بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم

اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْن،وَالصَّلاۃ وَالسَّلامُ عَلَی النَّبِیِّ الْکَرِيم وَعَلیٰ آله وَاَصْحَابه اَجْمَعِيْن۔

Taraweeh Prayer

In the light of the sayings of Allah’s messenger (PBUH), there is a consensus among the whole Muslim Ummah that Taraweeh prayer is not obligatory but Sunnah.

However, contrary to a cult (devotion) underway for 1400 years, some people do spend the most of their abilities and talents, every year during and before Ramadan to prove that offering of 20 Raka’hs of Taraweeh Salah is against Sunnah and Bid’ah (innovation) which really creates amongst the Muslims Ummah a state of disorder and disintegration only. Anyhow, if someone is performing 20 Raka’hs in lieu of 8 Raka’hs, then, it is better for him. As in the light of the Qur’an and Ahadeeth, the whole Muslim Ummah has a consensus that in the nights of Ramadan, a great deal of worships should be done. Right from the beginning of the reign of Omar Farooq (RA), the Muslim Ummah has been praying 20 Raka’hs Taraweeh ritual with congregation. Since then till today, Taraweeh Salah is never offered 8 Raka’hs in the two holy mosques (Masjide Haram and Masjide Malawi).

Out of that much stock of Ahadeeth found relating to this subject, there is not even a single authentic Hadeeth, reliable and non-critique and arguable Hadeeth in which the messenger of Allah (PBUH) obviously stated the exact number of Raka’hs for Taraweeh ritual.  Although, in some Ahadeeth whose sanad (source) is little bit weak mentioned that number of Raka’hs are 20. Allamah Ibne Taimiyah had penned down that whosoever believes that the Prophet (PBUH) has fixed the number of Taraweeh prayer Raka’hs that cannot be decreased or increased, then, he committed a serious mistake (Fatawa Ibne Taimiyah Vol. 2 Page 401). Hence, Allamah Shaukani (RHA) has noted down that in all the narrations of Taraweeh issue, it is proved to offer Taraweeh ritual either in congregation or lonely, but particularly number of Taraweeh Raka’hs and determination of the Qur’an’s verses recitation is not mentioned by the holy Prophet (PBUH) (Nailul Awtaar Vol. 3, Page 64). I have quoted these two personalities because their opinions are especially considered by the section of people who adopted the stance of 8 Raka’hs of Taraweeh.

In the reign of the second Caliph Omar Farooq (RA), twenty Raka’hs of Taraweeh and three Raka’hs of Witr were conducted in congregation, as it was acclaimed and recognized by scholars, jurists, andUlama. Allama Ibne Taimiyah (RHA) says that when Omar Farooq (RA) had gathered all the companions under the leadership of the companion Ubai bin Ka’ab (RA), then he led them in twenty Raka’hs of Taraweeh and three Raka’hs of Witr in congregation. Omar Farooq (RA) is the one of the rightly guided caliphs, regarding whom the Prophet (PBUH) had said “so you must keep to my Sunnah and Sunnah of Khulafa ur-Rashideen (the rightly guided caliphs), those who guide to the right way. Cling to it stubbornly (literally: with your molar teeth).” Allama Ibne Taimiyah (RHA) says that why did the Prophet (PBUH) mention ‘molar teeth’ because the grip of molar teeth is very strong. That is why, this move of Omar Farooq (RA) is the self-same Sunnah (Fatawa Ibne Taimiyah Vol. 2 page 401& Vol. 22 page 434).

The mother of the believers Ayesha (RA) passed away either in 57 or 58 Hijri and Omar Farooq (RA) had got regularly started Taraweeh ritual with congregation under the leadership of Ubai Bin Ka’ab (RA), if twenty Raka’hs of Taraweeh were an innovation (bid’ah), then within a long duration of 42 years, Ayesha (RA) won’t have been silent on the offering of 20 Raka’hs instead of 8 Raka’hs, however she never objected on that. Contrary to it, an eminent scholar of Saudi Arabia, a well-known teacher of the Prophetic mosque and former judge of Madinah, Sheikh Attiyah Mohammad Salim (deceased 1999) has separately compiled a book in Arabic on “the history of Taraweeh for one thousand and four hundred years” in which he clearly proved that right from the beginning of the reign of Omar Farooq (RA) till today, Taraweeh were never offered in the two holy mosques (Masjide Haram and Masjide Nabawi) less than 20 Raka’hs.

Meaning of Taraweeh:

The famous and renowned explainer of the Holy Bukhari, Hafiz Ibne Hajar Al-Asqalani (RHA) has noted down that Taraweeh (تروايح) is the plural of Tarweehah (تَرْوِيْحَه) and its meaning is to rest once, as the meaning of Tasleemah (تسليمة) is to say Salaam once (while offering prayer). That is why, the prayers that are being offered after Isha prayer at the nights of Ramadan are called ‘Taraweeh’ because there was a consensus on the fact that the blessed companions (RA) had been resting for a while between each two salaams (i.e. after the completion of four Raka’hs) (Fathul Bari - Sharah Bukhari, Kitab Salatut Taraweeh).

