Assalamualaikum SS Mufti. Is sunnah ablution prayer sanctioned in Islam? Hope for an explanation.
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Sunnah ablution prayer is one of the sunnah prayers that is sanctioned and tsabit according to syarak based on several prophetic evidences. This is according to a hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah RA where he said the Messenger PBUH asked Bilal bin Rabah:
يَا بِلاَلُ حَدِّثْنِي بِأَرْجَى عَمَلٍ عَمِلْتَهُ فِي الإِسْلاَمِ، فَإِنِّي سَمِعْتُ دَفَّ نَعْلَيْكَ بَيْنَ يَدَىَّ فِي الْجَنَّةِ
"Tell me of the best deed you did after embracing Islam, for I heard your footsteps in front of me in Paradise."
مَا عَمِلْتُ عَمَلاً أَرْجَى عِنْدِي أَنِّي لَمْ أَتَطَهَّرْ طُهُورًا فِي سَاعَةِ لَيْلٍ أَوْ نَهَارٍ إِلاَّ صَلَّيْتُ بِذَلِكَ الطُّهُورِ مَا كُتِبَ لِي أَنْ أُصَلِّيَ
"I did not do anything worth mentioning except that whenever I performed ablution during the day or night, I prayed after that ablution as much as was written for me."
Sahih al-Bukhari (1149)
The above hadith explains among the benefits of performing sunnah ablution prayer is a person will be placed in paradise of Allah SWT. Furthermore, Syeikh Badruddin al-Aini in his commentary on the above hadith said: “Indeed, Bilal will enter paradise and attain this benefit for his action of performing ablution every time he experiences hadas and praying two rakaat every time he performs ablution.” Refer Umdah Al-Qari, Al-‘Aini (7/08).
His statement is strengthened by another hadith narrated by ‘Uqbah bin ‘Amir al-Juhani RA, he said, the Messenger PBUH said:
مَا مِنْ أَحَدٍ يَتَوَضَّأُ فَيُحْسِنُ الْوُضُوءَ وَيُصَلِّي رَكْعَتَيْنِ يُقْبِلُ بِقَلْبِهِ وَوَجْهِهِ عَلَيْهِمَا إِلاَّ وَجَبَتْ لَهُ الْجَنَّةُ
“Any one performs ablution and performs the ablution perfectly and then offers two rak’ahs of prayers concentrating on them with his heart and face but paradise will necessarily fall to his lot.”
Sunan Abu Daud (906)
Likewise, it is stated in a hadith narrated by Utsman bin ‘Affan, he said, the Messenger PBUH said:
مَنْ تَوَضَّأَ وُضُوئِي هَذَا، ثُمَّ يُصَلِّي رَكْعَتَيْنِ، لاَ يُحَدِّثُ نَفْسَهُ فِيهِمَا بِشَىْءٍ، إِلاَّ غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ
“Whoever performs ablution like my present ablution and then offers two rak`at in which he does not think of worldly things, all his previous sins will be forgiven.”
Sahih al-Bukhari (1934)
Imam al-Ramli from among the al-Syafi’iyyah scholars used the above hadith when explaining the sanctioning of sunnah ablution prayer saying: Two rakaat for ablution is sunnah; it is when a person prays after performing ablution with the intention to pray a sunnah prayer. Refer Syarah Zubad, Al-Ramli (pg. 48).
Regarding the issue of the time when this sunnah ablution prayer should be performed, some scholars state that it is performed immediately after the person completes his ablution. Some scholars state that it is prioritized right after the ablution. Whereas some commented on when the time it ends. Syeikh al-Nasyiri said that sunnah ablution prayer ends when a long duration of time has passed (without performing it). Some scholars state that the time ends when the person does not perform it. While others state that the sunnah ablution prayer will only end when the person experiences hadas and we are inclined to this opinion considering that he is still in the state of ablution.
However, it should be explained that sunnah ablution prayer is fulfilled when the person performs obligatory prayer or other sunnah prayer of two rakaat or more. Imam al-Ramli said: “And this two rakaat (sunnah ablution prayer) is fulfilled when obligatory or other sunnah prayer of two rakaat or more like the two rakaat of tahiyatul masjid prayer.” Refer Syarah Zubad, Al-Ramli (pg. 48).
To conclude, we would like to state that it is sunnah to perform two rakaat after ablution and its sanctioning is tsabit according to the evidences we have stated above and it is prioritized to be performed right after the person completes his ablution. It should also be explained that if a person just performs ablution then enters the mosque, then for example, he prays the obligatory zohor prayer or the sunnah tahiyyatul masjid or sunnah rawatib qabliyyah, then all of these are sufficient for the two rakaat ablution prayer.
Lastly, we pray to Allah SWT to be given true understanding in the religion. Amin.