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Sunnat Nafelat

Shehrullah al Mo’azzam’s Layali Fadila are amidst us. The second dasko – maghfirat – has almost come to a close. During these days, we have spent countless hours in ibaadat: doing roza, reciting Qur’an, and especially, praying namaz.

RasulullahSAW stated, “Everything has a wajeh (face). Namaz is the face of your Deen.” Imam Ja’far al SadiqAS stated, “Of all your good deeds, Allah Ta’ala is most fond of namaz.”

Each of the five faridat – or the compulsory namaz – that we pray is accompanied by sunnat or non-obligatory salaams (includes Zohr and Isha’ nafelat namaz also), and nafelat or voluntary salaams. Sunnat namaz, while optional, is a practice laid down by RasulullahSAW: a model which he wished that his ummah should follow, hence, he said, “One who turns away from following my sunnah is not from my ummah.”

During His lifetime, RasulullahSAW treated both Faridat and Sunnat namaz as being obligatory. A’immat TahereenAS have also directed their followers to always pray sunnat. Nafelat (not to be confused with Zohr and Isha’ nafelat) is a tatawwa’ or voluntary namaz. Unlike faridat namaz, which are prayed at fixed times and have a fixed count, there is no set time or fixed count for tatawwa’ salaams. One can pray as many as one intends to, during namaaz timings.

There are 17 raka’at of faridat namaz and 34 raka’at of sunnat, inclusive of Shafa’, Watr and Julus. Thus SyednaTaher SaifuddinRA said, “In each day, there are 51 raka’at and musalli (the one who prays namaz ) is the 52nd. Hence, those who love and respect me and my mansoos Bhai Mohammed Burhanuddin will never forfeit even a single rak’at of faridat or sunnat namaz.”

The benefits of praying both sunnat and nafelat (tatawwa’) are twofold. Sunnat namaz although being counted as sunnat, also act as a compensator for faridat namaz.

A mumin asked Imam Ja’far al SadiqAS, “Is sunnat namaz obligatory?” “No,” replied the Imam, “But sunnat namaz compensates for the errors and mistakes that you might commit while praying faridat namaz, thereby make them reach the stage of completion.”

Think of this concept in terms of an assignment. Your completed assignment, the equivalent of praying faridat namaz, earns 85/100 points. Sunnat is like the 15 points of extra credit that you require to score 100 on your test. Praying sunnat thus ensures that your faridat namaz stands as 100% in Allah Ta’ala’s records.

Besides sunnat, Nafelat or Tatawwa’ namaz are of great significance, too. Allah Ta’ala is fond of “those people who constantly pray [tatawwa’] namaz.” During each day and night, Imam Zainul AbedinAS would pray one thousand raka’at of tatawwa’ namaz. (RasulullahSAW used to pray so many salaams of tatawwa’ that his feet swelled and complained towards Allah; upon which Allah revealed these verses “O Taha! (one of the many names by which Allah has called RasuluallahSAW)! We have not sent down the Qur’an to you to cause you distress.”

During Shehrullah, we too spend our nights in ibaadat, praying bihori – nisfullayl, tahajjud and many other tatawwa’ salaams. There is a firishta (angel) whom Allah has assigned the duty akin to that of a rooster; it arouses mumineen and urges them towards ibaadat and tatawwa’ namaz.  Its claws clasp the contours of the earth; its wings hover in the sky; and its neck extends high up, resting underneath Allah Ta’ala’s arsh in Heaven. When the hour of NisfulLayl approaches, this firishta cocks its neck and after doing tasbeeh, calls out “O! Those who pray tahajjud, rise!” After resting for some while, it exclaims again, “O! Those who recite qunoot (engage themselves in Du’as), rise!” Before Fajr it calls, “O! Those who do zikr of Allah Ta’ala, rise!” Finally, after fajr, when the night has passed and those who still have not awoken to answer Allah Ta’ala’s repeated calls to prayer, this firishta exclaims, “O! Those who are in the state of negligence (ghaflat), rise!” This firishta’s calls signify the importance of tatawwa’ namaz and the innumerable rewards and barakat we receive from following the Irshadaat, actions and expectations of Panjatan Paak, A’immatTahereen, and Du’at Mutlaqeen, especially those of our beloved Dai al-Zaman, Syedna Aali Qadr Mufaddal SaifuddinTUS.

Inspired by a renewed understanding of and appreciation for the value of every namaz – faridat, sunnat, nafelat and tatawwa’ – we ask Allah Ta’ala to give us the strength, patience and resolve to get ourselves absorbed in ibaadat for the rest of Shehrullah, especially on Lailatul Qadr, which will soon grace us with its bountiful presence.

As always, and specially on this auspicious Lailatul Qadr, our du’a would be for the long life of our beloved Maula Syedna Aali Qadr, who was born on this holy night.