Virtue / Merit of Taraweeh Prayer:

Abu Hurairah (RA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "He who offers the optional prayer (Taraweeh) throughout Ramadan (nights), out of sincerity of Faith and in the hope of earning reward will have his past sins pardoned." (Bukhari and Muslim). “Out of sincerity of Faith” means that not for the fame and hypocrisy but to worship for seeking purely pleasure of Allah the Exalted.

Number of Taraweeh Prayer’s Raka’hs:

There are differences among Islamic scholars in the number of Taraweeh prayer’s Raka’hs. Although, a big virtue of offering Taraweeh prayer is reported in Ahadeeth, due to not being it obligatory, there is a big room in the number Raka’hs of Taraweeh. The majority ofscholars, jurists andUlama’s opinion is that 20 Raka’hs of Taraweeh should be offered. The original base of difference amongst Ulama in the number of Taraweeh prayer Raka’hs is that whether Taraweeh and Tahajjud prayers are the same or they are separate and lone prayers. The majority of scholars and jurists have considered these two prayers separate ones. According to their approach, the narration of Ayesha (RA) is related with Tahajjud prayer only, in which she said that "Allah's Messenger (PBUH) would pray, neither in Ramadan nor in any other month, more than eleven Raka’h” and they have given several evidences thereof. Some of them are as under:

  1. Imam Bukhari in his well-known and distinguished book (Bukhari) has stated Tahajjud prayer in the chapter of Tahajjud (Kitaabut Tahajjud), whereas he mentioned Taraweeh prayer in the chapter of Taraweeh prayer (Kitaab Salatut Taraweeh). It is quite clear that both prayers are separate, as it is adopted by majority of Ulama and four Imams. If they were the same one prayer, so why would Imam Bukhari state them in two separate chapters. By mentioning the Hadeeth of Ayesha (RA) in the Chapter of Tahajjud, Imam Bukhari has clearly proved that the relation of this Hadeeth is with Tahajjud prayer only.
  2. Taraweeh prayer is being offered in Ramadan only and in this Hadeeth, there is a reference to such a prayer which is also being prayed in the months other than Ramadan.
  3. If the relation of Aeysha’s (RA) narration is with Taraweeh prayer, when Omar Farooq (RA) set up officially 20 Raka’hs of Taraweeh with congregation, then why did no companion (RA) of the Prophet (PBUH) raise any criticism? (In no book of the World, in whatsoever language may be, no companion of the Prophet (PBUH) had raised any objection on 20 Raka’hs of Taraweeh prayer in the reign of Omar Farooq (RA). If there were such a clear Hadeeth on the number of Raka’hs of Taraweeh prayer, then how would Omar Farooq (RA) and the blessed companions (RA) dare to start 20 Raka’hs of Taraweeh in lieu of 8 Raka’hs? The blessed companions (RA) even in minor issues had no opposition to the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH) and they certainly had the spirit of following Sunnah far better than us. But we (the Muslims of today) are unable to compare the enthusiasm and spirit of the blessed companions (RA) about the pursuance of Sunnah. Hence, the Prophet (PBUH) said that we have to cling strongly to Sunnah of Khulafaur Rashideen (the rightly guided Caliphs) (Ibne Majah).
  4. If, this Hadeeth is really related to Taraweeh prayer (and Tahajjud and Taraweeh are separately two prayers), then in the last ten days of Ramadan why after offering Taraweeh prayer, Tahajjud prayer is offered?
  5. The relation of this Hadeeth is assuredly with Tahajjud prayer, as the Muhadditheen have stated this Hadeeth in the chapter of Tahajjud not in the chapter of Taraweeh prayer (See: Muslim Vol. 1 page 154, Abu Daud Vol. 1 page 196, Tirmidhi Vol. 1 page 58, Nasai Vol. 1 page 154, Mu’atta Imam Malik page 42).
    1. To gather in the mosques because it facilitates for both the common people and dignitaries.
    2. To offer them in the beginning of the night, even though it is better to be offered in the last phase of night, as Omar Farooq (RA) has pointed.
    3. Number of Taraweeh Raka’hs are twenty (Hujjatullahil Baligha Vol. 2, page 67)

Allama Shamsuddin Karmani (RHA) (Bukhari’s explainer) pens down that this Hadeeth relates to Tahajjud prayer and that the aforesaid question of Abu Salamah (RA) and response of Ayesha (RA) was about Tahajjud prayer too (Al-Kaukab Al-Darari, Explanation of Sahih Bukhari Vol. 1 page 155-156).

Shah Abdul Haq Muhaddith Dehlavi (RHA) says that it’s correct that the Prophet (PBUH) had been offering eleven Raka’hs, but that were surely Tahajjud prayers.

Shah Abdul-Aziz Muhaddith Dehlavi (RHA) writes that this Hadeeth is borne on Tahajjud prayer that was similar in Ramadan and other than Ramadan (Majmuah Fatwa Azizia page 125).

Taraweeh Prayer in the time of the Prophet (PBUH):

Ayesha (RA) says that in a night (of Ramadan), the messenger of Allah (PBUH) offered Taraweeh prayer in the mosque and the companions (RA) also offered behind him. Then at the second night the participants were more. The third and fourth nights, the Prophet (PBUH) did not come out to the mosque and in the morning, the Prophet (PBUH) said that I witnessed your interest and desire and I became afraid that this prayer lest be enjoined upon you in Ramadan (Muslim, Al-Targhib fi Salatit Taraweeh).

