The difference between Fardh and Nafl Prayers – 1

Reference: Ash-Sharh al-Mumti’ Vol. 4/129-130

1. The Faraaidh [1] prayers were made compulsory upon the Prophet (sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam) whilst he was in the Heavens, in the Night of Ascension. [2] This is different to the Nawaafil [3] prayers as they are similar to the other Islamic acts of worship.

2. It is impermissible to abandon the Faraaidh prayers without a valid excuse, as opposed to the Nawaafil prayers.

3. The one who neglects the Faraaidh prayers is sinning, as opposed to the one who leaves the Nawaafil prayers.

4. The Faraaidh prayers are limited in number. As for the Nawaafil prayers then there is no limit to them.

5. The Faraaidh prayers are to be prayed in the Masjid, whereas it is better to pray Nawaafil prayers at home except in cases of exception. [4]

6. It is permissible to pray the Nawaafil prayers whilst sitting [on any means of transport] in a journey. This can be done even if it is not a necessity. This is opposite to the Faraaidh prayers [whereby it is not permissible to pray sitting].

7. The Faraaidh prayers have been given specific times to pray within, as for the Nawaafil prayers, then some of them have a particular time whereas others do not.

8. Facing the Qiblah is not a condition for the Nawaafil prayers whilst on a journey, as opposed to the Faraaidh prayers [which must be prayed towards the Qiblah].

9. It is allowed for a person who is praying a Fardh prayer to then change this to a general Nafl prayer whilst praying, the opposite is not accepted.

10. The one who leaves the Nafl prayer is not considered a disbeliever by the consensus of the scholars. As for the one who leaves a Fardh prayer then he is considered a disbeliever according to the correct opinion.

11. The Nawaafil prayers are prayed so that any deficiencies in the Faraaidh prayers are completed and the opposite is not true.

12. To stand in the Faraaidh prayers is a pillar [5] of the prayer; this is different to the Nawaafil prayer [where it is not a pillar].

13. The Nafl prayer of the slave who has fled from his master is not accepted, however his Fardh prayer is correct and accepted.

14. It is permissible to suffice with one ‘tasleem’ [6] in the Nafl prayer, as opposed to the Fardh prayer. This is according to one opinion of the scholars of Fiqh.


[1] Faraaidh is the plural for Fareedhah, referring to those units of prayer which are obligatory upon the Muslim to pray. They are: 4 units of prayer for Dhuhr, 4 units of prayer for ‘Asr, 3 Units of prayer for Maghrib, 4 Units of prayer for ‘Isha and finally 2 units of prayer for Fajr.

[2] The Night of Ascension occurred before the migration of the Prophet (sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam). He was taken, by the angel Jibraeel, from Jerusalem to the seven Heavens. Refer to Al-Bukhaaree: 3887 and Muslim: 163

[3] Nawaafil is the plural for Naafilah, referring to those units of prayer which are optional and recommended for a Muslim to pray. Such prayers vary in their degree of importance and virtue. Despite being only recommended, the Prophet (sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam) would not leave the Witr prayer, nor the 2 units of prayer before Fajr.
Nawaafil prayers are either:
– 1. Mu’ayyan: specified for a particular reason, for example the Witr prayer after Isha or the 2 units of optional recommended prayer after Wudhu.
– 2. Mutlaq: General and not specific for any particular reason. These can be prayed in any time in the day, apart from the times wherein the prayer is prohibited.

[4] Such as the optional prayer for entering the Masjid and the Taraaweeh prayer etc.

[5] A ‘pillar’ in the prayer is such that if it is missed out – without an excuse – the unit of prayer must be repeated; this is the same for whether the pillar is missed intentionally or out of forgetfulness. An example of this is somebody who misses a prostration in the prayer. He must repeat that particular unit of prayer again. In this case, a person must pray the Fardh prayer standing except in cases of necessity such as illness, whereby a person can pray in the most appropriate manner – whether sitting, lying down or even – in cases of extreme necessity – by moving the finger.

[6] Tasleem: to end the prayer by turning the face to the right and saying ‘assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah.

الأمورُ التي تفارقُ فيها النوافلُ الفرائضَ – الجزء الأول

المرجع: الشرح الممتع – المجلد الرابع

1) أنَّ الفرائضَ فُرضتْ على النَّبي صلّى الله عليه وسلّم وهو في السَّماءِ ليلة المعراجِ، بخلافِ النوافلِ، فإنَّها كسائرِ شرائعِ الإسلامِ؛

2) تحريمُ الخروجِ مِن الفرائضِ بلا عُذْرٍ، بخلافِ النوافلِ؛

3) الفريضةُ يأثمُ تارِكُها، بخلافِ النافلةِ؛

4) الفرائضُ محصورةُ العددِ، بخلافِ النوافلِ فلا حصرَ لها؛

5) صلاةُ الفريضةِ تكون في المسجدِ، بخلافِ النافلةِ فهي في البيتِ أفضلُ إلا ما استُثني؛

6) جوازُ صلاةِ النافلةِ على الراحلة بلا ضرورة، بخلاف الفريضةِ؛

7) الفريضةُ مؤقَّتةٌ بوقتٍ معيَّن، بخلافِ النافلةِ، فمنها المؤقَّتُ وغيرُ المؤقَّتُ؛

8) النافلةُ في السفر لا يُشترط لها استقبالُ القِبلة، بخلافِ الفريضةِ؛

9) جوازُ الانتقالِ مِن الفريضةِ إلى النَّافلةِ غيرِ المعيَّنةِ، والعكس لا يصحُّ؛

10) النَّافلةُ لا يكفُرُ بتركِها بالإجماعِ، وأما الفريضةُ فيَكْفرُ على القولِ الصَّحيحِ؛

11) النَّوافلُ تكمِّلُ الفرائضَ، والعكسُ لا يصحُّ؛

12) القيامُ ركنٌ في الفريضةِ، بخِلافِ النَّافلةِ؛

13) لا يصحُّ نَفْلُ الآبق، ويصحُّ فَرْضُه؛

14) جوازُ الاجتزاء (الاكتفاء) بتسليمة في النَّفْلِ على أحدِ القولين، دون الفرض

He is a graduate of the Islaamic University of Madeenah, having graduated from the Institute of Arabic Language, and later the Faculty of Sharee'ah in 2010. He currently resides in Nelson, Lancashire and is the Imam of Masijd Sunnah.

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