Answered by Ustadh Sufyan Qufi
I came across a tweet by a scholar saying the habitual prayer of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) was 50 rak’ats a day. I need some clarification. I am building up a habit of praying all the prayers the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) would offer over a number of years. My calculation comes to 74 rak’ats a day. Please help me figure out which is more meritorious.
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
I pray this finds you in the best of states.
Feeling confused when faced with seemingly contradictory statements while trying to learn one’s religion is normal. This is why it is essential to follow one school of Jurisprudence for one’s worship and dealings. Clarity and ease in one’s practice will naturally follow. Please see this answer for more details.
Here is how you should organize and prioritize your daily prayer according to the Hanafi school:
You will have first to make sure to pray your five obligatory (fard) prayers: the Fajr, Zuhr, Asr, Maghrib, and Isha prayers. Missing them is sinful. [Shurunbulali, Nur al-Idah]
The Messenger of Allah (Blessings and Peace be upon him) has said: “Verily Allah, Most High, has said: ‘Whosoever shows enmity to a wali (friend) of Mine, then I have declared war against him. And My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more loved to Me than the religious duties I have obligated upon him. And My servant continues to draw near to me with nafil (supererogatory) deeds until I Love him. When I Love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, and his sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him; and were he to seek refuge with Me, I would surely grant him refuge.’” [Bukhari]
You will have to add to these prayers the Witr prayer, which is necessary (wajib). It is prayed according to the Hanafi school in a single prayer of three cycles. Missing it is also sinful. [Ibid]
Please see this answer to learn how to pray the Witr prayer correctly:
Details Regarding Witr, Confirmed Sunna, and Non-Confirmed Sunna Prayers
Emphasized Sunna Prayers (Sunna Mu’akada)
Then you will have to add the emphasized sunna prayers (sunna mu’akada). To get used to missing them without excuse is sinful.
Here is the list of the emphasized sunna prayers:
- Two cycles before the obligatory Fajr prayer. This is the most strongly emphasized of these prayers.
- Four cycles before the Zuhr prayer with one set of salams.
- Two cycles after the obligatory Zuhr prayer.
- Four cycles before and four cycles after the Friday prayer with one set of salams.
- Two cycles after the Maghrib prayer.
- Two cycles after the Isha prayer. [Tahtawi/Shurunbulali, Hashiyat Maraqi al-Falah ]
If you can, try to add to the prayers above the recommended (mandub) prayers. You will be rewarded for performing them and won’t be held accountable for failing to do so.
Here is a list of them given by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani (May Allah preserve him) in a previous answer:
“4 rak’ats after the Zuhr prayer. One can either include the two rak’ats of the confirmed sunna or pray them separately.
Likewise, before Asr, it is recommended among the non-emphasized sunnas to pray four rak’ats therein.
After Maghrib, it is recommended to pray six rak’ats. It’s called the Awwabeen prayer. One can include the two rak’ats of the sunna of the Maghrib in them or pray them separately.
Likewise, before Isha, one can pray four rak’ats or minimally 2. After Isha, it is recommended to pray four rak’ats, and one can include the two confirmed sunna rak’ats therein or pray them separately.”
After performing all the prayers above, there is a tremendous reward in performing voluntary (nafila) prayers.
Please see this answer for more details about them:
The Fiqh of Voluntary (Nafl) Prayers
Avoid getting overwhelmed in trying to perform all these prayers. Do not feel bad if you cannot go beyond the emphasized sunna prayers. The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) stated: “None makes the religion difficult except that it overcomes him. So, aim for what is right, stick to the moderate way.” [Bukhari]
And Allah knows best.
[Ustadh] Sufyan Qufi
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Sufyan Qufi is an advanced seeker of knowledge from Algeria and grew up in France. He began searching far and wide for answers to the fundamental questions of life and was disappointed at the answers he found. Then he connected with various traditional teachers and gradually connected with SeekersGuidance. He embarked on his journey of learning through the various teachers at SeekersGuidance, including his mentor Shaykh Faraz Rabbani. He studied numerous texts in Islamic Law, Theology, Hadith, and other areas with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and other teachers, including Shaykh Abdurrahman al-Sha‘ar, Shaykh Ali Hani, and others. He is an active instructor at SeekersGuidance and answers questions through the SeekersGuidance Answers Service.