|Detailed Account of Taraweeh Prayers (8 or 20)?
Issues like this are easily resolved by sticking to the Authentic Sunnah as it takes as away from unnecessary disputes and debates!
Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’aan:
1) First and foremost Ramadhan is a month to get closer to Allah (SWT), to be loved by Allah (SWT) and have our sins forgiven and the only way to do this by following the Sunnah:
[3:31] Say (O Prophet): If you really love Allah, then follow me, and Allah shall love you and forgive you your sins. Allah is Most-Forgiving, Very-Merciful.
2) Secondly, the rewards during the month of Ramdhan are multiplied tremendously:
“…Whoever draws nearer (to Allah) by performing any of the (optional) good deeds in (this month) shall receive the same reward as performing an obligatory deed at any other time, and whoever discharges an obligatory deed in (this month) shall receive the reward of performing seventy obligations at any other time… ” [Narrated by Ibn Khuzaymah]
3) Thirdly, to be specific praying at night (in Ramadhan) is specifically linked to forgiveness of all your previous sins.
4) Fourthly, the Sunnah of Taraweeh according to most Scholars is that this prayer is to be performed in congregation (with Jamaah) and that was the practise of the Sahaba (RA), which Sayyidina Ammerul-Mumineen Umar (RA) initiated:
‘ Abdur Rahman bin ‘Abdul Qari (RA) said, “I went out in the company of ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab (RA) 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 little group behind him. So, ‘Umar (RA) 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 (RA). Then on another night I went again in his company and the people were praying behind their reciter. On that, ‘Umar (RA) 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.” (Bukhari)
5) Fifthly, the discussion about the Rakaat should be skipped as it is established that:
a) Praying at night at Ramadhan has great reward
And the command of our beloved Nabi (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) specifically about the prayers in Ramdhan is to FINISH WITH THE IMAM!
There is no dispute amongst Scholars in Islam that the established Sunnah of Taraweeh is to pray in congregation and finish with the Imam, whether the prays 8, 20 or 36 Rakaat.
20 Rakats Taraweeh prayer is a Sunnah Muakkadah:
By Mufti Muhammad Yusuf bin Yaqoob Danka
The 20 Rakats Taraweeh prayer is a Sunnah Muakkadah – Those who reject it, go against the Sunnah and the consensus of the Sahabah
It is related from Sayyidina Ibn Abbas (RA) : ‘The Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) would pray 20 Rakats and then witr in the month of Ramadhan.’ (Musnad ibn Abi Shaybah vol 2, p294/ Sunan Baihaqi vol 2, p496/ Tibraani Kabir vol 11, p393/ Musnad ibn Hameed p218)
Ibn Hajar Al Asqalani (RA) related from Imam Rafi (RA) : The Prophet prayed 20 Rakats in Taraweeh on two consecutive nights with a congregation in Ramdhan. On the third night many more people gathered (for a congregation) but the Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) did not appear before them. In the morning the Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) stated: ‘It occurred to me that this prayer (20 Rakats in Ramadhan) could become compulsory (Fard) upon you, and you would not be able to bear it.’ This narration related by Hafiz Ibn Hajar Asqalani, after relating it, he used to state: ‘There is a consensus amongst all the Muhadditheen that this narration is sound (Sahih).’ (Talkeesul Habeer Fe Takhreej Ahadith Rafi ul Kabeer vol 1, p119)
Sayyidina Abu Dhar Ghifari (RA) related: ‘We (the Companions) observed the fasts of Ramadhan with the Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam). In the whole month the Prophet did not lead us in prayer, until there were 7 days left in the month. The Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) then led us in prayer on the 23rd, 25th and 27th night. (Sunan Abu Dawood vol 1, p195)
Sayyidah Aisha (RA) related: ‘After these nights (23, 25 &27th) the congregation grew to a very large number on the 29th night. The Masjid of the Prophet had become filled to capacity. On this night the Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) only cameout to lead the people for the Fajr prayer. After the Fajr prayer, the Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) stated: ‘I knew that you had gathered for the night prayer (Taraweeh) but I feared that this prayer would become compulsory (Fard) upon you and you would find it difficult to fulfil. (Sahih Bukhari vol 1, p269/ Sahih Muslim vol 1, p259)
Even in the days in which the Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) did not pray in congregation, Sayyidina Ibn Abbas (RA) has related: Verily in the month of Ramadhan, The Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) used to pray 20 Rakats and Witr independent from any congregation. (Sunan Baihaqi As-Sunanul Kubra vol 2, p496)
Allamah Subqi Shafi’ (RA) stated: ‘Our belief is that the 20 Rakats Taraweeh is a Sunnah, which is proven from a sound chain.’ (Sharahul Minhaaj)
The ‘Ahle Sunnah Wal Jamat’ are those who are satisfied and content with the actions/teachings of the Sahabah
The soundness and correctness of the above narrations is supported by the very actions of the Sahabah . It was the nature of the Sahabah that without the order and permission of the Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) they would not perform any religious action. They would not create innovative practices in the Deen. It is this very same 20 Rakats Taraweeh that has been performed from the time of the Sahabah to the present day in congregation in the month of Ramadhan. This form of worship has been passed down from generation to generation and safeguarded to this day. The strength of these Ahadith is established from the Khulafa Rashideen and Sahabah , Scholars of Hadith, Jurists and Mujtahideen of this Ummah, as well as the very practice of the Ummah itself.
The Hadith related in respect of the 20 Rakats Taraweeh above has been related by Sayyidina Ibn Abbas (RA). Sayyidina Umar (RA) then acted upon this narration and ordered the Ummah to read 20 Rakats Taraweeh behind an Imam. Both of these Companions are recognised as reliable and sound narrators of Hadith and on their narrating there is no doubt. It is the proven unanimous practice of the Sahabah to act upon this narration of Sayyidina Ibn Abbas (RA) which authenticates this narration as a correct and accepted practise.
The Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) stated: ‘After my time, people will see much differences occurring. In such a condition, it is compulsory upon you that you hold firmly to my Sunnah and the rightly guided path of the Khulafa Rashideen.’ (Mishkaat Masabih p30)
The Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) specifically gave the Ummah an advice; related from Sayyidina Huzaifa (RA): The Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) stated: ‘I do not know how long I will remain amongst you. After me, follow Abu Bakr (RA) and Umar (RA). (Mishkaat Masabih p560/ Sunan Ibn Majah #97)
Sayyidina Abu Rahman bin Abdul Qari (RA) related: I left one night in Ramadhan with Sayyidina Umar bin Khattab (RA) and we headed towards the Masjid of the Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam). In the Masjid we saw various groups of people praying alone or behind an Imam and they were scattered over the Masjid. Umar bin Khattab (RA) made a decision to congregate all the people behind Sayyidina Ubay ibn Ka’ab (RA) . (Sahih Bukhari vol 1, p269)
Yazid bin Ruman (RA) related: In the time of the Khalifah of Sayyidina Umar bin Khattab (RA) people would pray 23 Rakats behind an Imam (20 Taraweeh, 3 Witr). (Muwatta Imam Malik vol 1, p98/ Sunan Kabeer Baihaqi vol 2, p496)
Abi Abdur Rahman Salmi (RA) related: In the nights of Ramadhan, Sayyidina Ali (RA) called upon the recitors of the Qur’an (Huffaz/Qura) and ordered one amongst them to lead the people in 20 Rakats of Taraweeh. Sayyidina Ali (RA) would lead the people himself in the Witr Salah. (Sunan Kabeer Baihaqi vol 2, p496/ Fathul Bari vol 4, p219)
Hafiz Ibn Taymiyyah (RA) writes in his Fatawa: ‘Verily it has been proven that Umar made Ubay ibn Ka’ab (RA) lead the people in 20 Rakats of Taraweeh and 3 Witr in Ramadhan. This is the way of the scholars of this Ummah and this is the Sunnah. This is due to the fact that Sayyidina Ubay ibn Ka’ab (RA) read 20 Rakats Taraweeh in a large congregation of the Muhajireen and Ansar of the Sahabah and none amongst them objected to this practice.’ (Fatawa Ibn Taymiyyah vol 1, p191/ Al Mughni vol 1, p803)
In the time of Hafiz Ibn Taymiyyah (RA) when the Rawafid (Shia) put the blame upon Sayyidina Umar (RA) for creating the innovated practice of 20 Rakats Taraweeh. Ibn Taymiyyah (RA) responded to this allegation by writing in defence of Sayyidina Umar (RA) to the Rawafid: ‘If Sayyidina Umar Farooq (RA) by establishing 20 Rakats of Taraweeh had been deemed to adopt a bad practise, then Sayyidina Ali (RA) would have put an end to this in his Khilafat. However, in the Khilafat of Sayyidina Ali (RA) , he too would read 20 Rakats Taraweeh prayer in Kufa. In the month of Ramadhan, Sayyidina Ali (RA) would state: ‘May Allah enlighten the grave of Sayyidina Umar (RA) , just as He (Umar ) has enlightened our Masajids for us.’ (Due to the fact of establishing the 20 Rakats Taraweeh for the Ummah). (Minhaaj ul Sunnah vol 2, p224)
Those Ghair Muqalideen who accuse Umar for introducing the innovation of 20 Rakats Taraweeh in his Khilafat, ask yourselves this, are you not treading the same path with your words as the Rawafid (Shia) in the time of Ibn Taymiyyah (RA)?
This practise of 20 Rakats continued throughout the Khilafat of Sayyidina Uthman (RA) and Sayyidina Ali (RA) & remained unaltered in the entire world until today. Alham-du-lil-lah, this is practised still today in the holiest Masajid i.e. Masjid Haram Makkah, Masjid Nabwi and Masjid al-Aqsa.
Sayyidina Abdullah Ibn Masood (RA), who is one of the most senior Sahabah in terms of knowledge and Taqwa, gave this advice to the Ummah in respect of the status of the Sahabah , upon which we should reflect wholeheartedly: ‘Sayyidina Ibn Masood (RA) stated: if you wish to follow the way of anyone, then follow the path of the Sahabah . These Sahabah had pure hearts, depth of knowledge, were devoid of show and pomp, had simplicity and were the best people of this Ummah. Allah preferred this great group of the Sahabah for the company of his most beloved Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam)and used them to establish his Deen. For this reason, their greatness should be recognised and their path followed, as truly they were those who were upon the rightly guided straight path.’ (Mishkaat Masabih, p32)
Asad bin Amr (RA) related from Qazi Imam Abu Yusuf (RA)‘I asked Imam Abu Hanifa (RA) about the matter of Taraweeh and what Sayyidina Umar had done in this respect. Imam Ahle Sunnah Wal Jamat Abu Hanifa (RA) replied: ‘20 Rakats of Taraweeh is Sunnah Muakkadah. Sayyidina Umar (RA) did not establish this from his own accord, nor was he one to create innovations in the Deen. Rather, he was the greatest in his hatred of innovation. The order that he gave for the 20 Rakats of Taraweeh, verily; there would have been an order of the Prophet in this respect.’ (Marakeeyul Farah Ma’a Hashiya p334)
Imam Ahle Sunnah Wal Jamat Ahmed bin Hanbal (RA) stated: ‘It has reached me that Sayyidina Umar bin Khattab (RA) would read 20 Rakats of Taraweeh.’ (Al Mughni vol 2, p168/ Baihaqi vol 1, p296/ Muwatta Imam Malik p40)
The Incorrect Evidence Provided by the Ghair Muqalideen for Establishing of 8 Rakats as Taraweeh:
Sayyidina Abdullah Ibn Abbas (RA) related: ‘The Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) took rest after Isha (in the house of Mamunah ) when half of the night had passed the Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) woke up from his sleep and rubbed his eyes with his hands and recited the last 10 verses of Surah Ale Imran. The Prophet then performed ablution and prayed 12 Rakats of the night prayer (Qiyam ul Layl Tahajjud) in two Rakat segments… (Sahih Bukhari #184, Sunan Ibn Majah #594)
There is different Sahih Ahadith that can be found supporting the number of Rakats performed by Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) during the night prayers (Qiyam ul Layl Tahajjud) i.e. 4, 6, 8 or even sometimes 12 Rakats can be found in the narrations.
Usually the narration of Aisha (RA) is used to support the view that Taraweeh of 8 Rakats is sufficient. Abu Salma (RA) related that he asked of Sayyidah Aisha : ‘How was the prayer of the Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) in Ramadhan?’ She replied: ‘The Prophet would not pray more than 11 Rakats in Ramadhan or outside of it.’ (Sahih Bukhari vol 1, p154)
In this narration, the words clearly state that the prayer of the Prophet throughout the whole year (in and outside of Ramadhan) would be no more than 11 Rakats. Therefore, this Hadith indicates the Prophet’s (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) practice in respect of Tahajjud, as Taraweeh is connected only to the nights of Ramadhan. Is Taraweeh read after Isha in the other months of the year apart from Ramadhan?
It is recorded in the Sahih Hadith that in the time of Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam), He only prayed as Imam 3 nights in Ramadhan with the congregation of the Companions . On the three nights when The Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) performed Taraweeh Salaah in congregation, He performed Tahajjud Salaah alone on one of those nights. Anas (RA) related that the Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) ‘In (one night of) Ramadhan was praying (Taraweeh) Salaah. A number of us including myself joined the Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) in Salaah forming one Jamaat. Afterwards the Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) upon completing the Salaah went to his room and performed that Salaah (Qiyam ul Layl Tahajjud) alone which He did not perform with us. (Sahih Muslim vol 1, p352)
The Prophet would (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) pray Tahajjud (Qiyam ul Layl) the whole year round, but never was there the same congregation as was found in the 3 days of Ramadhan (as mentioned above). Nor did the Khulafa Rashideen gather and perform their own congregation. The Prophet never led the congregation of the Companions in Tahajjud (Qiyam ul Layl). (Fatawa Rahimiyah vol 1, p331)
Why is the idea of Qiyam ul Layl Tahajjud in congregation in the Masjid than enforced as though it is a compulsory prayer. There are also posters put up to attract people to take part in this, reflect upon your own actions before implicating the Sahabah !
