Rakaat of Taraweeh: 8 or 20?


Sayyidina Abu Huraira (RA) reported: The Messenger of Allah (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) used to exhort (his Companions) to pray (at night) during Ramadan without commanding them to observe it as an obligatory act, and say: He who observed the night prayer in Ramadan because of faith and seeking his reward (from Allah), all his previous sins would be forgiven. When Allah's Messenger ((Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) died, this was the practice, and it continued thus during Abu Bakr's (RA) caliphate and the early part of 'Umar's (RA) caliphate. [Muslim]


Issues like this are easily resolved by sticking to the Qur'aan & Authentic Sunnah as it takes us 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.


Narrated Abu Huraira (RA): I heard Allah's Apostle (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) saying regarding Ramadan, "Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven." [Bukhari]


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 praying at night at Ramadhan has great reward. It is Sunnah to pray in congregation and the command of our beloved Nabi (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) specifically about the prayers in Ramdhan is to FINISH WITH THE IMAM!

He (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) said: When a man prays with an imam till he goes he is reckoned as having spent a whole night in prayer. [Abu Daud].

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.


Evidence of Taraweeh being more then 8 Rakaat & Evaluation of Shaykh Al-Albani's position:

By Shaykh Ayman Bin Khaled

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:
    1. 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.
    2. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

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.

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:

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:

Yazeed bin Rouman reported: People used to pray 23 raka'aa during Ramdan, as a night prayer. [ Malik's Muwatta]

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.

In conclusion,

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.

Wallahu A'lam

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:

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.

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.

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:

It is reported by Abdur Rahman Ibn Auf (R.A.) that Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: "Verily Allah Ta'ala made the fasting of Ramadhaan compulsory upon you and I Have made its standing (in Salaah) Sunnat for you. Hence whoever fasts the month of Ramadhaan and stands (in prayer) in Ramadhaan with faith and hoping for reward will emerge from his sins like the day his mother gave birth to him (Nasai pg.468 vol.4, Musnad Ahmad Hadith no.1660 vol.2 pg.306).

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:

  1. Waajib - compulsory
  2. Mandoob - desirable
  3. Muharramah - prohibiited
  4. Makruhah - detested
  5. Mubahah - permissible

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).

2. Maalik bin Anas - No no one needs any introduction to this great Imaam of the Ummah, Imaam Maalik.

3. Yahya bin Saeed ibne Kais Al-Ansaari - Ibn Sa'd said about him - He is trustworthy, narrated many Ahadith, is a proof and is firm. Imaam Nasai said: Extremely trustworthy. Imaam Ahmad bin Hambal, Yahya ibne Maeenm, Abu Haatim and Abu Zur'ah say he us trustworthy, realible (Tahzeebut Tahzeeb vol.11 pg.195).

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.
  2. They also contend that only 8 rakaats were commanded by Umar (R.A.)

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:

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?

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.

The removal of a doubt

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
  2. Yahya bin Saeed Al Qattaan - Musannaf ibne Abi Shaiba
  3. Abdul Aziz bin Muhammad - Sunan Saeed bin Mansoor
  4. Ibne Ishaq - Qiyamul Layl
  5. The Ustad of Abdur Razak (Dawood bin Qais) - Musannaf Abdur Razak

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
  2. Yahya bin Saeed Al Qattam (R.A.) in a narration relates that Umar (R.A.) gathered the people behind Ubay and Tameem (R.A.) and they two used to perform 11 rakaats (In this narration there is no mention of the command of Umar (R.A.).
  3. The narration of Abdul Hafeez ibne Muhammad is as follows: "We used to read 11 rakaats in the era of Umar (R.A.) [no mention of Umar R.A.'s command].
  4. Ibne Ishaq (R.A.) who also reports from Muhammad bin Yusuf (R.A.) states in his narration: "We used to read 13 rakaats in Ramadhaan in the era of Umar (R.A.) (instead of 11 rakaats. 13 are mentioned by this student of Muhammad bin Yusuf).
  5. In the narration of Dawood bin Qais it states: "Hazrath Umar (R.A.) gave the command of 21 rakaats.

The differences in the narrations of the 5 students of Muhammad bin Yusuf can be summed up to be 2:

  1. Some narrations state that Umar (R.A.) gave the command whereas the other narrations don't mention this. However this difference can be easily reconciled because it is established from other narrations that Umar (R.A.) did appoint Ubay and Tameem (R.A.) and that Umar (R.A.) was responsible for gathering the people behind one Imaam, therefore in all probability it would seem that the truth of the matter is that Umar (R.A.) gave the command of the number of rakaats as well.
  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.


Taraweeh 8 or 20 Rakat?

Shaykh (Maulana) Abu Yusuf Riyadh Ul Haq (HA)


20 rakaat Taraweeh

Shaykh Mumtaz ul Haq (HA)

Taraweeh 8 or 20?

Shaykh (Mufti) Ebrahim Desai (HA)