Are the last sunnahs of the noon, evening and night prayers, which are sunnah muakkadah, be performed as four rak’ahs? Is there a hadith about it?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

There are narrations stating that the last sunnahs of the noon and night prayers can be performed as four rak’ahs. It is mandub to perform the last sunnah of the noon prayer by adding two rak’ahs to it. The four-rak’ah nafilah prayer performed after Friday prayer is also sunnah muakkadah. For, the Prophet (pbuh) stated the following by attributing it to the noon:

"If a person performs four rak'ahs before and four rak'ahs after the noon prayer, Allah will make his body haram for hellfire." (1)

"The Prophet (pbuh) performed four rak'ahs before and four rak'ahs after Friday prayer; he would not separate the rak'ahs with salutations."(2)

The last sunnah of the noon prayer can be performed as two or four rak’ahs. When it is performed as four rak'ahs, only "Rabbana atina" is not read in the first sitting. When a person stands after the first sitting with takbir, he reads "Subhanaka". Then, he performs the last two rak'ahs like the first two rak'ahs.

The last sunnah of the night prayer can also be performed as four rak’ahs. The hadith reported in Tabarani’s Awsat is as follows:

"Four rak'ahs performed before the noon prayer is equal to four rak'ahs performed after the noon prayer. Four rak'ahs performed after the night prayer is equal to the ones performed on the Night of Power (Laylatul-Qadr)." (3)

It is performed just like the first four rak'ahs. However, it can also be performed by saluting after the first two rak'ahs. In that case, "at-Tahiyyat and Salawat" and "Rabbana atina" are read at the end of both prayers. It is more virtuous to salute after every two rak'ahs in the nafilah prayers performed at night.  

It is sunnah to perform awwabin prayer after the evening prayer. In a hadith reported by Abu Hurayra (ra), the Prophet (pbuh) states the following regarding the issue:

"If a person performs six rak'ahs after the evening prayer without uttering any bad words between them, the six rak'ahs will be regarded equal to worshipping twelve years." (4)

Besides, it is reported that the Prophet (pbuh) performed six rak'ahs supererogatory prayers after the evening prayer and said,

"If a person performs six rak'ahs after the evening prayer, his sins will be forgiven even if they are as many as the foams on the sea." (5)

Hanafi scholars who say that the awwabin prayer (the prayer performed after the evening prayer) consists of six rak'ahs including the two-rak'ah sunnah al muakkadah of the evening prayer base their view on this narration.  

In some of the narrations regarding the issue included in hadith books, it is stated that the Prophet (pbuh) performed four rak'ahs after the evening prayer and encouraged his Companions to do so. (6) Hanafis who hold the view that awwabin prayer (the prayer performed after the evening prayer) is six rak’ahs including the two-rak'ah sunnah of the evening prayer base their view on that narration.

According to the view that is preferred by the madhhab, this prayer consists of six rak'ahs in addition to the two-rak'ah sunnah muakkadah of the evening prayer; Hanafi scholars disagree among themselves about how to perform these six rak'ahs: Some say it is more virtuous to perform it as a whole, giving salutations only once, after the sixth rak'ah while others say it is more virtuous to perform it giving salutations twice; some others say it is more virtuous to perform it giving salutations three times (by performing two-rakah prayers three times).

Footnotes:

1- Bukhari narrated this hadith. The following hadith reported from Abu Ayyub by Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Ibn Khuzayma strengthens it: "The doors of the skies are opened for the four-rak'ah prayer without including salutation in it before noon."
2- Ibn Majah and Tabarani narrated it in Mujam. However, the chain of the narrators of this hadith is weak. Nasbur-Raya, II, 206.
3- Subulus-Salam, II, 4.
4- Tirmidhi, Salah, 431
5- Haythami, Majmauz-Zawaid, II, 230; Shawkani, III, 64. Both of them report from Tabarani.
6- Haythami, Majmauz-Zawaid, II, 230; Shawkani, III, 64. Both of them report from Tabarani.

Reference: Wahba az-Zuhayli, Fiqhul-Islam, Vol. II, p.173.

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