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Related Categories: Fiqh

» 18th November 2010
The Sunnah Prayer Of Fajr
The Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) laid great emphasis on the sunnah prayer of Fajr, saying, "It is more superior than the world and everything within it." (Sahih Muslim 1:151) Likewise, there are a number of narrations from which the importance of this sunnah prayer can be understood. This means that a person should ensure that is is performed prior to the fard prayer, since no sunnah prayer is permissible until after sunrise, once the fard prayer of Fajr is performed.

So what is one to do if he arrives lat to the masjid for Fajr, and finds the congregational prayer about to begin or already in progress? On the one hand, he remembers the emphasis regarding the sunnah prayer of Fajr, yet on the other, he knows the hadith of the Messenger (salallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) stating that once the call to commence (iqama) has been made, only the fard prayer should be performed.

The Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, "Once the call to commence (iqama) is made for the prayer, there is no prayer except the fard prayer (maktuba)." (Sahih Muslim 1:247) This worshipper (musalli) is unsure of what to do in this situation. Should he hurry and perform the sunnah prayer, then catch up with the imam for the fard prayer, or should he abandon the sunnah prayer altogether and join in the congregation? There is a difference of opinion among the scholars on this issue.

The Various Opinions

One opinion is that is it necessary for this person to immediately join the congregation for the fard prayer, and that it is no longer permissible for him to perform the sunnah prayer during the congregation fard prayer, just as is the ruling for other prayers.

Imam Abu Hanifa (rahmatullahi alaih) and Imam Malik (rahmatullahi alaih) are of the opinion that the person should attempt to perfom his sunnah prayer, as long as he thinks he can complete it quickly and join the fard prayer before it ends, i.e. even if he catches only the last sitting. This means that he must be confident of not missing the congregation completely, otherwise he should leave performing the sunnah and join the congregation; because, technically speaking, the congregational fard prayer is more important.

One point to remember, however, is that once the congregational fard prayer begins, the sunnah prayer should not be performed where the main congregation is in progress. It should be performed outside the main prayer-hall (masjid) area.

Another view of some Hanafi scholars is that a person should only attempt to perform the sunnah prayer if he feels confident of aquiring at least one rak'ah behind the imam. This means that he must be certain of catching up with the imam before he stands up from the bowing (ruku') of the second rak'ah of the fard.

This difference of opinion is only concerning the two-rak'ats sunnah of Fajr, and there is no controversy regarding the sunnah in other prayers. All the scholars are unanimous that once the congregation for those prayers commences, no other sunnah prayer is permissible, because although all the sunnah prayers are important, they are not as emphasized as the sunnah of Fajr. Also, if a person happen to miss the sunnah prayer of Zuhr for instance, he can make it up after the fard, since it is not a prohibited time for it.

Importance Of The Sunnah Prayer Of Fajr

1) 'A'isha (radiallahu anha) said, "The Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) was not as regular in any supererogatory (nafl) prayer as he was in the two rak'ats before Fajr." (Sahih Muslim 1:251)

2) 'A'isha (radiallahu anha) said, "I did not observe the Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) hasten towards any supererogatory (nafl) prayer as fast as he would to perform the two rak'ats before Fajr." (Sahih Muslim 1:251)

3) 'A'isha (radiallahu anha) reports that the Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, "The two (sunnah) rak'ats of Fajr are more superior than the world and everything within it." (Sahih Muslims 1:251)

4) 'A'isha (radiallahu anha) reports that the Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said regarding the two (sunnah) rak'ats at the break of dawn, "They are more beloved to me than the enitre world." (Sahih Muslim 1:251)

5) Abu Hurayra (radiallahu anh) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, "Do not abandon the sunnah rak'ats of Fajr, even if horses trample over you." (Sunan Abu Dawud 1:186, Athar al-Sunan 1:224)

All the above hadiths explain the significance of and emphasis placed on the sunnah prayer of Fajr. Since the sunnah rak'ats of other prayers are not as greatly emphasized as the sunnah of Fajr, they are treated differently.

The Companions (Sahabah - radiallahu anhum) And Followers (Tabi'een - rahmatullahi alaihim) On This Issue

There are also many other rigorously authenticated hadiths which confirm that the Companions of the Messenger (salallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) would attempt to complete their sunnah prayer prior to joining the congregational fard prayer of Fajr if it had already commenced.