Abu Hurairah (RA) narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) used to awaken the desire for worship in Ramadan, but did not command it as obligatory. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "He who offers the optional prayer (Tarawih prayers) throughout Ramadan (nights), out of sincerity of Faith and in the hope of earning reward will have his past sins pardoned." This action of worship had been as it was, till the death of the Prophet (PBUH), so was it in the reign of Abu Bakr Siddiq (RA)  and the beginning time of Omar Farooq (RA) (Muslim, Al-Targhib fi Salatit Taraweeh).

By the Hadeeth of Sahih Muslim, this fact is known that in the lifetime of the Prophet (PBUH), in the reign of Abu Bakr Siddiq (RA) and early days of the caliphate of Omar Farooq (RA), there was no arrangement for offering Taraweeh prayer, mere attention had been drawn to it. In the caliphate of Omar (RA), a change surely occurred. Explanation of that change in the light of writings of Muhadditheen, jurists and Ulama is following in this article.

In Ayesha (RA)’s narration (Allah's Messenger (PBUH) would pray, neither in Ramadan nor in any other month, more than eleven Rak'ah), there is no word of Taraweeh. It’s therefore, surely its relation is with Tahajjud. This is why, this Hadeeth is stated by Muhadditheen in the chapter of Tahajjud and not in the chapter of Taraweeh (See: Muslim Vol. 1 page 154, Abu Daud Vol. 1 page 196, Tirmidhi Vol. 1 page 58, Nasai Vol. 1 page 154, Mu’atta Imam Malik page 42).

Imam bin Nadhar Maruzi (RHA) in his well-known book (Qiyamullail, page 91 & 92) by making a chapter as “Qiyamullail” has stated many Ahadeeth and narrations, but he did not cite the above-mentioned Hadeeth of Ayesha (RA), as according to his approach, this Hadeeth is not related to Taraweeh prayer at all.  

Allamah Ibne Qaiyyim (RHA) has adduced this Hadeeth in his famous and renowned book (Zadul Ma’ad page 86) in the chapter of Qaiyamullail (Tahajjud). Moreover, a blind eye cannot be turned from the opinion of Imam Qurtubi (RHA) on this narration that many more Ulama consider this narration as disordered and invalid (Aini - explanation of Bukhari - Vol. 7 page 187).

Taraweeh in the Reigns of Khulafau r Rashideen (Rightly Guided Caliphs):

How many Raka’hs of Taraweeh were being offered in the reign of Abu Bakr Siddiq (RA), no clear position of the blessed companions (RA) is found in this respect. As, the action of this era was as it is and the people used to pray Taraweeh separately. Thus, in the caliphate of Abu Bakr Siddiq (RA) (namely two Ramadans) no Taraweeh prayer was offered in congregation even for one time.

When, Omar Farooq (RA) during his caliphate had seen the people offering Taraweeh individually, then he gathered all the companions (RA) under the leadership (imamat) of Ubai’ bin Ka’ab (RA), and by this way for the first time, a regular arrangement of 20 Raka’hs of Taraweeh after offering Isha, the prescribed prayer and before Witr prayer, had  started. Look into the following matters that are set upon in the era of Omar Farooq (RA):

1)

Offering Taraweeh Salah in the whole month of Ramadan.

(that is being followed by the whole Ummah)

2)

Offering Taraweeh ritual regularly in congregation.

(that is being followed by the whole Ummah)

3)

Offering Witr ritual in congregation.

(that is being followed by the whole Ummah)

4)

Offering 20 Raka’hs of Taraweeh.

Mode of Taraweeh is acceptable, but number of Taraweeh prayer is objectionable.

Abdulrahman Qari (RHA) says that I along with Omar Farooq (RA) while entering into the mosque, saw that people are offering Taraweeh ritual in various groups and individually and some people are participating with someone. Having been noticed this fact, Omar Farooq (RA) said, certainly, I’m of the view that what a good way it will be, if they are gathered under the leadership of an Imam and then he gathered all the people under the leadership of Ubai Bin Ka’ab (RA). Abdurrahman (RHA) says that when we went out the next night, we saw that all the people are praying under the leadership of the Imam, Omar Farooq (RA) said that “this is a very good way”. Moreover, he said that the part of the last night in which you sleep is better than this time therein you spend standing in praying. (Mu’atta Imam Malik, chapter what is mentioned regarding the offering of optional prayers in Ramadan).

Yazid Bin Ruman (RHA) says that the people (the blessed companions) had been performing 23 Raka’hs (20 Taraweeh and 3 Witr) in the caliphate era of Omar Farooq (RA), (Mu’atta Imam Malik, chapter what is mentioned regarding the offering of optional prayers in Ramadan page 98).

Baihaqi (RHA) has penned down in his book Kitaabul Ma’arefah that Saib Bin Yazid (RHA) says that in the Caliphate of Omar Farooq (RA), we used to offer 20 Raka’hs of Taraweeh and Witr. Imam Zaila’ee (RHA) has claimed that the source (Sanad) of this Hadeeth is correct (Nasburrayi Vol 2, page 154).

