Performing voluntary prayers before making up missed obligatory ones
Fatwa No: 185281

Question

salam i have so many qadaa salaah. i don't remember their count. if i offer sunnat and navafil salaah without offering tha qadaa ones, will those sunnat and navafil prayers be acceptable? and also tell me if i just ask for Allah's forgiveness without offering qadaa ones, will it be acceptable? as i don't remember the count. those namaz got qadaa due to different reasons. i am not habitual of leaving prayers.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

You are obliged to make up the prayers that you missed because of forgetfulness or sleep without any difference of opinion among the jurists  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them on this issue. The Fiqh Encyclopedia reads: "The jurists unanimously agreed that it is an obligation to make up the missed prayers for the person who missed them because of sleep or forgetfulness."

It is an obligation to make them up immediately according to the view of the majority of the scholars, whereas the Shaafi'i School of jurisprudence is of the view that it is an obligation to make them up but not immediately as long as one missed them due to a sound reason like sleeping or forgetfulness.

The Fiqh Encyclopedia also reads: “The Hanafi and Maaliki Schools of jurisprudence are of the view that making up missed prayers should be done immediately and it is not permissible to delay them if one is able to make them up. The Shaafi'i School said: “If a person missed the prayer due to a sound reason like sleeping or forgetfulness, he is not obliged to make them up immediately, but the Sunnah for him is to take the initiative to make them up, but if he had missed them without a sound reason, then he must make them up immediately.

With regard to the prayers that you had missed without a sound reason, you are obliged to repent to Allaah for deliberately abandoning them without a sound reason, and according to the view of the majority of the scholars  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them you are obliged to make them up.

Nevertheless, a group of scholars of the Salaf (righteous predecessors) and the scholars who deny analogy, and this is also the view chosen by Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him and a group of contemporary scholars, you are not obliged to make them up; rather, you are not permitted to make them up since you had abandoned them deliberately. Imaam Ibn Al-Qayyim  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him   abundantly elaborated on this issue by providing the evidence of both parties of the scholars and he favored the view that it is not an obligation to make them up in his book entitled “Kitaab As-Salah”, so you may refer to it.

However, the view we adopt here at Islamweb is that it is an obligation to make them up in order to be on the safe side, and if you do not know their number, then you should pray as much prayers as you predominantly think so that you are acquitted from liability. For more benefit, please refer to Fataawas 83724, 84403 and 105182.

As regards your enquiry concerning whether or not your supererogatory prayers will be accepted if you perform them before making up the prayers that you are obliged to make up, then the answer is that the issue of acceptance is up to Allaah as this is a matter of the unseen. Even for prayers that one performs at their prescribed fixed time, a person does not know whether or not Allaah will accept them.

On the other hand, the jurists differed in opinion about the ruling on a person who missed (obligatory) prayers, whether he may perform supererogatory prayers along with making up the missed prayers or whether he should busy himself with making up the missed prayers as much as possible until he makes up all the prayers that he is obliged to make up as this is an immediate obligation. Some of them are of the view that he should perform the Rawaatib prayers (i.e. confirmed or unconfirmed supererogatory prayers that are performed either before or after the obligatory prayers) only and that it is disliked for him to make up the unrestricted supererogatory prayers, whereas some of them are of the view that he should not busy himself with any supererogatory prayers and neglect making up the missed obligatory prayers. But if one does not perform the missed prayers, then performing the optional prayers is better than leaving them.

Anyway, it might be that the moderate view is the view of the scholars who distinguished between the prayers missed for a sound reason and those missed without a sound reason. Al-Fataawa Al-Kubra by Ibn Hajar Al-Haytami  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him (from the Shaafi’i School of jurisprudence) reads: “In case a person missed prayers, then if they were missed for a sound reason, it is permissible for him to make up the supererogatory prayers along with them, whether it is the Rawaatib prayers or else, but if the missed prayers were without a sound reason, then it is not permissible for him to perform any supererogatory prayers before making up for the missed obligatory prayers as this is an immediate obligation on him.

Allaah Knows best

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