What is type of prayer?
The prayers can be classified under two types: fard (obligatory) and nafillah (supererogatory)
I. The Obligatory (Fard) Prayer and its Types
The fard prayer can be classified under two groups:
- a) Prayers that are obligatory upon each and every one of the responsible believers (Fard-i ‘ayn): The obligatory cycles of the five daily prayers, and making these prayers up (qada) when they are not performed in their proper times, and the Friday prayer (Salat al-Jumu’ah) are the types of fard ‘ayn prayers. The Friday prayer is obligatory only upon responsible (mukallaf) Muslim men.
One should make up obligatory prayers, which are not performed in time without a valid excuse. It is prohibited to neglect obligatory prayers. If a responsible Muslim does not fulfill his/her obligatory responsibilities, he/she will be a sinner.
According to Shafi’i School, it is not appropriate for those who are required to perform the makeup prayers to perform the Sunnah prayers. This is because performing the makeup prayers is more important than performing the Sunnah prayers. This is why in such situation believers should do their best to complete their makeup prayers and then start performing their Sunnah prayers.
- b) Prayers that are obligatory upon the Muslim community Fard-ı kifayah: The only example for this type is the Funeral prayer (Salat al-Janazah). This prayer consists of neither bowing down nor prostration.
II. Supererogatory (Nafilah) Prayers and Their Types
Nafilah prayers are divided into three groups as a. Sunnah Muakkad b. Sunnah Ghayr Muakkad c. Mutlaq (Unqualified) Nafilah Prayers. The Sunnah prayers are the ones that were performed and recommended by the Prophet (pbuh) himself. Those who properly perform these earn spiritual rewards.
All nafilah prayers, which consist of more than four rak’ahs such as the Tarawih prayer, are performed in two by two cycles. (According to Hanafi School, the Sunnah cycles performed before the obligatory cycles of noon, late afternoon, and night prayers as well as Sunnah cycles performed before and after the obligatory cycles of Friday prayer are performed as four cycles).
a. Sunnah Muakkadah Prayers
These are the prayers that were often performed and were rarely neglected by the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). Some of these prayers can be performed in congregation. These are:
- Festival Prayers: Festival prayers of Ramadan and Sacrifice are Sunnah muakkad prayers for Muslim men.
- Tarawih Prayer: This is a Sunnah muakkadah prayer for every competent Muslim, both men and women, during the nights of Ramadan.
- Kusuf (Solar eclipse), Khusuf (Lunar eclipse) prayers and Istisqa prayer (asking rain from Allah when needed): Performing these three prayers is recommended. Muslim society as a whole should not neglect them.
Most important types of individually performed Sunnah muakkadah prayers are as follows: those that are attached to the five obligatory prayers. They are called “rawatib”. Eleven rak’ahs of such prayers attached to obligatory prayers are accepted as Sunnah muakkadah. These eleven cycles are as follows:
- Two cycles performed before the obligatory cycles of the Dawn prayer.
- Two cycles performed before the obligatory cycles of the Noon prayer and two cycles performed before and after the obligatory cycles of the Friday prayer.
- Two cycles performed after the obligatory cycles of the Evening prayer.
- Three cycles performed after the obligatory cycles of the Night prayer. One of these three cycles is the Witr prayer.
Witr prayer is the most virtuous one among the Sunnah muakkadah prayers performed in congregation. The reason why it is called Witr Prayer is that it is performed in rak’ahs of odd numbers at the end of the night. Witr prayer is not performed in congregation except during the month of Ramadan. In the second half of Ramadan, believers recite the supplication of qunut when they stand up from ruku’ of the last rak’ah.
The second most virtuous rawatib Sunnah prayer after Witr is the Sunnah cycles of the Dawn prayer.
It is Sunnah to perform a two-cycle prayer to ask help from Allah for a need (salat al-hajah), to repent for a sin, when entering into the state of ihram in pilgrimage, after the circumambulation around the Ka’bah, after returning from a journey, and before one’s wedding night. It is also recommended (mandub)to perform the Tahiyyat al-masjid (prayer performed to salute the mosque when entering it), the mid-morning (duha) prayer, and the mid-night (tahajjud) prayer, as well as performing a two-cycle prayer after performing an ablution or taking a bath.
b. Sunnah Ghayr Muakkadah Prayers
Sunnah Ghayr Muakkadah Prayers are the ones that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) sometimes performed and sometimes did not perform. If one has time, it would be acting according to Sunnah to perform such prayers.
- To perform two rak’ahs, in addition to the Sunnah muakkadah cycles performed before and after the obligatory cycles of the Noon and the Friday Prayers. In this way, the total number of the cycles of the Noon prayer becomes twelve and the total number of the cycles of the Friday prayer becomes ten. This is based upon the performance of two Sunnah muakkadah cycles before the obligatory cycles of the Noon and the Friday prayers. After that the two-cycle of Sunnah ghayr muakkadah prayer is performed. Then the obligatory cycles are performed. After the obligatory cycles, just as before, the obligatory cycles, two Sunnah muakkadah and two Sunnah ghayr muakkaday cycles are performed.
- To perform a total of 4 cycles (2+2) prayer before the obligatory cycles of the Late Afternoon prayer.
- To perform a two-cycle prayer before the obligatory cycles of the Evening prayer (if the congregation has not started to perform the obligatory cycles in the mosque)
- To perform 2 or 4 or 6 cycles of awwabin prayer after the Sunnah muakkadah cycles of the Evening prayer.
- To perform a two-cycle prayer before the obligatory cycles of the Night prayer.
c. Unqualified (Mutlaq) Nafilah Prayers
These are the prayers performed as recommended prayers (tatawwu, mandub, mustahab) in addition to the above-mentioned Sunnah prayers. These are not attached to the five daily prayers and are performed to gain more spiritual rewards. Time and numbers do not limit them. It is possible to perform as many prayers as one may want in the middle of the night or during the day as long as it is not during a reprehensible time with regards to the performance of prayers.