Answered by Shaykh Hamza Karamali, SunniPath Academy Teacher
In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate
A1. The 6 rakats mentioned in the Maqasid is probably salat al-awwaabeen
(“the prayer of those who repeatedly turn to Allah”). This is a prayer that
is different from the 2 rak‘ah sunna mu’akkada prayer that is recommended after
the maghrib prayer. It is also called salat al-ghafla (“the prayer of heedlessness”)
because people normally neglect praying between maghrib and ‘isha, being preoccupied
instead with eating or sleep. It is optimally twenty rak‘as, and six rak‘as
is considered a “middle amount”. It is based on a hadith related by Tirmidhi
where the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is reported to have said,
“Whoever prays six rak‘as between maghrib and ‘isha will have twelve years of
worship inscribed for him.” (Mughni al-Muhtaj, 1.343; Fath al-‘Allam)
A2. Imam Nawawi mentioned in his Majmu‘ that it is sunna to pray two rak‘as before the ‘isha prayer. This is based on a hadith related by Bukhari where the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “There is a prayer between every two adhans.” Al-Khatib al-Shirbini mentions that the “two adhans” are the iqama and the adhan. (Mughni al-Muhtaj, 1.335)
And Allah knows best.
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