If the above narration is not regarding the Tahajjud prayer, then the Sahih narration of Ibn Hajar Asqalani (RA) mentioned above where the Prophet prayed 20 Rakats congregation on two consecutive nights in Ramadhan is conflicting to this narration of Aisha (RA) mentioning 11 Rakats in and outside of Ramadhan. Also, the narration of Aisha (RA) found in Bukhari has not mentioned a congregation of prayer. Where is the proof then for praying 8 Rakats Taraweeh with congregation in Ramadhan?
The establishment of 20 Rakats Taraweeh with congregation started upon the order of Umar and it was Umar (RA) also who established this 20 Rakats Taraweeh in the whole month.
On one side, the Ghair Muqalideen by implicating Sayyidina Umar , leave the prayer composing of 20 Rakats.Yet, they pray 8 Rakats for the entire month. Both their actions are without reason or proof as the Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) only prayed 20 Rakats in 3 nights with congregation and He never prayed Tahajjud (8 Rakats) in congregation.
The Ulama of Salaf-us-Saliheen (RA) have left the Ummah rules/regulations on how best to interpret Ahadith:
“If in any narration the message is not completely understood or there are a number of conflicting opinions regarding the same topic it is essential to refer to the practices and recommendations of the Sahabah , especially the actions of the Khulafa Rashideen – ‘for you that is the true path’.” (Fathul Bari Sharah Bukhari vol 2, p269/ Abu Dawood vol 1, p263/ Tareekh Baghdad vol 2, p247/ Ahkamul Qur’an vol 1, p17)
The supporting proof from the Scholars of the Ummah that the Narration of Aisha (RA) is in respect of Tahajjud prayer
Allamah Abu Bakr ibn Arabi (RA) writes: ‘the 11 Rakats (8 Rakats Nafl, 3 Witr) narration related by Aisha (RA) refers to the Qiyam ul Layl (Tahajjud) of the Prophet .’ (Aridatul Ah’wadhi Shara Tirmidhi vol 4, p19)
Ibn Hajar Al Asqalani (RA) also refers to this narration as referring to the Tahajjud (8 Rakats) with Witr (3 Rakats). (Fathul Bari Sharah Bukhari vol 3, p328)
Qazi Ayadh Maliki (RA) has taken all of Aisha (RA) narrations as referring to the Tahajjud prayer of the Prophet (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) , which He would perform in Her house. (Sharah Muslim Nawawi vol 1, p253)
Qazi Mohammad Shawqani (RA) who himself was a Ghair Muqalid Aalim writes: ‘The narration of Aisha (RA) in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim referring to the 11 Rakats in and outside of Ramadhan is in respect of Tahajjud Qiyam ul Layl. (Naylul Awtar vol 3, p39)
Shah Abdul Aziz Muhaddith Dehlawi (RA) states: ‘the narration of Aisha (RA) is in regards to Tahajjud which whether it was Ramadhan or not the Prophet would always perform. (Fatawa Azizia p125)
Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Dehlawi (RA) writes: ‘The 20 Rakats of Taraweeh is an ‘established continuous Sunnah’ (Sunnat Qai’mah Mutawatira) which has been practiced in its current form since the time of the 1st generation of Muslims (Salaf-us-Saliheen (RA) in a united manner. Specifically, for the view of the 4 Imams to agree upon a matter is one of the greatest proofs of it being an established Sunnah.’ (Hujatulahil Baligha vol 1, p412-3)
Verily 20 Rakats Taraweeh is Sunnah Muakkadah (an emphasized Sunnah) on both men and women. (Ad-Durrul Mukhtar. vol 1 p.520)
After all these narrations and sayings, an appeal is made to the Ghair Muqalideen to act upon the sayings and way shown by the Sahabah and do not destroy your Akhirah by following another way. The actions of the Sahabah are the actions of Rasulullah .
There are others, who without having the mind-set of the Ghair Muqalideen, through laziness or are easily influenced read 8 Rakats of Taraweeh and leave. Why is this the case that due to laziness 20 Rakat Taraweeh is neglected? Performing less than 20 Rakaat Taraweeh is a sin. These people are deprived of a very great worship of Ramadhan (not only in relation to Salah but also in the context of listening to Qur’an as established Sunnah) and lose out on the immense bounties and rewards to be presented on the Day of Qiyamah.
Mufti Muhammad Yusuf bin Yaqoob Danka
Evidence of Taraweeh being more then 8 Rakaat & Evaluation of Shaykh Al-Albani’s position:
By Shaykh Ayman Bin Khaled http://www.ahlalhdeeth.com/vbe/showpost.php?s=64457705628791cba36b897942875788&p=10717&postcount=1
This topic has been stretched more than it is needed so I will, Inshallah write now a proper response to clarify this confusion resulting from Shaikh Al-Albani ( may Allah forgive him) book ” Salatu al-taraweeh “.
You aught to know my beloved brother and my respectable sister – May Allah have His Mercy on you- that:
Imam Ibn al-Qaiym ( Rahimu Allah ) said in Zaad Al-Ma’aad: ” anticipate then conclude and believe”. therefore concluding then reading will make you fall into the trap of explaining everything you read in the context of what you have already concluded. So think and be careful. Ibrahim Al-Taimi said: ” If you follow every scholar mistake then you are ruined, so be careful.
Before I start, I want to clarify the following points:
1. Shaikh Al-Albani (Rahimu Allah) had his own Ijtehad on this matter YET he was mistaken.
2. This mistake does not underestimate his rank as a Shaikh and he will always have the respect in our hearts as a one revived the Sunnah.
3. Shaikh Al-Albani (Rahimu Allah) opinion about Night prayer is odd and opposes what the whole Ummah agreed on in general and scholars who are more knowledgeable than him in the field of Hadeeth and Fiqh like Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik, Imam Shafi’e, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, Ibn Taymmya, Ibn Al-Qaiym, Al-Shawkani, Ibn hajar, Al-Nawawi and many others ( rahimahum Allah).
I will list the main argument of Shaikh Al-Albani (Rahimu Allah) then reply to it then follow it with supportive Hadeeths:
1. The main core argument on which Shaikh Al-Albani (Rahimu Allah) based that Taraweeh or Night prayer must not exceed 13 Raka’a is because:
a. He argues: It is a night prayer that always been performed by the Prophet (Sallah Allahu Alihi Wa Sallam) therefore it became a regular Sunnah.
b. This regular Sunnah was prayed not more than 13 Raka’a therefore it takes as similar rulings to Sunan Rawatib ( Sunan before and after Fard Prayers) which are prayed in specific Numbers that no one can exceed.
This argument is refuted by the fact that such prayer is not linked to any prayer. So, it is separate prayer that performed at specific time i.e. night. In addition, the Shaikh argument is too weak because:
A. The Hadeeths in which the Prophet ( Salla Allahu Alihi Wa Sallam) encouraging night prayer always mentioned night prayer virtue in general without mentioning a set of Number.
B. The Hadeeths in which the prophet (Salla Allahu Alihi Wa Sallam) replying to inquiries about Night prayer is left either unlimited ( as soon will be proven) or left it to the choice of the person ( as soon will be proven).
Based on the above, If Night prayers has a specific set of Numbers as the Shaikh argued then the Prophet would not advise us to pray as much as we want at night.
That’s said, we realize that we are surrounded by three facts concluded from authentic Hadeeths:
1) Actions of the Prophet: praying 11 or 13
2. Advices said by the Prophet about the virtue of Night prayer
3) Advices given by the Prophet to pray as much as we wish.
Pouring the above into one argument will make us realize that: Night prayer set of Number is open matter since the Prophet himself said pray as much as you wish. So, saying No, we are obligated to pray only 13 or any other specific number is an obvious contradiction to what the Prophet (Salla allahu Alihi wa sallam) said.
Hadeeths that support the above argument:
1. Abdullah Bin Umar (Radi Allahu Anhu) related: A man asked the Prophet (Sallah Allahu Alihi Wa Sallam) about Night Prayers. He replied: ” Night prayer are two by two, and when you are afraid that dawn is approaching then pray one Raka’a to make what you have prayed odd” [ Malik’s Muwatta: Hadeeth 267]
This hadeeth proves the generality of night prayer as a prayer with no limitation because at the time the Prophet ( Sallah Alahu Alihi Wa Sallam) was asked he had not mention numbers at all. It is established in Usool that delaying a needed information or clarification at time of inquiry is not accepted. So, if the number is needed then it would be mentioned especially noting that the question the man asked is general so he was asking about all information he can get about Night prayer.
If it argued that he has not asked about the number and the question seemed to be in regards the description, then we reply saying: If this is true then the prophet would not have mentioned the Witr issue and only answered how the night prayer should be prayed. In addition, it is noted that it is the Manhaj of the Prophet (Salla Allahu Alihi wa sallam) to answer with additional information if it is needed or considered beneficial. Therefore, if the number was needed he would have mentioned it. that is why we find him mentioning the Witr prayer only as additional information although the man did not ask about it.
2. A’mro Bin A’bsa reported: I asked the Prophet: what is the best time of the night? He [ the prophet- replied: ” the last part of the night. PRAY AS MUCH AS YOU WISH because Salah at that time is witnessed and written ( by angles) and do so until you pray Subh ( Fajir)….” [ Sahih Ibn Khuzaima: 260 and Mustadrak: 584]
This Hadeeth is too obvious to be explained and is clearly proves that the Prophet NEVER wished to limit night prayer to the set of numbers of raka’aat he prays. Thus, he said it clearly: Pray as much as you wish. So, limiting night prayer to 11 or 13 is an obvious contradiction to the conformed Sunnah.
Hadeeths that Prove that the Prophet ( Salla Allahu Alihi Wa Sallam) prayed more than what Aisha ( radi Allahu Anha) reported:
Ibn Abbas reported: “Once I passed the night in the house of my aunt Maimuna ( radi Allahu A’nha). Allah’s Messenger ( Salla Allahu Alihi Wa sallam) offered the I’shaa prayer and then came to the house and offered Four Raka’aat and slept. Later on, he woke up and stood for the prayer and I stood on his left side. He drew me to his right side and prayed [ two by two until he prayed Eight Raka’aat] then he prayed Five raka’aat and then Two raka’aat. He then slept till I heard his breath sound. Afterwards, he went out for Fajir Prayer. [ Sahih Bukhari: 117] [ what between the brackets is documented in Sunan Abi dawd: 1358].
The above authentic Hadeeth proves that the Prophet prayed 17 Raka’at as night prayer, which is backed up by the statement of Al-Hafith Al-Munthiri who said: ” it is reported that most of what the Prophet (Salla Allahu Alihi Wa Sallam) offered as night prayer is Seventeen rakaat” [ Al-Talkhees: 2/14].
Yet, this Number seems to be more based on the following hadeeths. There is an addition, which is mentioned in Fathu Al-Bari that Ibn Abbas said: ” He prayed Isha’aa prayer then offered Four Rakaat until everyone left the Masjid then he left” [ Al-Fath: 2/484].
Based on the above, the total Number of what the Prophet prayed is:
4 after Ishaa at the masjid + 4 at Maimuna house + 8 after he woke up from sleep + 5 after the 8 raka’aat + 2 rakaat. = 21 Rakaat of night prayer.
It might be argued that these Raka’aat includes: 2 Rakaat of Sunnah before Fajir and two Rakaat of Sunnah after Ishaaa!!
To assume the correctness of such argument, hypothetically, that would decresae the nighht prayer set of Rak’aat Number to 17 which still refute the argument of the shaikh ( ghafara Allahu Lah). In spite of this, the last two Rakaat offered after Witr is not the Sunnah before Fajir which is based on an authentic Hadeeth that shaikh Al-Albani himseld acknowledged.
Narrated by Anas Bin Malik: Once, the Prophet (Salla Allahu Alihi Wa Sallam) was offering night prayer – during Ramdan- at his Hujra. So some companions joined him and started praying with him. As a result, the prophet (sallah Allahu Alihi Üa Sallam) shortened the length of the Salah then entered his house and prayed long Salah then he came out and led his companion in a Salah but short one. Then he entered his house again and prayed long salah Then he went out and prayed with his companion short one then he went back to his house and prayed long salah. He kept doing so many times until fajir came they asked him: we came and you did such and such. He replied: I did so for you” [ Musnad Ahmad: 13236]
This is a Saheeh hadeeth that its Isnaad is on the condition of Imam Muslim ( Rahmahu Allah) as Shuab al-Ranouti commented.
Observe the words of this hadeeth:
1. First prayed with his companions short ones
2. Prayed alone at his house long ones
3. came out and prayed with his companions again short ones
4. Entered His house and prayed long ones
5. Did the above many times
If we to assume he prayed 2 rakaa at each time then that would result: 8 Rak’aat.
Then Anas bin Malik ( radi allahu A’nh) said: He did that many times so if we to assume the minimum then let’s say he did it 3 times then that would make 8+8+8= 24 Rakaa’t.
On other point, it shows how the Salah of the Prophet differed from how he prayed it while he is alone and how he prayed it when he is leading others.
Supportive Evidences prove praying more than 13 by Salaf:
Yahya bin Sa’ed reported: “Umar bin l-Khattab ordered a man to lead ( Taraweeh) with 20 rakaa. [Sunan Al-Bayaqi]
Abdulaziz bin rafie reported: ” Ubai Bin Ka’b used to lead people at taraweeh with 20 Raka’a then pray 3 raka’a as witr” [Sunan Al-Bayhaqi]
The above are authentic Mursal athaar that supports that praying 20 existed at time of Umar bin alkhattab. In addition, there are more supportive evidences:
Nafi’ Bin Umar reported: “Ibn Abi malika used to pray with us 20 Raka’a at time he leads us during Ramadn. [Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaiba]
A’taa reported: “I witnessed people praying 23 Rakaa including witr” [ Musanaf Ibn Abi shaiba]
Abu Al-Khusaib reported: ” Swaid bin Ghaflah used to lead us during Ramadn. He would pray 5 Taraweeh; 20 Rakaa’a in total. [ Sunan Aal-Bayhaqi]
Description of the Prophet (Sallah Allahu Alihi Wa Sallam) at Night prayer:
It was mostly performed between 11-13 Rakaa and they are too lengthy ones.
