nightly prayer

nightly prayer : Taraweeh

The Ramadan nightly prayer has a special merit over other
nights. The Messenger of Allah said:

“Whoever observes night prayer in Ramadan as an ex-
pression of his faith and to seek reward from Allah, his
previous sins will be blotted out.” (Muslim)

In this hadith, faith means faith in what Allah has promised the
observers of night prayers. To seek reward mean, the observer’s
intent is not for eye service or seeking special recognition from

Taraweeh is derived from the Arabic root word, raaha, which
means to rest, relax and use as recreation. It is so called be-
cause the believers used to prolong it. After every four raka ‘ats
they would stop for rest and relaxation and resume until ta-
raweeh was complete.

Taraweeh In Jamaa’ah

The Messenger of Allah (saas) was the first to establish the
Sunnah of congregational, jamaa ^ah prayer of taraweeh in the
Masjid. Then he did not continue with the Sunnah for fear that
it might be made mandatory on the Ummah in Ramadan, and
they might not be able to do it. In the books of Bukhari and
Muslim, Aishah (raa) has been reported as saying:

“The Messenger of Allah (saas) observed Taraweeh
prayer in the Masjid one night and people prayed with
him. He repeated the following night and the number of
participants grew. The companions congregated the
third and fourth night, but the Messenger did not show
up. In the morning he told them, “I saw what you did
last night, but nothing prevented me from joining you

except my fear that it might be made mandatory on you
in Ramadan.”

This hadith is a clear indication that the Taraweefin congreg a-
tion was not an innovation of ‘Umar, the second Khalifah, de-
spite his saying to the contrary. For it has been related that:

“Umar bin Al-Khattab attended the Masjid at night in
Ramadan and saw people praying individually in every
corner of the Masjid with a few in groups. He did not
like the sight a bit. ‘Umar said, ‘I thought it would be
better to gather these under one Imam.’ So, he com-
bined them under ‘Obayi bin Ka’ab and Tamimu Ad-
Dari to alternate and lead the believers in eleven ra-
ka’ats of night prayer. The next day “Umar was in the
Masjid which was full with Taraweeh prayers. He was
delighted. He said: ‘Well, this is the best Bid’ah (innova-
tion).’ ”

“Umar’s use of the word bid’ah in this report has been pre-
sented and unjustifiably cited as justification for concocting up
various so called good innovations. In truth, the Khalifah
‘Umar’s act to gather the believers in Jama’ah is not bid’ah. For
it was the Messenger of Allah himself who started jama’ah by
praying in congregation the first and second day, then stopped
only as he feared it would become mandatory. After his death,
the fear of Taraweeh becoming mandatory (Fard) was not only
remote, it was impossible. With the death of the Prophet Mu-
hammad (saas), there will be no more revelation to change any
law or rule by abrogation.

Number of Raka’ats in Taraweeh

As for the number of raka’ats in Taraweeh and Witr, the worthy
ancestor, Salaf as-Saalih disagreed on the amount of Raka’ats.
These numbers are mentioned for raka’ats: 39, 29, 23, 19, 13,

and 1 1 raka’ats. Of all the numbers mentioned, none is sounder
than 1 1 raka’ats. ‘Aishah (raa) was asked how was the prayer of
the Prophet (saas)? She replied:

“He did not pray in Ramadan or some other times more
than eleven raka’ats.” (Muslim/Bukhari)

However, there is nothing wrong with praying more than 11
raka’ats. Perhaps that is why different numbers are observed.
The Prophet himself was asked about night prayer and he said:

“It may be done in two raka’ats, and if anyone fears the
appearance of morning, he should pray one rak’ah as a
Witr for what he has already prayed.” (Bukhari/Muslim)

As this hadith indicates, if a person is to pray individually at
night, by daybreak he would have prayed one hundred and one
raka’ats, or more.

In their desire to pray more raka’ats, some people make Ta-
raweeh in extreme speed. That is wrong, especially when the
speed leads to a breach of certain rules of prayer. In that case,
the prayer will not be valid. Similarly, it is undesirable for an
Imam to pray with such speed whereby the followers will have
difficulty observing the necessary deeds in Salaat.

Neglecting Taraweeh

No one should neglect Taraweeh without a good reason, for it
is part of physical and spiritual training, for its observation
soon after Iftar insures timely and proper digestion of food. Be-
sides, there are spiritual rewards awaiting the observers of this
prayer. No one would like to leave the Masjid before the prayer
is over.

Everybody should attend the Masjid prayers, including women,
provided they are properly covered. The Messenger of Allah

“Prevent not the women servants of Allah, from going
to the Masjid of Allah.”

However, when they attend the Masjid they should wear no
perfume, nor raise their voices, and or show their beauty. Allah
(SWT) states:

“…they should not display their beauty and or-
naments except what (must ordinarily) appear

(Al-Qur’an, 24:31)

What ordinarily appears, refers to the outer garments, for when
the Messenger (saas) commanded women to attend Eid prayer,
Umm Atiyah (raa) said:

“O Messenger of Allah, some of us do not have the outer
garment (jilbab). The Messenger of Allah told her to let
a sister (who has more than one) give her one to wear.”

(Agreed upon)

It is Sunnah that they pray behind the men in the rear lines. The
Messenger has been reported as saying:

“The best lines for men are the front lines and the worst
lines for men are the rear lines. The best lines for
women is the rear and the worst lines of women are the
front line. (Muslim)

The women should leave the Masjid as soon as the Imam says:
As-Salaamu ‘Alaikum. They should not delay without a valid
reason. In a hadith by Umm Salamah, she said:

“When the Messenger of Allah (saas) saluted to end
prayer, the women would stand up to leave and the
Messenger would remain in his place for a while.”

Umm Salamah (raa) said: Allah is the best knower, but
perhaps the Messenger did that so women would leave
before men could overtake them.” (Bukhari)

end of aticle : nightly prayer

Essentials of Ramadan The Month of Fasting