Ubai Bin Ka’ab (RA) narrates that Omar Farooq (RA) ordered him to lead the prayers in congregation at the nights of Ramadan. Wherefore, he said that people fast in the daytime and they can’t recite well, it would be very well, if you make them to hear the holy Qur’an (in prayers). Hence Ubai Bin Ka’ab (RA) led them in 20 Raka’hs of Taraweeh (Musnad Ahmad Bin Manie’ by quote of Itahful Khairatul Maharah for Busiri on Almatalibil A’aliah Vol 2 page 424).

In Mu’atta Malik, there is a narration of Saib Bin Yazid (RHA) through Yazid Bin Khasifah (RHA) that 20 Raka’hs of Taraweeh prayers had been offered in the Farooqi era (Fathul Bari Libne Hajar Vol 4, page 321, Nailulawtar Lish Shaukani Vol 2 page 514).

Mohammad Bin Ka’ab Al-Qarzi (RHA) (a great Tabi’ee) says that the people in the era of Omar Farooq (RA) used to offer twenty Raka’hs of Taraweeh (Qiyamullail Lil Maruzi page 157).

Yahya Bin Saeed (RHA) reports that Omar Farooq (RA) issued an order to a man to lead the people in Taraweeh prayer of 20 Raka’hs in congregation (Musannaf ibne Abi Shaibah vol. 2 page 285).

Narrated by Hassan (RHA) that Omar Farooq (RA) gathered the people under the leadership of Ubai Bin Ka’ab (RA) and he used to lead the people in 20 Raka’hs of Taraweeh prayer (Abu Daud Vol. 1 page 211, chapter of Al-Qunut wal Witr).

Saib Bin Yazid (RHA) says that in the Caliphate of Omar Farooq (RA), three Raka’hs of Witr and twenty Raka’hs of (Taraweeh) had been offered (Musannaf Abdulrazzaq vol. 4 page 201, Hadeeth no. 7763).

Saib Bin Yazid (RHA) says that in the Caliphate of Omar Farooq (RA), we used to pray twenty Raka’hs of Taraweeh and the Qur’an reader read Surat of hundred verses and in the reign of Uthman Ghani (RA), owing to long standing within prayer, the people used to recline on sticks (Alsunanul Kubra Lil Baihaqi vol. 2 page 496).

Reported by Abulhasnaa (RHA) that Ali (RA) ordered a man to lead the people in 20 Raka’hs of Taraweeh prayer in Ramadan (Musannaf ibne Abi Shaibah vol. 2 page 285).

Abu Abdulrahman Al-Solami (RHA) reported that Ali (RA) called upon the Qur’an readers in Ramadan, and then he ordered a reader out of them to lead the people in 20 Raka’hs of Taraweeh and Ali (RA) himself used to lead them in Witr prayer (Alsunanul Kubra Lil Baihaqi vol. 2 page 496).

Action of the Companions (RA) and Tabi’een (RHA) about Taraweeh:

A’amash (RHA) says that Abdullah Bin Masoud (RA) also used to offer 20 Raka’hs of Taraweeh and 3 Raka’hs of Witr (Qiyamullail Li Maruzi page 157).

Hassan Basri (RHA) narrates through Abdul-Aziz Bin Rafi’e that Ubai Bin Ka’ab (RA) used to lead the people in 20 Raka’hs of Taraweeh and 3 Raka’hs of Witr (Musannaf Ibne Abi Shaibah Vol. 2 page 285).

Ataa Bin Abi Rabah (RHA), (a great Tabi’ee who had seen approximately 200 companions) says that I found the people (the blessed companions) were used to offer 20 Raka’hs of Taraweeh and 3 Raka’hs of Witr (Musannaf Ibne Abi Shaibah Vol. 2 page 285).

Ibrahim Al-Nakhaie (RHA), (a great Tabi’ee, well-known and famous Mufti of Kufa) says that the people in Ramadan used to offer 3 Raka’hs with five Tarweehas (Kitabul Aathar  by narration of Abi Yusuf page 41).

Sheetar Bin Shakal (RHA), (an eminent Tabi’ee and pupil of Ali (Ra)), used to lead the people in congregation for twenty Raka’hs of Taraweeh and three Raka’hs of Witr (Al-Sunanul Kubra Lil Baihaqi Vol. 2 page 496).

Abul-Bukhtari (RHA), (he had a very high educational rank among Kufa’s inhabitants, a pupil of Abdullah Bin Abbas, Omar and Abu Saeed (RA)), it is narrated about him that he used to lead in congregation for twenty Raka’hs of Taraweeh and three Raka’hs of Witr, with five Tarweehas (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaibah Vol. 2 page 285).

Suwaid Bin Ghaflah (RHA), (he had met Abu Bakr, Omar, Ali, Abdullah Bin Masoud and other companions (RA) of the Prophet (PBUH)), for whom Abul Khudhaib says that Suwaid Bin Ghaflah (RHA) used to lead twenty Raka’hs of Taraweeh in Ramadan with five Tarweehas (Al-Sunanul Kubra Lil Baihaqi Vol. 2 page 496).

