records, from ‘Abdullah ibn Mughaffal that the Prophet said: “Pray before
maghrib, pray before maghrib,” and after saying it a third time, he said: “For
whoever wishes to do so,” not wanting the people to take it as a Sunnah. Ibn
Hibban records that the Prophet prayed two rak’at before Maghrib prayer.
Muslim records that Ibn ‘Abbas said: “We would pray two rak’at before maghrib, and the Prophet would see us but he would not order us to do so, nor would he prohibit us.”
Ibn Hajar says in Fath al-Bari: “All of the evidence points to the fact that it is preferred to say these two rak’at quickly like the two rak’at before the salatul fajr.”
Two Rak’at Before Salatul ‘isha
‘Abdullah Ibn Mughaffal reports that the Prophet said: “Between every Azhan and iqamah there is a prayer. Between every Azhan and iqamah there is a prayer.” And, after saying it a third time, he said: “For whoever wishes [to pray it].” This is related by the group. Ibn Hibban records from Ibn az-Zubair that the Prophet said: “There exists no obligatory prayer without there being, immediately preceding it, two rak’at.”
Separating The Obligatory Prayer From The Supererogatory
It is preferred to make a separation between the fard and nawafil prayers after one finishes the fard prayer.
One of the companions of the Prophet Sallallahu alehi wasallam reports that the Prophet prayed the afternoon prayer and right afterward a man stood up to pray. ‘Umar saw him and told him: “Sit, the People of the Book were destroyed because they did not differentiate between their prayers.” The Prophet said: “Well said, Ibn al-Khattab [i.e., ‘Umar].” This is related by Ahmad with a sahih chain.
The Witr Prayer
Its excellence and justification: The witr prayer is one that the Prophet Sallallahu alehi wasallam practiced and which he encouraged others to practice. As such, praying witr comes under as-sunnah almu’akkadah.
‘Ali says: “The witr prayer is not required like your obligatory prayers, but the Prophet would perform the witr prayer and say: ‘O you people [followers] of the Qur’an, perform the witr prayer, for Allah is one and He loves the witr.’” This is related by Ahmad, an-Nasa’i, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, at-Tirmizhi who calls it hasan, and al-Hakim who grades it sahih.
The opinion of Abu Hanifah that the witr prayer is obligatory is a weak opinion. Ibn al-Munzhir says: “I don’t know anyone who agrees with Abu Hanifah on this point.”
Ahmad, Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i, and Ibn Majah record that Al-Mukhdaji [a person of the Kinana tribe] heard from one of the Ansar, nicknamed Abu Muhammad, that the witr prayer is obligatory. He went to ‘Ibadah ibn as-Samit and mentioned to him what Abu Muhammad had said. ‘Ibadah observed: “Abu Muhammad is mistaken for I heard the Messenger of Allah say: ‘Five prayers are ordained by Allah for his slaves. Whoever fulfills them properly without any shortcoming, he will have a pact with Allah that He will admit him into paradise. Whoever does not do them, he will have no pact with Allah, and if He wills He may punish him and if He wills He may forgive him.’”
Also al-Bukhari and Muslim record from Talhah ibn ‘Ubaidullah that the Prophet said: “Five prayers during the day and night have been prescribed by Allah.” Hearing this a bedouin asked the Prophet: “Is there anything else upon me [in the way of prayer]?” The Prophet said: “No, unless you want to do more voluntarily.”
Time for witr prayer
All the scholars agree that the time for the witr prayer does not begin until after salatul ‘isha and it continues until the time of salatul fajr.
Abu Tamim al-Jishani relates that ‘Amr ibn al-’Aas was addressing the people during a Friday Khutbah and he said: “Abu Basra related to me that the Prophet said: ‘Verily, Allah has added a prayer for you, and it is the witr prayer. Pray it between salatul ‘isha and salatul fajr.’” Abu Tamim said: “Abu Zharr took me by my hand and we went in the mosque to Abu Basra and [Abu Zharr] said: ‘Did you hear what ‘Amr just said from the Messenger of Allah?’ He answered: ‘I heard it from the Messenger of Allah!”’ This is related by Ahmad with a Sahih chain.
Abu Mas’ud al-Ansari relates: “The Prophet Sallellahu alehi wasallam would make the witr prayer in the first part of the night or the middle of it or the latter part of it.” Ahmad has reported it with a sound chain.
‘Abdullah ibn Abi Qais relates that he asked ‘Aishah about the witr prayer of the Prophet Sallallahu alehi wasallam and she said: “Sometimes he would make the witr prayer in the first part of the night and sometimes he would make the witr prayer in the latter portion of the night.” Then ‘Abdullah asked: “How was his recitation, audible or inaudible?” She replied: “He did both. Sometimes he would be inaudible and sometimes audible. Sometimes he would make ghusl and sleep and sometimes he would make ablution and sleep [i.e., when he was sexually defiled].” This is related by Abu Dawud, Ahmad, Muslim, and at-Tirmizhi. It is preferred to pray it early if one suspects that one will not wake during the latter portion of the night. It is, on the other hand, advisable to delay it if one believes that one will be able to wake up during the latter portion of the night.
If one suspects that one will not be able to perform the prayer in the latter portion of the night, it should be prayed during the early portion of the night (before sleeping).
Jabir reports that the Messenger of Allah said: “Whoever of you fears that he will not be able to wake during the latter portion [of the night], he should make the witr prayer during the early part [of the night]. And whoever of you believes that he will be able to wake during the latter portion of the night, he should make the witr prayer during that latter portion as it is the blessed time [the angels are attentive to the prayers in the last portion of the night].” This is related by Ahmad, Muslim, atTirmizhi, and Ibn Majah.
Jabir also narrates that the Messenger of Allah inquired of Abu Bakr: “When do you perform the witr prayer?” Abu Bakr replied: “In the early portion of the night after the night prayer” Then the Prophet said: “And you, O ‘Umar?” He answered: “During the latter portion of the night.” The Prophet said: “As for you, O Abu Bakr, you have taken the careful way. As for you, ‘Umar, you have taken the way of hardship and firm will.” This is related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and al-Hakim who says it is Sahih according to Muslim’s criterion. However, the Prophet Sallallahu alehi Wasallam would pray the witr prayer near dawn time for it is the most blessed time, as mentioned previously.
‘Aisha reports: “Out of the entire night, the Messenger of Allah would sometimes perform the witr prayer during the early portion; sometimes he would perform it during the middle portion; and sometimes in the latter portion of the night, just before dawn.” This is related by the group.
Nevertheless, considering the possibility of losing witr, the Prophet advised some of his companions not to sleep until they had performed the witr prayer in order to be on the safe side.
To be continued