In this belated day and age, every morning heralds a new fitna, a fitna that strikes at the very root of our Imaan and amal. For the past fourteen hundred years the Ummah has been performing twenty rakaats of taraweeh without question. However “a sect” now claims that taraweeh is ONLY eight rakaats, which implies that for fourteen hundred years the Ummah had deviated from the sunnah of Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam and had performed twenty rakaats without any shari proof.
The Virtue of Taraweeh
Abdullah Bin Ammar radhiallahu anhu states that Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam said: “The fast and the Quraan will both plead on behalf of the bondsmen who keeps fast in the day and recites or listens attentively to the recitation of the Quraan at night standing in the presence of Allah (in taraweeh). The fast will say “O my Lord, I had held him back from food, drink and sexual gratification, accept my intercession for him today and treat him with mercy and forgiveness. The Quraan will say, “I had held him back from taking rest and sleep at night, O’ my Lord, accept my intercession for him today and treat him with mercy and forgiveness”. The intercession of both the fast and Quraan will be accepted and he will be treated with exceptionl kindness”. (Baihaqi).
Sayyidina Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudree radhiallahu anhu narrates that Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam said: “When the first night of Ramadhaan dawns (comes), the doors of the skies are opened, and none of its doors are then closed until the last night of Ramadhaan.”
No mu’min servant (of Allah) performs salaah during its night (any night of Ramadhaan), but Allah will record for him one thousand five hundred hasanah (rewards) for every sajdah that he makes. And Allah will build a home for him in Jannah made out of red ruby, which will have sixty thousand doors, each of its doors having (interlinked to, leading to) a palace made out of gold, ornamented (beautified and decorated) with rubies.
Thus, when he (the mu’min) fasts on the first day of Ramadhaan, all his past sins are pardoned, and seventy thousand malaaikah make istighfaar for him, daily, from the time of the fajr salaah, until the sun sets.
And for every sajdah that he makes during Ramadhaan, either by day or by night, there will be for him a tree, (in Jannah, so huge that) a person on horseback will ride in its shade for five hundred years.” (Baihaqi, Targheeb)
Salmaan radhiallahu anhu reports: “On the last day of Sha’baan the Messenger of Allah addressed us and said: ‘O people, there comes over you now a great month, a most blessed month in which lies a night more greater in virtue than one thousand months. It is a month in which Allah has made compulsory that the days shoud be observed by fasting. And he has made sunnah the Taraweeh by night. Whosoever intends drawing nearer to Allah by performing any virtuous deed, for him shall be the reward like him who had performed a fardh in any other time. And whoever performs a fardh, for him shall be the reward of seventy faraa’idh in any other time. This is indeed the month of patience, and the reward for true patience is Jannah (paradise). It is the month of sympathy with one’s fellow men. It is the month wherein a true believer’s rizq is increased.
Whosoever feeds another who fasted, in order to break the fast (at sunset), for him there shall be forgiveness for his sins and emancipation from the fire of Jahannam (hell), and for him shall be the same reward as him (whom he fed) without that person’s reward being decreased in the least….”. From this hadeeth it is noted that the command for taraweeh prayers too comes from Allah Himself. All the authorities of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamm’ah are agreed upon the fact that taraweeh is sunnah.
Taraweeh During the Era of Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam and the Sahabah radhiallahu anhu
Ibn Abbass radhiallahu anhu states that during the month of Ramadhaan, Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam performed twenty rakaats (taraweeh) and thereafter performed the witr salaat. (Baihaqi and Musannaf Ibn Abie Shaiba).
Ubay bin Ka’ab radhiallahu anhu led the taraweeh prayers and offered 20 rakaats and three rakaats waajib salaat.
Umar radhiallahu anhu commanded the Imaam to perform twenty rakaats Taraweeh salaat for the congregation.
Views of the Scholars
Imaan Qurtubi radhiallahu anhu states: “Twenty rakaats taraweeh and three rakaats witr is the most authentic narration.”
Imaam Nawawi radhiallahu anhu states: “Taraweeh is a unanimously accepted sunnah of the Muslims. It is twenty rakaats”.
“The pandemonium that the Ghair Muqallideen (people who do not follow any Mazhab) had started for the past hundred years was never heared of in the Islamic world before……… Similarly from the time of Umar radhiallahu anhu upto the emergence of this sect there was no masjid in the world where eight rakaats of Taraweeh was performed……”. (Moulana Habib ur Rahmaan Azmi).
