Solat Tarawih and Laylat al-Qadar
Dividing Qiyām al-layl into two parts during the last ten days of Ramadhān
I hope that you could enlighten me with regard to the ruling on dividing Solāt Tarawīh in the last ten days of Ramadhān into two parts: at the beginning of the night and at the end, as is done in many masajid. Please also mention the evidence if possible.
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 is mustahabb during the nights of Ramadhān is to spend them in qiyām, making duā’ and worship, and striving hard during the last ten nights with extra worship, seeking Allah’s forgiveness and mercy in seeking Laylat al-Qadr which its merit better than a thousand months.
Solat Tarāwīh is a Qiyām (night prayers) of Ramadhān and it is called Tarāwīh because it is supposedly done in easy manner and taking brief breaks between raka’ahs. Its scope is broad, with no limit of its raka’ahs, and it is permissible to offer it in any number of raka’ahs he wants, at any time of the night he wishes beginning after the Solat Isha’ until before Fajar.
It says in Al-Mawsu ‘ah al-Fiqhiyyah that there is no difference of opinion among the fuqaha’ with regard of it being a Sunnah because the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said:
“Whoever spends the nights of Ramadhan in prayer, out of faith and seeking the reward of Allah, his previous sins will be forgiven.”
The fuqaha’ said: Tarawīh is the qiyām (Qiyām al-layl) of Ramadhan. Hence it is best to spend most of the night in it, because it is Qiyām al-layl.
[Al-Mawsu ‘ah al-Fiqhiyyah (34/123)]
What many imams do nowadays - especially in the last ten days of Ramadhān - leading the people in Solat Tarawīh immediately after ‘Isha’, then going back to the masjid in the last part of the night after having some sleep to observe qiyām ( Tahajjud). This is permissible and prescribed act of worship. There is no reason to suggest it is not allowed. One is required to strive hard in the last ten days according to its ability. If a person breaks up his night between prayer, making duā’, resting, sleeping, and reading Qur'ān, then he has done well.
Shaikh ‘Abd-Allāh Abābatīn said:
In response to some people’s tendency of objecting those who performs extra prayers during the last ten days of Ramadhān than usual as in the first twenty days, on the grounds that this is more than usual and is ignorance of the Sunnah and the practice of the Sahābah, Tābi‘īen and imams of Islam,
We like to say: Indeed there are hadīths from the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) which encourage observing Qiyām al-layl during Ramadhan, and to strive it during the last ten days.
It should be clear that there is no specific number of raka’ahs prescribed for Solat Tarawīh; and that the time for doing it according to all scholars is from after the Sunnah of ‘Isha’ until the break of dawn; and that spending the night in worship is a confirmed Sunnah; and that the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) performed Solat Tarawīh for many nights in congregation. It is invalid for anyone to object those who performed more prayers during the last ten nights than he did at the beginning of the month. So, during the last ten days, he prays at the beginning of the night, as he did at the beginning of the month, or less, or a lot, without praying Witr, took a sleep and wake up at the later part of the night to performs more prayers in congregation and calls all of it qiyām or tarawīh.
Perhaps those who object it are a bit confused by what some fuqaha’ said that it is mustahabb for the imam not to pray more than one khatmah (reading of the entire Qur’ān), unless the people behind him prefers it. The reason they gave for not doing more than one khatmah is the hardship that may caused to the people behind him, not because it is not prescribed in sharī’ah. So, if people behind him want to do more than one khatmah, they may well do so, as was clearly stated in the words of the scholars.
As for many of the common people saying that what is done at the beginning of the night is Tarawīh while offering after it is qiyām, is incorrect. Rather all of it is qiyām or tarawīh.
The qiyām of Ramadhān is called Tarawīh because of its nature to be done in easy manner and having a rest (yastarīhūna) after every set of four rak’ahs of lengthy prayers.
Some people may object to it because it is contrary to the customary practice in their countries and most of the people nowadays; and due to ignorance of the Sunnah and of the practice of the Sahābah, Tābi’ūn and the imams of Islam; and because some people think, that the prayer during the last ten days is a kind of solat al-ta’qīb which was regarded as makrūh by some scholars. In actual fact it is not the case. It should be noted that Solat al-ta’qīb is a voluntary prayer offered in congregation after finishing the Solat Witr after Tarawīh, and thus how ta’qīb was defined by the fuqaha’.
[Al-Durar al-Saniyyah (4/364)]
Shaykh Sālih al-Fawzān said:
In the last ten days of Ramadhan, the Muslims exert their efforts in worship, following the Sunnah of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) and seeking Laylat al-Qadr that is deemed better than a thousand months. Those who pray twenty-three raka’ahs at the beginning of the month break it up during the last ten days, so they offer ten raka’ahs at the beginning of the night, calling it Tarawīh, and they perform another ten at the end of the night, making them lengthy, and following it with three rak’ahs of Witr, which they call Qiyām. This is a variation in naming only. In fact all of it may be called Tarawīh or it may be called Qiyām.
As for those who perform eleven or thirteen rak’ahs at the beginning of the month, they add ten more raka’ahs to that during the last ten days, which they observed at the end of the night, making it lengthy prayers, increasing their efforts to do good to catch the virtue of the last ten days. The precedents were set by the Sahābah, who performed twenty-three raka’ahs, as stated above.
Thus, they combine the two opinions: the opinion which favours offering thirteen raka’ahs during the first twenty days and the opinion which favours offering twenty-three during the last ten days.
[Ithāf Ahl al-Imān bi Majālis Shahr Ramadhān]
And Allah knows best.
[Excerpted from with modification from Islam Q&A (109768)]