Will you give information about the arrangement of the deeds of worshipping in terms of wisdom and taabbud?

The Details of the Question
Why do the nafilah prayers before and after fard prayers have different numbers of rak'ahs? Why is the sunnah prayer performed after the fard of the evening (maghrib) prayer? What is the wisdom behind them?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is necessary to mention the following feature in terms of being a criterion for this issue and similar ones:

“Some issues of shari'ah are called taabbudi. They are not subject to reasoning. They are fulfilled because they are ordered. The reason for their fulfillment is order.”1

That is, some religious issues are called “taabbudi”(requiring obedience without needing to know its reason). They are issues related directly to worshipping itself; for instance, the time, form, style and principles of worshipping. For instance, the fard of the morning (fajr) prayer is two rak'ahs; the fard of the evening (maghrib) prayer is three rak'ahs; The fasting of Ramadan is one month; zakah is given at the rate of one-fortieth of goods; hajj is performed in the month of Dhul-hijjah, etc. The states of some of the deeds of worshipping mentioned in the examples were determined by God Almighty and others by the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). We accept them as they are told us and fulfill them. 

There is no need to think of different forms from the ones that are stated and it is of no use. There are some wisdoms and benefits behind them but they do not change the forms and principles of these deeds of worshipping. As Nursi puts it, the reason for the determination of it like that is the "order". That is, it is necessary to do it as it is ordered and determined.

It is possible to mention the times of prayers and the times when it is makruh to perform fard or nafilah prayers among these “taabbudi” issues. First, let us have a look at the blessed words and attitude of the Prophet (pbuh) regarding the issue:

In a narration reported by Abu Said al-Khudri, the Prophet (pbuh) said,

“There is no prayer after the afternoon (asr) prayer until the sun sets and after the morning (fajr) prayer until the sun rises.”2

Imam Bayhaqi reports the following narration from Hz. Ali:

“The Messenger of Allah performed two rak'ahs of nafilah prayers after all fard prayers except the morning and afternoon prayers.”3

Those hadiths state that nafilah prayers cannot be performed after the fard of the morning and afternoon prayers. That is, only fard and missed fard prayers are performed at those times; no nafilah prayer is performed. This issue is regarded as “taabbudi”.

As for the issue of wisdom behind it, According to the explanation of Ibn Abidin, the wisdom behind the prohibition of performing nafilah prayers at those times is not because the time lacks but because all of the time is virtually filled with fard. Therefore, nafilah is not permissible.4 If the person who performs the prayer has enough time, he can lengthen the qira'ah in the fard of the prayer or perform missed prayers if he has any instead of performing nafilah prayers.

As we have mentioned above, the reason rather than wisdom or benefit of the issue needs to be regarded and attention should be paid to the real reason (doing it because it is ordered). The following hadith of the Prophet regarding the issue also needs to be remembered:

“Perform prayers as you see me perform.”5


1. Bediüzzaman Said Nursî. Mektûbat. (İstanbul: Sözler Yayınevi, 1981), p.371.
2. Muslim, Musafirin: 288.
3. Ahmed Davudoğlu. Sahih-i Müslim Tercemesi (İstanbul: Sönmez Neşriyat A.Ş. Yayınları, 1983), IV/421.
4. Ibn Abidin, I/251; at-Tahtawi, p.151.
5. Bukhari, Adhan:18.

(see Mehmed PAKSU, İbadet Hayatımız)

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