A Grave Misconception
The proponents of eight rakaats taraweeh quote the following hadeeth of Ayesha radhiallahu anha as stated in Bukhari Shareef. Ayesha radhiallahu anha was asked about the salaat of Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam. She replied by saying that Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam did not exceed eleven rakaats in Ramadhaan nor in any other month…”.
This hadeeth apparently indicates that Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam performed eight rakaats taraweeh and three rakaats witr. However the words ‘nor in any other month’ clearly indicates that this was with reference to tahajjud salaat and not taraweeh salaat. The fact that Imaam Bukhari (R.A.) himself has not mentioned this hadeeth under the caption of Taraweeh salaat is clear proof that the salaat in question refers to witr and not taraweeh salaat.
Hazrat Umar radhiallahu anhu during his khilaafat had directed that taraweeh salaat be performed collectively in the masaajid, lest the practice gradually dissipates from the Ummah. He did not introduce the number of rakaats on his own accord. To believe that the twenty rakaats is an innovation of Umar radhiallahu anhu is to undermine the integrity of Umar radhiallahu anhu and all the Sahabah who were present at that time!
Amongst the special Ibaadah of the month of Ramadhaan are the fasts and the Taraweeh salaah. The information below will be dedicated to the history of the number of Rakaahs of Taraweeh that have always been performed in the two holy Harams.
The Taraweeh Salaah During the Time of Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم)
Saheeh Muslim reports a hadith from Hadhrat Aaisha (رضى الله عنها) that when (during Ramadhaan) Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) once performed the Taraweeh salaah in the Masjidun Nabawi, the Sahabah رضى الله تعالى عنهم followed him in the salaah. When Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) again performed the salaah the following night, an even larger congregation followed him. It was then either on the third or fourth night that Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) did not come to the Masjid for the Taraweeh salaah. Explaining his reason the following morning, Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said to the Sahabah رضى الله تعالى عنهم, “I noticed your fervour and did not come to the Masjid to perform the Salaah fearing that this Taraweeh salaah should become compulsory for you.” 1
It is therefore evident that Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) performed the Taraweeh salaah in congregation at least twice or thrice in his lifetime. Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah رحمة الله and Allaama Showkaani رحمة الله have both mentioned that a study of Ahadeeth regarding Taraweeh reveals that Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) never specified the number of rakaahs for Taraweeh.
During the Period of Hadhrat Abu Bakr (رضى الله تعالى عنه)
During this period, the Sahabah رضى الله تعالى عنهم meticulously performed the Taraweeh salaah individually or in small congregations.
During the Period of Hadhrat Umar (رضى الله تعالى عنه)
During his Khilaafah, the second Khalifah Hadhrat Umar Faarooq (رضى الله تعالى عنه) combined all the small congregations into one because of the possibility of the Taraweeh salaah becoming Fardh no longer existed. With the approval of all the Sahabah رضى الله تعالى عنهم, twenty rakaahs Taraweeh salaah was performed every night of Ramadhaan after the Isha salaah, followed by three Rakaahs Witr salaah. 2
There are many people nowadays who perform the Taraweeh salaah with Jamaah throughout Ramadhaan because it was carried out during the time of hadrat Umar (رضى الله تعالى عنه) with the consent of all the Sahabah رضى الله تعالى عنهم. However, these people object to the number of Rakaahs. If they keep the following Hadith in mind, their objection will Inshaa Allah be removed.
Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, “I advise you fear Allah, to listen and to obey (your leaders) even though your leader be an Abyssinian slave because those of you who live after me shall see great disputes. It is therefore compulsory for you to adhere to my practices and to the practice of the righteous and rightly guided successors (Khulafaa Raashideen). Hold fast to these practices and bite on them with your molars.” 3
In this Hadith Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) has emphasised to his Ummah that it is imperative for them to emulate his practices as well as the practices of the Khulafaa Raashideen. When Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) has instructed the following of the practices of his Khulafaa, how can their practices be labelled as Bidah? How can one promote forsaking something that Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) empathetically wanted done? How can there be scope to oppose something that the Sahabah رضى الله تعالى عنهم unanimously agreed upon?
