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Monday, April 20, 2020

Taraweeh Prayers - Salāt al-Tarāwīḥ: One of the Three Hallmarks of Month of Ramadan


Alhamdolillah, the blessed month of Ramadan is about to knock our days just in a few days - a month that Muslims all over the world eagerly await all over the year for it is the month that brings unlimited blessings for the believers. The month has three hallmarks: Fasting during the day, offering Ramadan specific prayers called Taraweeh Prayers or the Salāt al-Tarāwīḥ " صلاة التراويح " after the Isha prayer at night, and spending last ten days in the masjid called "Aitikaf".

Taraweeh is derived from the Arabic word meaning “to rest and relax”. Therefore after performing four rakat (cycles of movement involved in Islamic prayer), one sits for a brief period to rest before continuing. These special prayers involve reading long portions of the Qur’an, as well as performing many rakat.

The commencement of Taraweeh prayer is attributed to the Prophet of Allah when on the first night of Ramadan, the Prophet (peace be upon him) offered the Taraweeh prayer in his mosque and was joined by one or two people. On the following night he was joined by a fair-sized congregation. However, on the third night when a large number of believers had gathered, he did not come out. At the Fajr prayer, when he was asked why, he said:
Nothing prevented me from coming out to you except the fact that I feared that it would be made obligatory for you.” (Muslim)
This shows how thoughtful the Prophet was about his community. Even in matters of worship, he always wanted what was easier for them. If he were to offer this prayer in the mosque every night, throughout Ramadan, people would over the years elevate it to the obligatory or semi-obligatory status. Therefore, he decided to offer it at home to retain its status as voluntary night worship, which we can do at any time.

The Prophet prayed 8 rak`at of Taraweeh and 3 rak`at of witr. `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) was asked about the Prophet’s night prayer; has been quoted as saying:
“He did not pray more than 11 rak`at [a night] in Ramadan or any other month. he used to pray 4 rak`at -don’t ask me about their beauty and length–and then he would pray 4 more rak`at-don’t ask me about their beauty and length–and then he would pray 3 rak`at (of witr).” (Al-Bukhari)
However, thereafter, the believers continued to offer Taraweeh prayers in small groups of up to 8 rak`at as was performed by the Prophet of Allah. It was in the time of second Caliph Umer who institutionalized the Taraweeh prayers as he thought that offering Taraweeh prayer in small groups suggested division within the Muslim community. Therefore, he told them to form one congregation and appointed Ubayy ibn Kaab (one of the best reciters of the Qur’an among the Prophet’s companions) to lead the congregation and they prayed 8 rak`at. Later it was increased to 20 rak‘at. Umar did not join because, as caliph, he led the obligatory prayers. Again he was keen not to give this prayer any impression of being obligatory.  

Since then Taraweeh prayers have become one of the hallmarks of the month of Ramadan and believers flock the masjids to offer isha as well as Taraweeh prayers. However it must be understood that it is not obligatory. Anyone can offer it at home, with his family or friends, or even alone. It is all acceptable. However, in congregation it earns a greater reward. Any prayer offered in congregation is rewarded at 27 times its normal reward when offered alone. In many countries, every country, a little more than one complete Juz / part of Qur'an is completed so that the entire is Qur'an is read over by 27th of Ramadan, a night generally agreed to be the one in which the revelation of Qur'an was completed.  

Under the present pandemic coronavirus conditions, almost all Muslim countries have advised the believers to offer prayers at home for the fear of transmission of virus to others as masjids are more than over crowded in Ramadan.

May Allah help us to understand the simple and most practical religion of all - Islam and allow us to take advantage of concessions given to us in difficult time. Aameen.

For more Q &A about understanding prayers / As Salat, please refer to our reference page: Q & A Related to Prayers / Salat.

You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.

May Allah show us the right path so that we do not go astray due to what man has interpreted verses of religious scriptures to suit their own religions and faith. Aameen.

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