The Sunnah here is not just the number but most important is the lentgh of the Salah which is , as proven, are too long more than normal that even the companions thought of as too difficult.
The lentgh of Salah is based from a directive Quranic Aya that advises the Prophet to offer prayers during most of the night. So, the concern here is about the length rather than the number of Raka’aat.
It has been proven that the Prophet prayed more than 11 which is the number Aisha (radi Allahu Anha) said that the Prophet never exceeded. as a matter of fact she is the one who reported that he prayed 13 Raka’aa as well. Scholars said: ” She narrated what she witnessed and others reported what they witnessed”.
In addition, we have clearly found that the Prophet has prayed more than 13 Rakaa as above authentic Hadeeths shows. in addition to all other supportive evidences we transmitted. I would have mentioned the scholars statements by it is enough to know that all our great scholars understood Night prayer as unlimited and this is the sound understanding of the Salaf and Khlalaf ( Rahimuhum Allah) like: Four Imams, Ibn Hajar, Alhaithami, alnawawi, Ibn taymyya, Ibn Al-Qaiym, Almunthiri, al-Iraqi, Al-Qadi Iy’aad, Ibn Abdul Bir, and many many others.
It is true that the most prayed by the Prophet (Sallah Allahu A’lih wa Sallam) was 11 – 13 but that was for a reason: the lengthy prayer he offers that almost ends by dawn time. Thus, advocating the Sunnah as numbers is wrong since the Sunnah is the description of it as well.
It is an open matter, whoever wished to pray 13 as most of the time the prophet prayed then he touched the Sunnah. And, whoever wish to pray more then he touched the Sunnah as well since he followed his advice when he said pray as much as you wish.
Thus, It is wise not to deny on others and if the companions, our preceded scholars have not disputed about it then would not be fair enough that we do the same and we claim to follow their steps.
Jazakom Allah kheir.
Written Today: 3rd of May 2008
By Ayman Bin Khaled
Authentic Athaar of Taraweeh being 20 Rakaat:
Q) What is narrated from ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) is that he ordered that Taraweeh prayer should be twenty rak’ahs. Is that saheeh or da’eef? Or is there no basis for it?
Praise be to Allaah.
The report that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab ordered that Taraweeh prayer should be twenty rak’ahs came from four of the Taabi’een. These are their reports:
1 – It was narrated that Saa’ib ibn Yazeed said: ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with him) gathered the people together in Ramadaan to be led by Ubayy ibn Ka’b and Tameem al-Daari in praying twenty-one rak’ahs, and they used to recite hundreds of verses, and they dispersed before dawn broke.
A number of narrators narrated it from al-Saa’ib, some of whom mentioned twenty rak’ahs or twenty-one or twenty-three. They were:
Muhammad ibn Yoosuf, the son of the sister of al-Saa’ib, from al-Saa’ib, as was narrated by ‘Abd al-Razzaaq in al-Musannaf (4/260) from the report of Dawood ibn Qays and others.
Yazeed ibn Khusayfah. This was narrated by Ibn al-Majd in al-Musnad (1/413), and via him by al-Bayhaqi in al-Sunan (2/496).
Al-Haarith ibn ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Abi Dhubaab. This was narrated by ‘Abd al-Razzaaq in al-Musannaf (4/261).
These reports are saheeh reports narrated by trustworthy narrators from al-Saa’ib ibn Yazeed. They mention twenty rak’ahs at the time of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with him). The extra amount mentioned – twenty-one or twenty-three, refers to Taraweeh plus Witr.
2 – It was narrated that Yazeed ibn Rumaan said: At the time of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab the people used to pray twenty-three rak’ahs of qiyaam in Ramadaan.
This was narrated from him by Maalik in al-Muwatta’ (1/115). Al-Nawawi said in al-Majmoo’ (4/33: It is mursal, because Yazeed ibn Rumaan did not live at the same time as ‘Umar. End quote.
3 – It was narrated from Yahya ibn Sa’eed al-Qattaan that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with him) ordered a man to lead them in twenty rak’ahs of prayer. This was narrated by Ibn Abi Shaybah in al-Musannaaf (2/163) from Wakee’ from Maalik. But Yahya ibn Sa’eed did not live at the same time as ‘Umar.
4 – It was narrated that ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Rafee’ said: Ubayy ibn Ka’b used to lead the people in praying twenty rak’ahs during Ramadaan in Madeenah, and he would pray Witr with three rak’ahs.
This was narrated by Ibn Abi Shaybah in al-Musannaf (2/163).
From all these reports it is clear that twenty rak’ahs was the way that Taraweeh was usually done at the time of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with him). A matter such as Taraweeh prayer is something that is well known among all people, and is transmitted from one generation to another. The report of Yazeed ibn Rumaan and Yahya al-Qattaan is to be taken into account even if they did not live at the same time as ‘Umar, because undoubtedly they learned it from a number of people who had been alive at the time of ‘Umar, and this is something that does not need and isnaad, rather all the people of Madeenah are its isnaad.
Imam al-Tirmidhi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in his Sunan (3/169):
Most of the scholars are of the view that what is narrated from ‘Umar, ‘Ali and other companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is twenty rak’ahs. This is the view of al-Thawri, Ibn al-Mubaarak and al-Shaafa’i.
Al-Shaafa’i said: This is what I learned in our land, in Makkah they pray twenty rak’ahs.
Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr said in al-Istidhkaar (2/69):
Twenty rak’ahs was narrated from ‘Ali, Shateer ibn Shakl, Ibn Abi Mulaykah, al-Haarith al-Hamadaani and Abu’l-Bakhtari. It is the view of the majority of scholars and it is the view of the Kufis, the Shaafa’is and most of the fuqaha’. It was narrated in saheeh reports from Ubayy ibn Ka’b, and there was no difference of opinion among the Sahaabah. ‘Ata’ said: I grew up at a time when the people prayed twenty-three rak’ahs including Witr.
See that in Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah (2/163).
Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (23/112):
It is proven that Ubayy ibn Ka’b used to lead the people in praying twenty rak’ahs in qiyaam in Ramadaan, and he used to pray Witr with three rak’ahs. Many scholars think that this is the Sunnah, because he established that among the Muhaajireen and Ansaar and no one objected to that. Others regarded it as mustahabb to pray thirty-nine rak’ahs, based on the fact that this was the practice of the people of Madeenah in the past. End quote.
With regard to what it says in the report of Imam Maalik, Yahya al-Qattaan and others from Muhammad ibn Yoosuf from al-Saa’ib ibn Yazeed in al-Muwatta’ (1/115) and in Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah (2/162) “eleven rak’ahs” – this is to be understood as referring to what was done at first, then it was reduced after that, then ‘Umar increased the number to twenty to make the recitation in qiyaam easier for the people.
Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr said in al-Istidhkaar (2/68):
It may be understood as meaning that at first qiyaam at the time of ‘Umar was eleven rak’ahs, then he reduced the length of qiyaam for them and made it twenty-one rak’ahs, to make the recitation lighter for them and so that they would bow and prostrate more. But it seems most likely to me that the report about eleven rak’ahs is a mistake. And Allaah knows best. End quote.
Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (23/113):
When Ubayy ibn Ka’b led them in praying qiyaam in a single congregation, he could not make them stand for too long, so he increased the number of rak’ahs to make up for the long standing. So they doubled the number of rak’ahs. He used to pray eleven or thirteen rak’ahs of qiyaam al-layl, then it seems that after that the people of Madeenah found it difficult to stand for so long during the recitation, so they increased the number of rak’ahs until it reached thirty-nine. End quote.
Night prayers are broad in scope, and there is no set number. Whoever wants to pray eleven rak’ahs may do so, and whoever wants to pray more or less than that may do so. The same applies to Taraweeh prayers in Ramadaan.
Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (23/113):
One group said that it is proven in al-Saheeh from ‘Aa’ishah that the Prophet did not pray more than thirteen rak’ahs in Ramadaan or at any other time, and some people were uncertain about this report, because they thought that it contradicted the saheeh hadeeth and because of the practice of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs and the actions of the Muslims.
But the correct view is that all of that is good, as was stated by Imam Ahmad (may Allaah have mercy on him). There is no set number of rak’ahs for qiyaam during Ramadaan, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not set a number. End quote.
Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (11/322):
It is proven that ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) told the one whom he appointed among the Sahaabah to pray eleven rak’ahs, and it is proven that they prayed twenty-three rak’ahs based on his command. This indicates that the matter is broad in scope and that the matter was flexible according to the Sahaabah. That is also indicated by the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “The night prayers are two by two.” End quote.
See also the answer to question no. 9036 and 38021.
And Allaah knows best.
Taraweeh – An Academic Research
Definition of Taraweeh
Hafiz Ibn Hajar (R.A.) (died 852 a.h.) says in Fathul Baari – commentary of Bukhari:
“Taraweeh is the plural of tarwehah which means one occasion of rest similar to the word ’tasleemah’ from ’salaamah.’ Salaah in Jama’ah (congregation) in the nights of Ramadhaan is called taraweeh, because initially when they gathered upon it they needed to rest between every 2 sets of slaam (i.e. between every 4 rakaats) [Fathul Baari vol.4 pg.294].
Allamah qastalani (R.A.) in his commentary in bukhari “Irshaadus Saaree” mentions the very same definition as above (Irshaadus Saree vol.4 pg.575).
Proof of Taraweeh being Sunnat:
Allamah Zafar Ahmed Usmani (R.A.) mentions in Ia’laaus Sunnan (vol.7 pg.67) that Imaam Nasai (R.A.) has brought this Hadith with a sanad (chain of narrators) which is on the category of Hasan (literally translated as ’good.’
Allamah Usmani further elucidates Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s words: “And I have made it (standing in prayer) sunnat for you” indicates to the fact that standing in prayer in Ramadhaan is Sunnat and what is intended by Qiyaame Ramadhaan or standing in prayer in Ramadhaan is Taraweeh according to Ijmaa (consencus of opinion) as Allamah Kirmaani (R.A.) has mentioned. With this it is established that the origin of standing in Ramadhaan is the Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) not the Sunnah of Umar (R.A.) as some claim (Ia’laus Sunan vol.7 pg.76,77).
Allamah Ahmad Shaakir (R.A.) in his work on the Musnad of Imaam Ahmad bin Hambal (R.A.) has mentioned that the Sanad of the above Hadith is Sahih (for his research on this Hadith check Al Musnad Limaam Ahmad Bin Muhammad Bin Hambal – printed by Darul Hadith Al Qaahira First print 1995, vol.2 pg.306 Hadith no.1660).
Taraweeh in the era of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)
It is reported from Aisha (R.A.) that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) performed salaah one night in the Musjid. A group of people (sahaaba) followed him in his salaah. Thereafter Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) performed salaah the following night and the number of people increased. Thereafter they gathered in the third or fourth night but Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) did not go out to them. When Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) went out in the morning he said: “I had seen what you had done. The only thing that prevented me from coming out to you was that I feared that it (the salaah at night in Ramadhaan) would be made compulsory upon you. This was in Ramadhaan (Bukhari vol.1, pg.152).
The above Hadith clearly indicates that Taraweeh Salaah with Jama’ah in the month of Ramadhaan is originally the Sunnat of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and the only reason that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) curtailed this practice was due to the fear that it might be made compulsory (fard) upon the Ummah.
Taraweeh after the demise of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)
It is reported from Abu Hurairah that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Whosoever stands up (in salaah) in Ramadhaan with faith and hoping for reward, all his previous sins would be forgiven.” Ibne Shihaab (R.A.) said: “Thereafter Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) passed away and the matter was like that (this means that everyone would stand up in Ramadhaan in the mentioned period whichever way he wished until Umar (R.A.) gathered them – as explained by Allamah Kirmaani (R.A.) in his commentary). Thereafter the matter was like that in the Khilafat of Abu Bakar (R.A.) and the initial stages of the Khilafat of Umar (R.A.). It is reported from Ibn Shihaab who reports from Urwah bin Zubair (R.A.) who reports from Abdur Rahman ibn Abdul Qaari that he said: “I came out with Uman bin Khattab (R.A.) one night in Ramadhaan to the Musjid. The scene that met us was that the people were in different groups. One person performed Salaah on his own. One person performed Salaah and a small group followed him. Umar (R.A.) then said: “Verily I feel that if I gather these people behind one Qaari it would be best. Thereafter he (Umar R.A.) made up his mind and gathered them behind Ubay bin Ka’b (R.A.). Then on another night I went out with him (Umar R.A.) and the people were performing Salaah behind their Qaari. Umar (R.A.) said: “What an excellent innovation this is. And the one (salaah) they sleep upon (i.e. they sleep after performing it as explained by Allamah Kirmaani (R.A.) in his commentary on Bukhari vol.9 pg.154) is more virtuous then the one they stand up for.” He meant (the prayer) in the last part of the night. And the people used to stand up in the early part of the night.
From the above we learn that in the era of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), the Khilafat of Abu Bakar (R.A.) and the initial stages of the Khilafat of Umar (R.A.) the general method of performing Taraweeh was to perform it in small groups or individually. Hazrath Umar was the one to perform it in small groups or individually. Hazrath Umar (R.A.) was the one who initiated the pratice of gathering everyone behind one Imaam.
Why did Umar (R.A.) call this method of performing Taraweeh bid’ah (innovation)?
Allamah Aini (R.A.) explains in umdatul Qaree vol.11 pg.126 – “He (Umar R.A.) only called it bid’ah because Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) did not prescribe this method for them, nor was it existent in the era of Abu Bakar (R.A.). He (Umar R.A.) encouraged this method by saying Na’am (how excellent/wonderful) to indicate upon its virtue and so that this title (of being bid’ah) does not prevent from practicing upon it.”
Allamah Kirmaani (R.A.) in his commentary on Bukhari vol.9 pg.154 explains the word bid’ah as “everything which is done without any prior example and it is of 5 types:
Waajib – compulsory
As for the Hadith “every bid’ah is misguidance” it falls under the law of Al-Aamul Maksoosah i.e. those general texts which have some exceptions.
