The Virtues of Solat Tarawih
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.
It was narrated in the Sahihayn that Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) had informed the ummah on the virtues of Ramadhan that “Whoever fasts Ramadhān with faith and hoping for reward, he will be forgiven for all of his previous sins. Whoever stands for prayer at night during Ramadhān (Solātul Tarawih) with faith and hoping for reward, he will be forgiven for all of his previous sins. Whoever stands (for prayer at night) during Laylatul-Qadar (the Night of Decree) with faith and hoping for reward, he will be forgiven for all of his previous sins.” [Al-Bukhari no. 2014 and Muslim no. 759-760]
2. The term Qiyam and Solāt Tahajjud is the same Solāt with different names. When these two names are used in Ramadhān, it is also referred as Qiyam or Solāt Tarāwīh; while spending the night in worship, after some sleep is called Tahajjud or Qimyamulail, including Witir. Both names have been used in the Qur'ān. The Qur’ān uses the phrase Qum al-layl when Almighty Allāh says: "O thou wrapped up in thy raiment! Keep vigil the night long (Qum al-layl), save a little, a half thereof, or abate a little thereof, or add (a little) thereto and chant the Qur’ān in measure…" [Al-Muzzammil, 73: 1-4] The verb Fatahajjad is a derivative from the root Hajada (to keep vigil), Allāh says: "And some part of the night awake for it (fatahajjad), a largess for thee. It may be that thy Lord will raise thee to a praised estate." [Al-Isra', 17: 79] The later verse means to get up and perform Tahajjud Prayer. It is named Tahajjud, though the original name of night prayer is Qiyam, which literally means standing. Qiyam also refers to spending the night in worship in general, whether it is solāh or any other form of worship.
Who performs it with Faith and Hope the Previous Sins Will Be Forgiven.
3. Abu Hurairah (radiallāhu`anhu) said: “The Messenger of Allāh (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) used to encourage us to pray at night in Ramadhān, without making it an obligatory. The Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘Whoever stands for qiyam at night in Ramadhān (Solatul Tarawih) out of faith and the hope of reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.’ ‘When the Messenger of Allāh (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) died, this is how things were (i.e., Tarawih was not prayed in congregation), and this remained during the Khalifah of Abu Bakar (radiallāhu`anhu), until the beginning of the Khalifah of ‘Umar Al-Khattab (radiallāhu`anhu). [Muslim]
4. ‘Amr Ibn Murrah Al-Juhani (radiallāhu`anhu) said: “A man from Quda’ah came to the Messenger of Allāh (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) and said, ‘O Messenger of Allāh! What do you think if I testify that there is no god except Allāh, and that you, Muhammad, are His Messenger, and I pray the five daily prayers, and fast in the month (of Ramadhān), and pray at night in Ramadhān, and pay zakah?’ The Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘Whoever dies on that will be among the siddiqin (those who tell the truth) and the martyrs.’” [Muslim]
Tahhajjud in Seeking Lailatul-Qadar
5. The best of its nights is Lailatul-Qadar, because the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “Whoever prays at night during Lailatul-Qadar [and manages to “catch” it] out of faith and the hope of reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.” [Muslim] It was on one the last ten nights of Ramadhān. The Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “Seek it in the last ten nights, on the odd-numbered nights.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] The hadith of Zurr Ibn Hubaish (radiallāhu`anhu), who said: “I heard Ubayy Ibn Ka’ab (radiallāhu`anhu) saying – and it was said to him that ‘Abdallāh Ibn Mas’ud (radiallāhu`anhu) said: ‘whoever follows the Sunnah will ‘catch’ Lailatul-Qadar!’- Ubayy Ibn Ka’ab (radiallāhu`anhu) said: ‘May Allāh have mercy on him, he did not want people to take it for granted and only stay up to pray on one night. By the One besides Whom there is no other god, it is in Ramadhān – he was swearing without a doubt – and by Allāh, I do know which night it is. It is the night in which the Messenger of Allāh (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) commanded us to pray (qiyam). It is the night the morning of which is the twenty seventh, and the sign of it is that the sun rises on that morning white and without rays.’” [Muslim (1169) and others]
Performing Qiyam in Congregation
6. It was the Prophet (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam) who introduced qiyam performed it in congregation. It would be better than praying individually; Rasulullāh (sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam) explained its virtues. Abu Dharr (radiallāhu`anhu) said: “We fast the Ramadhān with the Messenger of Allāh (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) and he did not lead us in qiyam at all until there were only seven days left, he led us in prayer until a third of the night had passed. When there were six days left, he did not lead us in qiyam. When there were five days left, he led us in prayer until half the night had passed. I said, ‘O Messenger of Allāh, I wish that you had continued until the end of the night.’ He (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘If a man prays with the imām until he concludes it, it will be counted as if he prayed the whole night.’ When there were four nights left, he did not lead us in qiyam. When there were three nights left, he brought together his family, his wives and the people, and led us in qiyam until we were worried that we would miss al-falah. I asked, ‘What is al-falah?’ he said, ‘Sahur. Then he did not lead us in qiyam for the rest of the month.’” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim and others].
