The Taraweeh Prayer
Imam Muhammad bin Saalih Al-‘Uthaimeen
Taraweeh refers to performing the night prayer in congregation during the
month of Ramadan. The time that it may occur is from after the ‘Ishaa prayer
until the commencement of Fajr. The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)
encouraged us to perform the night prayer during Ramadan such that he said:
''Whoever performs the Night Prayer in Ramadan with Faith and while seeking to
be rewarded, will have all of his past sins forgiven.''
And in Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree, ‘Aa'ishah (radyAllaahu ‘anhaa) reported that:
''The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) performed the night prayer one
night in the masjid and led the people in prayer. Then he prayed the next
night and the people increased. Then the people gathered on the third or
fourth night but he (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) did not go out to them.
The next morning he said: ‘I saw what you people did (last night) and nothing
prevented me from going out to you except that I feared that it would be made
obligatory on you.''' This occurred during Ramadan.
The Sunnah is to limit the Night Prayer to eleven rak'ahs, making the Tasleem
after every two rak'ahs. This is because when ‘Aa'ishah (radyAllaahu ‘anhaa)
was asked about the Prophet's prayer during Ramadan, she replied: ''He (sallAllaahu
‘alayhi wa sallam) would not exceed eleven rak'ahs in or out of Ramadan.''
And in the Muwatta, Muhammad bin Yoosuf, who is reliable and trustworthy,
reported from Saa'ib bin Yazeed (radyAllaahu ‘anhu), who was a Companion, that
‘Umar (radyAllaahu ‘anhu) ordered Ubay bin Ka'ab and Tameem Ad-Daaree to lead
the people in prayer performing eleven rak'ahs.
If one chooses to exceed the number of eleven rak'ahs, then there is no harm
in this because the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was asked about
the Night Prayer once and he replied: ''It is two by two (rak'ahs). Then if
one fears that morning will befall him, he should pray one rak'ah, which will
make what he prayed Witr (an odd number).'' [Transmitted in the two Saheeh
However, preserving and sticking to the number that is reported in the Sunnah,
while performing it slowly and lengthening it, in a manner that doesn't burden
the people is better and more complete.
As for what some people do such as rushing through the prayer in an
exaggerated manner, then this is contrary to what has been prescribed in the
Religion. If praying in this manner causes him to leave out one of
requirements or pillars of the prayer, he has invalidated his prayer.
Many of the Imams that lead prayer do not take their time with the Taraweeh
Prayer, and this is an error on their part. This is since the Imam is not just
leading himself in prayer, rather he is leading himself and others. So he is
like a leader – he is required to do what is most beneficial and appropriate.
The scholars have mentioned that it is detested for the Imam to rush through
the prayer to the point where those following him in prayer cannot do the acts
they are obligated to do.
The people should persevere in establishing this Taraweeh Prayer and not cause
it to go to waste by going from masjid to masjid, for indeed whoever performs
the Night Prayer with the Imam until he finishes, it is written that he prayed
the entire night even though he may go to sleep after the prayer is over.
There is no harm in women attending the Taraweeh Prayer if they do not fear
fitnah, on the condition that they come out of their homes covered properly
and not indecently exposing their adornment or perfumed.
 Refer to the Book ''The Conditions, Pillars and Requirements of the
Prayer''; of Imam Muhammad bin ‘Abdil-Wahhaab (rahimahullaah) for a list of
the pillars and requirements of the prayer.
Source: Lessons on Fasting, Taraweeh and Zakat