Allamah Kirmaani (R.A.) thereafter quotes Allamah Khattabi (R.A.): “He (Umar R.A.) only called it bid’ah because Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) did not prescribe it and nor was it (existent) in the era of Abu Bakr (R.A.). He (Umar R.A.) encouraged it (taraweeh behind one Imaam) by him saying Ni’ma (how wonderful) to indicate upon its virtue and so that this term (bid’ah) does not prevent from practicing upon it. And the standing of Ramadhaan is in actual fact Sunnat, not bid’at because of the following saying of Nabi (sallallahu alaihi wasallam): “Follow those two after me. Abu Bakr and Umar (R.A.).
From the above we learn that Umar (R.A.) after introducing the taraweeh behind one Imaam, termed it as bid’ah, because that was not the standard practice in the era of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and Umar (R.A.). However the sinful writer of these words would like to point out that Rasulullah did in fact perform the taraweeh salaah in Jama’ah, but only curtailed this practice due to the fear that it might be made compulsory (fard) on the Ummah and this would put them into difficulty. In the era of Umar (R.A.) this fear remained no more, therefore following the original practice of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), Umar (R.A.) re-introduced taraweeh salaah in Jama’ah behind one Imaam. Hence this act of Hazrath Umar (R.A.) is based on the Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam).
Following the Sunnah of the Khulafah-e-Raashideen is in accordance to the command of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). Imaam Tirmizi (R.A.) narrates the following Hadith in Tirmizi Shareef in the section Abwaabul Ilm (chapters of knowledge) under the chapter – Chapter on holding firmly onto the Sunnah and Abstaining from Bid’ah.
Irbaad bin Saariya (R.A.) narrates: “Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) preached to us one day after Fajar with utmost eloquence which caused the eyes to tear and the hearts to tremble. A man then said: “Definitely this is the advoce of a person bidding farewell, hence what do you emphatically command us with O Messenger of Allah? He (Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “I emphatically command you with the fear of Allah and the listening and obedience even (if your leader be) an Abyssinian slave. Verily who lives from amongst you will observe such dissension. Save yourself from newly invented matters because it is definitely misguidance. Whosoever reaches that era from amongst you then my Sunnah and Sunnah of the rightly guided Khulafa is mandatory upon him. Bite upon it (the Sunnah) with the molars (i.e. stick dogeddly to it or cling stubbornly to it) Tirmizi vol.2 pg.92),
Imaam Tirmizi (R.A.) narrates this Hadith and commented: “This Hadith is Hasan and Sahih.” Both words indicating the authenticity of Tuhfatul Ahwazee (commentary of Tirmizi) states about this Hadith: “Imaam Ahmad (R.A.), Abu Dawood (R.A.) and Ibne Majah (R.A.) have reported it (this Hadith) and Abu Dawood (R.A.) maintained silence about it. Allamah Munziri (R.A.) transmitted the authentication of Imaam Tirmizi (R.A.) and confirmed it (Tuhfatul Ahwazee vol.7 pg.368).
Hafiz Ibne Hajar (R.A.) examining this Hadith mentions: “Imaam Ahmad (R.A.), Abu Dawod (R.A.), Tirmizi (R.A.), Ibne Majah (R.A.), Ibne Hibbaan (R.A.) and Haakim (R.A.) report it from Irbaad bin Saariya. Allamah Bazzaar (R.A.) said: “Its sanad is more Sahih than the Hadith of Huzaifah (R.A.).” Allamah ibne Abdul Barr (R.A.) said: “It is as he (Bazzaar R.A.) has said: “Haakim (R.A.) has brought it (the Hadith) in his “Mustadrak” in the chapter of Ilm and he said: “In confirming this Hadith to be Sahih, I have done some thorough examination (Talkheesul Habeer vol.2 pg. 190).
Muhammad Nasiruddeen Al-Albaani has mentioned this Hadith in his work in Sunan Ibne Majah entitled: “Sahih Sunan Ibne Majah.” He brought the Hadith with three different chains of narrators from Irbaad bin Saariya (R.A.) and has regarded all to be Sahih.
We conclude that after all these authorities have proved this Hadith to be authentic, to follow the Sunnah of the rightly guided Khulafa is definitely in accordance to the Sunah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam).
Proofs to show that Taraweeh was 20 rakaats in the era of Umar (R.A.) It is reported by Yazeed ibne Khusayfah from Saaib ibne Yazeed (R.A.) that he said: “They used to stand in the era of Umar (R.A.) with 20 rakaats in the month of ramadhaan (As Sunanul Kubraa – Imaam al Bayhaqi vol.2 pg.496). Ibne Iraaqi has mentioned that the sanad of the above Hadith is Sahih (Irshaadus Saari Allamah Qastalaani vol.4 pg.578).
Moulana Habiur Rahmaan Azmi (R.A.) writes in his book Raka’aate Taraweeh: “Imaam Nawawi (R.A.), Imaam Iraaqi and Allamah Suyooti (R.A.) have regarded the above narration to be Sahih (Tuhfatul Akhyaar pg.196, Irshaadus Saari and Masaabeeh – Suyooti (R.A.) pg.42)
The complete sanad of the above narration is as follows: Imaam Bayhaqi (R.A.) says Abu Abdullah Al-Hussain ibn Muhammad ibnul Hussain ibn Finjayah informed us that Ahmad bin Muhammad ibne Ishaaq As-Sunni reported to us that Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn Abdul Aziz Al-Baqhawi informed us that Ali ibnul Ja’d reported to us that Ibne Abi Zi’b informed us from Yazeed ibne Khusayfah who reports from Saaib ibn Yazeed. In this Sanad we find that the student of Yazeed ibne Khusayfah who reports from him is ibne Ali Zi’b. Imaam Bayhaqi (R.A.) has mentioned a similar narration in his kitaab Ma’ariftul Aathaar Was Sunan vol.2 pg.305). This narration is also reported by Yazeed ibn Khusayfah from Saaib ibne Yazeed. The only difference being that the student who reports from Yazeed is Muhammad ibne Ja’far and not Ibne Ali Zi’b. The narration reads as follows: “It is reported from Saaib ibn Yazeed (R.A.) that he said: “We used to stand in the era of Umar (R.A.) with 20 rakaats and witr.”
The above narration which has been narrated by Imaam Bayhaqi (R.A.) in his kitaab Marifatus Sunan Wal Aathaar has been regarded as Sahih by Allamah Subkhi (R.A.) in Sharhul Minhaaj as well as Mulla Ali Qari (R.A.) in Sharhul Mu’atta (Taleequl Hassan pg.252).
Imaam Maalik (R.A.) reported from Yazeed ibne Roomaan (R.A.): “The people used to stand in the era of Umar (R.A.) with 23 rakaats in the month of Ramadhaan (Mu’atta Imaam Malik pg.92). The above narration is also found in Sunane Kubra of Imaam Bayhaqi (R.A.) vol.2 pg.496 as well as in Qiyamul Layl by Sheikh Muhammad ibn Nasr Al-Murwazi pg.94.
Hazrath Moulana Habibur Rahman Azmi (R.A.) writes in his kitaab Raka’aate Tarwaweeh: “The objection against this narration is that Yazeed ibne Roomaan did not live i the era of Umar (R.A.) therefore the sanad is munqati i.e. a narrator is missing. The answer to this objection is that this is transmitted in the Mu’atta of Imaam Maalik (R.A.) and Hazrath Shah Waliullah Dehlawi (R.A.) has mentioned in Hujjatullahul Baaligah vol.1 pg.106:
“Imaam Shaafi (R.A.) said: “The most authentic book after the book of Allah is the Mu’atta of Maalik (R.A.). The scholars of Hadith are unanimous that whatever is contained therein is Sahih according to the opinion of Imaam Maalik (R.A.) and those who agreed with him. According to others there is no Mursal (a Ta’biee narrates from Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) directly) nor any Munqati (a narrator is missing) except that its sanad is Muttasal (linked without any break) to him (Imaam Maalik R.A.) from another chain of narrators. In the era of Imaam Maalik (R.A.) many (other) Mu’atta’s were written in order to extract (the authenticity) of its (i.e. Mu’atta Imaam Maalik’s) Ahadith and to establish that its Munqati are Muttasal eg. The books of Ibne Ali Zi’b, Ibne Uyayna and Ma’mar.
The second answer is that there is a difference of opinion on the acceptance and non-acceptance of a Mursal. According to Imaam Maalik and Imaam Abu Hanifa (R.A.) it is accepted Mutlaqan. Khateeb Baghdaadi (R.A.) writes in Kifaayah pg.384 “Some say that Mursal is acceptable and practicing upon it is waajib when the one making Irsaal is trustworthy and extremely just. This is the verdict of Imaam Maalik (R.A.) and the scholars of Madina and Imaam Abu Hanifa (R.A.) and the scholars if Iraq etc” (Kifayah pg384).
Therefore according to these seniors this narration being Mursal does not do any harm. Even though a Mursal is not acceptable according to Imaam Shafi (R.A.) he also explicitly states that when any Mursal is supported by another Mursal or Musnad and that Musnad or Mursal is supported by another mursal or Musnad and that is reported by a different chain of narrators then it is acceptable. Hafiz Ibne Hajar (R.A.) writes in Sharah Kubra – Imaam Shafi (R.A.) said: “It will be accepted when it is supported by it coming from another way which is distinguished from the first, be it Musnad or Mursal (Sharah Nukhba pg.51).
Sheikul Islam Zakaria Ansaari (R.A.) has generalised this also that should the supporting narration be weak (daeef) then too the Mursal will be acceptable (Haashia Sharah Nukhba).
Now that this has been settled in the mind, understand that although the narration of Yazeed bin Roomaan is Mursal, it is supported by many other Mursal which will soon be mentioned. Therefore it is unanimously accepted and is a proof. Leave alone the fact that our original proof is the narration of Saaib bin Yazeed (R.A.) and the narration of Yazeed bin Roomaan (R.A.) has been presented as support (pg.63,64,65, Raka’aate Taraweeh).
The following one more Mursal narration which support the narration of Yazeed bin Roomaan: Yahya bin Saeed reports that Umar (R.A.) commanded a man to perform 20 rakaats with them (Musannaf ibne Abi Shayba vol.2 pg. 165). The narrators of the above are all extremely realible. Let us see what Hafiz ibne Hajar writes about them:
1. Wakee Bin Jarrah – Trustworthy, Hafiz of Hadith, Aabid (targheebut Tahzeeb vol.2 pg.331).
Despite the above narration being Mursal because Yahya bin Saeed did not live in the era of Umar (R.A.) it poses no problem because it is only being used as a support for the narration of Yazeed bin Roomaan.
Abdul Aziz bin Rufay (R.A.) said: “Ubay bin Ka’b used to perform 20 rakaats and 3 witr with the people in Ramadhaan in Madina” (Musannaf ibne Abi Shayba pg.165 vol.2). Allamah Neemwi (R.A.) writes in Athaarus Sunan pg.253 that this narration is a strong Mursal narration.
Moulana Habibur Rahman Azmi (R.A.) writes in Raka’aate Taraweeh: “due to the fact that according to most opinionsm Ubay bin Ka’b passed away in the era of Umar (R.A.) therefore this narration is also linked to the era of Umar (R.A.).
These 2 Mursal narrations support the narration of Yazeed bin Roomaan and render it as suitable to be used as s proof for the claim that Taraweeh in the era of Umar (R.A.) was 20 rakaats. One should not lose sight of the fact that the original proof is the narration of Saaib bin Yazeed: “They used to stand in the era of Umar (R.A.) with 20 rakaats in the month of Ramadhaan.”
Now that 20 rakaats have been established from the era of Hazrath Umar (R.A.) by means of narrations, let us look into the books of fiqh of the different mazhabs written over the centuries regarding the number of rakaats of taraweeh.
In Sharhul Kabeer (a book of fiqh of the Hambali Mazhab) shamsuddeen ibne Qudaama (died 682 a.h.) writes in vol.1 pg.781: “Thereafter comes taraweeh and it is 20 rakaats. He will stand with it in Ramadhaan in Jamaat and thereafter perform witr in Jamaat.” On page 784 of the same kitaab he writes: “Its number is 20 rakaats and Sufyaan Thauri, Imaam Shafi and Imaam Abu Hanifa are of the same opinion.
Further Ibne Qudama writes: “Our proof is that when Umar (R.A.) gathered the people behind Ubay bin Ka’b he used to perform 20 rakaats with them. Saaib bin Yazeed has reported it. Imaam Maalik reports that Yazeed bin Roomaan said: “The people used to stand in the era of Umar (R.A.) in Ramadhaan with 23 rakaats. Abdur Rahman Sulami reports from Ali that he commanded a man to perform 20 rakaats with them. This i.e. 20 rakaats is like Ijmaa (Ash Sharhul Kabeer vol.1 pg.784).
Al-Uddah Sharah Umdah is another fiqhi kitaab of the Hambali mazhab. Therein Allamah Bahauddeen Al Maqdisi (died 624 a.h.) writes on page 88: “It (Taaweeh) is 20 rakaats after Esha in Ramadhaan.”
Allamah ibnur Raushd Al Kurtubi (died 595 a.h.) writes in the famous Maaliki book of fiqh Bidayatul Mujtahid vol.1 pg.306: “They i.e. the Ulama have difference of opinion regarding the preferred number of rakaats which the people should perform in Ramadhaan.
Imaam Maalik in one of his statements, Imaam Abu Hanifa, Imaam Shafi, Imaam Ahmad bin Hambal and Dawood (R.A.) are of the opinion of 20 rakaats excluding witr. Ibnul Qaasim has mentioned about Imaam Maalik that he preferred 36 rakaats and 3 witr. Imaam Nawawi the famous Shafi scholar and commentator on Sahih Muslim writes in his book on Fiqh: “Taraweeh is 20 rakaats with 10 salaams (Rawdatut Taalibeen vol.1 pg.437).