7. The Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) did not lead the sahabah in qiyam for the whole of the month because he feared that it would become an obligatory, and they would not be able to do it, as is stated in the hadith of ‘Aishah (radiallāhu`anhu) reported in Al-Sahihain and elsewhere. Following the death of the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam), that fear was no longer a factor, as Allāh had made the religion completed. The reason for not praying qiyam in congregation during Ramadhān no longer applied, and the previous ruling, that congregational prayer is prescribed in Islam, remained in effect. So ‘Umar Al-Khattab (radiallāhu`anhu) revived the practice, as is recorded in Sahih Al-Bukhari and elsewhere.
Women is allowed to Participate
8. Women is allowed to attend the qiyam too, as is stated in the hadīth of Abu Dharr (radiallāhu`anhu) referred to above. Indeed, it is permissible to appoint an imām just for them, apart from the imām of the men. It was proven that when Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (radiallāhu`anhu) gathered the people to pray qiyam, he appointed Ubayy Ibn Ka’ab (radiallāhu`anhu) to lead the men and Sulayman Ibn Abi Hathmah (radiallāhu`anhu) to lead the women. ‘Arfajah Al-Thaqafi (radiallāhu`anhu) said: “Ali Ibn Abi Talib (radiallāhu`anhu) used to command the people to pray during the night in Ramadhān, and he would appoint an imām for the men and an imam for the women. I was the imām for the women.”
Number of Raka’at of Qiyam Ramadhan
9. Some of the people are unaware of its ruling; mistakenly think that it is not permissible to offer more than 11 or 13 Raka'at. This is incorrect and it is a mistake. Verily, sahih Hadiths from the Messenger of Allāh (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) prove that it is a clear matter. The Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) did not fix a specific number of Raka'at, neither in Ramadhān nor in any other times. The Hadith of Abu Salamah bin Abdal Rahman asked Aishah (radiallāhu`anha) about how Rasulullah performed qiyam in Ramadhān. She said, “The Messenger of Allāh (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) did not observe either in Ramadhan or in other months more than eleven raka'at (of the night prayer). He (in the first instance) observed four raka'at. Ask not about their excellence and their length (i.e. these were matchless in perfection and length). He again observed four raka'at, and asks not about their excellence and their length. He would then observe three raka'at (of the Solah Witr). [Al-Bukhāri, Muslim (1607) and others].
10. Sometimes Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) might perform 13 Raka'at or less than that, both for Ramadhān and in other times. When Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was asked about the night prayer he said: "In sets of two, in sets of two. Then when one of you fears the coming of morning, he prays one (Raka'ah) that will serve as a Witir (i.e. make the number odd) of what he has prayed." [Al-Bukhari no. 990 and Muslim no. 749] There is an agreement on authenticity of this Hadith regarding it.
11. The Companions (radiallāhu`anhum) sometimes performed 23 Raka'at, and sometimes 11 Raka'at in the time of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (radiallāhu`anhu). Some of the Salaf used to pray 36 Raka'at during Ramadhān and then pray three Raka'at of Witr prayers. Some of them prayed 41 Raka'at.
