntary). The word nawafeel is a plural form of nafilah which generally means extra acts of worship that are not part of the primary requirements for Islam.


Nawaafil deeds cuts across all facets of righteousness from salaat through to zakaat. Allaah says, (in a hadeeth Qudsi) For the purpose of this discourse however, the use of nawaafil will be restricted to the prayers apart from the five daily obligatory prayers (salaah) also generally known as Salatut Tatawwui'


Performing nawaafil deeds involve two broad aspects. Doing what pleases Allaah with an act of good deed even if it has not been obligated on you. The second aspect of voluntary deeds is staying away from actions that are makruh. Makruh actions are those that are not outrightly forbidden but are simply discouraged. If a servant avoids it, he pleases his Lord, get closer to Him and salvage his faith. The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, "That  which is lawful is plain and that which is unlawful is plain and between the two of them are doubtful. (or ambiguous) matters about which not many people are knowledgeable. Thus he, who avoids these doubtful matters clears himself in regard to his religion and his honour (Bukhari)


A Handy Makeup

Another aspect of nawaafil, which many, people •usually neglect, is that they rnake up for the shortcomings of the obligatory deeds. Very few Muslims, if any, perform their obligatory salawaat (prayers) in the manner that they are supposed to 'perform them, Many of us move about while praying, fidgeting with our clothing, looking here and there. And more importantly, for many of us, our hearts are not attuned to the prayers.


Shaytan comes to us and makes us think about almost everything except what we should be concentrating on in our prayers Very few Muslims are saved from this even those who are righteous. However, the difference between the righteous and the lackadaisical Muslims is that the righteous makes up for such shortcomings by performing voluntary prayers that take them closer to Allaah. The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, "The first deeds for will be his prayers. If they are in order he wiil have prospered and been successful.

But if they are wanting, he will have failed and been a loser. If there is some shortcoming in his obligatory prayers, the Lord will say. 'See if my slave has any voluntary prayers with which may be completed that which was wanting in his obligatory deeds." (Tirmidhi)


Nawaafil Raises To A Higher Status

Nawaafil takes the believer to a higher spiritual level and move him closer to being a wali (beloved) of Allaah. Mi'daan bn AbiTalha (RA) said: "I met Thaobaan, the slave of Rasul (salallahu alayhi wa sallam), I said to him: Inform me of a deed for which the doing of it, Allaah admits me to paradise. So he kept quiet, then I asked again and he kept quiet and I asked the third time and he said: 'I asked concerning this from the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) and he said: Be steadfast in making several prostrations for Allaah (the sujud of navvaafil) for you will not make any prostration for Allaah except that he raises your status and removes with it your sins'."(Muslim).


Nawaafil attracts the love of Allaah

People who perform nawaafil (which includes staying away from the disliked deeds) receive the love of Allaah in both this life and in the Hereafter. Allaah says about such a servant. "My, servant continues to draw near to me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him," (Bukhari). The entire goal of all righteous actions of a Muslim is geared towards earning the pleasure, mercy, forgiveness and love of Allaah. If performing nawaafil salaat will earn one all that then it is a righteous action that should be given a great deal of attention.


Salawaatu tatawwu' at home is best

Home is the best place to perform nawaafil except the one that is specifically attached to the masjid -Tahiyyatul masjid or the ones that are prescribed as congregational such as Salaatut Eidayn, Istisqaa etc. The Prophet (salallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said. "O people! Perform your prayers at your homes for the best prayer of a person is that which is performed at his home except the compulsory (congregational) prayer." (Bukhari)


During Journeys 

What is known from the prophet (salallaahu alayhi wa sallam) is that he does not perform his rawaatib (nawaafil before an after daily obligatory prayer particularly the afternoon prayers) during journeys except for the two units of prayer before fajr prayer. However. there are authentic reports concerning his (salallaahu alayhi wa sallam) performance of Salatud Duhaa, witr, and others during journeys.

Sometimes, the Prophet (salallaahu alayhi wa sallam) performed his nawaafil on his ride during journeys. Narrated Anas bn Maalik (RA): "Whenever the Prophet (salallaahu alayhi wa sallam) performs his tatawwui' (nawaafil) on his ride he faces the qiblah, says his opening takbeer.  Then his mount moves and he prays facing wherever it faces". (Ahmad).


This practice is only restricted to his nawaafil Narrated by Ibn Umar: "The Prophet (salallaahu alayhi wa sallam) would perform his nawaafil on his mount facing the direction the mount faces. He performed his witr (in the same manner) he would not perform his daily obligatory prayers as such"(Bukhari and Muslim).


The Longer the Standing the Better 

Calmness with full concentration is necessary requirement for sound nawaafil. The more this posture is prolonged, the better. Then, the Prophet (salallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: "The best of prayers are the longest in standing (during recitation)" (Muslim).


Be careful about Innovations

Sometimes in the bid to get closer to Allaah, people adopt means or methods that Allaah and His Messenger (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) have not commanded. Allaah says; "Or have they partners with Allaah who has instituted for them a religion which A1laah has not ordained?" (Q4 [Nisaa1: 21). He also says "O you who believe! Obey Allaah and His Messenger (Muhammad (salallaahu alayhi wa sallam)) and render not in vain your deeds" (Q47[Muhammad1: 33)


So many of these innovated practices come inform of nawaafil instituted by people to be performed in certain specified forms, days and times none of which are in accordance with the recommendations of the Prophet (salallaahu alayhi wa sallam). How would such people react to his saying? "Who ever introduces anything into this matter of ours that is not from it shall have it rejected" (Bukhari and Muslim). The Prophet (salallaahu alayhi wa sallam) also said: "Allaah puts a barrier in front of repentance for every companion of innovations until he leaves his innovations" (Tabarani). Therefore it is necessary to keep away from such practices. We pray Allaah does not render our acts of worship in vain bellow is a list of some of the innovated nawaafil:  


  • Some Rakat of nawaafil performed towards the end of Ramadan to expiate for the sins of missing obligatory salaah in the preceding year.
  • Nawaafil specifically meant for between magrib and isha specially called awwabiin
  • Nawqafil also specially meant for between magrib and ish a and called Salatul Gaflah
  • Prayer specifically performed with the intension to see the prophet (salallaahu alayhi wa sallam)
  • Some units of prayer performed on a specific day called Lailatul Mi'raaj
  • Salatul Ragaaib performed in the month of Rajab
  • Special nawaafil meant for every nightin the month of sha'baan
  • Salaatul Baraatspecially• meant for mid-sha'baan (nisful Sha'ban)
  • Special nawaafil specifically for Laylatul Qadri 
  • Special nawaafil specifically for the day of Arafat
  • 22 rakaats of salaah specially for the first jumu'ah of the month of Rajab.
  • Special nawaafil for the 27th nignt of the month of Rajab. 
  • Regular performance of nawaafil in the masjid in jama'ah. 



This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited



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