We have already discussed the regular Sunan, and we mentioned that it is of the regular Sunan to offer four Rak‘ahs before Dthuhr prayer and two Rak‘ahs after Dthuhr prayer, as indicated by the Hadeeth of ‘Ā’ishah, Umm Habeebah, and Ibn ‘Umar, may Allāh be pleased with them all.
This is proven by the Hadeeth of Abi Sa‘eed Il-Khudriy (ABPWH), who said: “The Iqāmah for Dthuhr prayer would be made, and any one of us would go to Al-Baqee‘, relieve himself, perform ablution and come back to the mosque, and the Messenger of Allāh (PBUH) would still be in the first Rak‘ah, prolonging it.” (Muslim no. 454)
Thus, it is Sunnah to prolong the first Rak‘ah of Dthuhr prayer. The same is applicable when a person prays alone, and also for a woman when she prays Dthuhr. Unfortunately, this practice is one of the neglected Sunan, may Allāh, the Almighty, make us of those who are eager to apply the Sunnah and adhere to it.
This is proven by the following Hadeeth:
Abu Hurayrah (ABPWH) narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) said, “If it is very hot, then pray Dthuhr prayer when it becomes cooler, as the severity of the heat is from the rage of Hellfire.” (Al-Bukhāriy no. 533-534, Muslim no. 615)
Shaykh Ubn ‘Uthaymeen, may Allāh have mercy on him, said, “Thus, if we say that Zawāl in summer is at 12:00 p.m. and ‘Asr is at 4:30 p.m., this means that the time of Ibrād (cooling down) may be valid until nearly 4:00 p.m.” (Al-Mumti‘ 2/104).
Ibrād is general, for one who is praying in congregation, and for one who is praying alone. This is the correct opinion that was adopted by Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, may Allāh have mercy on him. This includes women too, because the Hadeeth of Abi Hurayrah (ABPWH) is general and did not specify a gender.