بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
4 RAKAAT BEFORE ‘ISHA
A question often posed to me is regarding the 4 rakaat, sunnah prayer before ‘Isha, and here i will try and answer it concisely so no doubt is left behind.
There is no Sunnah Muakkadah/Rawatib (a given Sunnah prayer linked to a given obligatory one) before ‘Isha. But it is likeable to pray two or more Raka’at before ‘Isha as the Prophet ﷺ said: “Between each two Adhan (Adhan and Iqamah) there should be a prayer.” [Al Bukhari and Muslim].
You may also pray as many Nawafil (supererogatory sunnah prayers) between Maghrib and Isha as you wish.
Al Dhahabi mentioned while talking about Abu Uthman Al Nahdi that, Abu Uthman used to pray 100 Rak’ah between The Fardh Maghrib prayer and The Fardh Isha prayer. Meaning after the Maghrib Fardh prayer and before the Isha Fardh prayer.
An-Nawawi may Allah have mercy on him said: It is mustahabb to pray two rak‘ahs or more before ‘Isha’, because of the hadeeth of ‘Abdullah ibn Maghfal, according to which:
أَخْبَرَنَا عُبَيْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ سَعِيدٍ، عَنْ يَحْيَى، عَنْ كَهْمَسٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ بُرَيْدَةَ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ مُغَفَّلٍ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ بَيْنَ كُلِّ أَذَانَيْنِ صَلاَةٌ بَيْنَ كُلِّ أَذَانَيْنِ صَلاَةٌ بَيْنَ كُلِّ أَذَانَيْنِ صَلاَةٌ لِمَنْ شَاءَ ” .
“The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Between each two calls (the adhaan and iqaamah) there should be a prayer, between each two calls there should be a prayer, between each two calls there should be a prayer” – and the third time he said, “for whoever wishes.” (al-Bukhaari and Muslim.) What is meant by the two calls is the adhaan and iqaamah, according to scholarly consensus.
End quote from al-Majmoo‘, 3/504
فَصَلَّيْتُ مَعَهُ الْمَغْرِبَ فَلَمَّا قَضَى الصَّلاَةَ قَامَ يُصَلِّى فَلَمْ يَزَلْ يُصَلِّى حَتَّى صَلَّى الْعِشَاءَ ثُمَّ خَرَجَ
Hudayfah ibn Yaaman رضي الله عنهما said: “I prayed Maghrib (with the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم) and when he finished, he stood up and prayed. He continued to pray until (the time of) Isha. Then he left.”
This hadeeth is recorded in Musnad Ahmad, 5/392 and at-Tirmidhi, 3781. It was classed as saheeh by Albani in in Irwa’ al-Ghaleel, 470
This was a practise of a number of Sahabah and Tabi’oon. Some muhadithoon and and fuqaha have also described this act (of praying between maghrib and isha) as a confirmed ‘Sunnah’:
It is thus recommended to pray between Maghrib and ‘Isha, without specifying a set number of rak’ahs. Allah knows best.
- There are ayaat and athar that support and explain the virtue of praying at this time. One narration is reported from Anas ibn Malik – He commented on the ayah: “They used to sleep but little by night (invoking their Lord and praying, with fear and hope).” (Adh-Dhariyat: 17) – Anas said, “The companions used to pray between Maghrib and ‘Isha.” [Tafseer Ibn Mardawayh as quoted in ‘Awn al-Ma’bood, Abu Da’wud, 1322; Al-‘Iraqee authenticated the isnad]
- Ash-Shawkani said: “The ayaat and ahaadeeth quoted concerning this matter indicate that it is prescribed to pray a great deal between Maghrib and ‘Isha…” [Nayl al-Awtar, 3/68]
- Hafidh Al-Hakeemi acknowledged salah (at this time) as being a sunnah – He wrote that among the prayers which are recommended to perform is the prayer between Maghrib and ‘Isha. It’s recommended as it has a great reward in performing it.
- Hafidh al-‘Iraqee said: “Among the Sahabah who used to pray between Maghrib and ‘Isha’ were ibn Mas’ood, ibn Umar, ibn Amr al-Aas, Salman al-Farisi, Anas ibn Malik and some of the Ansaar.”
- Among the Tabi’een were al-Aswad ibn Yazeed, Abu Uthman al-Nahdi, Ibn Abi Maleekah, Sa’eed ibn Jubayr, Muhammad ibn al-Munkadir, Abu Haatim, ‘Abdullah ibn Sakhbarah, Ali ibn al-Husayn (Known as Zayn al-Abideen), Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Hanbali, Shurayh al-Qadi, Qadi Iyyad, ‘Abdullah ibn Maghfal and others like Sufyan al-Thawri.
Our Sh. Bakr Ibn Zayd ibn Muhammad referenced some of the above and commented on this topic in his beneficial word titled “Al-Afnan an-Nadeeya”, vol. 2, page 187. So it seems these evidences and acts of the Salaf encourage and guide people to offer salah at this time. It is thus recommended to pray between Maghrib and ‘Isha, without specifying a set number of rak’ahs. Allah knows best.