This practice of the righteous Khalifah Hadhrat Umar (رضى الله تعالى عنه) falls perfectly within the purport of this Hadith. Therefore one should perform twenty Rakaahs Taraweeh salaah in congregation every night of Ramadhaan after the Isha salaah. This is then followed by three Rakaahs of Witr salaah.
During the period of Hadhrat Uthmaan (رضى الله تعالى عنه)
The third righteous khalifah Hadhrat Uthmaan (رضى الله تعالى عنه) also continued the practice of twenty Rakaahs Taraweeh salaah in congregation, followed by the three Rakaahs of Witr salaah. 4
During the period of Hadhrat Ali (رضى الله تعالى عنه)
The fourth righteous khalifah Hadhrat Ali (رضى الله تعالى عنه) also continued the practice of twenty Rakaahs Taraweeh salaah in congregation, followed by the three Rakaahs of Witr salaah. 5
The Taraweeh salaah in the Masjid Haraam in Makkah
The famous book of Ahadeeth Jaami Tirmidhi states that according to the majority of scholars, the number of Rakaahs in the Taraweeh salaah is twenty, as reported from Hadhrat Umar رضى الله تعالى عنه, Hadhrat Ali رضى الله تعالى عنه and other Sahabah رضى الله تعالى عنهم. This is also the opinion of Hadhrat Sufyan Thowri رحمة الله and Hadhrat Abdullah ibn Mubaarak رحمة الله. Hadhrat Imaam Shafiee رحمة الله says, “I have seen the learned scholars of Makkah perform twenty Rakaahs of Taraweeh salaah.” 6
In his famous book Kitaabul Umm (vol 1 page 142), Imaam Shaafiee رحمة الله says that twenty Rakaahs Taraweeh salaah is reported from Hadhrat Umar رضى الله تعالى عنه and the learned scholars of Makkah also perform twenty Rakaahs Taraweeh with three Rakaahs Witr.
In the third century A.H., the famous historian of Makkah Muhammad bin Ishaaq Faakihi documented that during the month of Ramadhaan it was the practice of the people of Makkah to sit five periods of Taraweeh (rest periods between every four Rakaahs of the Taraweeh salaah. This denotes that they performed twenty Rakaahs of salaah.) 7
It is therefore evident twenty Rakaahs of Taraweeh salaah has been performed in the Masjid Haraam of Makkah for the past fourteen hundred years. Throughout, this period, there has never been a single night when only Rakaahs have been performed.
Taraweeh salaah in the Masjidun Nabawi صلى الله عليه وسلم
The renowned Saudi scholar and Mufassir Sheikh Atiyya Saalim رحمة الله who was a Sheikhul Hadeeth, judge and lecturer in the Masjidun Nabawi صلى الله عليه وسلم wrote a book in Arabic entitled “The history of the Taraweeh salaah in the Masjidun Nabawi صلى الله عليه وسلم for more than a thousand years.” In this book, he conclusively proves from historical evidence that twenty Rakaahs Taraweeh salaah has been performed in the Masjidun Nabawi صلى الله عليه وسلم for the past fourteen centuries. He adds further that even after the establishment of the Saudi rule, both the Harams in Makkah and Madinah have twenty Rakaahs of Taraweeh salaah with three witr. 9
The heart-rending and beautiful Taraweeh salaah in both the Harams is broadcast live throughout both on radio and television.
A fourteen century old practice
Twenty Rakaahs Taraweeh salaah is being performed from the first century of Islaam up to this fifteenth century.
Source: The Historyof Makkah Mukarramah
by Dr Muhammad Ilyas Abdul Ghani
1 – Muslim – The Chapter concerning encouragement for performing the Taraweeh salaah.
2 – Mu’atta Maalik, as quoted in Nasbur Ra’yah
3 – Tirmidhi – Hadith 6272. The hadith is classified Hasan Saheeh and even Albaani has verified its authenticity [see Mishkaat annotated by him (Vol. 1 pg. 28)]
4 – Sunan Kubra of Bayhaqi – Chapter concerning the number of Rakaahs during the nights of Ramadhaan.
5 – Sunan Kubra of Bayhaqi – Chapter concerning the number of Rakaahs during the nights of Ramadhaan.