12. Sheikh-Islam ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullāh) mentioned this from them and that the matter concerning this is broad (i.e. an easy matter). He also mentioned that it is better for whoever lengthens his recitation, bowing and prostrating to lessen the number of Raka'at, and whoever lightens (shortens) the recitation, bowing and prostrating, to increase the number of Raka'at. This is the meaning of his statement, may Allāh have mercy on him. Whoever pays close attention to the Prophet's Sunnah will know that what is best in regard to all of this is to pray 11 or 13 Raka'at during Ramadhān and other times. This is because that is in agreement with the practice of the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) in most of his situations (i.e. what he usually did). Also, this is easier for those who are offering prayer and better for humility and tranquility (in the prayer). Whoever prays more, there is no harm or any dislike, as was mentioned previously. What is best for whoever prays with the Imām (of the Masjid) in the night prayer of Ramadhān is that he does not stop until the Imām stops praying? This is due to the statement of the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam): "Verily, if the man stands for night prayer with the Imām until he finishes, Allāh will write for him (the reward of) standing the entire night (in prayer)." [Abu Dawud 1375, At-Tirmidzi no. 806, Ibn Mājah no. 1327 and Ahmad 5:159.] If Solat Tarawih congregation is organized with more than one Imām, one should follow the Imams until they conclude it, which including the Witir.
Reciting Qur’an in Qiyam
13. As regards reciting from the Qur’an during qiyam, whether in Ramadhān or at other times, the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) did not set a limit or state what was too much or too little. His recitation used to vary; sometimes it would be long, at other times short. Sometimes in every raka’ah he would recite the equivalent of ‘Yā ayyuha’l-muzammil’, which is twenty ayat; sometimes he would recite the equivalent of fifty ayat. He used to say, “Whoever prays at night and reads one hundred ayat will not be recorded as one of the negligent.” According to another hadith: “…and reads two hundred ayat will be recorded as one of the devout and sincere believers.”
14. When he was sick, the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) recited the seven long surahs in his night prayers, i.e., Al-Baqarah, Al-‘Imran, Al-Nisa’, Al-Ma’idah, Al-An’ām, Al-A’rāf and Al-Tawbah. In the account of Hudhayfah Ibn Al-Yaman (radiallāhu`anhu) praying behind the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam), in one raka’ah he recited Al-Baqarah, Al-Nisa’ and Al-‘Imran and he recited them in a slow and measured tone. It is proven with the soundest (most sahih) of isnads that when ‘Umar Al-Khattab (radiallāhu`anhu) appointed Ubayy Ibn Ka’b (radiallāhu`anhu) to lead the people in praying eleven raka’at in Ramadhān, Ubayy used to recite ayat by the hundreds, so that the people behind him would be leaning on sticks because the prayers were so long, and they did not finish until just before Fajar.
15. It is also reported in a sahih account that ‘Umar Al-Khattab (radiallāhu`anhu) called the readers during Ramadhān, and told the fastest of them to recite thirty ayat, the moderate ones to recite twenty-five ayat, and the slowest ones to recite twenty ayat. However, if a person offers qiyam by himself; he can make it as long as he wishes; if others agree with the imam, and he may also make it as long as he wishes. The longer it is, the better, but a person should not go to extremes and spend the whole night in qiyam, except on rare occasions, following the example of the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “The best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad.” [Narrated by Muslim (867)] If a person is praying as an imām, he should make it only as long as is easy for the people behind him, because Abu Hurairah (radiallāhu`anhu) reported the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “If any of you leads the people in solāt, let him make it short, because among them are the young and the old, the weak, and those who have pressing needs. But if he is praying alone, let him make it as long as he likes.” [Muslim 942]
When is Qiyam offered?
16. The time frame to offer qiyam is after ‘Isha until Fajar. The Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “Allāh has added one more prayer for you, which is witir, so pray it between Salat al-‘Isha’ and Salat al-Fajar.” [Al-Tirmidzi, 425: sahih]
17. Those who can manage it, it would be better to do it at the end of the night, because the hadith of Jabir bin Abdullah (radiallāhu’anhu) who said: The Messenger of Allāh (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Whoever fears that he will not get up at the end of the night, let him pray Witir at the beginning of the night, but whoever thinks that he will be able to get up at the end of the night, let him pray Witir at the end of the night, for prayer at the end of the night is witnessed (by the angels) and that would be better.” [Muslim, 755]
18. If it is the matter of choosing between praying in congregation at the beginning of the night and praying alone at the end of the night, it is preferable to pray with the jama’ah, because that is counted as if one had prayed the whole night through.
