Some Basic Facts About Taraweeh (Tarawih) Prayer

Tarawih (Taraweeh) refers to extra prayers performed by Muslims at night in the Islamic month of Ramadan. Contrary to popular belief, they are not compulsory. However, many Muslims pray these prayers in the night during Ramadan. Some scholars maintain that Tarawih is neither farz nor a Sunnah but Sunnah Muakkadah (Emphasized practice of Hazrat Mohammed saw)

Allah Taa’la has blessed the Muslims with a very sacred and blessed month in which all rewards are multiplied, the reward for a nafl (optional) act becomes equivalent to a compulsory act (farz) and the reward for a compulsory act is multiplied 70 times. In this month the gates of heaven are opened, the punishment of hell is ceased and heaven is at its best. Besides all these blessings, the month of Ramadan has been blessed with the act of Taraweeh Salaah.

Overview

Tarawih prayers are prayed in pairs of two and can be prayed in at least 20 raka‘āt. A break is taken after every 4 rak’ah. This prayer is performed only during Ramadan of the Islamic calendar after salat of Isha’. Muslims believe it is customary to attempt a khatm “complete recitation” of the Quran as one of the religious observances of Ramadan by reciting at least one juz’ per night in tarawih. Tarawih prayers are considered optional, not mandatory.

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Muslim Views

A majority of Sunni Muslims regard the Tarawih prayers as Sunnat Mu’akkadah, a salaat that was performed by the Islamic prophet Hazrat Mohammed saw very consistently. Sunni Muslims believe tarawih is a Sunnah salat and may be performed at home if one is unable to attend a mosque. According to this tradition, Hazrat Mohammed saw initially prayed the tarawih in congregation during Ramadan which is evident in ahadith. Hazrat Mohammed saw prayed in congregation for three consecutive nights but discontinued this practice out of fear that it would be made mandatory, rather than sunnah. During the time when Hazrat Umar rah was the caliph, he reinstated the praying of Tarawih in congregation since there was no longer any misapprehension of it being made mandatory.

Roots of Taraweeh

It is narrated by Muslim on the authority of Abu Huraira
rah that the Prophet saw said, “Whoever stands in Ramadan with Imaan and hope of reward, all his past sins will be forgiven.” (Muslim, pg 259)

The Prophet saw has stated here that ‘whoever stands in Ramadan’, this refers to standing Taraweeh. The commentators have said this is because the Prophet of Allah saw has specified ‘standing’ with the month of Ramahan. So it is apparent that it is NOT referring to Tahajjud but Taraweeh.

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How many Rak’ats?

The precepts of the Holy Prophet saw has been misunderstood by many regarding how many rak’ats should be prayed.

It is mentioned in Musanif ibn Abi Shayba, Tabraani and Baihaqi on the authority of Ibn Abbas May Allah be pleased with him that the Prophet saw used to pray 20 Rak’ats in Ramadan besides witr. (Vol 2, pg 153)

Further evidence that the Prophet’s saw 20 rak’ats is proven by a narration narrated by Imam Malik (Allah’s blessings upon him). In the time of Hazrat Umar rah the people used to pray 23 rak’ats (pg 130) and this was by the order of Hazrat Umar rah, the second Khalifah of the Prophet saw, regarding whom the Prophet saw said if there were to be a Prophet after me, it would be Umar rah. The Prophet saw also said that he was the Mulham of this Ummah (command revealed upon). There is no space for objection here saying this is not a Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammed saw because the Prophet saw has himself said,

“Hold on firmly to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the Khulafah Rashideen.”

COMMENTS

  • Majid

    How can standing in Ramadan can be proved as taraweeh, it could be every salah during Ramadan.
    Has Hazrat Umar himself ever joined that congregation that he established? If any proof kindly provide and if he didn’t what kind of sunnah it is that caliph himself doesn’t perform. And what about the narration in which Hazrat Umar RA himself calls it a bida’, wonder how can an act be bida’ and suunah at the same time.
    And what about Hazrat Ayesha RA hadith where she mentioned Prophet’s salah was 11 rakat whether Ramadan or not. Did she live far from Prophet SAW and couldn’t see what ibne Abbas RA saw?
    The taraweeh performed is naval namaz not sunnah and naval namaz has it’s importance and can’t be treated as not important but calling it sunnah and then making sunnah mua’kida is not good.

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