Those five categories of all actions–fard (also known as wajib), mustahab (sometimes called “sunnah”), mubah, makrooh, and haram–what do they really mean? While you can understand these from different angles, we explain these from an Usool-ul-Fiqh perspective. Here they are:
Fard/Wajib (obligatory) means any action that you earn a reward for performing, and earn a punishment from abstaining from. Examples include praying, fasting, etc.
Mustahab/Sunnah (recommended) means any action that you earn a reward for performing, and earn nothing from abstaining from. Examples include breaking your fast as soon as it’s Maghrib time, praying two rakaahs after Maghrib, using miswaak, etc.
Mubah (permissible) means any action you earn nothing from performing, and earn nothing from abstaining from–though with the right intentions, these can be promoted or demoted into the other categories. More on that here. Examples include eating food, sleeping, and blinking.
Makrooh (hated) means any action you earn nothing from performing, and earn a reward from abstaining from. Examples include staying awake after ‘Isha time.
Haraam (prohibited) means any action you earn a punishment from performing, and earn a reward for abstaining from. Examples include eating pork, murder, and adultry.
Note these amazing facts: you earn a reward for abstaining from haram actions–every sin you turn away from earns you good deeds! You also earn a reward for mubah acts, with the proper intention–Salmaan Al-Farasi (radiallahu ‘anhu) said, “I expect Allah to reward me in my sleep the way he rewards me for Tahajjud.” Subhanallah. Similarly, intentionally avoiding makrooh acts nets you good deeds! How’s that for motivation!
So set your intentions straight before another second passes by, and inshallah you’ll find huge mountains of good deeds waiting for you in the akhira! We ask Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) to help us all earn that reward, ameen!