The AHkam shar’aiah are divided into:
- The fard (compulsory),
- The haram (prohibited),
- The mandoob (recommended),
- The makruh (undesirable) and
- The Mubah (permissible).
The Hukm shari’ah is either an order to perform an action or to abstain from performing an action.
If the order (amr) to perform the action is decisive (jazim), then it is classified as fard or wajib. Both these terms are synonymous.
If the amr to do an action is indecisive, it is classified as mandoob.
If the order to abstain is decisive, it is classified as haram or maHzur which are synonymous, whereas if the order to abstainis indecisive (ghair jazim), it is classified as Makruh.
Thus, with the fard/wajib, the performer is praised and the one who abstains from it is condemned.
The person who neglects to perform the fard deserves to be punished.
The person who performs the haram is condemned and the one who abstains from it is praised.
The person who performs the haram deserves to be punished.
The person who performs the mandoob is praised and rewarded and the one who abstains is not condemned i.e. he is rewarded for performing the action and not punished for abstaining from it.
The person who does not perform the makruh action is praised and rewarded i.e. abstaining from the makruh is preferable.
The mubah is which the daleel as-Sam’ai (textual evidence) shows that the speech of the Legislator implies the choice between performing an action or abstaining from it.
Linguistically Sunnah means the method. However, in terms of the Shari’ah it designates the nafilah that has been narrated from the Prophet such as the recommended rakaat (rakaat as-Sunnah) which are distinct from fard (compulsory).
It should not be understood that the action is called Sunnah because it is from the Prophet and that the fard is from Allah . The Sunnah and the fard are both from Allah ; and Rasool Allah is but a conveyor from Allah , because the Rasool Allah uttered not out of whims but only that which was revealed to him from Allah i.e. wahy. Thus, although Sunnah is narrated from the Prophet , nevertheless it is narrated as a recommended action i.e. nafilah that is why it is called sunnah; in the same way that the fard has been narrated as a compulsory action.
Hence, the two compulsory raka’at of the dawn (fajr) prayer have been narrated from the Prophet through decisive reports, known as tawatur, as being fard; and the two recommended raka’at of the fajr prayer have also been narrated through decisive reports (tawatur) as being Sunnah (nafilah); and both are from Allah and not from Rasool Allah himself.
Thus the command (amr) is either fard or nafilah in actions of worship (‘ibadat), and fard , mandoob or mubaH in other actions. In other words, nafilah is the same as mandoob, but it is called nafilah, and called as Sunnah. The Sunnah also means all the shar’ai evidences which came from Rasool Allah other than the Qur’an. This includes his speech, actions and consent (his silence upon actions performed before him).