Friday, September 29, 2006

Ramadhan Nightly Prayer

Solah al-Tarawīh
By Tajuddin Shu’aib

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks are due to Allāh, the Lord of the al-ā’lamīn. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam, is His Messenger.

The Ramadhan nightly prayer has a special merit over other nights. The Messenger of Allah (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: "Whoever observes night prayer in Ramadhan as an expression 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 someone, but Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala alone.

is derived from the Arabic root word," r
āha", which means to rest, relax and use as recreation. It is so called because the believers used to prolong it. After every four raka'ats they would stop for rest and relaxation and resume until Tarawih was complete.

Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala has mandated to His servants acts of worship and made them of various kinds so as to provide them with means to pick and choose, and that others will not be bored with one act. Thus, we seek nearness to Him, through mandatory and non-mandatory deeds. Among the non-mandatory deeds, or Sunnah, is the establishment of night time prayers (solat-ul-lail), and Allah has praised those who observe them.

"Those who spend the night in adoration of their Lord, prostrate and standing." (Al-Furqan, 25:64)

"Their limbs do forsake their beds of sleep, the while they call on their Lord in fear and hope and they spend (in charity) out of the sustenance which we have bestowed on them." (As-Sajdah, 32:16)

These two verses indicate the basis for nightly prayer in Al-Qur'an and the good return awaiting those who observe it. In a Hadith, the Messenger of All
āh (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) says: "The best prayer after the obligatory ones is the night prayer." (Muslim)

Elsewhere he says: "O people! Disseminate the salutations of peace As-Sal
ām 'Alaikum; feed the needy food, and join the blood ties among the next of kin; and observe night prayer while people are at sleep, you will enter paradise peacefully." (Tirmidzi)

Witr after Tarawih.

One of the night prayers (including Qiyam Ramadhan) is Witr, performed in  odd numbers. It should be the last of the night prayer. The minimum Witir is one raka'ah and the maximum is eleven raka'at. Ibn 'Umar (radiall
āhu`anhu) reported Allāh's Messenger (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) as saying: “Make Witr the end of your night prayer” [Muslim (1639)]

The Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: "Whoever wants to pray Witr with one raka'ah should do it and whoever wants to pray Witr with three raka’at should do it." (Abu Dawud).

However, the Messenger of Allah (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) was always consistent with eleven raka'at for night prayers, according to his wife, 'Aishah (radiallāhu`anha) who reported: "The Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) never observed prayers after ‘Isya' (night obligatory prayer) and before Fajar (Morning Prayer), more than eleven rak'ats. He saluted after every two raka'at, and he prayed Witir with one raka'ah". (Jama'ah, except Tirmidzi)

In a different procedure, one may make four raka'at, and salute, and continue with another four and salute, and then he caps them with three raka'at of Witr. 'Aishah (radiall
āhu`anha) reported: "The Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) used to pray four raka'at and one cannot describe their beauty, and their length, (he salutes) then makes another set of four raka'at, one cannot describe their beauty and length, he then caps it with three raka'at."

Tarawih in Jama’ah

The Messenger of Allah (sallall
āhu 'alayhi wa sallam) was the first to establish the Sunnah of congregational, jama’ah prayer of Tarawīh in the Masjid. Then he did not continue with the Sunnah for fear that it might be made mandatory on the Ummah in Ramadhan, and they might not be able to do it. In the books of Bukhari and Muslim, 'Aishah (radiallāhu`anha) has been reported as saying:

"The Messenger of Allah (sallall
āhu 'alayhi wa sallam) observed Tarawīh 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 Ramadhan."

This Hadith is a clear indication that the Taraw
īh in congregation was not an innovation of 'Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (radiallāhu`anhu), the second Khalifah, despite his saying to the contrary. For it has been related that: "Umar bin Al-Khattab (radiallāhu`anhu) attended the Masjid at night in Ramadhan 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 combined them under 'Ubayy bin Ka'ab and Tamimu Ad-Dari (radiallāhu`anhum) to alternate and lead the believers in eleven raka'at of night prayer. The next day `Umar was in the Masjid which was full with Tarawih prayers. He was delighted. He said: `Well, this is the best Bid'ah (innovation).'"

‘Umar's use of the word Bid’ah in this report has been presented 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 Taraw
īh becoming mandatory (Fardhu) was not only remote, it was impossible. With the death of the Prophet Muhammad (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam), there will be no more revelation to change any law or rule by abrogation.

Number of Rak'at in Taraw

As for the number of raka'at in Taraw
īh and Witr, the worthy ancestor, Salaf as-Salih disagreed on the amount of Raka'at. These numbers are mentioned for raka'ats: 39, 29, 23, 19, 13, and 11 raka'at. Of all the numbers mentioned, none is sounder than 11 raka'at. 'Aishah (radiallāhu`anha) was asked how the prayer of the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) was. She replied: "He did not pray in Ramadhan or some other times more than eleven raka'at." (Muslim; Bukhari)

However, there is nothing wrong with praying more than 11 raka'at. Perhaps that is why different numbers are observed. The Prophet (sallall
āhu 'alayhi wa sallam) 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'ah, or more.

In their desire to pray more raka'at, some people make Tarawih 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 Sol

Neglecting Taraw

No one should neglect Tarawih 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. Besides, 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 (sallall
āhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: "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 Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala  states: "...they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof..." (Al-Nur, 24:31)

What ordinarily appears refers to the outer garments, for when the Messenger (sallall
āhu 'alayhi wa sallam) commanded women to attend Eid prayer, Umm 'Atiyah (radiallāhu`anha) 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) gives her one to wear."

It is Sunnah that they pray behind the men in the rear lines. The Messenger (sallall
āhu 'alayhi wa sallam) 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 are 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 Salam

The women should leave the Masjid as soon as the Imam says: As-Salamu 'alaikum. They should not delay without a valid reason. In a hadith by Umm Salmah(radiall
āhu`anha), she said: "When the Messenger of Allah (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) saluted to end prayer, the women would stand up to leave and the Messenger would remain in his place for a while." Umm Salmah (radiallāhu`anha) said: Allah is the best knower, but perhaps the Messenger did that so women would leave before men could overtake them". (Bukhari)

[Via MSA]

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