6 – Tirmidhi
7 – Akhbaar Makkah by Faakihi (Vol.2 Pg. 156,157)
8 – Pgs. 41-58
9 – Pg. 65
Some people think that Taraawee’h comprises of eight raka’aah only. This is not correct . In the unanimous opinion of all the Imams, Taraawee’h consists of twenty raka’aah.
Although no Imam agreed upon less than twenty raka’aah, Imam Malik holds an opinion of 32 raka’aah. This means that in the consensus of all the Imams no one agrees upon less than twenty raka’aah.
Moreover, we can know from Ibn Abbaas’s narration that he led taraawee’h for two or three nights during which he offered twenty raka’aah. The companions of the holy prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) performed according to his saying and presented themselves as excellent examples to be followed. They had not only recorded the actions of the holy prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) but also went on imitating his actions. They did us a great favor by providing us with valuable traditions that will be the source of guidance (for all of us) until the end of this world.
The variation in the number of raka’aah in the section of Taraawee’h is only due to misinterpretation of Qiyaam-al-lail as Tahajjud and not Taraawee’h and the premise that, “as the holy prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) has most probably offered tahajjud in 8 raka’aah, therefore, Taraawee’h should also be offered in 8 raka’aah.”
To eliminate the misconceptions held by some people, we shall present here the routines followed by the holy prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) himself, the rightly guided caliphs and other companions during the month of Ramadaan. We shall provide some information regarding the reinstatement of the congregational Taraawee’h during the caliphate of Hadrath Umar (r.a.a.) so that people may know the fact that the only reason that stopped the holy prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) from leading the congregational Taraawee’h was that he was afraid that praying Taraawee’h in congregation might become obligatory upon his nation which might lead to hardship upon his ummah.
It is a sheer error in concluding that the congregational Taraawee’h is not at all proven by the practice of the holy prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) just because he did not lead it with regularity.
Below are some of the narrations with their corresponding references.
The Practice (of Muslims) during the period of the holy prophet (s.a.w.) and his companions (r.a.a.)
Hadrath Abdullah bin Abbaas reported, “The holy prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) led us in twenty raka’aah congregational prayer of Taraawee’h. [musannaf ibn abi shaiba page 293 volume 2]
There should be no doubt concerning the fact that after the death of the holy prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم), Hadrath Abu Bakr (r.a.a.) was the first caliph and in the Taraawee’h section, none of his acts is recorded nor has he left anything for the ummah concerning this. This fact should also be considered that regarding his era and the era that follows him, the holy prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) had said; ‘the best era is mine, the next best after this one and the next one after that.’ Moreover the caliphate of Abu Bakr (r.a.a.) was of very short duration and he was busy curbing the revolt of the apostates [khaarijeen]. Therefore he did not consider it necessary for Taraawee’h to be offered in congregation. After him Hadrath Umar (r.a.a.) thought about protecting (Muslims) against the forthcoming circumstances and confusion and appointed Hadrath Ubai Ibn Ka’b as the Imam and reinstated this excellent form of congregation that accorded exactly with the will of the holy prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم).
The prayer of Taraawee’h used to consist of twenty raka’aah during the caliphate of Hadrath Umar (r.a.a.) , Hadrath Uthmaan (r.a.a.) and Hadrath Ali (r.a.a). [Na’sburraya page 153 volume 2]
Hadrath Ubai ibn Ka’b (r.a.a.) said that he used to lead twenty raka’aah of congregational prayer of Taraawee’h on the command of Hadrath Umar (r.a.a.).[Kanzul ‘ummaal page 315 volume 3]
During the month of Ramadaan Hadrath Suwaid bin Ghaflah (r.a.a.) used to lead twenty raka’aah taraawee’h prayer in which he took five tarwee’hah (pauses). [Baihaqi page 496 volume 2]