Imaam Shafi who passed away in 204 a.h. writes in his Kitaabul Umm: “I saw them performing 39 rakaats in Madina and most preferred to me is 20 rakaats because it is narrated from Umar (R.A.). They perform like this i.e. 20 rakaats and 3 witr in Makka (Kitabul Umm vol. 1 pg.142).
The Hanafi scholar Allamah Shamsuddeen As Saraksi (died 490 a.h.) writes in his kitaabul Mabsoot pg.144, vol.2: “It is 20 rakaats excluding the witr according to us.”
In the Hanafi book of Fiqh Badaaius Sanaai vol.2 pg.274 Allamah Khasaani (died 587 a.h.) writes: “As for its amount it is 20 rakaats with 10 salaams i.e. in batches of 2.”
In Al Hidaya the famous book on Fiqh Allamah Margheenani (died 592 a.h.) writes: Their Imaam will perform 5 tarweehas with them (a tarweeha refers to the rest after every 4 rakaats hence 5 tarweehas equals to 20 rakaats).
Imaam Tirmizi (died 279 a.h.) the famous author of the Hadith kitaab Jamiut Tirmizi writes therein: “Most of the Ahle-Ilm are of the opinion of what is narrated from Ali (R.A.) and Umar (R.A.) and others from amongst the companions of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) i.e. 20 rakaats. This is the fatwa of Sufyan Sawri, ibnul Mubarak and Imaam Shafi. Imaam Shafi said: “This is what I found in our home-town, Makkah they perform 20 rakaats (Jamiut Tirmizi vol.1 pg.99).
From the above quotations of the books of jurisprudence written over the centuries we learn that all 4 mazhabs, Hambali, Shafi and Maliki agree that Taraweeh is not less than 20 rakaats. The only difference being that Imaam Maalik is of the opinion of 36 rakaats. He used the proof that the people of Madina read 36 rakaats. Imaam Nawawi in his Kitabul Majmoo Sharah Muhazzab vol.3 pg.527 explains: “Our Ulama say its reason is that the people of Makkah used to make 1 tawaaf between every two tarweehas i.e. between every four rakaats and thereafter perform 2 rakaats and they did not make tawaaf after the fifth tarweeha. The people of Madina intended to equal them and they read four rakaats in place of every tawaaf. Hence they increased 16 rakaats and made 3 witr thus making the total 39.”
The reality of 8 rakaats Taraweeh
The incorrect claims of the Ahle Hadith sect and their rebuttal
1. The Ahle Hadith have made the claim that only 8 rakaats of Taraweeh have been transmitted from Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) with a Sahih sanad.
Moulana Habibur Rahman Azmi in his book Raka’aate Taraweeh has shown both these claims to be incorrect.. His response will now be translated in a summarised form.
He writes: Before answering these 2 claims I deem it appropriate to shed some light on whether a specific number has been established from Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) or not according to the research of the Ulama of Islaam. In this mas’ala there are two groups of Ulama. one group includes Sheikul Islam Ibne Taymiah, Allamah Subkhi, Allamah Suyuti etc. Their research is that no specific number is established from Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) neither through his words nor through his actions. Hafiz Ibne Taymiah writes: “Whoever is of the opinion that there is a specific number in the Qiyaame Ramadhaan which is fixed from Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and cannot increase nor decrease has erred (Mirqatul Intiqaad Ar-Rajeeh pg.63).
Allamah Subkhi writes in Sharah Minhaaj: “Umderstand that it is not transmitted how many rakaats Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) performed in those nights, be it 20 or less” (Thfatul Akhyaar pg.116 Allamah Suyuti writes in Masabeeh: “The Ulama have differed with regards to its number. If that was established from Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) they would not have differed.
Imaam Shafi has mentioned: “There is no restriction in the number and any end-limit (Ma’rifatus Sunan – Imaam Bayhaqi vol.2 pg. 305). This is the research of one group of Ulama. Therefore according to them all those narrations attributing a specific number of rakaats of Taraweeh to Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) be it 8 or 20 are either not Sahih or are not related to Taraweeh Salaah but relate to some other salaah.
The second group of Ulama are those who accept that a specific number has been established from Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). They include Qadhi Khan and Imaam Tahawi from the Hanafi Jurists and Imaam Rafi’ee from the Shafi jurists.
Let us now look into the first claim of the Ahle Hadith. In order to prove their first claim the Ahle Hadith have presented 2 proofs:
He said: “O Aisha (R.A.) verily my 2 eyes sleep byt my heart does not sleep (Sahih Bukhari Kitabus Saum – Kitabut Taraweeh).
Response: This proof of the Ahle Hadith is totally misplaced and can never be regarded as proof for their claim for the following reasons:
1. The discussion is on Taraweeh and Hafiz Ibne Hajar (R.A.) has defined Taraweeh in Fathul Baari as “The salaah performed in Jamaat in the nights of Ramadhaan is called Taraweeh (vol.4 pg.294).
Allamah Qastalani mentions the very same definition in Irshadus Saari (vol.4 pg.575). Hence when taraweeh is a salaah specific to the month of ramadhaan and in the Hadith of Aisha (R.A.) there is mention of salaah which is read out of Ramadhaan, then what link is there between Taraweeh and the proof presented by the Ahle Hadith?
2. If we do asume that this Hadith is related to Taraweeh then too it can never establish that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) did not read more than 11 rakaats taraweeh. The reason being that Aisha (R.A.) herself has mentioned in other authentic narrations that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) read 13 rakaats (Bukhari).
Hafiz Ibne Hajar and other commentators of Hadith reconcile between these 2 apparently contradicting narrations by saying that they refer to different conditions and times viz. that most of the time Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) did not read more than 11 rakaats and at times he did read 13. Hafiz Ibne Hajar writes: “For this reason Hafiz Abdullah Saheb Gazipuri (of the Ahle Hadith) had to concede that at times Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) did read 13 rakaats excluding the 2 rakaats of Fajar. Moulana Abdur Rahman Mubarakpuri has also conceded this fact He writes in Tuhfatul Ahwazi vol.2 pg.73: “It is definitely established that at times Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) did read 13 rakaats besides the 2 rakaats of Fajar.
Hence when reading more than 11 rakaats is an established fact, then this claim of the Ahle Hadith that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) did not increase upon 11 rakaats including witr is totally baseless. Further when the Hadith of Aisha (R.A.) according to the confession of the Ahle Hadith does not refer to all the nights of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), rather it refers to some or most of the nights, then to use it as a proof for their claim is either plain ignorance or blatant disregard of the facts. 3. The first part of the Hadith of Aisha (R.A.) which translates: “Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) did not increase upon 11 rakaats in Ramadhaan and out of Ramadhaan,” is a little ambiguous. It is not clear whether Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) read 7 or 9 or 11. Similarly it is not clear whether Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) read 1 rakaat witr or 3 or more than 3. However Aisha (R.A.) has cleared up this ambiguity by specifying a method saying: “Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) read 4 such rakaats, that don’t even ask about their beauty and their length. Thereafter Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) read 4 similar rakaats. Then Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) read 3.” In this explanation Aisha (R.A.) has specified the method of not increasing upon 11 rakaats i.e. he did not read 7 nor 9 but 11. Also that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) read 3 rakaats witr.
Further Moulana Mubarakpuri has written clearly in Tuhfatul Ahwazee vol.1 pg.331 that apparently the 4 rakaats were with one salaam and the last 3 rakaats were with one salaam.
After this introduction we venture to say that when the Ahle Hadith have understood from the first part of the Hadith that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s permanent habit was not to increase upon 11 rakaats, then from the second part of the Hadith which is an explanation of the first part it is established that the permanent pratice was to read 11 rakaats in this manner that 4 rakaats are with one salaam, then 4 rakaats with one salaam and then 3 rakaats are read with one salaam. It is therefore imperative upon the Ahle Hadith that they never read less than 11 rakaats taraweeh, they always make salaam after evey 4 rakaats and they always read 3 rakaats witr with one salaam. However the Ahle Hadith don’t practice in this manner. Instead most of the time they read 9 rakaats and thousands in India are aware of this. Then they always make salaam after 2 rakaats. And as far as I know out of Ramadhaan they always read 1 rakaat witr. If any one of them does read 3 witr then it is with 2 salaams i.e. 2 rakaats with one salaam then 1 rakaat with one salaam.
From this we learn that according to the Ahle Hadith themselves it is not compulsory to practice upon this Hadith nor is going against this Hadith opposing the Sunnah. In such a situation to use this Hadith as a proof against anyone else or to prove any claim is gross injustice and against the dictates of piety.
If someone makes a claim that there is no distinction between tahajjud and taraweeh. For 11 months it is called tahajjud and in Ramadhaan it is called taraweeh. In response to this we would question: What is the proof for this claim? And when there are numerous distinctions existing, then how is it possible to regard both as one?
Differences between tahajjud and taraweeh
1. Tahajjud was ordained by means of express quranic verse: “Stand up at night except a little.” Taraweeh being a sunnah was established through the hadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “I have made its standing sunnat upon for you.”
2. Everyone agrees that the number of rakaats of tahajjud have been transmitted by Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), the maximum being 13 including witr and the and the minimum being 7 including witr. However no specific number has been transmitted from Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) regarding taraweeh as clearly stated by Allamah ibne Taymiah. Therefore the Aimma-e-Mujtahideen differ in the number. Some say 20 and some say 36, even more.
3. Tahajjud was ordained in Makkah whilst Taraweeh was prescribed in Madina.
4. It is mentioned in the realiable books of the Hambali mazhab Muqna: “Taraweeh is 20 rakaats which a person performs in ramadhaan in jamaat. He will read witr after it in jamaat. However if he reads tahajjud then he will make witr after it.”
From the above we learn that taraweeh and tahajjud are separate salaahs.
5. Tahajjud is generally performed after sleeping while taraweeh is performed after Esha.
The second proof of the first claim of the Ahle Hadith i.e. only 8 rakaats have been transmitted from Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) with an authentic chain of narrators.
“It is reported by Jaabir (R.A.) that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) performed 8 rakaats for us in ramadhaan and witr. The following night we gathered in the Musjid hoping that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) would come out to us. We continued waiting until the morning. Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “I feared that the witr (night salaah) would be made compulsory upon you” (Sahih Ibne Hibban, Ibne Khuzaima, Qiyamul Layl).
When we examine the chain of narrators of the above Hadith we find that there is only one person narrating from Jaabir (R.A.) viz. Issa bin Jaariyah. Hafiz Zahabi and Hafiz ibne Hajar have mentioned this narration in Mizanul I’tidaal and Tahzeebut Tahzeeb respectively. They write that the Imaam of the science of Jarah Wat Tadeel Yahya bin Maeen has said regarding him – He is not authentic. He further states: “He narrates numerous Munkar narrations.” Imaam Nawawi and Abu Dawood regard him as a narrator of hadith which contradicts the narrations of trustworthy narrators. Imaam Nasai has also called him Matrook (suspected of fabricating Hadith).
Uqaili has mentioned him amongst the weak narrators. Ali has said that his narrations are not mahfooz (Tahzeebut Tahzeeb vol8 pg.179).
These six experts on Hadith have criticised Isa Bin Jaaria. Only Abu Zur’ah and Ibne Hibbaan have regarded him to be realiable. It is a law of the principles of Hadith that Jarh Mufassar is given preference over tadeel. Therefore Issa will have to be considered unrealiable, especially when the words used to criticise him are extremely severe.
Imaam Abu Dawood and Nasai have regarded him to be Munkarul Hadith. Moulana Mubarakpuri has written in his kitaab Ibkarul Minan pg.191 without any hesitation munkarul Hadith is that description in a oerson which renders his Hadith worthy to be rejected.”
On the basis of this the narration of Isa Bin Jaaria can never be acceptable, moreso when he is the only narrator from Hazrath Jaabir (R.A.).
Muhammad bin humaid Ar Raazi is also a narrator in the chain of this Hadith who is not free of any criticism. Hafiz Zuhri has mentioned in Al-Kaashif vol.1 pg. 166: it is better to leave him out. Imaam Bukhari said: “In him there is some doubt.”
Imaam Nasai said: “He is not authentic (Al-Kaashif vol. pg.166). Hafiz Ibne Hajar has said regarding him in Taqreebut Tahzeeb vol.2 pg.156 – He is a hafiz of Hadith and Daeef.
This further weakens the proof of the ahle Hadith and thus cannot be used as a proof for their claim that only 8 rakaats are transmitted from Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) with a Sahih chain of narrators.
Hazrath Moulana Habibur Rahman Azmi (R.A.) writes in his treatise Rakate Taraweeh: “The hue and cry raised by the Ahle Hadith sect of India for almost a 1000 years now over the number of rakaats of taraweeh was unheard of before. The entire world of Islam read 20 or more than 20 rakaats. Also from the time of Hazrath Umar (R.A.) till this uproar by the Ahle Hadith no Musjid in the world ever read 8 rakaats. This means that for almost 12½ centuries all the Muslims of the Ahlus Sunnah regard 20 or more than 20 as Sunnah and suitable to practice upon. After 12½ centuries the Ahle Hadith sect have have made this new finding that whatever the Muslims have been doing till now was incorrect and that only 8 rakaats is Sunnah. In this short treatise we wish to expose the reality of this new finding of the Ahle Hadith. we have hope that if this presentation is read with an open mind then it would become apparent that the chain of the Ahle Hadith is completely baseless and their new finding is a grave error.
What was the practice of Muslims for 12½ centuries?
Firstly I wish to substantiate my claim of the practice of Muslims for 12½ centuries, listen:
Imam Baihaqi (R.A.) has transmitted the following narration of Saaib bin Yazeed (R.A.) in his kitabus Sunan-e-Kubra vol.2, pg.496: “That in the era of Hazrath Umra (R.A.) the people used to read 20 rakaats and in the era of Uthman (R.A.) due to the severity of standing, they used to recline upon sticks.”
And 5 lines later Imam Baihaqi (R.A.) narrates that ___ who was amongst the companions of hazrath Ali (R.A.) used to be the Imam in Ramadhaan and would read 20 rakaats. Two lines later Imam Baihaqi (R.A.) narrates that Hazrath Ali (R.A.) instructed a person to read 20 rakaats for the people.
