how many Rak’ahs in Taraweeh prayer?
Posted August 16, 2010on:
how many Rak’ahs in Taraweeh prayer?
Praise be to Allaah.
Muslims should not be so sensitive with regard to issues that are the matter of scholarly differences or make them the cause of division and fitnah among the Muslims. Two groups have gone to extremes with regard to this matter.
- The first group denounced everyone who prays more than eleven rak’ahs and said that doing so was bid’ah.
- The second group denounced those who do only eleven rak’ahs and said that they are going against scholarly consensus (ijmaa’).
Let us listen to what Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
Here we say that we should not go to extremes or be negligent. Some people go to extremes in adhering to the number mentioned in the Sunnah, and say that it is not permissible to do more than the number mentioned in the Sunnah, and they aggressively denounce those who do more than that, saying that they are sinners.
This is undoubtedly wrong. How can they be sinners, when the Prophet SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), upon being asked about night prayers, said that they are to be done two by two, and he did not specify any particular number? Of course the one who asked him about the night prayer did not know the number, because if he did not know how to do it, it is even more likely that he did not know the number. And he was not one of those who served the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) so that we might say that he knew what happened inside his house. Since the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) told him how to do it but did not say how many times, it may be understood that the matter is broad in scope, and that a person may pray one hundred rak’ahs then pray Witr with one rak’ah.
With regard to the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), “Pray as you have seen me praying”, this does not apply in absolute terms even for these people. Hence they do not say that a person should pray Witr with five rak’ahs sometimes and with seven rak’ahs sometimes and with nine rak’ahs sometimes. If we understand it in absolute terms, then we would have to pray Witr with five rak’ahs sometimes and with seven rak’ahs sometimes and with nine rak’ahs sometimes. But what is meant by the hadeeth is pray as you have seen me praying with regard to how to pray not how many rak’ahs, unless there is a text to state what the number is.
Whatever the case, a person should not be strict with people with regard to a matter that is broad in scope.
We have even seen some brothers who are strict on this matter accusing the imams who pray more than eleven rak’ahs of following bid’ah, and they leave the mosque. We have no doubt that their intentions are good and they are doing their best to come to the right conclusion, but that does not mean that they are correct.
The other group does the opposite. They sternly denounce those who pray only eleven rak’ahs and say that they have gone against scholarly consensus. The evidence that there is no set number for prayers at night – which include Taraaweeh – is the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Umar according to which a man asked the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) about prayer at night. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Prayers at night are to be offered two by two (two rak’ahs at a time). If any of you fears that the time of dawn is approaching then let him pray one rak’ah as Witr.”
(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 846; Muslim, 749)
If we look at what the scholars of the prominent schools of thought said, you will clearly see that this matter is broad in scope and that there is nothing wrong with doing more than eleven rak’ahs.
Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever stands with the Imam until he finishes, it is equivalent to spending the whole night in prayer.”
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