Hadrath Ali (r.a.a.) commanded a companion to lead twenty raka’aah taraawee’h prayer with five tarwee’hah (pauses/intervals). [Mu’sannaf ibn abi shaiba page 393 volume 3]
There is a narration related to Hadrath Ali (r.a.a.) himself that he gathered all the reciters and commanded them to lead twenty raka’aah Taraawee’h prayer and after the congregational Taraawee’h, Hadrath Ali (r.a.a.) himself led them in witr. [Baihaqi page 496 volume 2]
Hadrath Saa-ib bin yazeed (r.a.a.) said that during the caliphate of Hadrath Umar (r.a.a), twenty raka’aah Taraawee’h prayer was offered .[baihaqi page 496 volume 2]
Hadrath Ubai Ibn Ka’b (r.a.a.) used to lead twenty raka’aah taraawee’h in the month of Ramadaan in the city of Madinah [Musannaf ibn abi shaiba page 293 volume 2]
‘Sa’hibul Mi’t-harah (nickname of Hadrath Abdullah b. Mas’ood (r.a.a.)) used to offer twenty raka’aah taraawee’h prayer [‘Aini, qiyaamul-lail page 91]
Hadrath ubai ibn ka’b (r.a.a.) used to lead twenty raka’aah taraawee’h prayer in the month of Ramadaan [musannaf ibn abi shaiba page 293 volume 2]
Hadrath ‘Ali ibn rabi`ah (r.a.a.) used to offer twenty raka’aah taraawee’h prayer which had five tarwee’hah (pauses/intervals) [musannaf ibn abi shaiba page 293 volume 2]
The practice of the second and third generation Muslims
‘Allaamah Nawawi (r.h.) of Shari’h Muslim (guide to Muslim Shareef) stated that only twenty raka’aah Taraawee’h is proven because there is a tawaatur (Having numerous chains of narrators) and tasalsul (Continuity) about “offering 20 raka’aah”. [Mirqaat page 169 volume 2]
Hadrath Haarith (r.h.) used to lead twenty raka’aah taraawee’h. [musannaf abi shaiba page 293 volume 2]
Hadrath Shateer (r.h) used to lead twenty raka’aah taraawee’h prayer. [Baihaqi page 496 volume 2]
‘Haafiz ibn ‘hajar ‘asqalaani (r.h.) of Shari’h Bukhari (Guide to Bukhari Shareef) said that twenty raka’aah in taraawee’h are proven by the actions of all the companions of the holy prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) [Baihaqi volume 2 page 170]
‘Allaamah ibn ‘Ikramah Hambali (r.h.) said that since the companions of the holy prophet (Both Muhajireen and Ansar) kept offering twenty raka’aah taraawee’h with regularity, this act is considered to be in Ijma’ (consensus) [al-mughni libn qudaamah page 456 volume 1]
‘Allaamah Ta’h`taawi wrote; ‘Twenty raka’aah are proven by regularity of the companions of the holy prophet (s.a.w.).’ [Ta`h`taawi page 224]
There is a growing misconception among present-day Muslims (especially the younger generation) that the Tarâwih Salâh which is performed during the month of Ramadhân constitutes eight rakâts only. This is however incorrect because:
1. It is in conflict with the Sunnah
2. It is in conflict with the Ijmâh [consensus] of the Sahâbah (R.A.)
3. It is in conflict with the Ijmâh (consensus) of the four madhâhib.
THE SUNNAH IN THIS REGARD
Although many, Ulema (eg. Hafiz Ibn Taymiyyah, Allâmah Subki and Qâdi Shawkâni) are of the opinion that Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam never fixed the exact number of rakâts for the Tarawih salâh, we are convinced that the Sunnah is twenty rakâts because the twenty rakât Tarâwih was introduced by Hadrat Umar R.A. and Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallarn had commanded us to follow the Khulafa-e-Râshdîn (especially Hadrat Abu Bakr and Hadrat Umar R.A.). Rasulullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam said: “Hold firmly on to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the Khulafa-e-Râshidîn.” “Follow the two after me (i.e. Hadrat Abû Bakr and Hadrat Umar.
Allâmah Badrud-Dîn Aini, writes that we understand from the above Hadîth that those who follow Hadrat Abû Bakr and Hadrat Umar R.A. will be rewarded and those who do not follow them will be punished.
THE IJMA [CONSENSUS] OF THE SAHABAH R.A.
The twenty rakât Tarâwih that was introduced by Hadrat Umar R.A. was unanimously accepted by all the Sahâbah R.A. without any objection. In other words, they had ijma [consensus] in this regard. Many âyât of the Qur’ân and ahâdith of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam denote the Shari authority (hujjiyyah) of Ijmâ’. Among those are:
“And whoever opposes the Rasul after the guidance (of Allah) has been manifested unto him, and follows other than the believers way. We appoint for him that unto which he himself has turned, and we expose him unto Jahannam – a hopeless journey’s end.” “My Ummah will never unite upon bâtil (falsehood., deception).
