Unless I'm mistaken about the meaning of nawafil in Shiite context, I'm a bit confused about why Sunnah prayers for Sunnis are nawafil for Shiites.

From this site:

Misconception #4: Shias do not perform sunnah prayers. Sunnah prayers are non obligatory prayers performed by Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.).

Response: Shia do perform non-obligatory prayers, 36 cycles per day in total, but call it nawafil and not sunnah.

Sunnis have both nawafil and sunnah prayers. So, what is the difference? Why are Sunni sunnah prayers nawafil for Shiites?

1 Answer 1


The Prophet never described any prayer as sunnah prayer. A prayer is either Fard or it's Nafl.

What's said to be 'sunnah prayer' is actually a Nafl prayer that the Prophet habitually performed.

Realistically, every non-obligatory prayer is a Nafl and you have the option to perform it or not.

  • 1
    So what makes Sunnis classify it as Sunnah? Is it that those specific prayers were just performed habitually and the nawafil ones weren't? Or is this a question I have to ask a Sunni? Jun 30, 2015 at 22:16
  • Something the Prophet rarely left is considered as sunnah by them, depending on the madhabi definition they follow.
    – Sayyid
    Jun 30, 2015 at 22:20

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