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Published: 13 March 2012
Fard & Sunnah Prayers, Tasbih & Dua' - What's the Difference?
Are you feeling overwhelmed and confused about all these different types of prayers, and when to pray them? We've broken it down into a simple format to understand, with each one described.
Obligatory (Fard) Prayers:
(Fard is referred to indicate those that are Obligatory to worship Allah, and to not pray the fard prayers is a sin.)
Chart for the Obligatory (Fard)Prayers (Prayer names for specified times, and number of unit/rakats):
Fard Prayers # of Rakat (unit) Time (Description) Specific times vary
Fajr 2 From dawn before sunrise
Dhur/Zhur 4 Between the declining of the sun & Asr prayer.
Asr 4 (Late Afternoon) Immediately after the last time of Dhur until just before the sunset.
Maghrib 3 (Evening) Soon after the sunset until the disappearance of the twilight.
Isha 4 After the disappearance of the twilight until midnight.
Optional (Sunnah) Prayers:
(Sunnah is referred to indicate those that were common practices of the Prophet PBUH that he did, said and approved. Sunnah is not obligatory, but highly recommended.)
Chart for Optional Prayers (Sunnah) (Prayer names for specified times, and number of unit/rakats):
Sunnah Prayers # of Rakat (unit) Time (Description) Specific times vary
Fajr 2 Pray them before the Obligatory (Fard) Prayer
Dhur/Zhur 4/2 You have options: Pray 4 rakats before Obligatory (Fard) Prayer, or 2 after , or both
Asr 4 Pray them before the Obligatory (Fard) Prayer
Maghrib 2 Pray them after the Obligatory (Fard) Prayer
Isha 4/2 You have options: Pray 4 rakats before the Obligatory (Fard) Prayers, or 2 after, or both
Muslim reported that the Prophet, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said, "…Hasn't Allah made for you Salat Al-`Ishaa' in congregation equal to Hajj, and the Fajr prayer in congregation equal to `Umrah."
"Whoever walks to an obligatory prayer in congregation, it is like Hajj, and whoever walks to a voluntary prayer, it is like a voluntary `Umrah." (Saheeh Al Jaami`, 6432)
"Whoever prays Fajr in congregation, then sits remembering Allah until the Sun rises, then prays two units of prayer, he will receive the reward of Hajj, and `Umrah - complete, complete, complete." (Saheeh Al Jaami`, 6222)
Tasbih (Glorifying Allah)
After each prayer it is recommended that you glorify Allah by saying the 'tasbih' (words glorifying Allah). It is Sunnah to count the tasbih on the right has as they are said in sets of 33 times saying “Alhamdulilah”, 33 times saying “Subhan Allah”, and then 34 times saying “Allahu Akar”:
It is authentically reported that people said, "O Messenger of Allah! The rich took the reward of akhirah, they do Hajj and we do not; they engage in jihaad, and we do not. So the Prophet, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, said, "Shall I not guide you to something that, if you stick to it, you will come with what is better than what one of them will come with: that you say Allahu Akbar 34 times, and Subhan Allah 33 times, and Alhamdulillah 33 times, at the end of every prayer."
Supplicational Prayers (Dua)
Dua is the best weapon for a believer after the obligatory prayers . It is indeed a tool that, when used correctly, and often, can enhance our inner spirituality, drawing us nearer to Allah s.w.t, and providing us with a greater appreciation for the blessings and mercy granted to us.
Dua is a form of worship. It is a method of communicating with Allah s.w.t that can be performed in any place and at any time. Dua should be made by the individual for their family and friends, and the entire Muslim ummah, as well as themselves. When making dua, ask Allah to grant you and others the good in this world as well as in the Hereafter. The Prophet said: "The dua of a Muslim for his brother (in Islam) in his absence is readily accepted. An angel is appointed to his side. Whenever he makes a beneficial dua for his brother the appointed angel says, 'Aameen. And may you also be blessed with the same.'" (Sahih Muslim).
Some people neglect dua because they feel that their dua is not answered. Allah s.w.t knows best why certain dua remain unanswered. We at times believe that we alone know what is ultimately best for our affairs. However, Allah s.w.t grants our dua according to His plan for us. Also, dua may not be accepted if it is not sincerely made, or is made by an individual who involves themselves in forbidden acts and does not repent for their sins. Another important thing to keep in mind is that Allah may not grand the dua when we “want” it, but rather will grant it to us when we decides we “need” it. We should not think that Allah does not hear us, because Allah is all knowing. He has a plan for us and we do not know what it is. It is written in our book of decrees, and if he wants us to have it, he will give it to us, and if we don't need it, he may keep it from us. He knows all our needs and will give it to us at the times he has decreed.
Islam Beliefs and Teachings 8th Edition by Ghulam Sarwar ISBN 0 907261 45 0