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Praying the Fifty one

“The signs of believers are five; praying the fifty one, arba'een pilgrimage, wearing a ring on the right hand, dusting his forehead(prostration on soil), reciting “Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Raheem” aloud.”(1) Imam Al-Askari (a.s)

The first of five signs of a believer that our eleventh Imam gives, is praying the fifty-one rik'as (units), Which consist of the seventeen rik'a daily obligatory prayers(2) plus the thirty four rik'a recommended prayers which are called Al-Nawafil or Al-Rawatib.
As for the obligatory prayers, it is well known between Muslims and even non-Muslims. Allah (swt) states “Indeed, prayer has been decreed upon the believers a decree of specified times.”(3), The prophet (pbuh) stated “He is not from us who belittles his prayers…”(4)  Imam Al-Baqir (a.s) stated when he was told about a man who abandoned his prayers “Subhann Allah! He abandoned his prayers! Abandoning prayers is a grave sin to Allah”(5)
As for Al-Nawafil or Al-Rawatib they are made of:
•    Two rik'as before Fajr prayer that are prayed like Fajr prayer.
•    Eight rik'as before Duhr prayer, consist of four two rik'a prayers like Fajr prayer.
•    Eight rik'as before Asr prayer, consist of four two rik'a prayers like Fajr prayer.
•    Four rik'as after Maghreb prayers, consist of two two rik'a prayers like Fajr prayer.
•    Two rik'as after Isha prayers while sitting down.
•    Eleven rik'as after midnight before Fajr prayer called Salat Al-Layl consist of four two rik'a prayers like Fajr prayer, while the last two rik'as are prayed as Shaf' prayer(6). Then a one rik'a prayer as Witr prayer(7), then you ask forgiveness for forty believers(8), ask forgiveness for yourself(9), state “hadha maqam al-ayidh bik min al-naar(10)”, state “al-afw(11)” three hundred times all in qanut, and then finish the prayer. 
These recommended and voluntary prayers are loved mighty by Allah (swt), as the saying has made it a sign of the believer especially Salat Al-Layl. The prophet (pbuh) stated “Jibrayiyl (Gabriel) has praised Salat Al-Layl so much that I thought that the elite of my nation would not sleep”(12). To see more examples review Wassail Al-Shia v4.

1.    Tahdhib Al-Ahkam v6 p52    
2.    (two for Fajr prayers, four for Duhr ((noon)), four for Asr ((afternoon)), three for Maghreb ((evening)), and four for Asha)
3.    Al-Nisa verse 103 (translated by quran.com)
4.    Wassail Al-Shia v4 p26
5.    Da’im Al-Islam v1 p63
6.    It is recommended to be with reciting the chapter of An-Nas after Al-Fatihah in the first Rik'a and Al-Falaq in the second after Al-Fatihah
7.    It is recommended to be with reciting Al-Fatihah once, Al-Ikhlas three times and Al-Nas and Al-Falaq once
8.    By stating allahum aghfir le-Ahmad for example 
9.    By doing Istaghfar 
10.    This is the status of a servant that wants refuge from the fire (of hell)
11.    Pardon me or I beg for your forgiveness 
12.    Kanz Al-Amal v7 p790



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