Question: Though those who leave obligatory acts of worship and commit forbidden acts will become beneficiary of intercession and though our Master the Prophet said, "I will intercede for a person who commits major sins," is it right to claim that one who does not do a sunnat will not become beneficiary of intercession (shafa'ah)?
The word sunnat has three meanings:
1. When we say "Kitab and Sunnat", the word sunnat herein means hadith-i sharifs.
2. When we say "Fard and Sunnat", the word sunnat herein means the commandments of the Messenger of Allah. These commandments are divided into two categories:
Sunnat-i zawaid: They are the things that our Master the Prophet did continuously not as worship but as his custom, such as his clothing style, his beginning with the right-hand side while doing good things, etc.
Sunnat-i huda: They are symptoms of our religion only, such as calling out adhan, performing salat in jama'at.
3. When we use the word sunnat alone, it refers to Islam. It is stated in hadith-i sharifs:
(When sedition and mischief become widespread among my Ummah, one who adheres to my sunnat [one who does acts of worship and abstains from forbidden things] will receive the reward of a hundred martyrs.) [Hakim]
(A time will come when my sunnat [Islam] will be forgotten. One who abides by my sunnat will be a stranger.) [Shir'a]
(My intercession is haram for a person who leaves my sunnat [the religion of Islam].) [Hadis-i Arbain] It means "One who leaves Islam will not be able to become beneficiary of my intercession" (Sharh on Hadith-i Arbain, Shir'a).
Yet another meaning of the word sunnat:
Sunnat also means a way, deed, custom, or epoch. For example, sunnatullah means Allah's habit and actions. It is stated in hadith-i sharifs:
(Whoever starts a sunnat-i hasana [whoever starts a good practice] will have the reward for that and the reward of those who act upon it, without their reward being diminished in the slightest. And whoever starts a sunnat-i sayyia [whoever starts a bad practice] will get the sin of it and the sins of those who act upon it, without their sins being diminished in the slightest.) [Muslim]
The phrase sunnat-i sayyia that appears in the hadith-i sharif above means an evil way and an evil practice. Sunnat-i sayyia means bid'at-i sayyia. Islamic scholars termed good practices (such as building minarets) bid'at-i hasana. As for Hadrat Imam-ý Rabbani, he termed sunnat-i hasana instead of bid'at-i hasana such good practices as building minarets and schools, writing books, etc. Until Doomsday, initiating a good practice is very rewarding (thawab). Sunnat-i sayyia is bid'at and a sin.
"If it is impossible for you to clean impurity without exposing your awrat parts, you must perform salat in that state because it is a command to clean [the impurity], but it is a prohibition to expose your awrat parts. Avoiding sins has priority. Even the sunnats come after the commands. The sunnats are observed in order to earn thawab. A sunnat cannot be performed at the cost of committing an act that is makruh. But a fard can be performed at the cost of committing a makruh, so that the debt will be paid. For example, it is makruh to make wudu' with someone else’s water, but by doing so the purity, which is obligatory, will have been attained. However, when one who is in a state of wudu' makes wudu' with someone else’s water, one will not get the thawab of the sunnat" (Radd-ul-Mukhtar).
This means that absolving yourself from a grave sin by making up omitted salats has priority over performing the sunnats.
"A sunnat can be omitted in order not to delay a wajib. A person who comes to the mosque as the imam begins conducting Salat al-Fajr must perform the sunnat salat of it outside the mosque or behind a pillar inside the mosque. If he cannot find such a place that is apart from the jama’at, he must not perform the sunnat behind the jama’at. He must begin to follow the imam immediately because it is makruh to begin performing salat individually while salat is being performed in jama’at. Even the sunnat salat of Salat al-Fajr can be omitted in order not to commit a makruh" (Imdad-ul-Fattah).