AS FOR THE CONFIRMED SUNNAHS’ – RAWATIB – MUAKKADAH
Hadith by the Prophet ﷺ in which he said:
“Allaah will build a house in Heaven for whoever is diligent in observing 12 Sunnah Rak’aat (as follows): 4 Rak’aat before and 2 after the Dhuhr (Midday) Prayer, 2 after the Maghrib (Sunset Prayer), 2 after the ‘Ishaa’ (Evening) Prayer and 2 before the Fajr (Dawn) Prayer.” Hadith sahih narrated by at-Tirmidhi No. 379 and by others. Hadith No. 6183 in Sahih al-Jaami’.
‘Anbasah ibn Abi Sufyan quoted Umm Habibah as saying “Allaah’s Messenger ﷺ said:
“A house will be built in Heaven for one who prays 12 Rak’aat in a day and evening as follows: 4 Rak’aat before and 2 after the Dhuhr Prayer, 2 after the Maghrib Prayer, 2 after the ‘Ishaa’ Prayer and 2 before the Fajr Prayer.” Narrated by at-Tirmidhi under No. 380. He said: The Hadith narrated by ‘Anbasah quoting Umm Habibah in this chapter is a hassan and sahih hadith. It is under No. 6362 in Sahih al-Jaami’.
The ‘Asr (Late-Afternoon) Prayer has no routine Sunnah (basic recommended voluntary prayer). However, it is mustahab (preferable and recommended) that one prays 4 Rak’aat before the ‘Asr Prayer. The 4 Rak’ahs are of less reward and significance in importance of adhering to them compared to the “sunnan al-rawaatib” described above. The 4 Rak’ahs are the ones intended by the Prophet ﷺ in saying: “May Allaah have mercy on one who prays 4 raka’aat before the ‘Asr Prayer.” Narrated by at-Tirmidhi no. 395 and he declared it a hassan and ghareeb Hadith. Al-Albany rated the Hadith as hassan in Sahih al-Jami’ No. 3493.
All the foregoing 4-Rak’ah voluntary prayers are to be prayed two at a time according to Imam ash-Shafi’i and Imam Ahmad, 2 by 2 with a tasleem after each 2 rakaat.
Other Nawafil Acts and Prayers with great virtue.
- The mother of the faithfull Umm Habibah Ramilah bint Abu Sufyan Radhiallahu ‘anhu narrated that she heard the Prophet ﷺ saying: “A house will be built in paradise for every Muslim who offers twelve Rak’ah of optional salah other than the obligatory salah in day and night, to seek pleasure of Allah.” Narrated by Muslim.
Note : these extra 12 rakaats of optional prayers, according to Imam Nasaai and Tirmithi are : 2 rakaats before the obligatory prayer of Early morning (fajr), and 4 rakaats before (Duhr) and 2 rakaats after it ,and 2 rakaats after the obligatory of early evening prayer (magrib) and 2 rakaats after the obligatory prayer of night (isha) prayer.
- Abu Huraira Radhiallahu ‘anhu said : “My Khalil (friend) (the Prophet ﷺ) advised me to observe three things and I shall not leave them till I die: 1. “To observe Saum (fasting) three days every (lunar) month; 2.” To offer the Duha prayer; 3. To offer Witr prayer before sleeping.” Naratted by Bukhari and Muslim.
- Aisha radhiyallahu ‘anha narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said: “The two rakaats before dawn (fajr) prayer are better than the world and all that it contains.” Narrated by Muslim.
- Aisha radhiyallahu ‘anha narrated that the Prophet ﷺ was never more regular and strict in offering any Nawafil than the two rakaats (sunnah before) dawn (fajr) prayer.Narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.
- Umm Habiba radhiyallahu ‘anha narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever, observes the practice of offering four rak’ahs before Duhr prayer and four rak’ahs after it. Allah will shield him against the fire of hell.” Narrated by Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi.
- One should make Witr as the last salah (prayer) (at night). Abdullah bin Umar Radhiallahu ‘anhu narrated thet the Prophet ﷺ said : “Make Witr as your last salah (prayer) at night.” Narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.
- If anyone enters a mosque, he should offer two raka’ah before sitting.
Abu Qatada Radhiallahu ‘anhu narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said : “If any one of you enters a mosque, he should pray two raka’ats before sitting.” Narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.
- Abu Huraira Radhiallahu ‘anhu narrated that Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said to Bilal Radhiallahu ‘anhu “Tell me about the most hopeful act (i.e one which you deem the most rewarding with Allah) you have done since your acceptance of Islam because I heard the sound of the steps of your shoes in front of me in paradise.” Bilal said : “I do not consider any act more hopeful than that whenever I make ablution (wudoo) at any time of night or day, I offer salah (prayer) for as long as was destined for me to offer.” Narrated by Al-bukhari and Muslim.
We ask Allah to allow us to follow in the footsteps of our beloved Messenger ﷺ.
والله تعالى أعلم
وصلى اللهم وسلم وبارك على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه والتابعين
أخوك أبو ناصر