How many Raka'ats of Salat is to be recited before 4 Raka'ats of farz of Zuhr Salat. What is said regarding this in Hadith and what is the view of four Imam regarding this?
Some references from Hadith
- On the authority of ibn 'Omar:
"I memorized ten Rak'ah from Allah's Messenger (S) which he would pray in a night and a day: Two Rak'ah before Az-Zuhr, two after it; two Rak'ah after Al-Maghrib and two Rak'ah after the latter Isha." He said: "And Hafsah narrated to me that he (S) would pray two Rak'ah before Al-Fajr." (Jami' at-Tirmdihi)
- On the authority of Um Habibah:
"Whoever maintains four Rak'ah before Az-Zuhr and four after it, Allah makes him prohibited for the Fire." (Jami' at-Tirmdihi)
On the authority of Abu Ayyub:
The gates of heaven are opened for four rak'ahs containing no taslim (salutation) before the noon prayer. (Sunan abi Dawod)
This narration has clear weaknesses.
On the authority of 'Aishah:
"Whoever is regular with twelve Rak'ah of Sunnah (prayer), Allah will build a house for him in Paradise: Four Rak'ah before Zuhr, two Rak'ah after it, two Rak'ah after Maghrib, two Rak'ah after Isha, and two Rak'ah before Fajr." (Jami' at-Tirmdihi)
Also on the authority of 'Aishah.
The Prophet (ﷺ) never missed four rak'at before the Zuhr prayer and two rak'at before the Fajr prayer. (Sahih al-Bukhari)
The hanfis consider a set of four raka'a performed as as a single unit (only one tasleem at the end) before dhor among the most binding voluntary prayers.
On how to pray the sunnah in four raka's:
All the other madhhabs prefer to follow the hadith:
"(Voluntary) prayer in both the day and night is two at a time with a taslim after every 2 raka'ahs." (Muwatta' Malik)
However performing four raka' as a set with only one tasleem as the hanfi's do is permissible, but not recommended. Note that the stronger hadith version is:
Prayer during the night should consist of pairs of rak'ahs, but if one of you fears morning is near, he should pray one rak'ah which will make his prayer an odd number for him. (Sahih Muslim, sahih al-Bukhari and Muwatta' Malik)
The maliki consider four raka's before dhohr (zuhr) as emphatically recommended and also call them rawatib.
The shafi'is make a distinction between sunnha muakkadah (emphatically enjoined) two raka's before dhohr (zuhr) and ghair muakkadah (non-emphatically enjoined) two (more) raka's
They make a distinction between sunnah ratibah (following the hadith of ibn 'Omar) and a generally voluntary prayers: so the minimum amount you need to pray before dhohr (zuhr) would be two raka's, and there are sunnan ghair rawatib ("Arabic" plural of ratiba) where you may pray four raka's.
My answer is based on the book Jurisprudence according to the four sunni schools of Abdarrhamn al-Jaziri (Volume I, pages 427-430).