19. ‘Abd Al-Rahmaan Ibn ‘Abd Al-Qari (radiallāhu`anhu) said: “I went out with ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (radiallāhu`anhu) to the mosque (Masjidil Nabawi) one night during Ramadhān, and saw the people scattered throughout the mosque, some praying individually, and some praying in small groups. ‘Umar (radiallāhu`anhu) said, ‘By Allāh, I think that if I gathered all of them behind one reader it would be better.’ So, he resolved to do it, and he gathered them behind Ubayy Ibn Ka’ab (radiallāhu`anhu). Then I went with him on another night, and the people were all praying behind their reader, and ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (radiallāhu`anhu) said, ‘What a good innovation this is. What if they sleep and miss – refers the latter part of the night – is better than what they are doing,’ – the people used to pray qiyam at the beginning of the night.”
20. ‘Aishah (radiallāhu`anha) was asked how many raka’at the Rasulullāh (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) used to pray in witir? She said, “He used to pray four and three, or six and three, or ten and three. He never used to pray less than seven, or more than thirteen.” [Abu Dawud, Ahmad and others] And Rasulullāh (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said : “Witir is true, so whoever wishes can pray five, and whoever wishes can pray three, and whoever wishes can pray one.” [Abu Dawud, Ahmad and others] It means, it is permissible to offer solah al-witir with odd raka’at with a minimum of one raka’ah
Witir of three raka’at but does not resemble Maghrib
21. The Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) forbade praying witir resemble Maghrib: “Do not make it resemble Solat al-Maghrib.” [Narrated by al-Hakim (1/304), al-Baihaqi (3/31) and al-Daraqutni (p. 172), and which was classified as sahih by al-Hakim in accordance to the conditions of Al-Bukhāri and Muslim.] Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) meant was that we should not sit to recite the first Tashahhud in a manner that resembles Maghrib. [Fath al-Bāri by Ibn Hajar, 4/301, Al-Hafiz said: Its isnād is sahih. See also ‘Awn al-Ma’bud, commentary on hadith no. 1423; Salat Al-Tarawih by Al-Albāni, p. 97.] There are two ways he can do this: one, by giving Salām after the first two raka’at, and add another raka’ah and Salam, which is the best way of doing it; or by praying three raka’at without sitting, but giving Salām at end of the third raka’at.
Recitation during Three Raka’at of Witir
22. It is Sunnah to recite Sabbih bi ismi Rabbika al-‘A’lā in the first raka’ah, Qul Yā ayyuha’l-Kafirūn in the second raka’at, and Qul Huwa Allāhu ahad in the third raka’at. Sometimes Qul a’udzu bi Rabbi’l-Falaq and Qul a’udzu bi Rabbi’l-Nās may be added as well. [Narrated by al-Nasāie, Abu Dawud and Ahmad] In another narration it was reported in a sahih hadith hat the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) once recited one hundred ayat of Surah al-Nisa’ in one raka’ah of witir.
23. A person may also humble himself before Allāh by reciting the Duā’ Al-Qunut at the final Raka’at of Solat Witir which the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) taught to his grandson Al-Hasan Ibn ‘Ali (radiallāhu`anhu), which is: “Allāhumma’hdinī fiman hadayta wa ‘āfinī fiman ‘āfayta wa tawallanī fiman tawallayta wa bārik lee fimā a’tayta wa qinī sharra mā qadayt, fa innaka taqdhī wa lā yuqdhā ‘alayk. Wa innahu lā yadzillu man wālayta wa lā ya’izzu man ‘ādayt. Tabārakta Rabbanā wa ta’ālayt. Lā majā minka illa ilayk (O Allāh, guide me along with those whom You have guided, pardon me along with those whom You have pardoned, be an ally to me along with those whom You are an ally to, and bless for me that which You have bestowed. Protect me from the evil You have decreed for verily You decree and none can decree over You. For surety, he whom You show allegiance to is never abased and he whom You take an enemy is never honored and mighty. O our Lord, Blessed and Exalted are You. There is no refuge from You except with You).” [Narrated by Abu Dawud, 1213; Al-Tirmidzi (464), al-Nasa’ie, 1725; classified as sahih by al-Albani in al-Irwa’, 429].
