Question 018: I want to ask the basic problem of my Salat (Prayer). How many nafal and sunnat are in the 5 prayers. For example: If there are 2 rak’at of fajr but before offering fajr prayer I offer 2 rak’at nafal. What are all the rak’at with nawafil of 5 prayers? I need to know the timings of daily Nafilah prayers?
Answer 018: There are two kinds of Prayer: Obligatory (Wãjib) and Recommended (Mandüb).
The recommended prayers are innumerable. Among them are the daily supererogatory (Nafilah) prayers which are eight Rak’ats for Zuhr (noon), eight for Asr (after noon), four for Maghrib (Evening) and two Rak’ats for Ishã’ prayers, which are offered while sitting and are, therefore, counted as one Rak’at, and are called Vatirah, and their due time is extended with the extension of their principal prayer ( the Ishà’ prayer), and two Rak’ats for the morning (Fajr) prayer before the obligatory one, their due time being early dawn and is extended upto when the due time of morning prayer lasts until the appearance of the redness (or twilight). It is permissible to offer them with the midnight prayer (Tahajjud) before dawn even at the middle of the night. Rather, it is not far from being better to offer them some time after offering the midnight prayer after mid-night, but it is more cautious to offer both of them before the early dawn except by inserting them in the night prayer.
There are eleven Rak’ats of supererogatory for the night, of which eight Rak’ats are called (mid) night (Tahajjud) then two Rak’ats are called Shaf’ (or couple) and one Rak’at called Vitr (single) prayer which along with the Shaf’ prayer is the preferable prayer, while the two Rak’ats of Morning Prayer are even more preferable than both. It is permissible to confine oneself to Shaf’ and Vitr only; rather particularly to Vitr in case the time is too short, while in case otherwise, it may be offered with the hope (of being desirable to Allah).
The due time for the (mid) night (Tahajjud) prayer is from the mid-night to the actual dawn (Subh-I Sãdiq), while morning (Sahar) is preferable than any other time, the last one-third of the night being entirely morning (Sahar), while its preferable time is one close to the dawn (Fajr), and even more preferable than that is the early morning (Tafriq) as was the practice of the holy Prophet, Allah’s Blessing be on him and his Progeny.
Thus, the number of the supererogatory prayers (daily Nafilah prayers) after counting Vatirah as one Rak’at comes to thirty four Rak’ats, double of the (daily) obligatory prayers. Of these supererogatory Rak’ats, eight Rak’ats are dropped for Zuhr during a journey causing Qasr (reducing the number of Rak’ats of prayers), eight for Asr and the rest remain intact, while it is more cautious to offer the Vatirah with the intention of hope (of being desirable to Allah).
According to the stronger opinion, it is established that the Ghafilah prayer is recommended, though it is not among the daily supererogatory prayers. It has two Rak’ats which, according to the stronger opinion, is offered between the evening (Maghrib) prayers and the disappearance of the western twilight.
In the first Rak’at, after the Surah Al-Hamd (Chapter 1 of the Quran), one must recite (in Arabic): “When Dhu al-Nun went off in anger and deemed that We had no power over him, but he cried out in the darkness, saying: “There is no god but Thou. Be Thou glorified, and verily I was among the wrong-doers.” Then We accepted his prayer and saved him from the anguish. Thus we save the believers.” (Chapter 21, Verse 87)
In the second Rak’at, after the Surah Al-Hamd (Chapter 1 of the Qur’àn), one must recite (in Arabic): “And with Him are the keys of the Invisible. No one but He knows them. And He knows what is in the land and the sea. Not a leaf falls, but He knows it, there is not a grain in the darkness of the earth, nor anything fresh or dry except that it is (noted) in the true Book.” (Chapter 6, Verse 59).
After having finished it, one must raise both his hands, and say (in Arabic): “O Allah, ask Thee by the keys of the Invisible which no one knows but Thou to send Blessing on Muhammad and the Progeny of Muhammad, and do for me such and such”. (In the last sentence) must pray as one intends to do, and then must say, “O Allah, Thou art my benefactor and has power to grant my demand. Thou knowest my needs. So I ask in the name of Muhammad and the Progeny of Muhammad, Peace be upon him and them, (to grant me) what Thou hast decided for me.” Then he must ask Allah whatever one wants. God willing, it shall be bestowed upon him by Allah, the Exalted and Glorified.
It is permissible to offer the supererogatory prayers etc. in a sitting posture even when he is able to offer them in a standing posture, but it is better to count every two Rak’ats as one Rak’at even in case of Vitr, so that one must offer it twice, each time one Rak’at.
 . Tahrir al-Wasilah of Imam Khomeini (ra), Vol. 1, Chapter on Preliminaries of Prayer; Tawdhihul-Masa’el (annotated by Sayyid Roohullah al-Moosavi al-Khomeini), vol. 1, pg. 425, issue 746. Muntahal-Amal, Imam Sajjad’s (as) life, using the Porseman software. Usul Kafi, vol. 2, pg. 352, hadith 7. Seyyid ibn Tawus, Iqbalul-A’mal, pg. 452. Tawdhilhul-Masa’el (Sayyid Roohullah al-Moosavi al- Khomeini’s annotations), vol. 1, pg. 426. Tawdhilhul-Masa’el (Sayyid Roohullah al-Moosavi al- Khomeini’s annotations), vol. 1, pp. 427-429.