Answered by Sidi Tabraze Azam
Question: I am confused about the number of obligatory prayers that need to prayed for the Friday prayer. I have been praying only two cycles behind the imam. However a friend mentioned that I have to read four obligatory cycles as well. Is this true?
Answer: Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you’re well, insha’Allah.
No, the obligation for the Friday prayer is two cycles (rak`ah) only. [Maydani, al-Lubab fi sharh al-Kitab]
As for the four cycles your friend may be referring to, this is a confirmed sunnah. It is a confirmed sunnah in the Hanafi school to pray four cycles before and four cycles after the Friday prayer, with one set of salams in each. [Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah]
The proof for this is the narration found in the Sahih of Imam Muslim that “the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) used to pray four cycles after the Friday prayer giving salams at the end”, namely giving salams at the end of the fourth cycle.
The Ruling of the Confirmed Sunnah
Our teacher Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explained the ruling of the confirmed sunnah as follows:
“The confirmed sunnah (sunnah mu’akkada) is that which our Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) or the Companions did most of the time (and was not of worldly habits). One who leaves it without excuse deserves reproach, not punishment. Leaving it habitually is sinful, though, because it entails ‘turning away’ from the guidance of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), whom we have been commanded to follow.” [Absolute Essentials]
The Wisdom Behind the Confirmed Sunnah Prayers
The scholars have mentioned many reasons for the legislation of the confirmed sunnah prayers.
Abu Zaid al-Dabusi mentions that the sunnah prayers were established to lift the deficiency found in the obligatory (fardh) prayers because the servants of Allah, even those of high rank, are not free from deficiency.
Qadhi Khan said that the sunnah before the obligatory prayers was established to overcome the tricks of the devil, so he (shaytan) says, ‘Whoever doesn’t obey me in leaving that which was not made obligatory upon him, then how will he obey me in leaving that which was made obligatory upon him?’ [Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah]
Lastly, following the way of the beloved (Allah bless him and give him peace) is the way to becoming beloved to Allah. One should strive to uphold the sunnahs in one’s life and watch as the ways of good open up for one. Pray out of love, longing and thankfulness and seek to emulate the way of the beloved (Allah bless him and give him peace).
And Allah alone gives success.
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani