When the Solat Tarawīh begin in Ramadhan?
When should we start to pray Tarawīh prayer, on the night of the first day of Ramadhan (when the moon is sighted or the previous month is completed) or after ‘Isha’ prayer on the first day of Ramadhan?
All the Praise be to Allah subhanahu wata’ala. Peace and blessing be upon his Messenger.
It is prescribed for the Muslim to perform Tarawīh prayer after ‘Isha’ on the first night of Ramadhan, which is the night on which the new moon is sighted or the Muslims complete thirty days of Sha’ban.
Similarly at the end of Ramadhan, Tarawīh prayer should not be offered if it is proven that the month has ended, either by sighting of the new moon of Eid or if the month of thirty days has been completed.
It is clear that Tarawīh prayer is not connected to the fast during the day in Ramadhan; rather it is connected to the onset of the month at night in the beginning, and the last day of Ramadhan at the end.
We should not say that Tarawīh prayer is a naafil prayer and it is permissible to offer it on any night and in congregation, because Tarawīh prayer is limited to the month of Ramadhan, and those who offer this prayer are seeking the reward that comes for praying it. The ruling on offering this prayer in congregation is different from the ruling on offering other prayers in congregation. In Ramadhan it is permissible to pray Tarawīh in congregation on each night, whilst announcing it and encouraging others to join, unlike qiyam at other times, where praying qiyam in congregation is not part of the Sunnah unless it is done without having the intention beforehand, or it is done for the purpose of encouraging and teaching others. So it is Sunnah to do it sometimes without committing to doing it all the time or persisting in that.
Shaikh Muhammad al-Salih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
Tarawīh in times other than Ramadhan is an innovation (bid’ah). For example, if the people wanted to gather to pray qiyam in congregation in the mosque at times other than Ramadhan, this would be an innovation.
There is nothing wrong with a person praying in congregation in his house occasionally at times other than Ramadhan, because this is what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did. Once he led Ibn ‘Abbas, and once Ibn Mas’ud and once Hudhayfah ibn al-Yaman, in prayer in his house, but he did not adopt that as a regular Sunnah and he did not do that in the mosque.
[Al-Sharh al-Mumti’, 4/60, 61]
Based on this, whoever offers Tarawīh prayers before it is proven that Ramadhan has begun is like one who offers a prayer at the wrong time. It is meaningless.
And Allah Almighty Knows best.
[Excerpted from Islam Q&A]