 Ibne Abi Mulekah (RHA), (a great Tabi’ee who had the honor of meeting about thirty companions (RA) of Allah’s messenger (PBUH)), Nafe’ bin Umar (RA) says that Ibne Abi Mulekah (RHA) used to lead us in twenty Raka’hs of Taraweeh in Ramadan (Musannaf Ibne Abi Shaibah Vol. 2 page 285).

Opinions (Sayings) of Senior Ulama of Ummah on Taraweeh Prayer:

Imam Abu Hanifa (RHA): Allama Ibne Rushd (RHA), writes that optional prayers in Ramadan in the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifah (RHA) are twenty Raka’hs. (Bedayatul Mujtahid Vol. 1 page 214). Imam Fakhruddin Qadi Khan (RHA) notes down that Imam Abu Hanifah (RHA) says that offering twenty Raka’hs in each night in Ramadan with five Tarweehas aside from Witr is Sunnah (Fatawa Qadi Khan Vol. 1 page 112).

Allamah Alauddin Kasani (RHA) writes that the correct stand of majority of Ulama is that when, Omar Farooq (RA) caused to assemble the blessed companions (RA) to offer Taraweeh under the leadership of Ubai Bin Ka’ab (RA), then he offered twenty Raka’hs of Taraweeh and there was a consensus of the companions (RA) on that (Baday’eul Sanay’e).

Imam Malik (RHA): According to a famous opinion of Imam Malik (RHA) the number of Taraweeh Raka’hs are 36. Whereas, in accordance with a view of Imam Malik, twenty Raka’hs of Taraweeh are Sunnah. Allamah Ibne Rushd Qurtubi Malki (RHA) says that Imam Malik in one of his opinions has liked twenty Raka’hs of Taraweeh (Bedayatul Mujtahid Vol. 1 page 214). In Masjide Haram, the people of Makkah used to circumambulate a round of Ka’ba after every four Raka’hs of Taraweeh as Tarweeha. Against that action, the people of Madinah began to perform four Raka’hs of Nafl during every Tarweeha. Thus, as per an opinion of Imam Malik (RHA) number of prayers worked out to be 36 Raka’hs (20 Raka’hs Taraweeh and 16 Raka’hs Nafl prayers)

Imam Shafa’ee (RHA): Imam Shafa’ee (RHA) says that I like twenty Raka’hs of Taraweeh, and in the Holy Makkah twenty Raka’hs had been offered (Qiyamullail page 159). At another place, Imam Shafa’ee says that I found the people of my city Makkah offering twenty Raka’hs of Taraweeh (Tirmidhi Vol. 1 page 166). Allamah Nawavi Shafa’ee pens down that our approach (Shawafe’s) regarding Raka’hs of Taraweeh is twenty with ten salams excluding Witr prayer. Twenty Raka’hs include five Tarweehas. And one Tarweeha consists of four Raka’hs with two salams. The same is the course of Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal and Imam Abu Daud Zaheri (RHA). Qadi Aiyadh (RHA), had quoted twenty Raka’hs of Taraweeh from the majority of Ulama (Al-Majmu’a).

Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal(RHA):A distinguished representative of Hanbali Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) writes, the preferred view of Imam Abu Abdullah (Ahmad bin Hanbal) is of twenty Raka’hs and the same view is adopted by Sufiyan Sauri (RHA). The evidence of this opinion is that when Omar Farooq (RA) assembled the blessed companions (RA) under the leadership of Ubai Bin Ka’ab (RA), he used to lead them in twenty Raka’hs. Imam Ahmad Bin Hanbal’s reasoning is through narrations of Yazid and Ali (RA). Ibne Qudamah says that it is as consensus. He also says that the action which is being followed by the blessed companions (RA) of the Prophet (PBUH), it is solely worth to be followed (Almughni Libne Qudamah Vol. 2 page 139, Salat Taraweeh).

Imam Tirmidhi says that the same itself is the course of majority of Ulama, which is being reported from Ali, Omar and other blessed companions (RA) that the Raka’hs of Taraweeh are twenty. The same approach is of Sufiyan Sauri, Ibn Mubarak and Imam Shafa’ee, and Imam Shafa’ee says that I have seen the people of Makkah used to pray twenty Raka’hs (Tirmidhi, Ma Jaa’a fi qaiyam Shahre Ramadan). On this occasion, Imam Tirmidhi has written that some people in Madinah used to offer 41 Raka’hs of Taraweeh ritual. But Imam Tirmidhi did not write praying of 8 Raka’hs of Taraweeh by none of Madinah or Makkah’s scholars.

The most renowned explanation writer of Muslim Sharif, Allamah Nawavi (RHA) who is also the compiler of Riyadhus Saliheen, says that Qiyame Ramadan is meant ‘Taraweeh’ and all Ulama are agreed upon the fact that this prayer is favorite and beloved to Allah, the Exalted; however, there is a difference that whether should it be performed alone or offered with congregation in the mosque? Hence, Imam Shafa’ee, Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, some Malki Ulama and others say that offering it in congregation is better, since Omar Farooq (RA) and the blessed companions (RA) had been constantly offering and it is continued till today, even it has become one of Muslims’ virtual signs (Sharah Muslim Lin Nawavi, Abstract: Al-Targhib fi Qiyamillail).

