The Sunnah Mua'akad Solāh
A question : I would like to enquire whether you wait for the time of the prayer before praying any sunnah raka`at which come before it; or whether these raka’at are prayed before the time for the prayer enters. If so; how long before a prayer can you pray the sunnah raka`at which come before it? For example, could I pray the four sunnahs which come before Asar three hours before the time for Asar enters? Or do I wait for the time of Asar to enter and then pray the four Sunnahs after the time for Asar has entered and follow them immediately by the fardh raka`at?
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-'ālamīn. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam is His Messenger
The Sunnah Mua`akad Solāh (regular Solāh Sunnah) fall into two categories:
1. Sunnah’s which are done before the Solāh fardhu – two raka`at before Fajar and four before Dzuhur.
2. Sunnah’s which are done after the Solāh fardhu – two raka`at after Dzuhur, two raka’at after Maghrib and two raka’at after ‘Isyā’.
In relation to their virtue, it was narrated that the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said:
“Whoever performs Solāh twelve raka`at during the night and day, a house will be built for him in Paradise: four before Dzuhur and two after, two raka`at after Maghrib, two raka`at after `Isyā’ and two raka`at before Solāh Fajar .”
[Narrated by at-Tirmidzi, no. 380; classed as sahih by al-Albāni in Sahih al-Jaami’, 6362.]
The time frame for a Solāh Sunnah that comes before a Solāh fardhu is from the beginning of the time for that Solāh , until the iqamah.
The time frame for a Solāh Sunnah that comes after a Solāh fardhu is from after the Salam at the end of the Solāh fardhu until the end of the time for that Solāh .
Ibn Qudamah (rahimahullāh) said: “The time for every Solāh Sunnah that comes before a fardhu Solāh is from the beginning of the time for that Solāh , until the Solāh is done, and the time for every Solāh Sunnah that comes after a fardhu Solāh is from after the Solāh is done until the end of the time for that Solāh .”
Based on this, it is not correct to pray the Solat Sunnah before the time frame for the Solāh fardhu begins; rather you should wait until the time for that Solāh comes, and then observe it.
And Allah Almighty knows best.
[Via Islam Q&A]