How many rak'ahs does the awwabin prayer consist of? How is "the awwabin prayer" between the evening (maghrib) prayer and night (isha) prayer performed?

Details of the Question

How many rak'ahs does the awwabin prayer consist of? How is "the awwabin prayer" between the evening (maghrib) prayer and night (isha) prayer performed?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

"The awwabin prayer" is a sunnah-mustahab six-rak'ah prayer performed after the evening prayer.  

The awwabin prayer consists of six rak'ahs. A person who cannot perform it as six-rak'ahs can perform it as two rak'ahs. However, it is necessary to perform it as six rak'ahs in order to attain its real merit.

The word "awwabin" is the plural form of the word "awwab". Awwab means a person who has repented from his sin immediately. The awwabin prayer, which means "the prayer of those who repent", is a six-rak'ah prayer performed after the evening prayer; it is encouraged by several hadiths and is stated that it makes a person gains a lot of rewards

In a hadith reported by Abu Hurayra (ra), the Prophet (pbuh) stated the following:

"If a person performs six rak'ahs after the evening prayer without uttering any bad words between them, the six rak'ahs will be regarded equal to worshipping twelve years." (Tirmidhi-Salat, 431)

Besides, it is reported that the Prophet (pbuh) performed six rak'ahs supererogatory prayers after the evening prayer and said,

"If a person performs six rak'ahs after the evening prayer, his sins will be forgiven even if they are as many as the foams on the sea." (Haythami, Majmauz Zawaid, II/230; Shawkani, III/64. Both of them report it from Tabarani.)

In some of the hadith books and narrations regarding the issue, it is stated that the Prophet (pbuh) performed four rak'ahs after the evening prayer and encouraged his Companions to do so. (Haythami, Majmauz Zawaid, II/230; Shawkani, III/63. Both of them report it from Tabarani.)

Hanafi scholars who say that the awwabin prayer (the prayer performed after the evening prayer) consists of six rak'ahs including the two-rak'ah sunnah al muakkadah of the evening prayer base their view on this narration.  

According to the view that is preferred by Hanafis, this prayer consists of six rak'ahs without thetwo-rak'ah sunnah al muakkadah of the evening prayer; Hanafi scholars disagree among themselves about how to perform these six rak'ahs: Some say it is more virtuous to perform it as a whole, giving salutations only once, after the sixth rak'ah while others say it is more virtuous to perform it giving salutations twice; some others say it is more virtuous to perform it giving salutations three times (by performing two-rakah prayers three times).

The following intention can be made; "I intend to perform awwabin prayer for Allah."

(see Prof. Dr. Wahba Zuhayli, al-Fiqhul Islam)

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