- Separating the Obligatory Prayer from the Voluntary:
Mu‘aawiyah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: When you have prayed Jumu‘ah, do not follow it immediately with another prayer until you speak or leave (the masjid), because the Messenger of Allah ﷺ instructed us to do that, not to follow one prayer immediately with another until we spoke or left (the masjid).
An-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said in his commentary on Saheeh Muslim:
This offers proof for the view of our companions – i.e., the Shaafa‘i fuqaha’ – that in the case of naafil prayer, both those that are offered regularly (Sunnah prayers) and others, it is mustahabb to move from where one offered the obligatory prayer to another spot, and the best is to move to one’s home; otherwise one may move to another spot in the masjid or elsewhere, so as to increase the number of places in which one prostrates, and so as to separate the naafil prayer from the obligatory one.
The words “until we spoke” indicate that separating the prayers may also be done by speaking, but doing it by moving is preferable because of what we have mentioned. And Allah knows best.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said in al-Fataawa al-Kubra (2/359):
The Sunnah is to separate obligatory and naafil prayers, in the case of Jumu‘ah and otherwise, as it is proven in as-Saheeh that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) told people not to follow one prayer immediately with another until they separated them by moving or speaking.
So one should not do what many people do, when they follow the salaam immediately with two rak‘ahs of Sunnah prayer, because this is going against the prohibition of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him).
The wisdom behind that is to distinguish between that which is obligatory and that which is not obligatory, and also to differentiate between that which is worship and that which is not worship.
Hence it is mustahabb to hasten to break the fast, delay the sahoor and to eat before the prayer on the day of Eid al-Fitr. It is also disallowed to anticipate Ramadaan by fasting one or two days before it.
All of that is in order to separate between what is enjoined of fasting and what is not enjoined, and to separate between the acts of worship and other acts. It is also to distinguish between Jumu‘ah, which Allah has made obligatory, and other prayers.
Ibn Baz mentioned that this can be done by making Istighfar, remembering Allah, or changing his position.
The Prophet prayed the afternoon prayer and right afterward a man stood up to pray. ‘Umar saw him and told him: “Sit, the People of the Book were destroyed because they did not differentiate between their prayers.” The Prophet said: “Well said, Ibn al-Khattab [i.e., ‘Umar].”
[Ahmed; Authenticated by Al-Albani #2549]
- Raising the hands for making Du’aa’ after offering the voluntary prayer:
Ibn Baz said that there is no harm in raising your hands while making Du’aa’ occasionally, but this should not be all the time such that it becomes a Sunnah. It has not been quoted that the Prophet ﷺ raised his hands after the prayer, nor the companions after him.
Ibn ‘Uthaymeen said there are some in the Masjid, whom when the imam calls to the obligatory prayer whilst they are praying voluntary prayer, they raise their hands and wipe their faces when they finish, even without making Du’aa, then join the obligatory prayer. This is Bid’ah.
- It is permissible for the voluntary prayer to be offered whilst sitting/riding even if the person is able to stand, but the person will only receive half of the reward:
The obligatory prayers have to be offered standing, as it is one of the pillars of the prayer. As for the voluntary, the Prophet ﷺ used to offer Witr while riding his camel and the Sunnah of Fajr even.
Narrated Sa`id bin Yasar: “I was going to Mecca in the company of `Abdullah bin `Umar and when I apprehended the approaching dawn, I dismounted and offered the witr prayer and then joined him. `Abdullah bin `Umar said, “Where have you been?” I replied, “I apprehended the approaching dawn so I dismounted and prayed the witr prayer.” `Abdullah said, “Isn’t it sufficient for you to follow the good example of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)?” I replied, “Yes, by Allah.” He said, “Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) used to pray witr on the back of the camel (while on a journey).””
- Offering the Voluntary Prayer in Congregation:
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
Voluntary prayers done in congregation are of two types, one of which it is Sunnah to do in congregation, such as the eclipse prayer, prayers for rain, and qiyaam during Ramadaan (Taraweeh). These are always done in congregation as it is the Sunnah.
The second type are not done in congregation, such as qiyaam al-layl, the regular Sunnah prayers, Duha prayer, tahiyyat al-masjid (greeting the masjid) and so on. But if they are done in congregation occasionally, that is permissible. As for doing them in congregation on an ongoing basis, that is not prescribed, rather it is a reprehensible innovation.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and the Sahabaah and Taabi’een were not accustomed to offering naafil prayers in congregation. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) only rarely offered voluntary prayers in congregation. He used to pray qiyaam al-layl on his own, but when Ibn ‘Abbaas stayed overnight with him, he prayed with him.
On another occasion, Hudhayfah prayed with him, and on another occasion Ibn Mas’ood prayed with him. Similarly he prayed at the house of ‘Utbaan ibn Maalik al-Ansaari, in a place that he (‘Utbaan) took as a prayer place for himself, so he prayed with him, and he also led Anas and his mother and the orphan in prayer. However, in general, his voluntary prayers were offered alone.
Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (23/414).
There is nothing wrong in offering some naafil prayers in congregation, but this should not be a regular habit such that every regular Sunnah prayer is offered in congregation, because that is not prescribed.