Notes on the Night Prayer, Swalah at-Tarawih, in Ramadhan

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is excerpted from Ahadits asw-Swiyam.  It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, “Whoever prays at night in Ramadhan out of faith and in the hope of Reward, his previous sins will be Forgiven.”

This hadits is indicative of the virtue of praying qiyam in Ramadhan, and shows that this is one of the means of forgiveness of sin.  Whoever prays swalah at-tarawih as it should be prayed has prayed at night, qiyam al-layl, in Ramadhan.

Forgiveness is conditional upon “faith and hope of Reward,” as stated here.  What is meant by “faith” is that when the person stands to pray qiyam, he believes in Allah (s.w.t.), and believes in His Promise and in the virtue of praying qiyam, and in the greatness of its reward with Allah (s.w.t.).  “Hope of reward” means that he is seeking the Reward from Allah (s.w.t.) and is not doing it for any other purpose such as showing off.

In a similar hadits, it was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) said, the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) used to encourage them to pray qiyam during Ramadhan, without commanding them to do it.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Whoever prays at night in Ramadhan out of faith and in the hope of Reward, his previous sins will be Forgiven.”

So the Muslim should be keen to pray swalah at-tarawih, and should be patient in completing the prayer with his imam.  He should not neglect any part of it, or leave before his imam, even if his imam does more than eleven or thirteen raka’ah, because the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Whoever prays qiyam with the imam until he finishes, it will be recorded that he spent the night in qiyam.”  It is only a few nights, which the wise man makes the most of before they are gone.

With regards the witr, the following was recorded by Imam Abu Dawud (r.a.) about questions asked to his teacher, Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (r.a.).  Imam Abu Dawud said, “It was asked of Ahmad while I was listening: ‘Can qiyam [swalah tarawih] be delayed until the end of the night?’

He replied, ‘The way of the Muslims is dearer to me.’”

If a person is keen to pray whatever raka’ah he wants to at the time of suhur, pre-dawn, then he should not pray witr again at the end of his prayer.  Rather it is sufficient for him to pray witr with his imam in tarawih because of the hadits of Thalq ibn ‘Ali (r.a.) who said, “The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, ‘There cannot be two witr in one night.’”

According to the hadits of ibn ‘Umar (r.a.), the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Make the last of your prayers at night, witr.”  This is to be understood as referring to one who prays at the end of the night and did not pray witr at the beginning of the night.

The command here is to be understood as a recommendation, not an obligation.  It is not essential to conclude the prayer at the end of the night with witr, based on the fact that the Prophet (s.a.w.) prayed at the end of the night, after his witr.

Imam Abu Dawud (r.a.) said, “I asked Ahmad, ‘Does praying after witr invalidate witr?’

He replied, ‘No.’”

Imam Abu Dawud (r.a.) also said, “I heard Ahmad say concerning one who prayed witr at the beginning of the night then got up to pray qiyam: ‘He should pray two raka'at.’

It was asked, ‘Does he not have to pray witr?’

He replied, ‘No.’”

Imam Abu Dawud (r.a.) said, “I heard someone ask him about someone who wanted to pray after witr: ‘Should he pray two by two?’

He said, ‘Yes, but after witr, he should lie down.’”

The imam should take care to pray swalah at-tarawih properly.  He should pray with proper focus and humility, reciting in a proper manner and being at ease in ruku' and sujud.  He should beware of rushing lest he fails to attain the proper level of khushu’, focus and humility, and lest he make the weak, elderly and sick among the people behind him get too tired.

as-Sa’ib ibn Yazid (r.a.) said, “‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab commanded Ubayy ibn Ka’b and Tamim ad-Dari to lead the people in praying eleven raka’ah of qiyam.”  He said, “The reciter used to recite the surah that contain more than a hundred verses, until we would lean on sticks because of having to stand for so long, but we did not leave until dawn was approaching.”

When the worshipper has said the taslim at the end of witr, he should say, “Subhan al-Malik al-Quddus,” “Glory be to the Sovereign, the Most Holy,” three times, elongating the vowels and raising his voice the third time, because it is proven that the Prophet (s.a.w.) did that.


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