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Types of Prayers and Number of Rak'ats


There are four types of Prayers:

  1. Fardh
  2. Wajib
  3. Sunnat
  4. Nafl

FARDH PRAYERS

Fardh is an Arabic word which means compulsory or obligatory. There are five obligatory Prayers everyday:

Prayer No. of Raka at
Fajr

2

Zhuhr

4

Asr

4

Maghrib

3

Isha a

4

It is sinful to leave out a Fardh Prayer intentionally, but if such a Prayer is missed through forgetfulness or due to unavoidable circumstances, then this mistake can be rectified by offering the missed Prayer as soon as one remembers, or whenever possible.

WAJIB PRAYERS

The following Prayers are regarded as Wajib (necessary) Prayers:

  1. Three Raka'at of Vitr.
  2. Two Raka'at of Eid-ul-Fitr and two Raka'at of Eid-ul-Adha.
  3. Two Raka'at offered while performing the Tawaaf of the Ka'aba.

If a person misses these Prayers intentionally, he is deemed to have committed a sin. However, if he misses a Wajib Prayer unintentionally, e.g., through forgetfulness, he is not required to offer it as a Qada Prayer. Qada means offering of a missed Prayer.

SUNNAH PRAYERS

The Holy Prophet of Islam, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, offered extra Raka'at of Prayer in addition to those of Fardh Prayers. These Prayers are called Sunnah Prayers. Offering Sunnah Prayers is considered to be necessary by all jurists. The wilful neglect of Sunnah Prayers is censurable in the sight of Allah. Sunnah Prayers are:

  1. Two Raka'at before the Fardh Prayer of Fajr; but if a person joins the congregation without having offered two Raka'at of Sunnah due to some unavoidable circumstances, he can offer them after the congregational lead Prayer.
  2. Four Raka'at before Fardh and two Raka'at after Fardh in Zhuhr Prayer. In case one has not performed the four Raka'ats of Sunnah before the congregational four Raka'at due to unavoidable circumstances, one should do so after the congregational Prayer.

    Note: Ahmadi Muslims, who most often follow the Hanafi school of thought, offer four Raka'at of Sunnah before the Fardh of Zhuhr and two Raka'at of Sunnah after the Fardh of Zhuhr Prayer. However, some other Muslims offer four Raka'at of Sunnah before the Fardh of Zhuhr Prayer and four after the Fardh of Zhuhr Prayer.

  3. Two Raka'at of Sunnah after the Fardh of Maghrib Prayer.
  4. Two Raka'at of Sunnah after the Fardh Raka'at of Isha'a Prayer.

NAWAFIL PRAYERS

Muslims also offer additional Raka'at of Prayer apart from Fardh and Sunnah Raka'at. These are called Nawafil Prayers or Nafl.

These are optional Prayers. Those who voluntarily offer Nawafil Prayers reap the benefits of Allah's favours. Nawafil Prayers are as follows:

  1. Eight Raka'at of Tahajjud.
  2. Two Rak'ats after the two Raka'at of Sunnah at the end of Zhuhr Prayer.
  3. Four Raka'at before Fardh of 'Asr Prayer.
  4. Two Raka'at after the two Raka'at of Sunnah in Maghrib Prayer.
  5. Four Raka'at of Ishraq Prayer.
  6. Two Raka'at offered when one enters a mosque.
  7. Two Raka'at offered when seeking blessings from God Almighty.
  8. Two Raka'at offered as Salaat-i-Hajaat.
  9. Two Raka'at offered as a Thanksgiving Prayer.

There are some other Nawafil Prayers which are mentioned later in this book.

One may offer as many Nawafil Prayers as one wishes. However, Nawafil should not be offered during the forbidden times for Prayers. For example, they should not be offered between 'Asr Prayer and Maghrib Prayer. It is preferable to offer Nawafil Prayers at home rather than in a mosque except for those which have been mentioned to be offered in a mosque. However, it is a matter of personal choice and there is no compulsion in this matter.

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