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Fiqh / فقه‎

Taraweeh Prayers: 8 or 20? Same as Tahajjud?

The Holy Prophet (May Allah shower His blessings and peace be on him) recommended Salat-ul- Lail (Night Prayers) in Ramadhan and emphasized on it. The correct view is that Taraweeh and Tahajjud Prayers are two separate kinds of Salah, the former for just after Esha prayers, only in Ramadhan, the later in the last third part of night, throughout the year.

[Al-Mughni wa al-Sharh al-Kabeer, vol.1, pp.770, 797]

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (May Allah shower His blessings and peace be on him) said: “Whoever watches night in prayers, in Ramadhan, with good faith and expectancy, his previous sins would be forgiven.”

[Musnad Imam Ahmad: H.10855, Sahih Bukhari: H.2012, Sahih Muslim:H.761]

Abdur Rahman bin Auf (May Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (May Allah shower His blessings and peace be on him) said: “ Verily, Allah Azza wa Jall enjoined the fasting in Ramadhan and I make the watching its nights in prayers, a Sunnah, whoever fasts in Rmadhan and watches its nights in prayers, with good faith and expectancy, he expels out of his sins, as the day when his mother begot him.”

[Musnad Imam Ahmad: H.1660, Sunan Ibni Majah: H.1328]

Ayeshah Siddiqa (May Allah be pleased with her) says: “The Prophet (May Allah shower His blessings and peace be on him) came out one night and offered prayers in Masjid and many people said prayers with him. In the morning these people told others that the Prophet came out and said prayers in Masjid late at night. The next day he did the same and more people prayed with him. In the morning these people told others about that. Then more people gathered on the third night and he came out and offered prayers with people. On the fourth night as many people gathered that Masjid was filled thoroughly and no space left for more people. The Prophet (May Allah shower His blessings and peace be on him) did not come out to them. Then he came out for Morning Prayers, when the prayer was over he stood among the people and said to them: ‘Surely I saw what you did at night, but nothing prevented me from coming out to you, save that I feared that [that prayer] would be made obligatory upon you.”

[Musnad Imam Ahmad:H.25876, Sahih Bukhari:H.2009,Sahih Muslim:H.760]

Ayeshah Siddiqa (May Allah be pleased with her) says: “People used to say prayers in Masjid of Allah’s Messenger. The man, who had memorized any part of the Quran, got round about five or six men and they said prayers collectively. In a night of Ramadhan the Prophet (May Allah shower His blessings and peace be on him) ordered her to install a barrier on her room entrance and she did so. Then the Prophet (May Allah shower His blessings and peace be on him) came out to them after Esha prayers and he offered night prayers and the people present in Masjid at that time, prayed with him till late at night. Then he entered her room and left the barrier in its position. ……….”

[Musnad Imam Ahmad:H.26838]

Anas bin Malik (May Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Prophet (May Allah shower His blessings and peace be on him) was offering night prayers in Ramadhan. I came and stood behind him. Afterwards a man came and stood beside me. Then another man came even we were a group.

[Musnad Imam Ahmad: H.13043, Sahih Muslim: H.1104]

Abu Zar al-Ghifari (May Allah be pleased with him) narrates that we fasted in Ramadhan along with the Prophet (May Allah shower His blessings and peace be on him).He did not offered (night prayers) with us (i.e in congregation) till the seven nights of the month left. (On 23rd night) he offered night prayers with us even one third of night elapsed. He did not offered (night prayers) with us on 24th night. Then he offered prayers with us next night (25th) even half of the night elapsed. We said to him,” O’ Messenger of Allah! Why should you not offer prayers with us for rest of the night. “He said,” When a man offers (night) prayers and returns, he is rewarded for rest of the night too.” He did not offered (night prayers) with us on 26th night. Then on 27th night, he offered with us night prayers, even he called his family members and people gathered too. He offered prayers with us even we were afraid that al-Falah may be missed. The narrator says, asked him (Abu Zar) what is al-Falah? He said,” as-Sahoor(Meal before true dawn).