Allamah Nawavi also says that you should know that there is a consensus of the whole ulama for being Taraweeh prayer Sunnah. They are twenty Raka’hs whose each two Raka’hs have one Salaam (Al-Azkar page 83).

Allamah Aiyni (writer of Bukhari explanation) pens down that in the era of Omar Farooq, Usman and Ali (RA), Taraweeh used to be offered twenty Raka’hs (Aiyni Vol. 7 page 178).

Sheikh Ghazali (RHA) says that Raka’hs of Taraweeh are twenty whose mode of performance is very famous and they are Sunnah Muakkadah (Ihyaul Uloom Vol 1, page 132).

Sheikh Abdulqadir Jilani (RHA) says that Taraweeh is the holy Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) and they are twenty Raka’hs (Ghuniatut Talibeen page 267, 268).

Maulana Qutbuddin Khan Muhaddith Dehlavi (RHA) says: “There is a consensus of the companions (RA) on being the number of Raka’hs in Taraweeh, twenty (Mazahire Haq Vol 1, page 436).

Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Dehlavi, in his well-known and famous book (Hujjatullahil Balegha) writes that in the era of the blessed companions (RA) and Tabi’een (RHA), the Raka’hs of Taraweeh have been fixed at twenty. This is why, he says that the blessed companions (RA) and Tabi’een (RHA) had added the following three things to Qiyame Ramadan:

The famous Ghair Muqallid scholar, Nawab Siddiq Hassan Khan Bhopali (RHA) has written that the way of offering Taraweeh which was prevalent in the reign of Omar Farooq (RA), has been considered by the scholars as consensus (Aunul Bari Vol. 4 page 317).

Full Text of Ayesha (RA)’s Hadeeth and its right concept:

عَنْ أَبِي سَلَمَةَ بْنِ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ، أَنَّهُ أَخْبَرَهُ أَنَّهُ، سَأَلَ عَائِشَةَ ـ رضى الله عنها ـ كَيْفَ كَانَتْ صَلاَةُ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي رَمَضَانَ فَقَالَتْ مَا كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَزِيدُ فِي رَمَضَانَ وَلاَ فِي غَيْرِهِ عَلَى إِحْدَى عَشْرَةَ رَكْعَةً، يُصَلِّي أَرْبَعًا فَلاَ تَسَلْ عَنْ حُسْنِهِنَّ وَطُولِهِنَّ، ثُمَّ يُصَلِّي أَرْبَعًا فَلاَ تَسَلْ عَنْ حُسْنِهِنَّ وَطُولِهِنَّ، ثُمَّ يُصَلِّي ثَلاَثًا، قَالَتْ عَائِشَةُ فَقُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَتَنَامُ قَبْلَ أَنْ تُوتِرَ‏.‏ فَقَالَ ‏ "‏ يَا عَائِشَةُ، إِنَّ عَيْنَىَّ تَنَامَانِ وَلاَ يَنَامُ قَلْبِي ‏"‏‏.‏ (بخاري ـ كتاب التهجد)

Narrated Abu Salma bin Abdur Rahman:

I asked Ayesha (RA), "How is the prayer of Allah's Messenger (PBUH) during the month of Ramadan." She said, "Allah's Messenger (PBUH) never exceeded eleven Raka’h in Ramadan or in other months, he used to offer four Raka’h, do not ask me about their beauty and length, then four Raka’h, do not ask me about their beauty and length, and then three Raka’h." Ayesha (RA) further said, "I said, 'O Allah's Messenger (PBUH)! do you sleep before offering Witr prayer?' He replied, 'O Ayesha! My eyes sleep but my heart remains awake'!"

(Clarification): Remember that this Hadeeth of Ayesha (RA) relates to Tahajjud prayer, whereas Tahajjud and Taraweeh are two separate prayers and this is the opinion of the majority of scholars.

In this Hadeeth, the prayer state of Prophet (PBUH) has been explained that he firstly used to offer fours Raka’hs having very long Qiyam, Ruku’ and Sajdah, then it followed by the next four Raka’hs of very long Qiyam, Ruku’ and Sajdah, thereafter he used to perform three Raka’hs of Witr. The text of Hadeeth clearly illustrates that the main purpose of question and answer is to explain the prayer state of the Prophet (PBUH), not the number of Raka’hs. Having been considered Tahajjud and Taraweeh prayers as one prayer by some scholars, they have taken ‘word eight’ for Taraweeh, but they ignored offering way of eleven Raka’hs and three Raka’hs of Witr. 

Suppose, if Tahajjud and Taraweeh are the one prayer only and this Hadeeth is a proof for being Taraweeh eight Raka’hs, then all parts of this Hadeeth should be taken into consideration, and Taraweeh should be offered in accordance with the complete states mentioned therein, or at least it should be declared as Sunnah. But they have taken ‘word eight’ and overlooked the states of eight Raka’h prayers, as it is mentioned in it that both four Raka’hs were very long and there were three Raka’hs of Witr. As for Witr, word three is abandoned and one Raka’h only is adopted for the convenience. It is clearly stated in this Hadeeth that Allah’s messenger (PBUH) used to sleep after offering eight Raka’hs, then, he offered Witr. While in Ramadan, right from the beginning of the era of Omar Farooq (RA), all the people immediately after offering Taraweeh along with Isha prayer, used to pray three Raka’hs of Witr. Having been picked up ‘word eight’ only of this Hadeeth of Bukhari, leaving all its other things, then, this is not to pursue the Hadeeth of Ayesha (RA), but, it is to depend only upon the Qur’an and Hadeeth understanding of their Aslaf and exactly that is itself Taqleed. Notwithstanding, there is another Hadeeth of Ayesha (RA) in Bukhari:

(كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يُصَلِّي بِاللَّيْلِ ثَلاَثَ عَشْرَةَ رَكْعَةً، ثُمَّ يُصَلِّي إِذَا سَمِعَ النِّدَاءَ بِالصُّبْحِ رَكْعَتَيْنِ خَفِيفَتَيْنِ)‏ (باب ما يقرأ في ركعتي الفجر)

The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) used to offer thirteen Raka’hs during the night, he would offer two light Raka’hs of prayer (Sunnah of Fajr) when he heard the call to the dawn prayer. We should notice that the Hadeeth of 11 Raka’hs is mentioned in Bukhari and so as the Hadeeth of thirteen Raka’hs and both the Ahadeeth are narrated by Ayesha (RA). But we can’t understand that the ‘word eight’ has been taken from the Hadeeth of eleven Raka’hs and the Hadeeth of thirteen Raka’hs is absolutely forsaken. However, the word “كَانَ” has been used in the Hadeeth of thirteen Raka’hs which is used in Arabic for the past continuous, which means the Prophet (PBUH) was habitual to offer thirteen Raka’hs. The people, who consider Tahajjud and Taraweeh prayers as one prayer, are unable to reconcile both Ahadeeth in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah. When they are asked that in the Hadeeth of Ayesha (RA), there is a mention of offering four and four Raka’hs altogether, but your practice is to offer two and two Raka’hs separately, then they quote another Hadeeth, in which there is a mention for offering Tahajjud prayer as two and two Raka’hs. And that is a Hadeeth of Abdullah bin Abbas (RA), which is also reported (under the chapter of Witr) in Bhukhari:

ثُمَّ صَلَّى رَكْعَتَيْنِ، ثُمَّ رَكْعَتَيْنِ، ثُمَّ رَكْعَتَيْنِ، ثُمَّ رَكْعَتَيْنِ، ثُمَّ رَكْعَتَيْنِ، ثُمَّ رَكْعَتَيْنِ، ثُمَّ أَوْتَرَ

The Allah’s messenger (PBUH) after having completed his ablution, “then offerd two Raka’h five times and then ended his prayer with Witr.” This Hadeeth of Bukhari revealed the fact that the Prophet (PBUH), besides offering Witr prayer, he used to perform two, then two Raka’hs for the total twelve Raka’hs. The people who adopt the stance of eight Raka’hs of Taraweeh along with considering Taraweeh and Tahajjud as one prayer only,  then, is there any way of conciliation among these Ahadeeth? Thus, they have taken ‘word eight’ from Ayesha’s (RA) Hadeeth and offering two and two Raka’hs from Abdullah bin Abbas’s (RA) Hadeeth, if such, neither Ayesha’s (RA) Hadeeth is applied nor the Hadeeth of Abdullah bin Abbas (RA), but it represents a pure Taqleed of Aslaf (ancestors). It is concluded that considering Taraweeh and Tahajjud as one prayer only is a wrong position, as no legitimate evidence is submitted in this respect. No Imam, out of four famous imams adopted an approach of being both prayers as one only. Imam Bukhari (RHA) used to offer Tahajjud prayer after offering Taraweeh. Imam Bukhari used to offer Taraweeh prayers in congregation and recite twenty verses in each Raka’h and complete one Qur’an in the whole Ramadan. Whereas, Imam Bukhari was offering Tahajjud prayer lonely and completing one Qur’an in each three nights. (For being acquainted with the details of Imam Bukari in this respect, read the preamble of the famous explanation of Bukhari “Fathulbari”.

The only correct stance is that Taraweeh and Tahajjud prayers are two separate prayers. Tahajjud prayer is determined by Allah’s command. Read the opening verses of Surah Al-Muzzammil: (يا أيها المزمل قم الليل إلا قليل..............). Whereas, Taraweeh prayer is prescribed by the order of Prophet (PBUH), as he said that:    سننت له قيامه (Nasai, Ibne Majah), I prescribed Taraweeh prayer as Sunnah. It is clear just like the sunshine that offering twenty Raka’hs of Taraweeh in congregation had been regularly set forth from the era of Omar Farooq (RA). As, we have mentioned opinions and views of Muhadditheen and scholars with their references. Therefore,the denial of this fact is only an intransigence and stubbornness. The relation of Ayesha’s (RA) Hadeeth is only with Tahajjud which the Prophet (PBUH) used to offer sometimes less and sometimes more.