1) Imam Tahawi reports from Nafi': "I wakened Ibn 'Umar (radiallahu anhuma) for the Fajr prayer, while the prayer had already commenced. He arose and performed the two rak'ats (sunnah) first." (Sharh Ma'ani al-Athar 1:375)

2) Abu Ishaq says, "'Abdullah ibn Abu Musa related to me from his father regarding the time Sa'id ibn al-'As called them. He had called Abu Musa, Hadhayfa, and 'Abullah ibn Mas'ud (radiallahu anhum) before the Fajr prayer. When they departed from him, the congregation had already begun, so 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud (radiallahu anh) positioned himself behind a pillar in the masjid and perfomed two rak'ats sunnah first, then joined the congregation." (Sharh Ma'ani al-Athar 1:374)

3) Abu 'Uthman al-Ansari reports: "'Abdullah ibn 'Abbas (radiallahu anh) arrived while the imam was leading the Fajr prayer. Since Ibn 'Abbas (radiallahu anh) had not yer performed the two rak'ats (sunnah), he performed them behind the imam (i.e. seperately), then joined in the congregation." (Sharh Ma'ani al-Athar 1:375)

4) Imam Tahawi has transmitted a report about Abu'l-Darda (radiallahu anh): "He would enter the masjid while everybody would be in rows performing the Fajr prayer. He would first perform his two rak'ats in a corner of the masjid, then join everyone in the (fard) prayer." (Sharh Ma'ani al-Athar 1:375)

5) Abu 'Uthman al-Nahdi says, "We would arrive at (times to the masjid where) 'Umar ibn al-Khattab (radiallahu anh) (was the imam), not having performed the two rak'ats (sunna) of Fajr. 'umar (radiallahu anh) would have already started the prayer, so we would perform our two rak'ats at the rear of the masjid, then join in the congregation." (Sharh Ma'ani al-Athar 1:376)

6) 'Abdullah ibn Abi Musa (radiallahu anh) narrates: "'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud (radiallahu anh) arrived while the imam was leading the Fajr prayer. He performed the two rak'ats (sunnah) behind a pillar, as he had not yet performed them." (Musannaf 'Abd al-Razzaq 1:444)

7) Harith ibn Mudrib narrated: "'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud and Abu Musa (radiallahu anhuma) left Sa'id ibn al-'As (after visiting him). The congregation (for Fajr) had just begun, so 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud (radiallahu anh) performed two rak'ats (sunna), then joined in the row (immediately)." (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 2:251)

8) Abu'l-Darda (radiallahu anh) would say regarding the sunnah of Fajr, "Yes, by Allah! If I ever enter (the masjid) and find everyone in prayer, I proceed to a pillar of the masjid and perform two rak'ats quickly; then I join the congregation and perform my Fajr with them." (Musannaf 'Abd al-Razzaq 1:443)

9) Abu'l-Darda (radiallahu anh), according to another report, states: "I (sometimes) approach the people while they are standing in rows performing Fajr. I perform two rak'ats (sunnah) then I join them." (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 2:251)

10) It is reported Ibn 'Umar (radiallahu anhuma): "He would sometimes join in the congregation (immediately) and at other times he would first perform his two rak'ats at one side of the masjid." (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 2:251)

11) Sha'bi narrates regarding Masruq: "He entered the masjid to find people engaged in the Fajr prayer. Since he had not yet performed the two rak'ats (sunnah), he performed them at one side, then joined the congregation in prayer." (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shayba 2:251, Musannaf 'Abd al-Razzaq 2:444)

12) It is reported that Hasan al-Basri had instructed: "When you enter the masjid and find the imam in prayer and you have not yer performed the two rak'ats of Fajr, perform them (first); then join the imam (in the fard prayer)." (Musannaf 'Abd al-Razzaq 2:245, Sharh Ma'ani al-Athar 1:376)

These are just some of the many hadiths which highlight the practise of the Companions (radiallahu anhum) and the Followers (rahmatullahi alaihim). A great jurist (faqih) like 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud (radiallahu anh), as well as many other prominent Companions, such as Abu'l-Darda (radiallahu anh) and Ibn 'Umar (radiallahu anhuma), would first perform the two-rak'ats sunnah of Fajr and then proceed to join the main congregation. Hasan al-Basri (rahmatullahi alaih), a prominent Follower (tabi'ee) who requires no introduction, orders in clear words that the sunnah prayer be performed before joining the congregation.

Other Reasons For The Hanafi Opinion

1) The emphasis regarding the sunnah of Fajr is far greater than that of any other sunnah prayer. It has been ordered that the sunnah of Fajr be performed even if there is a danger of horses trampling over the person. Due to this emphasis, there should remain no doubt as to why the Hanafi's excluded the sunnah prayer of Fajr from the command of the hadith that informs us of only fard prayer being permissible once the congregation begins.

2) It is sunnah to make a lengthy recitation of the Qur'an during the fard of Fajr. Hence, it is possible that one could quickly perform his two rak'ats sunnah first and then join in with the imam during the first rak'ah, the second rak'ah, or just before the ima makes the salam. This is normally difficult in other prayers where a relatively shorter recitation is made and the number of rak'ats recommended before them is four.