In addition to the above, it should also be borne in mind that consensus of the Sahabah R.A. represents the highest and most authoritative form of ijmâ’.
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE FOUR MADHAHIB
While Imam Hanifah, Imam Shâfi’i and Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal R.A. agree that the Tarâwih Salâh comprises of twenty rakâts, there are two narrations from Imam Mâlik According to one narration he too agrees that the Tarâwih Salâh comprises of twenty rakâts. Ibn Qâsim has however narrated from Imam Mâlik, that he preferred thirty-six rakâts and three rakâts witr thereafter. (Most Mâliki textbooks however mention the twenty rakât narration only).
This however does not mean that Imam Mâlik rejected the ijmâ’ of the Sahâbah R.A. The standard practice n Madinah at that time was thirty-six rakâts and the reason for performing thirty-six rakâts was that the people of Makkah would perform tawâf after every four rakâts of Tarâwih. Because tawâf can only be performed in Makkah, the people of Madinah would perform an additional four rakâts nafl salâh after every four rakâts of Tarâwih.
Considering the above and the fact that these additional sixteen rakâts (4×4) were regarded as nafl (and not Sunnah mu’akkadah as in Tarâwih) and were performed individually. we may conclude that Imarn Mâlik and the other Fuqahâ of Madinah also agreed that the actual Tarâwih comprises of twenty rakâts only.
According to Sheikh Atiyyah Muhammad Sâlim, from the fourth Hijri century, only twenty rakâts Tarâwih were performed in Madinah. Thereafter in the 8th century when Imam Zain-ud-Dîn AI-Irâqi was appointed the Imam of Masjid-un-Nabawi the people would return to the Masjid later during the night to perform the additional sixteen rakâts. The famous historian As-Sa’ûd writes that this practice continued until the late ninth and early tenth Hijri century.
It is not permissible to oppose the consensus of the four madhâhib. This is understood from the fact that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam had commended us to follow the Sawâd-al-A’zam (vast majority). Since all the other true madhâhib do not any longer exist, these four madhâhib represent the Sawâd-al-A’zam.
Many Ulema (eg. Abu Ja’far Tahâwl, Abu Eesa Tirmizi, Ibn Rushd Qurtabi, Ibn Qudâmah Maqdisi, etc.) have discussed the divergent opinions of the Fuqahâ [jurists] in various topics. None of them have ever mentioned a single Faqîh [jurist] who held the opinion that the Tarâwih salâh had eight rakâts only.
THE NARRATION OF HADHRAT Â’ISHA R.A.
Imam Bukhari R.A., has recorded a narration from Hadrat Â’isha R.A.. in which she says:
“Rasulullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam would never read more than eleven rakâts – neither in Ramadhân nor in any other month. He would perform four rakâts and do not ask of their beauty and length. He would thereafter perform another four rakâts and do not ask of their beauty and length. He would thereafter perform three rakâts.” Hadrat Â’isha R.A. says that she (once) asked Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam whether he slept before performing the witr salâh. Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam replied: “O Â’isha! My eyes sleep but not my heart.”
This Hadîth is often cited in substantiation of the claim that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam performed only eight rakâts in the Tarâwih Salâh. It is however incorrect to make such a deduction from this Hadîth because this Hadîth is discussing the Tahajjud Salâh and ‘h Salâh and not the Tarâwih The words “nor in any other month” are a clear indication that this Hadîth is not regarding the Tarâwîh Salâh. (Tarâwih is not Performed in any other month besides Ramadhân.)
There is a Hadith in which Hadrat Â’isha R.A. narrates that during the last ten days of Ramadhân. Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam would stay awake throughout the night and he would exert himself in ibâdah. It is possible that upon hearing this narration from Hadrat Â’isha R.A. some people would think that compared to the rest of the Year, Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam read more rakâts of Tahajjud Salâh in Ramadhân. In order to dispel such doubts, Hadrat Â’isha R.A. explained that Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam’s Tahajjud Salâh always comprised of eleven lengthy Rakâts irrespective of whether it was Ramadhân or any other month.
Imam Bukhâri R.A., has quoted the above mentioned Hadith of H@rat A’isha R.A. in the following chapters of his Al-Jâmi As-Sahîh:
The chapter regarding Nabî’s (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) salâh during the nights of Ramadhân and other months.