[Musnad Imam Ahmad: H.21778, Sunan Abu Dawood: H.1375, Jamea al-Tirmidhi: H.806, Sunan Ibni Majah: H.1327, Sunan al-Nasaye: H.202, Sahih Ibni Khuzaimah: H.2206, Sahih Ibni Hibban: H.2547]

Abu Zar al-Ghifari (May Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Prophet (May Allah shower His blessings and peace be on him) sat in Masjid for Eatikaf in the last decade of Ramadhan. On 22nd day of Ramadhan, after offering Asr Prayers he announced,” We shall watch this night in prayers In sha Allah. Whoever wants to watch, he may watch.” It was 23rd night, when he offered (Traweeh) in congregation, after Esha prayers, even one third of night elapsed (in prayers), then he returned. On 24th night he did not offer Taraweeh prayers. On 24th day of Rmadhan, after offering Asr Prayers he announced,” We shall watch this night in prayers In sha Allah. Whoever wants to watch, he may watch.” It was 25th night, when he offered (Traweeh) prayers with people, even one third of night elapsed (in prayers), then he returned. On 26h night he did not offer Taraweeh prayers. On 26th day of Ramadhan, after offering Asr Prayers he announced ,” We shall watch this night in prayers In sha Allah. Whoever wants to watch, he may watch.” We got prepared for prayers. Then we offered Taraweeh prayers ,even two third of night elapsed (in prayers), then he returned to his camp that was fixed in Masjid. I said to him, “ We love to say prayers with you till morning. He (May Allah shower His blessings and peace be on him) said,” O’ Abu Zar! When you offer prayers behind your Imam (leader) and return, reward of offering prayers whole night is written for you.”

[Musnad Imam Ahmad: H.21842]

Hence it is proved that the Prophet (May Allah shower His blessings and peace be on him) offered Taraweeh prayers in both ways, individually and in congregation. So both ways are permissible, whereas Taraweeh in congregation is Sunnah Moakkadah, as it was near to be obligatory.

Abdur Rahman bin Abd Al-Qari narrates that I went to Masjid with Umar bin Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him) in a night of Ramadhan. People were scattered there, some body was saying (Taraweeh) prayers individually and some body was leading a small group of men in prayers. Then Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) said: “If I collect hem behind single Qari it would be more closer to Sunnah.” Then he determined and collected them behind Ubaye bin Ka’ab (May Allah be pleased with him). Thence, I went (to Masjid) with him on another night, while people were saying prayers behind their Qari , Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) said:” How excellent this new way is, but what you miss while you are asleep is better than what you watch in prayers.”

[Sahih Bukhari: H. 2010, Muatta Imam Malik: H.250]

The fear of Obligation went with the tragic demise of the Prophet (May Allah shower His blessings and peace be on him), but people still used to offer Taraweeh Prayers individually or in small groups. Umar bin Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him) thought it better to say this prayer in full congregation uniting the people on single Imam. So this is what he said,” How excellent this new way is”. The ‘new way’ was ‘new’ with respect to the very moment, it does not mean that this way was as new that Umar bin Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him) introduced it for the first time in Islam. As Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) said: “If I collect hem behind single Qari it would be more closer to Sunnah.” The aforementioned Hadiths proves that it was not new for the Companions, so they readily accepted it and nobody objected on this practice, making it unanimous. Thus consensus of the Companions on this issue shows that no innovations were introduced by Umar bin Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him). The Rawafidh , however, claim that Taraweeh Prayers are the innovation of Umar bin Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him), that is totally wrong.

Some extremists claim that 20 Rak’at (cycles) of Taraweeh are blame-worthy Bidah. This erroneous idea is based on the assumption that Tahajjud and Taraweeh are two names for the same prayers. The correct view is that Taraweeh and Tahajjud Prayers are two separate kinds of Salah, the former for just after Esha prayers, only in Ramadhan, the later in the last third part of night, throughout the year.

[Al-Mughni wa al-Sharh al-Kabeer, vol.1, pp.770, 797]

Yazid bin Romaan Rahimahullah narrates that the people used to offer 23 Rak’at in the reign of Umar bin Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him).

[Muatta Imam Malik: H.252]

Twenty Rak’at of Taraweeh and three Rak’at of Witr make sum total twenty three. This practice has been preferred by Imam Sufyan al-Thauri, Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Muhammad bin Idrees al-Shafi’ee and Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal Rahimahumullah. This practice has been recorded throughout the ages in the whole Muslim world, especially, Makkah and Madinah, since the reign of Umar bin Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him). It is a sort of Ijma (consensus).

[Ibni Qudamah, al-Mughni wal Sharh al-Kabeer, vol.1, pp.798-799]

It is notable that the number of Rakat is matter of Divine Guidance, instead of consultation, so it is impossible for the Companions to agree on 20 Rakat, without Divine Guidance. Definitely, they imitated the Messenger of Allah (May Allah shower His blessings and peace be on him).

Abdullah bin Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (May Allah shower His blessings and peace be on him) offered 20 Rakat and Witr individually in the month of Ramadhan.”
[Sunan al-Bayhaqi]

So it appears that 20 Rak’at are not only Sunnah of Sahabah but Sunnah of the Prophet (May Allah shower His blessings and peace be on him) too. Allah the Exalted knows the best.

By Sajid Mahmood Muslim Al-Hanbali

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