The Taraweeh Prayer

EsinIslam Ramadan Explorer

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.'' [Agreed Upon]

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 Collections]

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.[1]

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.

[1] 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


EsinIslam Ramadan Team

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