The chapter regarding the virtue of salâh during Ramadhân.
The chapter that Nabi’s Sallallahu alaihi wasallam eyes would sleep but not his heart.
The chapter on Witr salâh.
Imam Bukhari’s R.A. not including this Hadith in the chapter on Tarâwih indicates that he too understood that this Hadith discussed the Tahajjud salâh and not the Tarâwih Salâh. In fact, none of the Muhaddithîn [scholars of Hadîth] have included this Hadith in the chapter on Tarâwih. Imam Muhammad Al-Marwazi R.A. has in his book “Qiyâm-ul-Layl” dedicated a separate chapter to discuss the number of rakâts of the Tarâwlh salâh. Despite quoting a number of Ahâdith in this chapter, he has not in the slightest manner indicated to this Hadîth of Hadrat Â’isha R.A.
IS TAHAJJUD AND TARAWIH THE SAME?
Proponents of the eight rakât Tarâwih reject the above explanation saying that Tahajjud and Tarâwih is the same salâh. This claim Is also incorrect because there is a vast difference between the two. Among the various differences between the Tahajjud and Tarâwih salâh is:
Tahajjud was introduced in Makkah and Tarzâwih in Madinah,
Tarâwih is performed immediately after the Esha salâh whilst Tahajjud is performed much later at night (in the last third of the night).
NOTE: Neither Imam Bukhâri and Imam Marwazi nor any other Muhaddith regarded Tahajjud and Tarâwih as the same!
There is a Hadith that is attributed to Hadrat Jâbir R.A. in which he narrates that once during the month of Ramadan Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam led them in eight rakâts (of Tarâwih) and thereafter the Witr salâh. The following night they gathered in the Masjid hoping that Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam would once again lead them in salâh as he had done the previous night. They however continued waiting for Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam till the morning. In the morning Rasulullah Sallallahu wlaihi wasallam explained to them the reason for not joining them. He said that he had feared that Witr would be made compulsory, upon them.
This Hadîth is however extremely, weak and can never form the basis for any Shar’i ruling. The person claiming that he is narrating this Hadîth from Hadrat Jâbir R.A.. is Eesa bin Jâriyah. He is an extremely unreliable narrator. Imam Nasa’i and Imam Abû Dawûd R.A. have both called him “Munkar-ul-Hadîth” – one whose narrations are Munkar. A munkar narration is the narration of an untrustworthy narrator that contradicts the narration of a group of trustworthy narrators. Imam Nasa’i R.A. has also called him “Matrûk”. Matrûk literally means left alone but in this context it means that Eesa bin Jâriyah is an unreliable narrator. The Muhaddithîn normally use the word Matrûk (and many other words) to show the unreliability of a narrator.
Muhammad bin Humaid Ar-Râzi, another narrator in this Hadith’s chain of transmisson [sanad] is also very weak. Some Muhaddithîn (eg. Imam Abu Zur’ah) have declared him a liar.
THE NARRATION OF HADHRAT SÂ’IB IBN YAZID R.A.
Imam Mâlik R.A. has recorded a narration from Hadrat Sâ’ib bin Yazid R.A. that Hadrat Umar R.A. had commanded Hadrat Ubay bin Ka’b and Hadrat Tamim Dâri R.A. to lead the people in eleven rakâts of salâh (eight rakâts Tarâwih and three rakâts Witr).
It is often claimed on the basis of this narration that Hadrat Umar R.A. had commanded the performance of only eight rakâts Tarâwih and not twenty.
However, a thorough study of the chains of transmission (asânid) of this narration reveals that three people have narrated from Hadrat SS’lb bin Yazld R.A. They are:
i) Hârith bin Abdir Rahmân
ii) Yazld bin Khusayfah
iii) Muhammed bin Yusuf
Hârith bin Abdir Rahmân and Yazid bin Khusayfah have narrated twenty rakâts from Hadrat Sâ’ib R.A. Yazid bin Khusayfah also has three students namely Ibn Abi Dhib, Muhammed bin Ja’far and Imam Mâlik. All three have narrated twenty rakâts from Yazid.