3) In the above hadith, the command regarding the inpermissibility of any non-fard prayer at the time of congregation cannot be taken as a general command encompassing all prayers. If it was an absolutely general command, then it would also be prohibited for someone to perform the sunnah prayer in his house once he was aware that the congregation had commenced in the masjid. However, many scholars have permitted that the sunnah prayer be performed at home, even though the congregation may have already begun in the masjid. Consequently, this leaves no room to critisize the Hanafi school for excluding the sunnah of Fajr from the prohibition. Many other scholars have also not taken the command to be an absolutely general one.

4) The word "maktuba" has been used in the hadith to describe the fard prayer. The general meaning of this word includes the missed (qada') prayers also, which indicates that it would be permissible to perform the missed prayers even after the congregation has begun. However, some scholars do not allow this. From this, it is understood that the hadith is not taken literally, just as it command is not taken in a general sense.

After mentioning these points, it could be concluded that the Hanafi school has reconciled both types of hadiths by saying that the person should only perform the sunnah prayer first if he feels he can aquire the congregational fard prayer before it ends. Otherwise, he should enter immediately into the congregation with the imam. In this way, the person benefits by attaining the reward of the sunnah prayer of Fajr and also the reward of performing the fard salat in congregation.

One More Point To Remember

At times, some narrations are quoted which explicitly exempt the Fajr sunnah from the command of the hadith (which mentions the impermissibility of prayer once the congregational fard prayer has commenced). However, those narrations are usually weak, and have neither been used as a basis for the Hanafi position nor as evidence to prove the Hanafi opinion against other opinions.

Likewise, there are some narrations which specifically indicate that the sunnah rak'ats of Fajr are included in the prohibition of the hadith. The narrations mention details of a Companion confirming with the Messenger (salallahu alayhi wa sallam): "Are the sunnah rak'ats of Fajr also invalid if they are performed after the congregation has begun?" The Messenger of Allah (salallahu 'alayhi wa sallam) answers him in the affirmative saying, "Yes! They are also invalid." These narrations, being even weaker than the others, will not stand as evidence to strengthen the other group's opinion.
» posted by Seifeddine-M on 18th November 2010 - 13 comments


6 Feb 2011
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Jamal Aamirah
15 Jul 2011
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Asalam ALaykom Wa RahmatuAllah,
Thank you for the information it is very helpful may Allah swt pour his blessings upon you. I have a question, if the Fajr time has entered is it permissable to pray sunnah and then fajr? Or do you have to pray Fard only until sun rises then do sunna prayer?
Please tell me as soon as possible.
Blogger's Reply:
Wa alaykumus salaam wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh May Allaah azza wa jal grant you likewise. Sunnah should be prayed and then fard. You should NOT wait until after sunrise to perform the sunnah. If the sunnah were missed, however, then according to the Hanafi school one has to wait until after the sun has risen, and then perform them. It is also disliked to perform any nafl salah (extra optional prayer) between true dawn (starting time of fajr) until sunrise. Only the sunnah and fard should be prayed. And Allaah knows best what is most correct.
15 Jul 2011
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Wa Alaykom Asalam wa rahmatuallah wa barakatu,

Sorry i do not think i made my question clear, what i meant was:
If the azan for fajr has been called, and the fajr time has entered, is it okay to pray the sunna prayer in this time? or should you always pray the sunna prayer befor the azan and befor fajr time has entered.

Jazakallah Kheer
Blogger's Reply:
wa alakumus salaam wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh The Sunnah must be prayed after the Adhan, within the Fajr time. If you wanted to pray before Fajr, then you could pray Tahajjud.
22 Oct 2011
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Asalam u alaikum. I have question that If I performed my two fajr fard with jamat and missed my 2 sunah. Can I perform right after 2 jamat. Is it okay
Blogger's Reply:
Wa alaykumus salaam wa rahmatullaah, According to the Hanafi school, performing the Sunnah raka'ahs of Fajr after the Fard salaah is a makrooh (detested/disliked) act. A hadeeth of Bukhari and Muslim reports from Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wa salam) that no salaah is to be performed betwewn the Fajr salaah and sunrise, and between the Asr salaah and sunset. (Maraaqil Falaah) If the Sunnah of Fajr is missed, then According to Imam Muhammad ibn Hasan (ra), it is preferable to perform Qadaa of the Sunnah of Fajr after sunrise, before it reaches zawaal time ( the time when the sun moves away from its central meridian). If the Fard of Fajr was also missed, the Sunnah should be performed with Qadaa of of the Fard, but only if it was done before zawaal on the same day. If the qadaa is performed afterwards, only the qadaa of the Fard should be performed (Shaami, volume 1, page 246, and Tahtawi alaa Maraaqil Falaah, page 246) And Allaah knows best what is most correct. Wasallam
30 Jun 2012
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Asalamu alaikum warahmatullahi wa barakatu

