Is Public Benefit Superior or Private Benefit? Extra Sunna Prayer Vs. Serving People?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: A friend had volunteered to help at the masjid to serve iftar food, along with other friends, but became delayed because he was reading extra sunna prayer. Some people became annoyed at him for the delay and a discussion ensued about which was more important in a situation such as this. Can you please clarify?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
Preparing the iftar should have been given preference.
A general principle is that general benefit is superior to personal benefit.
Further, it is proper that a Muslim keeps his word. This is the mark of a strong believer. If entrusted with a task, the basis is that one should fulfil it by following the sunna, doing so with excellence, and as a means of being of service.
However, this does not negate the virtue of the post-Maghrib voluntary prayer. The Prayer of the Oft-Returning (salat al-awwabin) is the prayer of the righteous. If one missed it with the firm intention that one would have prayed it if one was able to, then one will get the full reward, insha’Allah. And the trueness of such an intention would manifest in praying it, even if quickly, at a time when there was no immediate assistance required.
Please also see: Is It Obligatory to Fulfill My Promises?
And Allah alone gives success.
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani