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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.[1] In jurisprudential terminology, mustahabb refers to an action that according to Islamic laws, doing it is recommended, yet leaving it is permissible.[2]

Synonym Terms

Nadb (and Mandub), Nafl (and Nafila), Sunna and Tatawwu' convey a similar meaning to that of Istihbab (recommendation).[3]

Jurisprudential Discussions

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.[4]

Related Rulings

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.[5]

Well-known Mustahabbs

Mustahabb Prayers

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.

Mustahabb Fasts

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:


Although praying to God is not limited to specific words, it is recommended to pray to Him by supplications that have been narrated from the Infallibles (a). Some of these supplications are:

Other Mustahabbs

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)


  1. Hāshimī Shāhrūdī, Farhang-i fiqh, vol. 1, p. 397.
  2. Khoei, Ajwad al-taqrīrāt, vol. 1, p. 143; Ḥakīm, al-Usūl al-ʿāmma li-l-fiqh al-muqārin, p. 62.
  3. Hāshimī Shāhrūdī, Farhang-i fiqh, vol. 1, p. 396.
  4. Ḥakīm, al-Usūl al-ʿāmma li-l-fiqh al-muqārin, p. 63.
  5. 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].