Muhanimed bin Yusuf also has three students. They are:
Da’ud bin Qays
While Imam Mâlik narrates eleven rakâts from Muhammed bin Yusuf, Ibn Ishâq narrates thirteen rakâts and Da’ud bin Qays narrates twenty one rakâts.
When a Hadith is transmitted in different manners so that the contents of each transmission differ and it is not possible to give preference to any particular transmission, the Muhaddithîn call it Mudtarib. The Mudtarib Hadith is regarded as unsound and insufficient evidence for the deduction of any Shar’î ruling. Muhammed bin Yusuf’s narration is an ideal example of a Mudtarib Hadith.
On the contrary, the narrations of Harith bin Abdir Rahmân and Yazîd bin Khusayfah are authentic and supported by many other narrations in the books of Hadîth.
HÂFIZ IBN TAYMIYYA’S R.A. OPINION
Some of Ibn Taymiyya’s writings imply that he was of the opinion that eight rakâts, twenty rakâts, thirty rakâts, thirty-six and forty rakâts are all sunnah. It is clear from the preceding discussion that we do not agree with him. Nevertheless, he also explains that the more virtuous (and preferred) practice differs according to the condition of the Muslims. If the Muslims are able to perform eight very lengthy rakâts as was the practice of Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam, the performance of eight rakâts would be better. However, if they are unable to perform such lengthy rakâts it would be better for them to perform twenty rakâts.
NOTE: The length of Rasulullah’s Sallallahu alaihi wasallam salâh (that he performed at night) may be estimated from the following:
He would perform salâh until his feet would swell.
He would continue performing salâh until half the night had passed.
He sometimes continued performing salâh until the Sehri time had almost expired.
Hadrat Abu Dharr R.A. narrates that one night he performed salâh with Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam. He says: “I stood in salâh with him (i.e. Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) until I began resting my head on the wall due to the length of his salâh.
Considering the worldly commitments of modern day, Muslims and their physical weakness, it is obvious that none of them can manage such lengthy rakâts. Therefore, even according to Ibn Taymiyya’s opinion, twenty rakâts is best for them.
In view of the preceding discussion we conclude that:
The Sunnah Tariiwih consists of twenty rakâts and not eight.
The performance of only eight rakâts in Tarâwih cannot be established from any sound Shar’î evidence/proof.
Dars Imam Tirmizi – quoting Allamah Habib-ur-Rahmân A’zmi, Suyuti, Nawawi and Nawab Sideeq Hasen Khan.
Surah Nisâ Âyah 115.
Sunan Ibn Majah 283 / Tirmizi V.2 Pg.49.
Al-Manâr Ma’Nur-ul-Anwâr Pg. 226.
Âp Ke Masâil Aur Un Ka Hal Pg. 54.
Rakât-e-Tarâwih Pg. 60-61 (Moulana Habib-ur-Rahmân A’zmi) Dars Tirmizi V.2 Pg.653.
At-Tarâwih. Sheikh Atiyya Muhammed Sâlim Pg. 60, 67, 69.
Ibn Mâjah – Mishkât Pg. 30 Al-Aqd-Al-Jayyid Pg. 37.
Bukhâri V.1 Pg. 135, 152, 269, 503.
Ahsan-ul Fatâwa V.530. Fatâwa – Raheemiyya V. 1 Pg. 331 Dars Tirmizi Pg. 663 V.2.
Ahsan-ul- Fatâwa V. 3 Pg. 530.
Ahsan-ul Fatâwa V.532.
Qiyâm-ul Layl Pg. 90.
Fatâwa Rahimiyya V.1 Pg. 335: Although Abu Zur’ah and Ibn Hibbân have commented positively regarding Eesa bin Jâriyah, the Muhaddithîn still declare him unreliable because their principle is that when a narrator is declared reliable by some scholars and unreliable by others, the opinion of those who regard him unreliable will be given preference.
Fatâwa Rahimiyya V.1 Pg. 335
Mu’atta Imam Mâlik Pg. 98.
Âp Ke’ Masâ’il Aur Un Ka Hal V.3 Pg. 39-41.
Dars – Tirmizi V.2 Pg. 654 Footnotes (continued from Pg. 653).
Bukhâri Ma’al Fath V.3 Pg. 12/V. 8 Pg. 449.
Tirmizi (Chapter on the Qiyâm of Ramadhân) V. 1 Pg. 99 Fâruqi Kutub Khana – Pakistan.