Salat al Duha

(The Supererogatory Morning Prayer)

The supererogatory morning prayer has been narrated from the Prophet (saws) through paths that have reached mass-narration levels – from 19 to over 30 Companions – according to Imam al-Tabari, al-`Ayni in `Umdat al-Qari, al-Haytami, al-Munawi, and al-Qari in Sharh al-Shama’il, Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari, al-Kattani in Nazm al-Mutanathir, and as per the monographs compiled by al-Hakim and al-Suyuti as well as the recensions of Abu Zur`a al-`Iraqi in Tarh al-Tathrib, Ibn al-Qayyim in Zad al-Ma`ad, and al-Shawkani in Nayl al-Awtar. According to the vast majority of the Ulema of the Salaf and Khalaf it is a desirable and recommended prayer. The following post is an overview of the name, legal status, time, length, and immense merit of this important voluntary prayer.

I. Its name

The supererogatory morning prayer has many names. Among them:

(a) Salat al-Duha or Sibhat al-Duha, Sibha meaning a supererogatory prayer in general and Duha meaning morning, mid-morning, or late morning. This is the name that reoccurs the most in the narrations.

(b) Salat al-Awwabin (“Prayer of the Oft-Returning”), thus specified by the Prophet (saws) for the late morning prayer when the sun is very hot as per the hadith of Zayd ibn Arqam in Sahih Muslim cited below; the narration of `Ali who saw a group of people praying Duha immediately after sunrise and advised them to delay it, saying: “It would be best if they left it until the sun was one or two spear-lengths high for that is Salat al-Awwabin.” Ibn Abi Shayba and al-Tabari, cf. Kanz al-`Ummal #23437, 23461. And `Awn al-`Uqayli in explanation of the verse “innahu kana lil-awwabina ghafura” –“verily he is most forgiving to those who turn to him again and again (in true penitence)” (17:25): “Meaning those who pray Salat al-Duha.” Narrated by al-Asbahani in al-Targhib as cited by al-Shawkani in Nayl al-Awtar. See more evidence for this appellation below [II.6(a-c)]. The reason for this name is that one leaves dunya at that time to return to Allah Most High and makes up for the Night prayer that he missed. Hence Salat al-Duha is even more stressed for those who miss tahajjud and is its replacement, cf. Ibn al-Qayyim, Zad al-Ma`ad (1:356) as cited in `Itr, I`lam al-Anam Sharh Bulugh al-Maram (p. 628). Note: `Ubayd ibn `Umayr defined al-Awwabin as “Those who remember their sins when all alone then ask Allah forgiveness.” In al-Qurtubi’s Tafsir for the verse “Rabbukum a`lamu bima fi nufusikum in takunu salihina fa’innahu kana lil-awwabina ghafura – Your Lord is best aware of what is in your minds. If you are righteous, then lo! He was ever Forgiving unto those who turn (unto Him)” (17:25).

(c) Salat al-Ishraq (“Sunrise Prayer”) i.e. very shortly after sunrise, and this is its Qur’anic name as per the narration of Ibn `Abbas in the Sunan of Sa`id ibn Mansur: “I searched for Salat al-Duha in the Qur’an and found it in the verse “yusabbihna bil-`ashiyyi wal-ishraq – Lo! We subdued the hills to hymn the praises (of their Lord) with him [Dawud] at nightfall and sunrise” (38:18). Cf. also Ibn Abi Shayba in his Musannaf and al-Bayhaqi in Shu`ab al-Iman from Ibn `Abbas: “Verily it [Salat al-Duha] is in the Book of Allah, nor can they penetrate it who attempt to penetrate it! [i.e. without knowledge] Then he recited: “In houses which Allah has allowed to be exalted and that His name shall be remembered therein. Therein do they offer praise to Him at morn and evening”(24:36).”

(d) Salat al-Fath (“The Victory Prayer”) because it is established that the Prophet (saws) prayed it the morning he entered Makka (in al-Bukhari and Muslim) and this has become the Sunna of military leaders upon entering a newly-conquered region.

II. Its legal status and time

1. Fiqh al-`Ibadat `ala al-Madhhab al-Shafi`i: Kitab al-Salat: Al-Salawat al-Masnuna:

Salat al-Duha has the status of a Sunna mu’akkada (emphasized Sunna)… and its time is from the rising of the sun a spear-length from the horizon until it passes its zenith, while the preferred time is that one begins it after one quarter of the day has passed due to the hadith of Zayd ibn Arqam [see below].”

2. Al-Fiqh `ala al-Madhahib al-Arba`a: Kitab al-Salat: Salat al-Tatawwu`: Salat al-Duha:

Salat al-Duha is a Sunna acording to three of the Imams while the Malikis differed and said it is a stressed mandub prayer but not a Sunna.

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