Q. Some People Say that there is no hadith which proves that we should pray 4 Rakaat of Sunnah before the obligatory Prayer of “Isha” . Can you give a hadith proving the point of view that these 4 Rakaat are Sunnah before performing the 4 Rakat of Isha?
A. It is true that there is no Hadith specifically that 4 Rakat before the obligatory prayer of isha is Sunnah . How ever there is hadith reported in Sahih Al-Bukhari and narrated by the Holy Companion Abdullah Ibn Mughaffal (R.A) that the Holy Prophet ( Sallaho Alaihi Wasallam) has said
Between Every Two Calls Of Prayers There Is A Prayer For Whomsoever Who Wishes To Perform It ” ( Al-Bukhari,Book X, Chapter 14, Hadith.No.624)
it is accpeted by all the commentators of hadith that the words Two Calls of prayer mentioned in the hadith refer to the Adhan and Iqamah. The Haidth, therefore, means that after every Adhan and berore Iqamah some kind of Salah is advisable . On the basis of this Hadith the Muslim Jurists have inferred that before every obligatory Prayer it is desirable ( Mustahhab) to perform some prayer which may be either Nafl or Sunnah . The Rakat performed before Fajr and Dhuhr are Sunnah, while the prayers performed before the rest of the five prescribed prayers are held to be Nafl or Sunnah Ghayer Muakkadah. It will be noted in the above quoted Hadith that the number of Rakat has not been mentioned there meaning there by that to perform any number of Rakat may serve the purpose of the Hadith . how ever a large number of Muslim scholars have preferred to perform 4 Rakat before Isha prayer on the analogy of Fajr Dhuhr and Asr, it may be seen in the case of these three obligatory prayers that the number of Sunnah and Nafl performed before each of them corresponds to the number of the of the obligatory prayers respectively i.e. the number of Sunnah before Fajr is two which is corresponding to the 2 Obligatory Rakat of Fajr, the number of Rakat of Sunnah performed before Dhuhr is Four which corresponds to the number of 4 obligatory Rakats of Dhuhr, and the number of Nafl prayer performed before Asr is four which again corresponds to the number of 4 obligatory Rakats of Asr. On This analogy the said scholars have preferred to perform 4 Rakat before Isha because it will correspond to the four obligatory Rakat to be performed after this Nafl Prayer. It should, however be kept in mind that the number of these 4 Rakat should not be taken as determined by the Holy Prophet ( Sallaho Alaihai Wasallam) nor should it be taken as a specific Sunnah instead if one performs 2 Rakat only. On should also get the reward contemplated in the Hadith of Sahih Al-Bukhari Quoted Above.