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Sunnah prayer (Arabic: صلاة السنة) is an optional salah that can be performed by Muslims at almost any time of the day. These prayers are performed in addition to the five daily prayers, which are compulsory for all Muslims. There are a range of prayers available: some are done at the same time as the compulsory prayers, some are done only at certain times, e.g. late at night, and some are only done for specific occasions such as during a drought. All of these optional prayers were originally performed by Muhammad.
Group of Muslims performing Sunnah Salah after Jumua'ah Salaat at Orient Islamic School Hall in KZN Durban South Africa on Friday 2014.01.24
Tahajjud (Arabic: صلاة التهجد) prayer is performed at night time, and it is recommended that it be performed after first going to sleep for some part of the evening. Scholars have different opinions about whether sleeping first is absolutely required or not. In Saudi Arabia during the fasting month of Ramadan, there are many people who leave the Tarawih prayers in the main masjid in a hurry so that they can go home, go to sleep, and then wake up to perform their Tahajjud prayers in the early morning. Others simply stay in the mosque and perform these optional prayers before going home.
The time for the Tahajjud prayers falls between the prayer times of the isha'a prayers and the fajr prayers. It is also recommended that the prayers be done in the last third of the night. Muslims believe that the reward is greater for those who do this prayer at a later time. (It is harder to wake up and pray early in the morning, making the person's effort greater, resulting in a greater reward from God.)
Each prayer for a Muslim is made up with repeated actions: from standing, to bowing on the floor, to standing again is called one raka'ah. The Tahajjud prayer consists of a minimum of two raka'ah and the maximum number is unlimited.
- It is reported about the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) that he said: "Adhere to night prayer, for it is the habit of the righteous before you, and a means of drawing nearer to your Lord; it is an expiation for sins, and a deterrent from wrongdoing." [Tirmidhi & al-Hakim]
- Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-'As (Allah be pleased with him) relates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah be pleased with him) said to him, "O Abdullah, do not be like so-and-so, he used to pray in the night then he abandoned night prayer." [Bukhari & Muslim]
Allah's Apostle used to offer eleven Rakat and that was his prayer. He used to prolong the prostration to such an extent that one could recite fifty verses (of the Quran) before he would lift his head. He used to pray two Rakat (Sunna) before the Fajr prayer and then used to lie down on his right side till the call-maker came and informed him about the prayer. 
It is recommended that tahajjud be prayed during the last third of the night, but performing it at any other time is better than not performing it at all.
Tarawih (Arabic: صلاة التراويح) is an optional prayer in that can be done only during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. This prayer can be done alone, in a group, at home, or in a mosque or other public meeting area it does not matter. Typically, Muslims gather together and perform tarawih as a group, often amongst extended family members in one large house. Others may meet in their local mosque, a meeting hall, or even in an outdoor field. Depending on the country, the tarawih prayers might be done in mosque by men only, or by a mixture of men and women (although physically separated from each other). The number of raka'ah of Tarawih salah is Twenty. Prophet was afraid that if he continued to perform the prayers in the mosque, then his followers might come to think that they were compulsory and not optional.
After the death of Prophet Muhammad, the number of raka'ah was increased to twenty instead of eight by the second Caliph, Umar. Muslims now choose for themselves how many raka'ah to perform. In the main mosque in Mecca, the Imam (prayer leader) performs twenty raka'ah followed by a further three raka'ah known as witr prayers. The total number of people joining the tarawih prayers in the main mosque in Mecca may reach 3-4 million. They fill up all levels inside the mosque, the flat roof, outside in the courtyard, some nearby streets (which are closed off), and on occasions even using up space in the lobbies of some nearby hotels.
It is also customary for the Imam in Mecca's main mosque to recite the entire contents of the Qur'an during the fasting month by reading approximately one section per day. This practice of reading the Qur'an completely is known as khatm (complete recitation).
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Salat ul istasqa (Arabic: صلاة الإستسقاء) is a prayer consisting of two rakaah performed during the times of drought to ask Allah for rain.
salah = Prayer Rak'at = (One cycle unit of Muslim prayer from standing position to prostration, back to standing position) Sura = (A Chapter of the Quran) Khutbah = (Sermon)
The imam prays, with the followers, two rak'at during any time except those times in which it is not desirable to pray. In the first rak'ah, the imam recites Sura Al-A'la after Sura Al-Fatihah. And in the second rak'ah, he reads Sura Al-Ghashiyah after Al-Fatihah, and he delivers a khutbah before or after the salah. As soon as he finishes the khutbah, people face the qiblah and supplicate to Allah. It was first introduced in Madina in the month of Ramadan of 6th Hijrah.