This was the condition of the era of Hazrath Umar, Usman and Ali (R.A.). The martyrdom of Hazrath Ali (R.A.) occured in 40 A.H. 23 years after the death of Hazrath Ali (R.A.) in 63 A.H. the bloody incident of Harra took place. Imam Malik (R.A.) has explained that from before the incident of Harra till now for more than a 100 years the recurring practice in Madina has been to read 38 rakaats. The explanation of Saalih Maulat Thu’ama) also lends support to this. The difference in the number of rakaats shown by Imam Malik (R.A.) and Saalih is due to the difference in the number of rakaats of witr. however the common factor between the two is that from before Harra, the practice in Madina has been to read more than 20 rakaats.
Muaz Abu Halima (R.A.) is a Sahaabi and he was martyred on the day of Harra. Ibne Sereen (R.A.) has borne witness to the fact that he used to perform 41 rakaats in Ramadhaan. For the details of the above 3 check Tuhfatul Ahwazee vol.7, pg.72 commentary on Tirmizi written by Ml. Mubarakpuri a scholar of the Ahle Hadith).
Naafi was the freed slave of Hazrath Ibne Umar (R.A.) as well as the student of Hazrath Aisha (R.A.), Hazrath Abu Hurairah (R.A.) and Hazrath Raafi (R.A.). He has mentioned: “I had seen and found people reading 36 rakaats taraweeh and 3 witr (Tuhfatul Ahwazee vol.2 pg.73). Naafi (R.A.) passed away in 117 A.H.
Dawood bin Qais (R.A.) mentions: “I had seen the people of Madina reading 36 rakaats in the era of Umar bin Abdul Aziz (R.A.) [passed away 101 A.H.] and Abaan bin Umar (passed away 105 A.H.) [Qiyamul Layl pg. 91]. Further Umar bin Abdul Aziz (R.A.) used to command the Qarees to read 36 rakaats (Qiyamul Layl pg.93).
At any rate the prsctice of Madina till the era of Imam Malik (R.A.) [passed away 179 A.H.] was 36, 38 or 41 rakaats or it can be saud that the practice was 36 and the difference in number is due to the difference of opinion in the number of rakaats of witr. Even after Imam Malik (R.A.) this continued to be the practice in Madina, therefore Imam Tirmizi (R.A.) [passed away 279 A.H.) after mentioning 41 rakaats said: “This is the practice of the people of Madina.” And was not restricted to Madina. It is apparent that wherever the followers of Imam Malik (R.A.) were the practice was on 36 as the books of the Maaliki Mazhab testify.
In Makkah till the era of Ataa bin Ali Rubaah (passed away 114 A.H.) the practice was 20 (Musannaf Ibne Abi Shaibah vol.2 pg.393). Naafi bin Umar has mentioned that Ibne Abi Mulaykah used to perform 20 rakaats for us in Ramadhaan. Ibne Abi Mulaikah passed away in 117 A.H. According to Imam Shafi (R.A.) as well the practice was on 20. He passed away in 204 A.H. In Tirmizi Shareef the statement of Imam Shafee (R.A.) reads: “I found the people of Makkah reading 20 rakaats (Tuhfatul Ahwazee vol.2 pg.76). Due to the fact that Imam Shafee (R.A.) was himself of the opinion of 20 rakaats, therefore after him in Makkah as well as all other places where his followers were found, the practice was on 20, just as the Shafee books of jurisprudence which were written after him and are still being written bear witness to it.
Now Iraq remains (Kufa, Basra etc.). We have already learnt that on the command of Ali (R.A.) the practice was on 20 and Hazrath Abdullah bin Mas’ood (R.A.) also used to read 20 (Tuhfatul Ahwazee vol.1, pg.75).
In Kufa Awad bin Yazeed (passed away 75 A.H.) used to read 20 rakaats (Tuhfatul Ahwazee vol.2 pg.73). This should be clear that Awad had attained the companionship of Hazrath Umar (R.A.), Hazrath Muaz, Hazrath Ibne Masood, Hazrath Huzaifah, Hazrath Bilal and other senior Sahaabah (R.A.).
Suwaid bin Gafalah (passed away 81 A.H.) who attained the companionship of Hazrath Ali (R.A.) and Hazrath Ibne Masood (R.A.) used to read 20 rakaats (Baihaqi vol.2, pg.496).
Haaris A’war who was a companion of Ali (R.A.) used to read 20 rakaats (Musannaf Ibne Abi Shaibah – vol.2, pg.393). Further Ali bin Rabiah who was a student of Ali (R.A.) and Salmaan Farsi (R.A.) also used to read 20 rakaats Taraweeh and 3 rakaats witr (Musannaf ibne Abi Shaibah vol.2, pg.393). Saeed bin Jubair who was s student of Hazrath Ibne Abbas and other Sahaaba and was a great Imaam used to read 24 and 28 rakaats (Tuhfatul Ahwazee vol.2 pg.73). His martyrdom took place in 95 A.H.
The Imaam of Kufa Sufyan Thauri (R.A.) [died 161 A.H.] was of the opinion of 20 rakaats (Tuhfatul Ahwazee vol.2, pg.75). After Imam Abu Hanifa (R.A.) [died 150 A.H.] it is apparent that all his followers practiced upon 20 rakaats. The Ahle Hadith themselves confess to this. Allamah Mubarakpuri (R.A.) states that this is the opinion of the Hanafees. The books of Imam Muhammad (R.A.) who is a student of Imam Abu Hanifa also bears witness to this fact.
In Basra Zuraara ibne Aufa (R.A.) who was a student of Abu Hurairah, Ibne Abbas, Imraan bin Husain, Anas and Hazrath Aisha (R.A.) used to read in the first 20 days of Ramadhaan 28 rakaats and in the last ten days 34 rakaats (Tuhfatul Ahwazee – vol.2, pg.73). He passes away in 93 A.H.
Abdur Rahman ibne Abi Bakrah, Saeed ibne Abil Hassan and Imaam Abdi used to read 5 tarweehas i.e. 20 rakaats in the Jaami Musjid of Basrah before 83 A.H. and in the last 10 days they added 4 rakaats (Qiyamul Layl – pg.91).
In Baghdad Imam Ahmad (R.A.) [died 235 A.H.] was of the opinion of 20 rakaats as written by Allamah Ibne Rushd in Bidayatul Mujtahid (vol.1, pg.192). This fact is also mentioned in the Hambali books of Fiqh. In the Hambali Kitaab Muqna vol.1, pg.183 it states: “Taraweeh is 20 rakaats which are performed in Ramadhaan with Jamaat.” The author of Muqna himself writes about Muqna “This is a book in accordance to the mazhab of Imaam Ahmad bin Muhammad ibne Hambali.”
Similarly Dawood Zaahiri (died 270 A.H.) was also of the opinion of 20 (Bidayatul Mujtahid – vol.1, pg.192). The followers of these personalities be they from Baghdad or out of Baghdad practiced upon 20.
Abdullah bin Mubarak (R.A.) [died 181 A.H.] who was from amongst the Imaams of Khurasan was of the opinion of 20. Ishaq bin Rahweh (R.A.) [died 238 A.H.] was of the opinion of 40 rakaats (TIrmizi). Their followers practiced on more than 8.
This was an overview of the opinions of the Ulama and Imaams regarding the number of rakaats of taraweeh from the era of Hazrath Umar (R.A.) till almost the middle of the third century hijri. This was the practice of the Muslims of that time period in Makkah, Madina, kufa, Basra, Baghdad and Khurasan. Read it a second time and see if anyone ever sufficied on 8 rakaats and where was it ever praticed?
Thereafter listen! From before the middle of the third century the four Imaams, Abu Hanifa, Maalik, Shafee and Ahmad (R.A.) had imparted the knowledge of jurisprudence to their students and had departedfrom this world and their respective schools of thought had already commenced being propagated and practiced upon and this process continues to this day and age. Today the books of jurisprudence based on the teachings of these four Imaams are available in large numbers but in none of these books is it ever taught to practice on just 8 rakaats.
When we place practicing on 8 rakaats in opposition to this ancient practice of 20 or more, which was the preferred opinion of the former and latter Ulama, and we turn the pages of books, then from after the era Umar (R.A.) till the end of the 13th century hijri we do not find in the entire world of Islam any mention of any one place practicing on 8 rakaats. Even after expending all ones strength one will never be able to furnish the slightest bit of evidence nor the weakest proof that 8 rakaats was practiced upon in that lenghty period of time i.e. 12½ centuries (Rakaate Taraweeh).
The second claim of the Ahle Hadith
The Ahle Hadith claim that Hazrath Umar (R.A.) only commanded 8 rakaats.In substantiation they present the following narration of Muatta Imam Malik: Saaib bin Yazeed (R.A.) reports that Umar (R.A.) commanded Ubay bin Ka’b (R.A.) and Tameem Daari (R.A.) to perform 11 rakaats for the people (Muatta Imam Malik).
Response: The above narration of Saaib bin Yazeed (R.A.) is transmitted by his student Muhammad bin Yusuf (R.A.). He in turn has 5 students narrating this particular Hadith from him. They are:
1. Imam Malik – Muatta Imam Malik
Let us now see how each student narrates from Muhammad bin Yusuf and examine the differences in the narration:
1. The original proof of Ahle Hadith as quoted above from Muatta Imam Malik
The differences in the narrations of the 5 students of Muhammad bin Yusuf can be summed up to be 2:
2. The second difference still remains, and this is with regards to the number of rakaats. Three students viz. Imaam Malik, Yahya bin Saeed and Abdul Aziz bin Muhammad (R.A.) say 11 rakaats. Ibne Ishaq (R.A.) says 13 rakaats. Dawood bin Qais (R.A.) states 21 rakaats.
Due to this difference Ibne Ishaq (R.A.) who himself is onee of the narrators of the Hadith has given preference to 13 rakaats (Qiyamul Layl). Allamah Ibne Abdul Barr Maliki (R.A.) has given preference to 21 rakaats and has regarded 11 rakaats as the erroneous impression of the narrator (Al-Istizkaar – vol.5, pg.154). Therefore this Hadith cannot be used as a proof for the claim of 11 rakaats unless it is established that an authorative scholar of Hadith has given preference to 11 rakaats. We say this as a claim that it can never be established that any of the former scholars of Hadith (Muhadditheen) have ever given preference to 11 rakaats over 13 or 21 rakaats. If the Muhadditheen have given preference then it was to 13 or 21, never to 11. Other Muhadditheen have opted to reconcile the narrations by stating that initially it was 11 rakaats and then later increased (Masabeeh – pg.44 by Allamah Suyuti (R.A.), Sharhuz Zurqaani – vol.1 pg.341 and Tuhfatul Akhyaar pg.191). On this assumption to say that Umar (R.A.) gave only the command of 11 rakaats and to use the narration of Saaib bin Yazeed from Muhammad bin Yusuf as a proof for this claim is merely deceit and taking unfair advantage of the unwareness of the masses.
Thus far our discussion has been regarding the narration of Saaib bin Yazeed transmitted by his student Muhammad bin Yusuf. However if we keep in front of us Saaib’s narration transmitted by his other student Yazeed bin Khusayfah (this narration has been discussed in detail in the chapter of the proofs of Taraweeh being 20 rakaats in the era of Umar (R.A.). which states: “We used to stand in the era of Umar (R.A.) in the month of Ramadhaan with 20 rakaats,” then we are astonished to notice the audacity of the Ahle Hadith that they are prepared to overlook the Sahih Hadith of Saaib from his student Yazeed bin Khusayfa which does not have the slightest difference, and actually oppose it by using Saaib’s narration transmitted by his other student Muhammad bin Yusuf which is full of contradiction, as a basis for their claim of 11 rakaats.
Ponder over the fact that the two students of Yazeed bin Khusayfa (Muhammad bin Jafar and Ibne Ali Zi’b) both using the same words narrate from Yazeed and Yazeed in turn narrates from Saaib that: “We used to stand with 20 rakaats in the era of Umar (R.A.), [Both these narrations have been examined in detail earlier in this booklet] contrary to the 5 students of Muhammad bin Yusuf who all transmit the statement of Saaib from Muhammad bin yusuf in 5 different ways. In these circumstances the demands of justice was that the narration of Yazeed bin Khusayfa should be relied upon and before the existence of the ahle Hadith sect this was the approach but the Ahle Hadith by relying on the doubtful and contradicting narration of Muhammad bin yusuf have murdered the concept of justice. Translated in a summarized form Rakate Taraweeh from page 16 to 41 (Moulana Habibur Rahman Azmi).
From this short treatiseon Taraweeh the following facts become quite clear: * After the era of Umar (R.A.) till the end of the 13th century the entire Muslim world performed 20 or more than 20 rakaats. If in this entire time period even a few people were of the opinion of less than 20 rakaats, then too there is no evidence of it being practiced in any Musjid.
We now leave it to you, dear reader to decide whether you wish to practice on what the Ummah has been practicing on for the last 14 centuries and to this day is being practiced in musjidul Haram in Makkah and Madina or take the short cut route by practicing on 8 rakaats as proposed by the Ahle Hadith sect which has only reared its head recently.
By Ahmed Ibn Muhammad
In a handout by al-Albani’s followers in England, by the title “Some common questions answered” (dated October 1990), there appeared the following question and answer (No. 22):
(a) Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) reports that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) never prayed more than 8 rak’aats in taraweeh, so how come nobody disapproves of 20?
I do not wish to go into much detail on this issue, but Insha’Allah a separate publication is what is really required, to show which opinion is the most correct. But any way it should be said that the vast MAJORITY of the scholars of hadith, Fiqh, and even the four Mujtahid Imams are in agreement that 20 rak’ahs are the most appropriate, followed by 3 rak’ahs of witr, and this is also the opinion of the Imam of the “Salafiyya”, Ahmad ibn Taymiyya!
