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Sharia Rulings on Taraweeh Prayer

Author : Ahmad Al-khasasbeh

Date Added : 19-06-2016


Sharia Rulings on Taraweeh Prayer


All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of The Worlds, and may His blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.
Ramadan is an opportunity for the Muslim to get nearer to Allah through performing different acts of worship, such as Taraweeh prayer(Night prayer in Ramadan). This article highlights the most important Sharia rulings on this prayer from the perspective of the Shafii school of thought(Madhab).

Reason for calling "Taraweeh Prayer" as such:
It was called "Taraweeh" because the Prophet`s companions used to take a break between each two Tasleems when they first started performing that prayer.{Fateh al-Barii by Ibn Hajar al-Askalani}.

Legitimacy of Taraweeh prayer:
Taraweeh prayer is a Sunnah: Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "He who observes optional prayer (Tarawih prayers) throughout Ramadan, out of sincerity of Faith and in the hope of earning reward will have his past sins pardoned." As regards the legitimacy of performing Taraweeh prayer in congregation, " Ibn Shihab (a sub-narrator) said, "Allah's Messenger (PBUH) died and the people continued observing that (i.e. Nawafil offered individually, not in congregation), and it remained as it was during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr and in the early days of 'Umar's Caliphate."{Bukhari}. In other words, it is legitimate to observe Taraweeh prayer in congregation based on the consensus of the Prophet`s companions.(May Allah be pleased with).

Number of Rakas in Taraweeh prayer:
The number of Rakas in Taraweeh prayer is twenty: Assa`ib Ibn Yazid said, "The people used to spend the night in prayer during Ramadan for twenty  rakas in the time of Umar ibn al-Khattab."However, one is rewarded for the number of Rakas that he/she performs.

Status of Taraweeh prayer:
1-It is incumbent upon a Muslim to make the intention to perform  either Taraweeh or Qiyyam(voluntary night prayer) prayer.
2-Taraweeh prayer must be performed in two Rakas, not four, so as not to violate Sharia.

Time of Taraweeh prayer:
The time for this prayer is between Isha` and Fajir, so if a praying person combined Isha` prayer with Maghrib prayer due to rain or travel, then he is allowed to observe Taraweeh prayer  immediately afterwards.

Is the Sunnah to perform Taraweeh prayer in congregation or individually? 

Performing Taraweeh , then Witr prayer in congregation is an act of Sunnah, and it is better than observing it individually, as indicated by what the Prophet(PBUH) did at the start of observing this act of worship in Ramadan. 'A'isha reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) came out during the night and observed prayer in the mosque and some of the people prayed along with him. When it was morning, the people talked about this and so a large number of people gathered there. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) went out for the second night, and they (the people) prayed along with him. When it was morning the people began to talk about it. So the mosque thronged with people on the third night. He (the Holy Prophet) came out and they prayed along with him. When it was the fourth night, the mosque was filled to its utmost capacity but the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) did not come out. Some persons among them cried:" Prayer." But the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) did not come to them till he came out for the morning prayer. When he had completed the morning prayer, he turned his face to the people and recited Tashahhud (I bear testimony that there is no god but Allah and I bear testimony that Muhammad is His Messenger) and then said: Your affair was not hidden from me in the night, but I was afraid that (my observing prayer continuously) might make the night prayer obligatory for you and you might be unable to perform it."{Bukhari}. This is also indicated in what Umar Bin Al-Khattab did when he asked obay bin Ka`b to lead the men in this prayer, and Sulaiman bin Abi Hithmah to lead the women. 'Abdur Rahman bin 'Abdul Qari said, "I went out in the company of 'Umar bin Al-Khattab one night in Ramadan to the mosque and found the people praying in different groups. A man praying alone or a man praying with a small group behind him. So, 'Umar said, 'In my opinion I would better collect these (people) under the leadership of one Qari (Reciter) (i.e. let them pray in congregation!)'. So, he made up his mind to congregate them behind Ubai bin Ka'b. Then on another night I went again in his company and the people were praying behind their reciter. On that, 'Umar remarked, 'What an excellent Bid'a (i.e. innovation in religion) this is; but the prayer which they do not perform, but sleep at its time is better than the one they are offering.' He meant the prayer in the last part of the night. (In those days) people used to pray in the early part of the night."

Praying Taraweeh while sitting down:
1-Performing optional prayers such as Taraweeh is a Sunnah. One is allowed to pray while sitting on the ground or on a chair, even if he can pray standing; however, one who prays while sitting, without a valid reason, receives half the reward of one who prays while standing. Narrated `Imran bin Husain:(who had piles) I asked Allah's Messenger (PBUH) about the praying of a man while sitting. He said, "If he prays while standing it is better and he who prays while sitting gets half the reward of that who prays standing; and whoever prays while Lying gets half the reward of that who prays while sitting."{Bukhari}.

2-If one who prays while sitting can perform complete Ruku(bowing) and Sujud(prostrating), then he should do so. In other words, he bows while sitting and makes complete prostration where he touches the ground. If he couldn`t, then he could perform them by nodding the head. He bends his head making prostration lower than Ruku.

Qunut supplication in Taraweeh prayer:
1-It is an act of Sunnah to observe Qunut supplication(invocation in prayer)in Witr prayer in the second half of Ramadan; however, leaving or forgetting it isn`t considered a sin; still, it is preferable that one performs the prostration of forgetfulness before offering Tasleem at the end of the prayer. In addition, this supplication isn`t an act of Sunnah if made in the first part of Ramadan.
2-It is preferable that one raises his/her hands while making it, as in other supplications.
3-It is preferable that one doesn`t make this supplication long; rather, he should suffice by what was reported after the Prophet(PBUH); however, making it long doesn`t render one`s prayer invalid.
4-One shouldn`t wipe off his face after making this supplication within prayer; however, he may do so while not praying.

A variety of rulings on Taraweeh prayer:
1-Taraweeh prayer is part of Qiyyam(voluntary night prayer) and there is no Sharia-approved evidence specifying a certain number of verses in each Raka(unit of prayer). The Imam(one leading the prayer) should be  considerate as to the Maamoumeen`s(those praying behind the Imam) situation. They, on the other hand, shouldn`t cause any problem concerning how many verses he should recite. One who is unable to pray while standing is allowed to sit during the recitation of the Imam. It was reported that the Prophet`s(PBUH) companions used to recite about one hundred verses in each Raka of night prayer in Ramadan. They even leaned on their canes, out of hardship, at the time of Uthman.{Marqaat al-Mafateeh,2/970}.
2-It is lawful for those praying behind the Imam to read from the Mus-haf for legal necessity.
3-It is lawful for someone who has missed the Isha` prayer in congregation to follow those performing optional prayer such as Taraweeh, and finish Isha` after they mention Tasleem.
4-There is no harm in preaching, giving lessons, or offering food and drinks between Rakas, provided that the praying people preserve the sanctity of the mosque and keep it clean.
5-A number of Imamas may take turns in leading people in the Taraweeh prayer every night.

Finally, we pray that Allah benefits us from that which He had taught us, and teaches us that which is of benefit to us. Indeed, he is able to do that.

هذا المقال يعبر عن رأي كاتبه، ولا يعبر بالضرورة عن رأي دائرة الإفتاء العام

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