What Is the Difference Between the Non-Emphasized Sunna and the Recommended?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam


Does habitually not performing something that is sunna ghayr mu’akkada or mustahabb in the Hanafi School is makruh tanzihi?

Are mustahabb and sunna ghayr mu’akkada synonymous in the Hanafi school?


No, it is not disliked to habitually leave the non-emphasized (ghayr mu’akkada) sunna, nor the recommended (mustahabb), as they are deemed to be extra, virtuous actions.

The difference between the non-emphasized sunna and the recommended

However, there is a difference between the two categories, as the jurists point out.

The non-emphasized sunna is that which the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) did regularly either

  1. out of habit, such as his way of dress, sitting and the like, or
  2. out of worship, such as the lengthy prayers during his personal worship.

The recommended, on the other hand, is that which the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) did once or twice, or only occasionally, without making it a habit.

Hence, there is an affirmed degree between the two levels.

Although there is no established dislikedness here, skipping such actions would be generally improper as it entails missing out on an opportunity to worship Allah Most High and seek His Closeness and Good Pleasure. For example, with regards to the four cycles (rak‘ats) before ‘Asr, it is reported that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “May Allah have mercy on the one who prays four cycles before ‘Asr.” [Abu Dawud; Tirmidhi] Ibn ‘Allan points out that there is an indication of glad tidings here for the one who performs it, namely, that he will have a good ending. (Note that two cycles also fulfill the sunna.)

Further, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) related that Allah Most High said, “… and my servant continues to draw closer to me by supererogatory (nawafil) actions until I love him.” [Bukhari] In reality, this life is about working righteous deeds, as the Qur’an exhorts us to, and each good we are able to do here will increase us in this life and the next. May Allah Most High grant us all the facilitation out of His Grace.

[Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar ‘ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar (1.70/2.83)/Nasamat al-Ashar Sharh Ifadat al-Anwar (167)]

Please also see: The Hanafi Madhab’s Approach to Classifying Legal Rulings and: The Rulings of the Sacred Law

And Allah Most High alone knows best.

[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorized the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan, and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.