Ash-Shaf'i states that it has been related from Salim ibn 'Abdullah, on the authority of his father that the Prophet would say for ishsqa': "O Allah, give us a saving rain, productive, plentiful, general, continuous. O Allah, give us rain and do not make us among the despondent. O Allah, (Your) slaves, land, animals, and (Your) creation all are suffering and seek protection. And we do not complain except to You. O Allah, let our crops grow, and let the udders be refilled. Give us from the blessings of the sky and grow for us from the blessings of the earth. O Allah, remove from us the hardship, starvation,and barrenness and remove the affliction from us as no one removes afflictions save Thee. O Allah, we seek Your forgiveness as You are the Forgiving, and send upon us plenteous rains." Ash-Shaf'i said: "I prefer that the imam would supplicate with that (prayer)."
Sa'd reported that for ishsqa', the Prophet would supplicate: "O Allah, let us be covered with thick clouds that have abundant and beneficial rain, frequently making a light rain upon us and sprinkling upon us with lightning. O Allah, You are full of majesty, bounty and Honour." This is related by Abu 'Awanah in his Sahih.
'Amr ibn Shuaib relates from his father, on the authority of his grandfather, that for istisqa', the Prophet would say: "O Allah, provide water for Your slaves and Your cattle, display Your mercy and give life to Your dead lands." This is related by Abu Dawud.
It is preferred for the one who is making this supplication to raise his hands with the back of his hands toward the sky. Muslim records from Anas that the Prophet would point with the back of his hands during ishsqa.
It is also preferred, upon seeing the rain, to say: "O Allah, make it a beneficial rain" and he should uncover part of his body to the rain. On the other hand, if one fears that there is too much rain, one should say: "O Allah give us mercy and do not give us punishment, calamities, destruction or flooding. O Allah, make it upon the woods, farms and trees. Make it around us and not upon us."
All of this is authentic and confirmed from the Prophet.
Kusuf and Khusuf (Solar and Lunar Eclipse)
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Salat ul-Kusuf (Arabic: صلاة الكسوف) is a prayer consisting of two rakaah performed during a solar eclipse, while Salat ul-Khusuf is a two rakaah prayer performed during a lunar eclipse. They are performed by the Muslim community in congregation.
Khusuf (Arabic: صلاة الخسوف) (Lunar Eclipse) salah (Prayers) is a Nafil (Extra Obligatory) salah (Prayers). It is offered at the time of a lunar eclipse. Khusuf salah is offered only in the areas of lunar eclipse. Two or four Rak'ah (Units) of Khusuf salah are offered in a Jama'ah (Group) or individually, with individual prayers preferred. Neither Adhan (Call for Prayers) nor Iqamah (Second Call for Prayers) is called for Khusuf salah. Recitation of the Quran during Khusuf salah can be done either silently or loudly.
During the time of the prophet, a solar eclipse happened. People hurried to link this to a worldly event, namely, the death of the prophet's son, Ibrahim. The prophet explained the truth of this matter to them. In his Sahih, Imam Muslim reported that `A'ishah said: There was a solar eclipse in the time of the Messenger of Allah. He stood up to pray and prolonged his standing very much. He then bowed and prolonged very much his bowing. He then raised his head and prolonged his standing much, but it was less than the (duration) of the first standing. He then bowed and prolonged bowing much, but it was less than the duration of his first bowing. He then prostrated and then stood up and prolonged the standing, but it was less than the first standing. He then bowed and prolonged his bowing, but it was less than the first bowing. He then lifted his head and then stood up and prolonged his standing, but it was less than the first standing. He then bowed and prolonged bowing and it was less than the first bowing. He then prostrated himself; then he turned about, and the sun had become bright, and he addressed the people. He praised Allah and lauded Him and said: "The sun and the moon are two signs of Allah; they are not eclipsed on account of anyone's death or on account of anyone's birth. So when you see them, glorify and supplicate Allah, observe the Prayer, give alms. O Ummah of Muhammad, none is more indignant than Allah when His servant or maid commits fornication. O people of Muhammad, by Allah, if you knew what I know, you would weep much and laugh little. O Allah, witness, I informed them."
- Sahih Bukhari, Book 2, Volume 21, Hadith: 223
- Ar-Risala by Ibn Abi Zaid al-Qayrawani