Elimination of a suspicion:

Some scholars tried to prove through the narration of Jabir (RA) mentioned by Ibne Khozaimah and Ibne Hibban, that the Prophet (PBUH) offered eight Raka’hs of Taraweeh. But this narration is so weak and denounced that it cannot be quoted as a proof, a narrator in this Hadeeth, who is called Eissa bin Jariyah has reported denounced narrations according to Muhadditheen’s opinion. As, the scholars adopted the position of eight Raka’hs of Taraweeh, do not recognize narrations of such narrators in other issues, otherwise, we also have various Ahadeeth of this type, that state that the Prophet (PBUH) offered twenty Raka’hs of Taraweeh. Abdullah bin Abbas (RA) narrated that the holy Prophet (PBUH) indeed offered in the month of Ramadan lonely without congregation twenty Raka’hs and Witr. (Baihaqi Vol.1 page 496, this Hadeeth is mentioned by Tabrani in Kabeer, Ibne Adi in Musnad and Allamah Baghawi in Mujammah Sahaba). (Zujajatul Masabeeh) ---- Hafiz Ibne Hajar al-Asqalani has reported through Imam Rafa’ee that the holy Prophet (PBUH) had led a congregation of twenty Raka’hs of Taraweeh for two nights, then the people gathered at the third night, but the Prophet (PBUH) did not come out. In the next morning, he (PBUH) said to his companions (RA), I was afraid that, lest it be enjoined upon you and you won’t be able to perform it that is why, I didn’t come out.

Elimination of a second suspicion:

Based on a narration, some people have written that Omar Farooq (RA) ordered that ‘eleven Raka’hs’ Taraweeh to be led. Even though, this Hadeeth is reported by three ways and there are serious doubts in the source (sanad) of this Hadeeth. Moreover, twenty Raka’hs of Taraweeh had been offered in the era of Omar Farooq (RA). This matter is clearly recognized by Muhadditheen and big Muslim scholars, as it has been mentioned above in the light of references of Ulama and Muhadditheen. It is therefore, the denial of this fact is only stubbornness and intransigence. This fact is also acknowledged by Imam Tirmidhi, Imam Ghazali, Allama Nawavi, Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Dehlavi, Allama Ibne Qudama, Allama Ibne Taimiyah and the renowned Ghair Muqallid scholar Nawab Siddiq Hassan Khan Bhopali (RHA). When, the famous Ghair Muqallid scholar Mufti Mohammad Hussain Batalawi issued a formal fatwa for the first time in 1284 H that ‘eight Raka’hs’s Taraweeh’ are Sunnah and twenty Raka’hs are Bid’at, then this strange and bizarre fatwa was severely opposed by every nook and corner. The famous elderly Ghair Muqallid cleric Maulana Ghulam Rasool severely condemned this fatwa in his own words. He had considered that fatwa a great transgression and trespass to Shari’ha (Risala Taraweeh page 28, 56).

Elimination of a third suspicion:

Some scholars say that if, there is any contradiction between the Prophet’s (PBUH) statements and the blessed companions’ (RA), then the statements of the companions (RA) will be abandoned and the statement of the Prophet (PBUH) will be taken. So far as this fact is concerned, there is no difference among Ummah. By the way, if someone doubts or mistrusts it, he should renew his faith. But, there is no contradiction, as no number of Taraweeh’s Raka’hs is mentioned neither in the sayings nor proven by the acts of the Prophet (PBUH). We all better know that the companions (RA) loved Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) more than us and they were more afraid than us in innovating any new thing in the religion.

Special attention:

Saudi Arabia's leading cleric, the famous teacher of the Prophetic mosque and (former) judge of Madinah, Sheikh Attiyah Mohammad Salem (d. 1999) has compiled a separate book on ‘one thousand four hundred years history of Taraweeh prayer’ in Arabic named (التراويح أكثر من ألف عام في المسجد النبوي Taraweeh prayer for more than one thousand years in the Prophetic mosque). Having been mentioned the cause of its compilation, he writes in the preamble that Taraweeh prayer is constantly being offered in the Prophetic mosque, then some people stop praying after offering eight Raka’hs only, and they think that offering eight Raka’hs is better and more than it, is not allowed. By this way, they are deprived of the reward of remaining Raka’hs of Taraweeh. It’s a great pity to see their deprivation. That is why, I’m compiling this book, so that doubts of such people will be removed and may Allah bless them to offer twenty Raka’hs of Taraweeh! After discussing on the history of 1400 years, Sheikh Attiyah Mohammad Salem writes in this book, “After this detailed analysis, at the first instance, we would like to ask our readers that whether it is proved at any occasion, during a long period of more than one thousand years that the eight Raka’hs Taraweeh had been offered in the Prophetic mosque? Or assume that is it proved offering of less than twenty Raka’hs? But it is clearly proved that during the span of one thousand four hundred years, only twenty Raka’hs or more than that used to be offered. Another question is that “did any companion or scholar issue a fatwa in the past that it is not allowed to perform more than 8 Raka’hs of Taraweeh and he based his fatwa on Ayesha’s (RA) Hadeeth?”

In a nutshell:

Taraweeh prayer is not obligatory, but precautionary measures should be taken by offering 20 Raka’hs Taraweeh, as they contain 8 Raka’hs too. The special merits for worshiping in Ramadan nights are abundantly reported in many Ahadeeth. Whatsoever, in the light of Ahadeeth agreed upon by Bukhari and Muslim and opinions of reliable scholars and Muhadditheen, the stance of offering twenty Raka’hs in Taraweeh is considered to be very robust and strong.

Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi (www.najeebqasmi.com)