Imam Al-Nawawi's Riyad-us-Saliheen
Chapter 197
Briefness to be Adopted in Performing the two Rak'ah Sunnah before Fajr Prayer, their time and the Surah to recite in them

1104. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) used to perform two Rak`ah short prayer between the Adhan (call to prayer) and the Iqamah of the dawn (Fajr) prayers.
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

    In another narration, `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) said: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) used to perform two supererogatory Rak`ah prayer of Fajr and make them so short in duration that I used to think whether he (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) had recited Surat Al-Fatihah (in it) or not.
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

   In the narration of Muslim, `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) said: When the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) used to hear the Adhan (of Fajr prayer) he would perform two supererogatory Rak`ah prayer and would make them short.

Commentary: "Takhfif'' here means that the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) used to shorten the standing, recitation, bowing, prostration, etc., in the two Rak`ah of Fajr prayer because soon after performing them he had to lead the Fajr prayer in which he would prolong his recitation. He would also offer these two Sunnah soon after the daybreak or Adhan, which gives an idea of the preparation he made for them.

1105. Hafsah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) used to perform two short Rak`ah prayer when it was dawn and the Mu'adhdhin had called Adhan (for the Fajr prayer).
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Commentary: This Hadith tells us that the two Rak`ah of Fajr prayer should be performed after the daybreak not before it. One should also be brief in these two Rak`ah so that he is active and alert for performing the Fard (obligatory prayer).

1106. Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) used to perform his optional night prayers at night, two Rak`ah followed by two Rak`ah, and at the end he would conclude with an odd Rak`ah (Witr). Then he would perform two Rak`ah prayer before the dawn (Fajr) prayer after hearing the Adhan, and he would make them so brief as if he could hear the Iqamah being called.
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Commentary: "As if he could hear the Iqamah being called'' here means that he would hasten the two Rak`ah of Fajr prayer to the point that one had the impression that he was hearing the voice of Iqamah and he was making haste for fear of missing of the Salat.

This Hadith also makes the following three points:

1.The optional prayer of the night should be offered in a series of two Rak`ah.

2.One Rak`ah of Witr is also correct.

3.The Sunnah of Fajr prayer should be offered soon after the Adhan, and one should be brief in them.

1107. Ibn `Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) used to recite during the two Rak`ah of Fajr prayer: "Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us...'' (2:136) which is in Surat Al-Baqarah in the first Rak`ah and the Verse: "We believe in Allah, and bear witness that we are Muslims (i.e., we submit to Allah.'' (3:52) in the second Rak`ah.

   According to another narration, he (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) recited from Surat Al-`Imran the Verses: "Come to a word which is just between us and you...'' (3:64).
[Muslim].

Commentary: In the two Sunnah of Fajr prayer, the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) used to recite the two short Verses mentioned in this Hadith, after Surat Al-Fatihah.

1108. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) recited in the two supererogatory Rak`ah of the Fajr prayer Surat Al-Kafirun (No. 109) [in the first Rak`ah], and Surat Al-Ikhlas (No. 112) [in the second Rak`ah].
[Muslim].

1109.Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: I observed the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) for one month reciting in the two supererogatory Rak`ah of the Fajr prayer Surat Al-Kafirun (No. 109) [in the first Rak`ah], and Surat Al-Ikhlas (No. 112) [in the second Rak`ah].
[At-Tirmidhi].

Commentary: One can recite any Surah or Ayah in the two Sunnah of Fajr prayer, but if one recites the Verses mentioned in this Hadith, he will have the benefit of following the Sunnah of the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam). Every Muslim should strive to follow the practice of the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) for the enrichment of his mind, soul and actions.