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Mustaḥabb (Arabic:المستحب) is a jurisprudential term referring to actions and practices that according to Islamic laws doing them is better than leaving them, yet they are not obligatory. Night prayer (Salat al-Layl), Daily Nawafil (daily mustahabb prayers), mustahab fastings, supplications, and many other practices are counted among mustahabb acts.
Lexicologically, Istihbab (recommendation) is an Arabic word derived from Hubb (to like) and means to like or to prefer something. The term is used in its lexical meaning in the Qur'an and hadiths. In jurisprudential terminology, mustahabb refers to an action that according to Islamic laws, doing it is recommended, yet leaving it is permissible.
Nadb (and Mandub), Nafl (and Nafila), Sunna and Tatawwu' convey a similar meaning to that of Istihbab (recommendation).
In almost all of Shi'a jurisprudential topics, Istihbab is used as one of al-Ahkam al-Khamsa (the Five Ruling Values). In the Principle of Jurisprudence (Usul al-Fiqh) it is discussed in chapters of al-Awamir (commands), al-Ḍid (opposite) and Muqaddamat al-Wajib (prerequisite of compulsory act).
There are different types of mustahabb. Some of the most important ones are:
- Al-mustahabb al-nafsi: is a mustahabb due to itself, such as mustahabb prayers and fastings.
- Al-mustahabb al-ghayri: is a mustahabb that is not mustahabb due to itself, rather because of another act, such as ghusl for ziyarah.
- Al-mustahabb al-'ayni : is a mustahabb that is recommended for each individual Muslim.
- Al-mustahabb al-kifa'i : is a mustahabb that if one Muslim do that it is no longer recommended for others, such as Adhan announcing Salat time.
- Al-mustahabb al-mu'akkad : A mustahabb that has been emphasized, such as Ghusl al-Jum'a.
When a person starts a mustahabb it is disliked to not finish it, like mustahabb prayer. In some cases when a mustahabb action reach specific stage it is obligatory to finish it and the person is not allowed to leave it. Two well-known examples of this creed are mustahabb hajj and 'Umra that if a person starts each of them he must finish it. Another example is I'tikaf that if a person starts it and fasts the first two days he must fast the third day.
One can hardly find a holy occasion in Islam with no mustahabb prayer. Many of these mustahabb prayers have been mentioned in Mafatih al-Jinan. Some of the most important mustahabb prayers are: the daily mustahabb prayers, the Night Prayer, Prayer of Ja'far al-Tayyar, Salat al-Istisqa' (asking for rain prayer), the prayer of the first day of lunar months.
Fasting all the days in a year, except for days in which fasting is forbidden (like Eid al-Fitr) or disliked (like 'Ashura), is mustahabb. However, fasting in some days have been emphasized in Hadiths. Some of these days are:
- The first and the last Thursday of lunar months.
- The first Wednesday after the 10th of lunar months.
- 13th, 14th, and 15th of lunar months (Ayyam al-Bid).
- All days in Rajab and Sha'ban
- 27th of Rajab (Bi'tha of the prophet Muhammad (s))
- 4th to 9th of Shawwal
- 25th of Dhu l-Qa'da (the day of Dahw al-Ard)
- 29th of Dhu l-Qa'da
- 1st to 9th of Dhu l-Hijja (the day of 'Arafa)
- 18th of Dhu l-Hijja (the day of Eid al-Ghadir)
- 24th of Dhu l-Hijja (the day of Mubahala)
- 1st, 3rd, and 7th of Muharram.
- 17th of Rabi' I (birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (s))
- 15th of Jumada I
- Umm Dawud supplication
- Al-Tawassul supplication
- Al-Jawshan al-Saghir supplication
- Al-Jawshan al-Kabir supplication
- Al-'Ahd supplication
- Al-Mujir supplication
- Al-Mashlul supplication
- Makarim al-Akhlaq supplication
- Kumayl supplication
- Al-Nur supplication
- Al-Ziyarah al-Jami'at al-Kabira
- Ziyarah 'Ashura
- Ziyarah al-Warith
Some other acts that have been mentioned in Hadiths as Mustahabb are:
- Reciting the Qur'an
- Having Wudu constantly
- Saying سبحان الله (glory be to God)
- Saying ألحمدلله (all praises belong to God)
- Saying لاإله الا الله (there is no god but God)
- Saying لاحول و لا قوة إلا بالله (there is no might nor power except in God)
- Giving Sadaqa (charity)
- Ta'qibat al-Salat (after-prayer rituals)
- Hāshimī Shāhrūdī, Farhang-i fiqh, vol. 1, p. 397.
- Khoei, Ajwad al-taqrīrāt, vol. 1, p. 143; Ḥakīm, al-Usūl al-ʿāmma li-l-fiqh al-muqārin, p. 62.
- Hāshimī Shāhrūdī, Farhang-i fiqh, vol. 1, p. 396.
- Ḥakīm, al-Usūl al-ʿāmma li-l-fiqh al-muqārin, p. 63.
- Shahīd al-Awwal, al-Qawāʿid wa l-fawāʾid, vol. 1, p. 99.
- Ḥakīm, Muḥammad Taqī al-. Al-Usūl al-ʿāmma li-l-fiqh al-muqārin. Second edition. Beirut: Muʾassisat Āl al-Bayt, 1979.
- Hāshimī Shāhrūdī, Sayyid Maḥmūd. Farhang-i fiqh muṭābiq bā madhhab-i Ahl al-Bayt. Qom: Muʾassisat Dāʾirat al-Maʿārif-i fiqh-i Islāmī, 1426 AH.
- Khoei, Abū l-Qāsim al-. Ajwad al-taqrīrāt. Qom: Maṭbaʿat al-ʿIrfān, 1352 Sh.
- Shahīd al-Awwal, Muḥammad b. Makkī al-ʿĀmilī al-. Al-Qawāʿid wa l-fawāʾid. Edited by Sayyid ʿAbd al-Hādī al-Ḥakīm. Qom: Kitābfurūshī-yi Mufīd, [n.d].