Q. Assalamu alaikum Respected Mufti, please answer the following question: does it make sense to perform a tahajjud prayer if one has a lot of qadha fardh prayers (for several years) to make up?
A. A person should give more priority to the missed Fardh Salaah compared to the Nafl (optional) Salaah. This is because the missed Fardh Salaah still remain obligatory on a person and he will be sinful for failing to complete them. On the other hand, if a person does not perform Nafl Salaah, he will not be sinful.
However, this does not mean that is not permissible or of no benefit to perform Nafl Salaah whilst one still has Qadha Salaah to fulfill. Such a person is still encouraged to perform the prescribed Nafl Salaah and will be fully rewarded for it. But at the same time, he should not give so much of importance to the Nafl that it leads him to neglect his Qadha Salaah.
Allamah ibn Abideen ash-Shami (Rahimahullah) states:
“As for voluntary Salaah, it is mentioned in al-Mudmarat that: ‘Busying oneself with Qadha Salaah is more worthy and more important than voluntary Salaah, except for the Sunnah Mu’akkadah Salaah, Salaatut Duha (optional prayer prescribed in the early part of the day), Salaatut Tasbih, and other prayers mentioned in the Hadith Such as the Tahiyyatul Musjid, the four rakaats before Asr, and the six rakaats of Awwaabeen after Maghrib.” (Raddul Muhtar, Vol: 2, Pg: 74)
Tahajjud Salaaah is also one of the prayers that have been prescribed in the Hadith and holds many rewards and benefits. Therefore, one should engage in Tahajjud even though one has Qadha prayers to fulfill. The important thing is that one should not neglect the Qadha Salaah.
If a person has a lot of Qadha prayers to make up for, he should keep a timetable and try to perform Qadha of at least the five daily Salaah that he/she missed in the past every day. If time allows, he can also perform the prescribed optional prayers in the Hadith and obtain its benefits and rewards.
And Allah Knows Best
Mufti Suhail Tarmahomed
Jamiatul Ulama (KZN)
Council of Muslim Theologians