What's the opinion on if your in the sunnah, then the Iqamah is given...should you break the sunnah?
15 Sep 2012
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Ahraz Athar
I have a question.Today i woke up when there were 3 to 4 minutes to go before the sunrise.I knew that if i would offer the sunnah i will surely miss the fard.I offered the fard and could not offer the sunnah what should i do?
Blogger's Reply:
As salamu 'alaykum, According to Imam Muhammad ibn Hasan (ra), it is preferable to perform Qadaa of the Sunnah of Fajr after sunrise, before it reaches zawaal time ( the time when the sun moves away from its central meridian). (Fatawa Rahimiyyah)
12 Nov 2012
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abdifatah yussuf
mashaAlllah i benefit from it jazzakallah
30 Aug 2013
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Muhammad Ashraf Ali Siddiqui
As Salaam o Alaikum
What is the preferred practice, according to sunnah, in respect of 02 rikkah sunnah before fard parayer of fajir; to offer at home or at masjid? One sahih hadith mentions that all nawafil should better be offered at home and only fard is preferred to be performed at masjid in congregation.
Please advise.
Blogger's Reply:
Wa 'alaykumus salaam wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh, The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “See to it that your prayers are in your houses, for verily the best of a man’s prayers is in his house, except for the prescribed prayer.” [al-Bukhari and Muslim] The most meritorious location, generally speaking, for sunna and nawafil prayers is the house. This would apply to both pre-fard sunnas and post-fard sunnas. For the post-fard sunna, if one fears that by returning home they will be distracted or busied from preforming the prayer, then it is better to perform it in the masjid. The wisdom in praying in the house is that one is further away from the possibility of showing-off and one is able to have more sincerity and humility. Some scholars mentioned that the most meritorious place is the one in which the person is able to have the most sincerity and humility. There are some exceptions for the general recommendation of praying sunnas at home, such as the tarawih prayer. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar] It should be stressed that one should do whatever is needed to make sure they are not unnecessarily leaving the sunna mu’akkada (confirmed sunna) prayers. If one finds that despite resolving to pray at home, they don’t usually get around to it because of distractions, then they should pray at the masjid. If praying at the masjid facilitates the performance of the sunna ma’akkada, then it is better. Another consideration mentioned traditionally by some ulema and honored by many scholars of our time is the influence that one’s actions has on other masjid-goers. If one’s example of leaving immediately after the fard prayer could put off others from praying the confirmed sunnas, then it would be preferred to pray the sunnas in the masjid. This is an important consideration in our times. [Mulla `Ali al-Qari, Mirqat al-Mafatih]
31 Aug 2013
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Muhammad Ashraf Ali Siuddiqui
JazaKallah! Thankyou for a quick response.

Apropos to the above one elderly brother in masjid advised me to offer the said sunnah (02 rikkah before fajir) at masjid as it will serve as both sunnah-e-maukkadah and nafil for tahiyatul masjid. Thus the sawab will be twice. He reasoned since there is no prayer between sunnah before fajir and fard for fajir, tahiyatul Masjid cannot be prayed and hence praying sunnah at masjid will serve both the purpose.

looking forward to your advice.

Blogger's Reply:
as-salaamu 'alaykum, This is what I tend to do al-hamdulillah. As long as at least some prayer is performed at home, then no problem insha allah. If you did happen to pray the sunnah at home and then proceed to the Masjid, then according to the Hanafi madhhab: " limits oneself to exalting Allah (tasbih), declaring his Oneness (tahlil: by repeating 'La Ilaha Illa Allah'), and sending blessings on the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)…" Ibn Abidin (may Allaah have mercy on him) in his Hashia says: "Our (Hanafi) scholars dislike its performance in the times disliked for prayer, such as after fajr and 'asr. Therefore, if one enters after fajr or 'asr, he is not to offer the greeting prayer [tahiyya]; rather one is to offer tasbih, tahlil and send blessing upon the Prophet (peace be upon him) in order to fulfil its rights." (Radd al-Muhtar) was salaam
2 Sep 2013
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Muhammad Ashraf Ali Siddiqui
Blogger's Reply:
Wa iyyaakum brother
12 Sep 2013
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Jamal Ahmed
Jazak-ALLAH. Very informative article.
25 Mar 2014
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Jazak-ALLAH. Very Useful article
13 May 2014
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mirza luqman
i got many enormous knowledge from this article. Shukrun

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