The Difference between the Fard and Nafilah Prayers

All Praises belongs to Allah the Most High. Allah is the One who sustains life and causes death. I bear witness that He is alone above His throne in a manner that befits His Majesty. I also attest to the fact that Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is His final Messenger sent to mankind and Jinn. To our topic:

This is part of a collection of terminology and vocabulary that the Muslim should know and understand.  Included in this series is the difference between a Messenger and Prophet, the difference between Miskeen and Fuqarah, the difference between Islam and Iman and various others. This definition and benefit was taken from a book titled “ Fiqhul ‘Ebaddah”. By Shaykh Muhammad ibn Salih Uthaymeen(may Allah have mercy on him).

The selections are my own based on what the ulema have mentioned in their books of Fiqh, Hadeeth, Usul and Tafseer. These definitions helped me to understand the language of the scholars better, in particularly religious verdicts.  And I hope it will assist my brothers and sisters as well. Ameen.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

There are some differences between the Fard and Nafilah Prayers. The most clear are as follows;

  1. The Nafilah-super-obligatory prayers are acceptable while in transportation, even if unnecessary. When a person is traveling and prays a super-obligatory prayer while in a car, plane, on a camel or in any other type of transportation he lowers his head for the ruku’ and sujud. Also he can pray while moving the direction he’s facing.
  2. When a person starts the Fard-obligatory prayer it is haraam for him to stop praying; unless it is extremely necessary. Now on the other hand it is permissible to come out of a Nafilah prayer with a valid reason. And if the person hasn’t got a valid reason to come out of the  prayer he’s  not held accountable.
  3. A person is a sinner when he abandons the Fard prayers. When he doesn’t offer the Nafil prayers he’s not a sinner.
  4. Fard prayers have been legislated to be carried out in congregation. The Nafilah prayers don’t have to be done in Jama’;except for a few particular prayers. Prayers like the one seeking rain from Allah and eclipse. There is no harm for a person to sometimes offer a Nafilah prayer in congregation. This is similar to what the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did with a few of his companions some nights. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) prayed Nafilah prayers with Ibn ‘Abbass(may Allah be pleased with him)once, Huthayfah(may Allah be pleased with him)once and with Ibn Mas’ud(may Allah be pleased with him)once.


During Ramadhan Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) prayed Qiyam three nights with his companions, and then he stopped. He was afraid that Allah would have made it an obligation. This proves that Qiyam in congregation during Ramadhan is a sunnah; as the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) prayed it in Jama’.

Translated by. Abu Aaliyah Abdullah ibn Dwight Lamont Battle

Doha, Qatar. 21/6/1429

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