What is meant by 4 rakaat prayer in the following hadith?
- From Nu’aim bin Hammar RA, the Prophet PBUH said, Allah SWT stated:
يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ، لَا تُعْجِزْنِي مِنْ أَرْبَعِ رَكَعَاتٍ فِي أَوَّلِ نَهَارِكَ، أَكْفِكَ آخِرَهُ
“Son of Adam, do not be helpless in performing four rak'ahs for Me at the beginning of the day: I will supply what you need till the end of it.”
Sunan al-Tirmizi (475) and Sunan Abu Daud (1289) [This hadith is evaluated as hasan gharib by Imam al-Tirmizi. While Syeikh al-Arna’outh stated the hadith is sahih because its narrators are thiqah]
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.
Before we answer the above question, the above hadith is a hadith qudsi where the Prophet PBUH narrates the statement of Allah SWT. To understand it further, please refer to our previous article, Irsyad al-Hadith series 94.
According to the above question, scholars have differing opinions in determining the meaning of the four rakaat prayer during the day. Some of them understood its meaning as at the break of dawn while others believe that it means after the sun has risen. Among the scholars who are inclined towards the opinion which state that it refers to the sunnah fajar prayer and the obligatory Subuh prayer is Ibn al-Qayyim as stated in his book Zad al-Ma’ad. While most scholars are inclined towards the opinion which states that it is the four rakaat of Dhuha prayer and they are Imam al-Tirmizi, Abu Daud, Ibn Rejab al-Hanbali and many others.
We are inclined towards the opinion that state the 4 rakaat prayer stated in the above hadith is the Dhuha prayer performed with two salam as understood by most scholars.
However, there is a hadith which narrates the advantages of sunnah fajar prayer as a sunnah prayer that the Prophet PBUH was very mindful about.
- From Aisyah R.Anha, she said:
لَمْ يَكُنِ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ عَلَى شَيْءٍ مِنَ النَّوَافِلِ أَشَدَّ مِنْهُ تَعَاهُدًا عَلَى رَكْعَتَيِ الفَجْرِ
“The Prophet (ﷺ) was never more regular and particular in offering any Nawafil than the two rak`at (Sunna) of the Fajr prayer.”
Sahih al-Bukhari (1169)
- Aisyah R.Anha reported, the Prophet PBUH said:
رَكْعَتَا الْفَجْرِ خَيْرٌ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا وَمَا فِيهَا
"The two rak'ahs (before) Fajr are better than this world and everything in it."
Sunan al-Nasa’ie (1759)
Thus, the meaning of the above hadith is the encouragement for us to perform the sunnah Dhuha prayer of 4 rakaat, for Allah SWT has reminded us to never miss it. Furthermore, by performing the sunnah 4 rakaat Dhuha prayer, it would protect us from harm and Allah SWT would also protect us from sinning towards Him. (See ‘Aun al-Ma’bud, 4/118)
To conclude, let us all always perform the sunnah Dhuha prayer of at least four rakaat. Furthermore, the Prophet PBUH also greatly encourages us to perform the sunnah Fajar prayer and the Prophet PBUH himself always performs it. Lastly, may Allah SWT accept our deeds especially in this month of Ramadhan which is filled with blessings. Amin.