Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Assalam alaykum
Is it permissible to pray the four sunna cycles, due before the Zuhr prayer, after the congregation has ended?
Answer: Wa alaykum assalam wa rahma Allah,
Yes, it is permissible to makeup the four sunna cycles (rak‘ats), due before the obligatory (fard) prayer, after the congregation has ended. Similarly, you would make them up if you forgot to perform them beforehand.
A’isha reported that if the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) did not pray four [cycles] before Zuhr, he would pray them afterwards. [Tirmidhi]
The basis is that sunna prayers are not formally made up. But the following are considered exceptions to the general rule: (1) the sunna of Fajr, (a) when missed with the obligatory (fard) prayer, and (b) made up on the same day before Zuhr, and (2) the sunna before Zuhr, in all cases.
Note that the only time you would pray your sunna prayer whilst the congregation is taking is place is at Fajr, on condition that you will not miss the congregation. Otherwise, you would join the imam right away, and then make up the sunna afterwards.
However, if the sunna is missed entirely, the scholars recommend performing an equivalent number of cycles in order to compensate for what was missed, and to also maintain your spiritual routines. This is established prophetic practice.
[Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah with Tahtawi’s Gloss (2.49-50); Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar ‘ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar (1.482)]
Please also see: What Are the Confirmed Sunna and Non-Confirmed Sunna Prayers Associated With the Obligatory Prayers? and: The Sunnas Associated with the Obligatory Prayers and: Praying Sunna Prayers Outside of the Prayer Time? and: The Status of Confirmed Sunna Prayers
And Allah Most High alone knows best.
[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Tabraze Azam was born and raised in Ipswich, England, a quiet town close to the east coast of England. His journey for seeking sacred knowledge began when he privately memorized the entire Qur’an in his hometown at the age of 16. He also had his first experience in leading the tarawih (nightly-Ramadan) prayers at his local mosque. Year after year he would continue this unique return to reciting the entire Quran in one blessed month both in his homeland, the UK, and also in the blessed lands of Shaam, where he now lives, studies and teaches.