Can I pray sunnas even though I have make-up prayers?

Answered by Shaykh Rami Nsour

Question: As Salaamu Alaikum:

In the Matn of Al-Akdhari it states that it is not permissible to perform Nafilah prayers if you owe make up prayers. It specifically states Taraweeh and Ad-Dhuha as examples of those that are not permissible to pray. The text, however, does not have anything about the nafilah that are connected to the fard prayers (with the exception of the two rakas of Fajr as being permitted to pray) or Taheeyatul Masjid. Are these Nafilah of those that aren’t permissible to pray while owing Qad’aa or would they fall under the category of those that remain permissible to pray such as Shafi and Witr…


A Note About Maliki Terminology for Prayers

In the Maliki school, there are four types of prayers and each have a specific definition. The first are the obligatory prayers which are referred to as fard or wajib. The second, which are the highest level of non-obligatory prayers, are referred to as sunna. The sunna prayers are those that were regularly performed by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) but there was not an indication that they were made obligatory. The third category of extra prayers are referred to as raghiba and are above nafila and below sunna in degree of reward. The fourth category are referred to as nafila and they are prayers that were done by the Prophet (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) regurlay but sometimes skipped by him.

Make Up Prayers and Supererogatory Prayers

It is mentioned in the Text of Al-Akhdari that a person who has to make up missed obligatory prayers (qada) may not perform extra (nafila) prayers. Although the Text of Al Akhdari uses as examples the nightly Ramadan prayers (Taraweeh) and the mid-morning prayer (Duha), the ruling applies to all supererogatory prayers (nafila). This would include the extra prayers done before and after the obligatory (fard) prayers. The prayer to greet a masjid (Tahiyatul Masjid) is also considered a supererogatory prayers (nafila) and would not be done when a person owes obligatory prayers.

What May be Performed by the One Who Owes Prayers

The only extra prayers that a person could pray when they have to make up obligatory prayers are the raghiba and sunna prayers. In the raghiba category, there is only one prayer which is the two rakas of fajr before the obligatory Subh/Morning prayers. The only prayers that are sunna are the two Eids, Witr, the drought prayer (istisqa), and the solar eclipse (kusuf) but not the lunar eclipse (khusuf) as the lunar eclipse is a nafila. The two raka’s of Shafi before Witr are technically a nafila but are allowed to be prayed with the Sunna of Witr.

Fard in Place of Nafila

One thing to note is that is would be permissible and even recommend to use make up prayers (qada) in place of when a supererogatoy prayer would be done. So, instead of praying the Nightly Ramadan prayer (taraweeh) as a supererogatoy prayer one would just do that amount of make up prayers. One would pray a make-up prayer when entering a masjid or during the mid-morning time (duha).

[Mukhtasar al-Khalil and commentaries]


Learn Maliki Fiqh, Aqida, Arabic, and more.

Begin Your Journey with Maliki Fiqh Studies, Aqida, and more. Equip yourself with foundational knowledge to build a strong foundation.