"When there is very little time left before the time for a certain daily fard salat ends, it is makruh tahrimi to perform a voluntary salat because it causes one to miss the fard salat. This would mean to miss an obligatory salat by performing a non-obligatory salat, which is something that a reasonable person would not prefer. So is the case with performing a voluntary salat as the sun rises, as it is right on top, or as it sets, even if the voluntary salat performed is one of the sunnat salats of the five daily salats" (Maraqi al-Falah, Tahtawi).
"When there is very little time before the time for a fard salat ends, if performing the pre-fard sunnat salat causes one to miss the fard salat, it is haram to perform the sunnat salat" (Hadiqa).
"A judge or a pupil may omit the sunnat salat of any salat except the sunnat salat of Salat al-Fajr, the former in order to do his duty and the latter not to be late for his religious class" (Multaqa).
While a judge’s duty, which is not fard-i-’ayn (personally obligatory), is counted as an excuse for omitting sunnat salats, why should it not be an excuse to pay the debts of omitted salats, which are fard-i ’ayn and for which there will be vehement punishment?
"It is muakkad sunnat [emphasized sunnat] to wash the limbs three times in wudu'. It is not makruh to omit this sunnat due to an excuse, such as if water is expensive or if it is cold or if one is in need of it" (Radd-ul-Mukhtar).
It can be inferred from the passage above that it is necessary to intend, when performing the sunnat salats of five fard salats, simultaneously both to make up the salats one omitted and to offer the sunnat salats in order to make up one's omitted salats at once to rid oneself of this major sin.
"In the Shafi'i Madhhab, it is haram for a person who has salats omitted to perform sunnat and nafila salats. It is not permissible for him to delay making them up except as much as to earn a living" (Fatawa-i Fiqhiyya).
There is no difference in the rulings of the four madhhabs concerning making up salats not performed deliberately.
Question: There are hadith-i sharifs in which our Master the Prophet states that he will intercede for those who commit major sins, such as consuming alcohol, committing fornication. However, in a hadith-i sharif, he says, "My intercession [shafa'ah] is haram for a person who leaves my sunnat." Is not doing a sunnat a sin graver than committing fornication or consuming alcohol? Some religious chiefs claim, "There will be intercession for those who do not do obligatory acts of worship, though not doing an act of worship is a major sin. However, there will be no intercession for those who do not do sunnat acts." Why will there be intercession for those who commit a grave sin by not performing fard salats but not for those who do not perform sunnat salats?
What they say is wrong. There will be intercession for those who commit any major sin. It is not a major sin not to do a sunnat. There are many sunnat acts, such as beginning with the right-hand side while doing good things, stepping in a mosque with the right foot, stepping in the toilet with the left foot, growing a beard, winding a turban around the head, etc. As it is not a sin not to do these sunnat acts, then there is no question of intercession because it is stated in a hadith-i sharif recorded by Tirmidhi, "A person who does not have major sins will not need intercession."
Intercession will be for major sins. The word sunnat that appears in the hadith-i sharif that you mentioned refers to the religion of Islam. That is, it means, "I will not intercede for a person who leaves Islam." (Sharh on Hadith-i Arba'in, Shir'a)
One who leaves Islam is a disbeliever, and there will be no intercession for a disbeliever. However, a Believer will be beneficiary of intercession no matter how many major sins he/she has committed. It is stated in hadith-i sharifs:
(My intercession will be for those among my Ummah who have committed major sins.) [Nasai, Tirmidhi, Ibn Ma'jah, Abu Dawud]
(I will intercede for all people who have committed major sins but have departed this life as Believers.) [Bukhari, Muslim]
(Every prophet has a special du’a that is not rejected. All prophets made their du'as while they were in the world, but I have reserved my du’a to make intercession for my Ummah. On the Day of Resurrection, I will intercede for all those among my Ummah who have not died on shirk [polytheism].) [Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Muwatta]
(I have saved my intercession for those among my Ummah who have committed major sins. Do you think that my intercession will be for those who are pious and obedient? My intercession will be for those Believers who have been dirtied by sins.) [Ihya]
Saying "There will be no intercession for a person who omits a sunnat" go against our religion, as we have explained above. Do not give credence to the sayings of those who do not speak from fiqh books.