24. One may send blessings on the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam), and adding other du’a that are known from the Sunnah. During the time of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (radiallāhu`anhu) it was add in Qunut the curses against the kuffar, sending blessings on the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) or praying for the Muslims. It is done in the second half of Ramadhān. It was mentioned at the end of the hadīth of ‘Abd Al-Rahman Ibn ‘Ubayd Al-Qari (radiallāhu`anhu) mentioned above, it says: “… ‘Allāhumma qātil al-kafarata alladhīna yasudduuna ‘an sabīlik wa yukadhdhibuna rusulak wa lā yu’minuna bi wa’dik. Wa khālif baina kalimatihim wa alqi fi qulubihim al-ru’b wa alqi ‘alaihim rijzaka wa ‘adzābak ilāh al-haqq (O Allāh, destroy the kuffar who are trying to prevent people from following Your path, who deny Your Messengers and who do not believe in Your promise (the Day of Judgement). Make them disunited, fill their hearts with terror and send Your wrath and punishment against them, O God of Truth).’”
25. After he had finished cursing the kuffar, sending blessings on the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam), seeking forgiveness for the believing men and women and asking for his own needs, he would say: “Allāhumma iyyaaka na’bud wa laka nusalli wa najud, wa ilayka nas’aa wa nahfud, wa narju rahmataka rabbanaa wa nakhāfu ‘adhābak al-jadd. Inna ‘adhābaka liman ‘ādayta mulhaq (O Allāh, You do we worship, to You do we pray and prostrate, for Your sake we strive and toil. We place our hope in Your Mercy, O our Lord, and we fear Your mighty punishment, for Your punishment will certainly overtake the one whom You have taken as an enemy.”
26. Then he would send blessings on the Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam), and pray for good for the Muslims as much as he could, and seek forgiveness for the believers. Then he would say “Allāhu akbar” and go down in sujud.
At The End of Witir?
27. It is Sunnah to say at the end of witir, before or after the Salam: “Allāhumma innī a’udzu bi ridāka min sakhatika wa bi mu’āfaatika min ‘aqubatika, wa a’udzu bika minka. La uhī thanā’an ‘alaika, anta kamā athnaita ‘ala nafsik (O Allāh, I seek refuge in Your good pleasure from Your wrath, and in Your protection from Your punishment. I seek refuge with You from You. I cannot praise You enough, and You are as You have praised Yourself.”
28. After Salām, Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “Subhān il-Malik il-Quddus, subhān il-Malik il-Quddus, subhān il-Malik il-Quddus (Glory be to the Sovereign, the Most Holy), elongating the syllables, and raising his voice the third time. [Narrated by al-Nasā’ie (1699) and classified as hasan by al-Albāni in Sahih Sunan al-Nasā’i; See Zaad Al-Ma’ād by Ibn Al-Qayyim, 1/337].
Two Raka’at after Witir
29. Abu Salamah bin Abd al-Rahman asked 'A'ishah (radiallāhu`anha) about the prayer of the Messenger of Allāh (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), 'A'ishah (radiallāhu`anha) said: “He (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) observed thirteen raka'at (in the night prayer)-He observed eight raka'at and would then observe Witr and then observe two raka'at sitting, and when he wanted to bow he stood up and then bowed down, and then observed two raka'at in between the Adzan and lqamah of the Fajar prayer.” [Muslim 1608]
30. The Prophet (sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) did this also during travelling as he said, “This travelling is exhausting and difficult, so after any one of you prays witir, let him pray two raka’at. If he wakes up, this is fine; otherwise these two rak’at will be counted for him.”. It is Sunnah to recite Idha zulzilat al-ard and Qul yā ayyuha’l-kāfirun in these two raka’at.
There should not be two Witirs in one night
31. If one had performed Solat Witir, after Solatul Tarawih at the beginning of the night then Allāh enables you to get up at the end of the night, and then offers qiyam whatever possible in two by two – without Witir, because the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “There should not be two Witirs in one night.” [Abu Dawud 1439]
In the case he had not perform Witir but fears the Fajar is coming
32. In another narration Ibn 'Umar (radiallāhu`anhu) reported that a person asked the Messenger of Allāh (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) about the night prayer. The Messenger of Allāh (sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: "In sets of two, in sets of two. Then when one of you fears the coming of morning, he prays one (Raka'ah) that will serve as a Solat Witr (i.e. make the number odd) of what he has prayed." [Al-Bukhari no. 990 and Muslim no. 749] Ibn 'Umar (radiallāhu`anhu) reported Allāh's Messenger (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) as saying: “Make Witr the end of your night prayer” [Muslim (1639)] without making obligatory, rather a mustahab prayer.
[ Adapted from Islam Q&A Fatawa NO: 3452: based from” Qiyam Ramadhān” by Al-Albāni]