First, it should be said that the hadith reported from Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) about 11 rak’ahs is not at all to do with taraweeh, according to the majority of scholars, but in fact concerns the number of rak’ahs of TAHAJJUD prayer! The hadith in question is as follows:-
Narrated Abu Salama ibn Abdur Rahman that he asked Aisha (Allah be pleased with her), “How was the prayer of Allah’s Apostle (Peace be upon him) in Ramadan?” She replied, “He did not pray more than eleven raka’at in Ramadan or in any other month. He used to pray four raka’at – let alone their beauty and length – and then he would pray four – let alone their beauty and length – and then he would pray three rak’aat (witr).” She added, “I asked, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Do you sleep before praying the witr?’ He replied, ‘O Aisha, My eyes sleep but my heart does not sleep.'” (Bukhari, 3/230, English edn)
According to the author of “Fatawa Rahimiyyah”, Mufti Abdur Rahim Lajpuri (vol. 1, pg. 275); in his defence of 20 rak’ahs of taraweeh: “The commentator of al-Sahih al-Bukhari and the erudite traditionist, Shaykh Shamsud-Din al-Kermani (d. 786 AH; Rahimahullah) said: ‘In the hadith (above), the tahajjud prayer is meant. Abu Salama’s question and Hadrat Aisha’s answer concerned the tahajjud.’ He adds further: ‘If the tahajjud prayer is not meant, then this tradition will be at variance with the tradition that states that the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) led twenty rak’ahs each for two nights, and in the case of such clash the tradition of twenty rak’ahs which is affirmative (muthbit) shall have precedence because according to the principles of hadith, the affirmative takes precedence over the negative (naaf)” (vide: Al-Kawakib ud-Durari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, vol. 9, pg 155-156). I say, does this not mean that people who perform 8 rak’ahs of taraweeh, should pray 20 rak’ahs instead? Since according to the principles of hhadith (as affirmed by al-Albani), “The affirmative takes precedence over the negative in certain cases.”
A great fact that should also be noted by the reader is that the Imam’s of hadith have placed the hadith from Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) under the section of tahajjud prayers, which indicates their belief that the hadith applies to tahajjud only. The Imam al-Muhaddithin al-Bukhari (Rahimahullah) has placed the hadith from Aisha under at least two sections of his Sahih, first under the section of ’21: The tahajjud Prayer at Night’ (see Sahih al-Bukhari, vol. 2, chapter 15, no. 248, English ed’n) and then under the section of ’32: The Book of taraweeh Prayers’ (see Sahih al-Bukhari, 3/230, pg. 128 English ed’n). This means that Imam Bukhari believed that the prayer mentioned by Aisha was that of tahajjud only, and since the tahajjud prayer is performed also in Ramadan, then Imam Bukhari also quoted the same hadith under ‘The book of taraweeh prayers’, but Allah knows best. Imam Muslim (Rahimahullah) has also placed the hadith from Aisha under the tahajjud prayer section (see Sahih Muslim 1/1607, pg. 356, English ed’n). Also Imam Malik (Rahimahullah) has placed Aisha’s hadith under the Book of tahajjud (see Al-Muwatta, Book 7, section 7.2, no. 9, pg. 5, English ed’n). The Imam Abu Dawood (Rahimahullah) has also placed the same hadith under the chapter ‘On the number of rak’ahs of the prayer at night (tahajjud)’ (see Abu Dawood 1/1336, pg. 351, English version). Even Imam’s Tirmidhi and Nisai (Allah’s mercy be upon them) placed Aisha’s hadith under the tahajjud section (see Tirmidhi, vol. 1, pg. 58 and Nisai, vol. 1, pg. 154). Even one of the most prominent Imams of the ‘Salafiyya’, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya placed the aforementioned hadith in the section of tahajjud prayers in his book Zaad al Ma’ad (vol. 1, pg. 86)!
Mufti Abdur Rahim said about Aisha’s hadith: “And if this tradition may have been quoted in some book under the devotions of Ramadan along with the taraweeh. Like the taraweeh, the tahajjud, too, is a prayer of Ramadan, and because of this affinity, it can be mentioned along with the taraweeh (as Imam Bukhari did). Hence, supposing it may have been mentioned in some book, it cannot be made thereby a categorical argument. ‘When uncertainty creeps in, the argument is falsified.’ Moreover, Hafiz al-hadith Imam Qurtubi’s (d. 671/1273; Rahimahullah) statement regarding this hadith (of Aisha) should not be overlooked that, ‘many a man of knowledge considers the aforesaid hadith mudtarib (i.e. confounded).'” (vide: Imam Ayni in his Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, vol. 2, pg. 187).
In short, the aforesaid report is in no way a proof for eight rak’ahs of taraweeh. In contradistinction to this, as regards the twenty rak’ahs the Companions Consensus (Ijma-as-Sahaba) has taken place over the approval of Ibn Abbas’ hadith (about 20 rak’ahs being performed by the Prophet, peace be upon him) and practically the majority of Ulama have accepted it.” (Fatawa Rahimmiyah, vol. 1, pg 276-277).
Although Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) had said: “He did not pray more than 11 Raka’at,” we also have reports from her that the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) also prayed more than 11 Raka’ats! The proof for this was given by her in another narration involving Abu Salama ibn Abdal Rahman (Rahimahullah). Abu Salama asked Aisha about the prayer of the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him), she said, “He observed 13 Raka’ahs (in the night prayer). He observed 8 raka’ahs and would then observe (three rak’ahs of) witr and then observe two raka’ahs sitting (nafl prayer), and when he wanted to bow he stood up and then bowed down, and then he observed two raka’ahs in between the Azan and Iqama of the dawn prayer (i.e. fajr).” (See Sahih Muslim 1/1603, pg. 357 and also al-Albani’s Sifah Salah an-Nabee, appendix 7, pg. 110). So does this not mean that the ‘Salafiyya’ should perform 13 Raka’ats of Taraweeh in Ramadan?
Now, the statement ‘the best way is 11 rak’aats’ is only the opinion of a small group of the ulama, in fact there are more than 50 opinions to say that the best way is 20 rak’ahs according to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and his Companions (Allah be pleased with them all) practise! What is more interesting to note is that the four great Mujtahids, Abu Hanifah, Malik, Shafi’i and Ahmad ibn Hanbal (Allah’s mercy be upon them) are in agreement that the Taraweeh consists of twenty Rak’ahs. The statement that Imam Malik approved of eight Rak’ahs needs to be proved, most likely this ascription was made to him because he quoted the Hadith which is used to prove eight Rak’ahs of Taraweeh in his al-Muwatta (see Muwatta, 6.2, no. 4, pg. 48) by a small group of scholars. Although Imam Malik (Rahimahullah) quoted this Hadith in his book, it has no bearing on what his actual opinion and practise was, on the contrary Imam Malik believes in thirty-six rak’ahs of Taraweeh (i.e. 20 Rak’ahs and 16 rak’ahs of extra nafl prayers, see later for the official verdict of the Maliki Madhhab)! Also the Hadith which seems to prove 11 Rak’ahs of Taraweeh (including three rak’ahs of Witr) in Imam Malik’s Muwatta has been explained away by many other convincing arguments.
Recently I came across a booklet by the title, “Is Taraweeh 20 Rakaats?” (Published by Madrasah Arabia Islamia, Azaadville, South Africa, author unknown). In this booklet the Hadith quoted from the Muwatta of Imam Malik (Rahimahullah), about 11 rak’ahs of Taraweeh (including three Witr) was quite eloquently analysed.
The actual Hadith in question was related by Yahya ibn Yahya al-Laythi, who related from his teacher Imam Malik, who related from Muhammad ibn Yusuf, who said that as-Saaib ibn Yazid said, “Umar ibn Khattab (Allah be pleased with him) ordered Ubayy ibn Ka’b and Tamim ad-Dari (Allah be pleased with them) to watch the night in prayer with the people for eleven rak’ahs. The reciter of the Qur’an would recite the Mi’in (a group of medium sized surah’s) until we would be leaning on our staffs from having stood so long in prayer. And we would not leave until the approach of dawn.” (see above reference in al-Muwatta).
It was stated in the aforementioned booklet (chapter 7, pg. 20), after quoting the above narration, “If we analyse the chain (Isnad) of this Hadith, we notice that Muhammad ibn Yusuf narrates from Saaib ibn Yazid. Muhammad (ibn Yusuf) has 5 students and the narration of each student differs from the next (i.e. the text of the Hadith is different from each student). The five students are:
1. Imam Malik
2. Yahya ibn Qattan
3. Abdul Aziz ibn Muhammad
4. Ibn Ishaq and
5. Abdur Razzaq
Their narrations are as follows:
1. Imam Malik says that Umar ordered Ubayy ibn Ka’b and Tamim Dari to perform 11 rakaats. (What practise occurred thereafter is not mentioned, nor is Ramadaan mentioned).
2. Yahya ibn Qattan says that Umar made the people gather with Ubayy ibn Ka’b and Tamim Dari and both of them began performing 11 rakaats. (Hadrat Umar’s command is not mentioned, nor is any mention of Ramadaan made).
3. Abdul Aziz (ibn Muhammad) says that we used to perform 11 rakaats in the era of Umar. (Neither is the command mentioned, nor is Ubayy ibn Ka’b or Ramadaan mentioned.
4. Ibn Ishaq says that we used to perform 13 rakaats in Ramadaan during the era of Umar. (Neither is the command of Umar mentioned. Instead of 11 rakaats, 13 are mentioned).
5. Abdur Razzaq says that Umar gave the command of 21 rakaats. (In this narration 21 rakaats are mentioned instead of 11).
Besides the narration of Imam Malik (Rahimahullah), 11 rakaats can not be established from the other narrations. Due to this difference, the narrator Ibn Ishaq gave preference to 13 while Ibn Abdal Barr al-Maliki preferred 21 (from the narration of Abdur Razzaq). Therefore this narration is Mudtarib (A Hadith that is transmitted in different manners, so that the contents of each transmission differ, and it is not possible to give preference to any particular transmission) with regards to the number (of rak’ahs) and hence unacceptable.
The above was an analysis of Muhammad ibn Yusuf’s narration via Saaib ibn Yazid. Now let us examine the narration of Yazid ibn Khaseefah via Saaib (ibn Yazid), which is mentioned in the Sunan al- Kubra of al-Bayhaqi (vol. 2, pg. 496): Abu Zi’b narrates from Yazid ibn Khaseefah, who reports from Saaib ibn Yazid that the people used to perform 20 rakaats in the month of Ramadaan during the era of Umar.
Imam Nawawi, Iraqi and Suyuti (all three were great scholars of Hadith) amongst others have accepted the authenticity of this Hadith (see Tuhfatul Akhyaar, pg. 192 and Irshaadus Saari, pg. 74, (by Imam al-Qastallani]).
Muhammad ibn Jafar (another narrator in the chain) has quoted the statement from Yazid (ibn Khaseefah) as Abu Zi’b (had). This narration is mentioned in Marifatus Sunan of al-Bayhaqi. Allamah Subki and Mullah Ali al-Qari have stated in Sharh Minhaaj and Sharh Muwatta respectively that the chain of narrators of this Hadith are correct. (Tuhfatul Ahwazee, vol.2, pg 75).
From the above narration we can clearly see that both the students of Yazid (ibn Khaseefah), unanimously narrate the fact that during Umar’s (Allah be pleased with him) era 20 rakaats was the standard practise. On the contrary, the 5 students of Muhammad ibn Yusuf quote Saaib (ibn Yazid) differently.
In such a situation the correct approach would be to rely on the narration of Yazid ibn Khaseefah. However the Ahl al-Hadith (another name for the “Salafiyya”) have unjustly discarded this narration and adopted the doubtful one of Muhammad ibn Yusuf, which has differing versions. This goes against the principles of Hadith.” Here ends the quote .
Another Hadith that is used by the protagonists of eight rak’ahs of Taraweeh has been related by Jabir ibn Abdullah (Allah be pleased with him): “The Prophet (Peace be upon him) led the people in prayer during Ramadan with 8 rak’ahs and the Witr. We gathered in the Mosque the following night hoping that he would come again. We remained waiting till the next morning (until he came out). The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, ‘I feared that the Witr may become incumbent on you.'” (related by Ibn Nasr al-Marwazi in Qiyamul-Layl, pg. 90, al-Tabarani and Ibn Hibban – see below for the actual Hadith)
The above Hadith has been analysed by Shaykh Abdur Rahim in his “Fatawa” (vol. 1, pg. 278-9) with the conclusion that the Hadith is Daeef. The Shaykh said: “The strange thing about this Hadith is that its chain of authorities (Isnad) is not trustworthy. Please examine the statements of the Imams of this science concerning the narrators of this chain. In this chain one narrator is Ibn Hameed Razi, about whom the opinions of the great and august critics of Hadith are as under:
1. ‘He is weak.’ – Hafiz al-Dhahabi (see his Mizanul I’tidal, vol.3, pp. 49-50)
2. ‘He narrates many disowned (munkar ) Hadiths.’ – Ya’qub ibn Shaybah
3. ‘He is objectionable.’ – Imam Bukhari
4. ‘He is a liar.’ – Abu Zur’ah
5. ‘I testify that he is a liar.’ – Ishaq Kausaj
6. ‘He narrates Hadiths about everything; I have not seen a man bolder than him vis-a-vis God.’ – Sauleh Jazrah
7. ‘By God! He is a liar.’ – Ibn Kharash
8. ‘He is not reliable.’ – Imam Nisai
Now, about the second narrator, Ya’qub ibn Abdullah Ash’ari al-Qummi:-
1. ‘He is not strong.’ – Daraqutni (see Mizanul I’tidal, vol. 3, pg. 324).
