Can qada (missed) prayers be performed instead of sunnah prayers? It is said that the sunnah prayers of a person are not accepted if he has qada prayers to perform.

Details of the Question

Can qada (missed) prayers be performed instead of sunnah prayers? It is said that the sunnah prayers of a person are not accepted if he has qada prayers to perform. Is it permissible for a person who has qada prayers to perform the sunnah prayers of the morning, noon, afternoon, evening and night prayers by making intention as qada prayers?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

According to Shafii madhhab, a person who has qada prayers to perform must not perform sunnah prayers. However, according to this madhhab, a person has to work hard sincerely to finish his qada prayers. He will be regarded to have committed sins if he does not spend all of his time except for his work and obligatory needs like eating, drinking and sleeping performing those qada prayers. As the scholar Halil Günenç says,

"A person who has qada prayers to perform – whether they are muakkadah or ghayr muakkadah – cannot perform any nafilah/sunnah prayers including eid and witr prayers." (Günenç, Büyük Şafii İlmihali, p.163)

It is completely contrary to the aim of this madhhab to abandon sunnah prayers on the one hand and not to make any efforts to finish the missed fard prayers on the other hand. He who acts like an ostrich will deceive himself.

The religion of Islam is too serious, careful and alert to disdain through the gift of the gab and demagogy. Allah, who is the owner of Islam, sees and knows everything completely. They asked the ostrich, "Since you are a bird, show us how you fly." The ostrich said, "I am a camel. Can a camel fly?" They said, "Since you are a camel, come and carry these loads." Thereupon, the ostrich had to give up his claim.

The view of Hanafi madhhab is as follows: It is more important to be busy with qada prayers than nafilah prayers. However, it is necessary to regard the sunnah prayers – whether they are muakkadah or ghayr muakkadah – performed together with fard prayers as different from other nafilah prayers. It is not appropriate to abandon them due to qada prayers. For, qada prayers can be performed any time since there is no prescribed time for them. However, when sunnah prayers are abandoned, it is not possible to perform them as qada. Therefore, it is necessary not to be deprived of their thawabs. (We should state here that according to Shafiis, sunnah prayers can be performed as qada any time.)

It will be appropriate to end the issue with the following statement of the scholar Ömer Nasuhi Bilmen:

"If there are some people who claim that they do not have enough time to perform both sunnah prayers and qada prayers, it will not be a just claim. How can the people who spend their valuable time doing useless things make such a claim?" (Bilmen, Büyük İslam İlmihali, p. 186).

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