What does Az-Zahhaafah prayer mean? Is it permissible to offer two Rak‘ahs after Witr and before Fajr prayer?
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Az-Zahhaafah prayer is to offer two Rak‘ahs after Witr while one is in a sitting position. Scholars held different opinions regarding its prescription by the Sharee‘ah. Most scholars are of the opinion that it is not prescribed for the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “Make the last of your prayer at night the Witr.”
A third group of scholars stated that they are the two Rak‘ahs that the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, prayed after Witr and before the Athaan of Fajr, based on the apparent meaning of the Hadeeth narrated by ‘Aa’ishah in which she said: “The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, used to pray thirteen Rak‘ahs during the night. He would offer eight Rak‘ahs, then pray Witr with one Rak‘ah. Then he prayed two Rak‘ahs after Witr prayer in a sitting position. When he wished to bow, he stood up and bowed. He used to pray two Rak‘ahs between the Athaan of the dawn prayer and the Iqaamah.” [Muslim]
Ibn Taymiyyah said: ‘Most scholars did not hear about this Hadeeth and thus they denied it. However, Imaam Ahmad and others heard it and knew its authenticity. Imaam Ahmad held the permissibility of praying these two Rak‘ahs while one is in a sitting position as the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, did. So whoever does this should not be blamed for doing so. However, it is not obligatory and whoever does not do it should not be dispraised.’ End quote.
An-Nawawi mentioned in Sharh Saheeh Muslim (3/277): “Al-Awzaa‘i and Ahmad, adopted the apparent meaning of this Hadeeth and this is according to what Al-Qaadhi reported from them. They said that praying two Rak‘ahs in a sitting position after Witr is permissible. Ahmad¸ added: ‘I do not do it nor do I prevent one who does it.’ He then said: ‘Maalik denounced it.’ I said: ‘The right opinion is that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, performed those two Rak‘ahs after Witr in a sitting position to illustrate the permissibility of offering prayer after Witr and of offering voluntary prayers in a sitting position. However, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, did not observe them regularly, rather, he only did this once or a few times at most. We have interpreted the Hadeeth of offering two Rak‘ahs in a sitting position this way because the well-known narrations in the Two Saheehs (of Al-Bukhari and Muslim) and others from ‘Aa’ishah in addition to other narrations from many of the companions in the Two Saheehs, explicitly explain that the last prayer at night was Witr. Furthermore, there are many well-known Hadeeths that enjoin making Witr the last of the prayers at night such as “Make the last of your prayer at night the Witr”, “The night prayers are to be done two by two. Then when you fear that dawn is about to break, pray Witr with one Rak‘ah”, and the like. Then, how can one think, in spite of all of these Hadeeths and the like, that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, used to offer two Rak‘ahs after Witr regularly and make them the last prayers of the night? As we have explained, it is to indicate the permissibility of the act itself. This answer is really the correct one. As for what Al-Qaadhi ‘Iyaadh stated, about adopting the well-known Hadeeth and rejecting the narration of offering two Rak‘ahs in a sitting position, it is not correct because if Hadeeths are authentic and it is possible to combine them, then the combination becomes a must.” End quote.
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