About the third narrator, Isa ibn Jariyah:-
1. ‘He has had disowned (munkar) Hadiths.’ – Ibn Ma’een
2. ‘His Hadiths are disavowed.’ – Nisai
3. ‘His Hadiths are rejected (matruk ).’ – Nisai
4. ‘His Hadiths are disavowed.’ – Abu Dawood – synopsis
5. He is counted among the weak.’ – (see Mizanul-I’tidal, vol. 2, pg. 311, by Hafiz al-Dhahabi).” Here ends the quote.
Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (Rahimahullah) has reported a similar narration to the above Hadith in his Bulugh al-Maram min Adillat al-Ahkam (no. 396, pg. 159), on the authority of Hafiz Ibn Hibban (Rahimahullah): “Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah (Allah be pleaed with him): Allah’s Apostle (Peace be upon him) prayed during the night in Ramadan; the people waited for him on the next day, but he did not come out; and he said, ‘I feared that the Witr might be enjoined on you.'” Note the above narration does not even state how many rak’ahs were performed by the Prophet (Peace be upon him)!! The above two Hadiths can not be used as justifiable proof in favour of 8 rak’ahs of Taraweeh on their own.
Al-Imam Malik (Rahimahullah) has in fact quoted a Hadith which proves the performance of 20 rak’ahs of Taraweeh in Ramadan; and that is as follows:-
Yahya related to me from Malik that Yazid ibn Ruman said,”The people used to watch the night in prayer during Ramadaan for 23 rak’ahs (i.e 20 rak’ahs of Taraweeh, followed by 3 rak’ahs of witr) in the time of Umar ibn al-Khattab.” (vide: al-Muwatta, 6.2, No. 5, pg. 48, English ed’n)
Although the above Hadith is Munqati (a link is missing in the chain) and has thus been declared to be Daeef by some scholars (including al-Albani), it never the less has been used as proof. Besides, the Hadith has been given a full Isnad (chain) by either Imam Ibn Abdal Barr al-Maliki (d. 463/1071; Rahimahullah) or Shaykh Muhammad Habibullah ibn Mayabi ash-Shanqiti (Rahimahullah), in their thorough research to complete all the chains of transmission (Isnad) which have an incomplete chain; as found in the Muwatta of Imam Malik!
In fact the latest edition of the English version of al-Muwatta (translated by A. A. at-Tarjumana and Yaqub Johnson) says (pg. xxxiv): “Ibn Hajar (al-Asqalani) said, ‘The book of Malik is sound by all the criteria that are demanded as proofs in the mursal, munqati (two types of Hadith which have a missing link) and other types of transmission.’ Then as-Suyuti followed what Ibn Hajar said here; and said, ‘The mursal Hadith in it are a proof with him (i.e. ash-Shafi’i) as well because the mursal is a proof with us when it is properly supported. Every mursal in the Muwatta has one or more supports as will be made clear in this commentary (i.e. Suyuti’s commentary on al-Muwatta called Tanwir al-Hawalik). It is absolutely correct to say that the Muwatta is sound without exception.’
Ibn Abdal-Barr collected together all the mursal, munqati and mu’addil Hadiths in the Muwatta and said that the total number of Hadiths in the Muwatta which do not have an Isnad are sixty one. He stated that he found the isnads of all of them in other sources with the exception of four Hadiths. The erudite scholar of Hadith, Shaykh Muhammad Habibullah ibn Mayabi ash-Shanqiti says in Ida’a al-Halik that he had found witnesses for these four Hadith and he then mentioned these witnesses. He said, ‘Some of the people of knowledge made these Isnads complete.’ He mentioned from Ibn Abdal-Barr that there was no munkar(rejected) Hadith in the Muwatta, nor anything fundamentally refuted.”
In the light of what the erudite scholars of Hadith have said above, we may emphatically state that the apparently ‘munqati’ Hadith from Yazid ibn Ruman has a complete Isnad; hence it may be used as a proof, since Imam Ibn Abdal-Barr has said that there is, “No munkar Hadith in the Muwatta nor anything fundamentally rejected.” Hence, many scholars of Hadith and Fiqh have used the above Hadith as a proof in favour of 20 rak’ahs of Taraweeh.
The quote from “Some common questions answered,” also claimed that, “Rather he (Umar) ordered Ubayy ibn Ka’b to lead the people with 11 rakaats.” I say, this is half of the truth, since it is clearly stated in al-Muwatta :”Umar ibn Khattab ordered Ubayy ibn Ka’b AND Tamim ad-Dari ….(see Muwatta, 6.2, no. 4, pg. 48)!!
Al-Albani has said that if anyone performs more than 11 rak’ahs of Taraweeh, then he or she is basically committing a Bid’ah (a very bad innovation)! We seek refuge in Allah from such a disgusting statement! Since this tantamountally means that the foremost Imams of the saved sect (al-Firqat an-Najiyyah) of Ahl-al-Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah have been committing a gross innovation (Allah forbid). Al-Albani seems to be implying that the venerable Companions (may Allah be pleased with them and increase their rank), the four great Mujtahid Imams (Allah’s mercy be upon them), as well as the foremost scholars of Hadith and Fiqh of the last 1400 years have ‘innovated’ the practise of 20 rak’ahs of Taraweeh, if considered in the light of penetrative elaboration, implicitly and covertly! What alternative conclusion can one derive, if the “Albani Madhhab” says, “As regards any addition (to 11 rak’ahs) – then this is disapproved of and declared as a bid’ah by ‘Shaykh’ al-Albani?”
I ask you, are the so called “Salafiyya” in the true path of the original and true Salaf-as-Salihin (the pious predecessors of the first three generations of Islam), when they have declared the practise of 20 rak’ahs to be a bid’ah, even though the Salaf have been reported to have practised 20 rak’ahs?
The actual Hadith which states that the Holy Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) performed 20 rak’ahs of taraweeh has been reported by Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him). He said, “Verily, the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) in the month of Ramadaan, used to perform 20 rak’ahs and the witr prayer (afterwards) without congregation.” (Reported in al-Sunan al-Bayhaqi, vol.2, pg. 496, Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, Kabiri of Imam al-Tabarani, Ibn Aadi in his Musnad, and by Imam Baghawi in his Majmua-as-Sahabah )
Although some scholars have declared this Hadith to be Daeef on its own, it does not mean that it should be whole heartedly rejected; since Daeef does not mean Maudu (fabricated). Please refer to the next section on Daeef Hadiths, and when they are acceptable to scholars for further elaboration. The Hadith related from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) is supported by many other narrations coming from great Companions like Uthman, Ali, Ibn Masood…(Allah be pleased with them all), as well as their successors (Tabi’in). Besides, some of the scholars of Hadith have even declared some weak Ahadith to be Sahih, if it has a firm basis. It was stated in the book “Criticism of Hadith among Muslims with reference to Sunan Ibn Maja,” (pg. 131, by one of the leading “Salafi” Shaykhs in Britain, Suhaib Hasan): “Shafi’i also recognises a weak Hadith as authentic (sahih) if it is found to be accepted by the whole Ummah (see al-Sakhawi: Fath al-Mugith). But he does not accept Malik’s view of restricting the practise to the people of Madinah. According to the later scholars of the Hanafi school like Ibn al-Humam, a Hadith will be declared Sahih, if it is supported by the practise of the Ummah (see Abdal Rashid Nu’mani: Ma tamusu ilaihe al-Haja, pg. 18). Among traditionalists, Tirmidhi often remarks, after quoting a less authentic Hadith: ‘It is being practised by the people of learning (Ahl al-Ilm).’ Suyuti deduces: ‘It indicates that the Hadith is supported by the sayings of the people of learning. More than one scholar has said that a Hadith is declared Sahih if supported by the sayings of the people of learning, even if it lacks a proper Isnad (see Suyuti: al-Ta’aqubat, folio 20).”
As stated above, the great research scholar (Muhaqqiq) Hafiz Kamal ibn al-Humam (d. 861/1457; Rahimahullah) had actually said: “One of the factors from which the authenticity of a Hadith is known is that the learned (Ulama) may conform to it, which is a proof of its being sound (vide: Fath al-Qadir, vol. 3, pg. 349).
There are many quotes from scholars which prove a near universal juridical acceptance of 20 rak’ahs of Taraweeh, but I content myself by quoting a select few from some of the foremost scholars of the Ahl-as-Sunnah, as well as the Imam of the “Salafiyya” (when it suits their whims and desires), Ahmad ibn Taymiyya.
1. Shaykh al-Islam Ahmad ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (d. 852/1449; R.A.)
The Hafiz of Hadith, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani has reproduced from Imam Rafi’i (Allah’s mercy be on him):
“For two nights the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) led twenty rak’ahs of prayer each night; on the third night the people gathered but the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) did not come out. Then the next morning, he told the people, ‘It so occurred to me that it would be made obligatory for you, and you would not be able to discharge this obligation.'”
After reproducing this tradition, Hafiz Ibn Hajar said:
“All the traditionalists (Muhaddithin) are unanimous about the soundness of this report.” (see Talkhis al-habir fi takhrij ahadith al-Rafi’i al-Kabir, vol. 1, pg. 119, by Hafiz ibn Hajar).
It was stated in Fayd ul-Bari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari (by Shaykh Anwar Shah Kashmiri):
“Imam Abu Yusuf (Rahimahullah) asked Imam Abu Hanifah (Rahimahullah), ‘Did Hadrat Umar (Allah be pleased with him) have any compact from the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) for 20 rak’ahs of Taraweeh?’ The Imam replied, ‘Hadrat Umar was not one to invent on his own; certainly he had some proof with him for this!'” (also found in Maraqi ul-Falah, pg. 81, by Imam al-Shurunbulali and Bahr ur Ra’iq, vol.2, pg. 66, by Imam ibn Nujaim al-Misri).
Imam Tirmidhi said:
“Umar, Ali as well as other Companions (Allah be pleased with them all) and Sufyan al-Thauri, Ibn al-Mubarak and Imam al-Shafi’i (Allah’s mercy be upon them), all believed in 20 rak’ahs of Taraweeh, and Imam Shafi’i has stated that he had seen the people of Makkah saying 20 rak’ahs (see Sunan al-Tirmidhi, vol.1, pg. 99).
It was written in the most authentic book on Maliki Fiqh, al-Mudawwanah (vol.1, pg. 193-94), by Qadi Sahnoon (Rahimahullah):
“Ibn al-Qasim said, ‘The rak’ahs (of Taraweeh) with witr are 39.’ Imam Malik said, ‘This is what the people have agreed upon from amongst the predecessors, and the people have not stopped doing it.'” (For an explanation of why it was 36 rak’ahs see the quote below from Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri).
Allamah Ibn Humam asserts that it has been established from genuine authority that the Companions and their Successors (tabi’in) used to say twenty rak’ahs of Taraweeh during the auspicious time of Umar (Allah be pleased with him); this authority of Yazid ibn Ruman has been reported from Sa’ib ibn Yazid that, ‘during Umar’s auspicious time we used to say twenty rak’ahs.’ The genuineness of this authority has been verified by Imam Nawawi in the synopsis (see Fath al-Qadir, vol.1, pg. 407 and Nasb-ur-Rayah, vol.1, pg. 294, by Hafiz al-Zaylai). Hafiz Ibn Humam also said in Fath al-Qadir (vol.1, pg. 470):
“At last unanimity was formed on 20 rak’ahs of prayer and this alone is in succession.” This last statement has also been said in similar words by Ibn Taymiyya in his Minhaj us-Sunnah (vol.2, pg. 224).
The august successor (Tabi’in) and Mufti of Makkah in his time said:
“I have seen the Companions, and other people in Makkah saying 23 rak’ahs, including the witr.”
This report is Hasan (good). (see Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, pg. 406, Fath al-Bari, vol.4, pg. 219, of Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Qiyam ul-Layl, pg. 91, by Imam Ibn Nasr al-Marwazi).
7. Imam Muwaffaq al-Din Ibn Qudama al-Maqdisi (d. 620/1223; R.A)
The Imam of the Hanbali’s in his time, Ibn Qudama al-Maqdisi, said in his book al-Mughni (vol.1, pg 803):
“There has been the Companion’s consensus (Ijma-as-Sahaba) on 20 rak’ahs of Taraweeh.”
It was stated in his published lecture, Tirmidhi al-ma’ruf ba-Arfa’sh-Shazzi (vol.1 pg. 329) :
“Not even one of the the four Imams believes in less than 20 rak’ahs of Taraweeh; the practise and belief of the majority of the Companions was also this. Imam Malik (Allah’s mercy be upon him) believes in more than 20 rak’ahs; he is positive that they are 36. According to Imam Malik’s practise only 20 rak’ahs of Taraweeh will be said in congregation, but the general practise and method of the citizens of Madinah was that during the brief rest interval (after every 4 rak’ahs), when the Imam sat down after 4 rak’ahs, they used to perform 4 more rak’ahs. The men who said the Taraweeh in the sacred mosque at Makkah, used to circumambulate (Tawaf) the Ka’ba during this brief recess. The people of Madinah, naturally, could not circumambulate the Ka’ba and hence, instead, they used to perform 16 rak’ahs more (in total) during these brief recesses.”
Allamah Ayni wrote in his Sharh al-Bukhari:
“The number of rak’ahs in the Taraweeh is twenty. Imam Shafi’i and Imam Ahmed (Allah’s mercy be upon them) assert the same thing. Their proof is the report which Bayhaqi has, with genuine authority, narrated from Sa’ib ibn Yazid. The great Companions, including Umar, Uthman and Ali (may Allah be pleased with them), as also the revered Successors (Tabi’in), used to perform twenty rak’ahs.”
Then he said:
“The most excellent and the most advisable course to conform to is that of the Holy Prophet’s and his (Peace and blessings be upon him) Companions (practise).” (Umdat ul-Qari Sharh-al-Bukhari, vol. 7, pg. 178).
He has said in his Fatawa Ibn Taymiyya (vol.1, pg. 191):
“It has been proven without doubt that Ubayy ibn Ka’b (Allah be pleased with him) used to lead the Companions, during Ramadan, for 20 rak’ahs and 3 rak’ahs of witr. Hence it is the principle (maslak) of most of the Ulama that this is the Sunnah, because Ubayy ibn Ka’b led 20 rak’ahs of prayer in the presence of the Muhajirin (the emigrants) and the Ansars (the helpers) and not a single Companion repudiated it!”