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The Fiqh of Tarāwīh

A Selected Translation from the Chapter of ‘Recommended Prayers’ From the Book:

Hāshiyah al-Rawdh al Murbi’ Sharh Zād al-Mustaqni.

By Ibn Qāsim al-Hanbali (1392h) 

NOTE: The text in bold is from the text Zād al Mustaqni’ by Imam al Hajjāwi and the rest of the text is its commentary from ar-Rawdh al Murbi’ by Imam al-Bahūti. The footnotes have been taken from the Hāshiyah of Ibn Qāsim (rh).


(Tarāwīh) is a highly emphasised recommended prayer[1]. It was called that because after they used to pray four units they would rest for a short while.[2] ([it] is 20 rak’ahdue to what Abu Bakr ‘Abdul ‘Azeez narrated in ‘ash-Shāfi’ on the authority of ‘Ibn ‘Abbas that the Prophet (saw) used to pray 20 rak’ah in the month of Ramadan.[3] (it is prayed) in units of two (in congregation as well as the witr prayer)[4]in the mosque in beginning of the night (after the ‘isha prayer) and better to pray it after its sunnah (in Ramadan)[5] due to the hadeeth found in the two saheehs which was reported by A’ishah (ra) who mentioned that he (saw) prayed it for some nights and they prayed it with him, then he would not come out and prayed it in his house for the rest of the month, and he (saw) said: “I feared that it would become obligatory upon you and you would be unable to perform it.”[6]

It was reported in al Bukhari that ‘Umar gathered the people together and were led in the Tarāwīh prayer by Ubayy bin Ka’b.[7] Imam Ahmad and at-Tirimidhi reported that the Prophet (saw) said: “Whoever prayed with the Imam until he finishes will have written for him that he prayed for the entire night.”[8] (The one who prays tahujjud should pray witr) i.e. the one who prays after he sleeps (after it) i.e. after his tahajjud[9]due to the statement of the Prophet (saw): “Make your last prayer at night odd.” Agreed upon.[10] (If one prays with his Imam) and prayed witr with him or prayed witr by himself, and then wanted to pray tahajjud, should not annul his witr[11]rather pray without praying witr.[12]And if (he should make it even by adding one extra rak’ah) i.e. added to his witr which he prayed behind the Imam; one rak’ah, then it is permissible. Moreover, he will attain the reward of following the Imam as well as making witr his final prayer.[13](And it is disliked to pray supererogatory prayers between them) i.e. between the tarāwīh prayers.

Al Athram reported that Abu Dardā’ saw some people praying between tarāwīh and said: ‘What prayer is this? Are you praying whilst the Imam is in front of you? Indeed, the one who seeks other than our way is not from us.’[14] (But Ta’qīb is not) disliked which is to pray (after it) i.e. after tarāwīh and witr (in congregation).[15] This is due to the statement of Anas: ‘Do not return except for some good that you hope for’.[16] Likewise it is not disliked to do tawāf between tarāwīh [17]It is not recommended for the Imam to recite more than the whole Qur’an (throughout Ramadan) in tarāwīh [18]unless the people prefer to increase upon that[19]. Likewise, it is not recommended for him to recite less than the entire Qur’an in order to attain the reward of it.[20]




[1] i.e. in Ramadan according to the consensus of the Muslims. The Prophet (saw) established it according to the hadeeth of ‘A’ishah which will be mentioned soon. It is not considered to be a newly invented matter by ‘Umar. It is also considered to be from the manifest emblems of this religion. It has been mentioned (in importance) before the daily recommended prayers due to the Prophet’s (saw) performance of it and his affirmation of it, as well as the agreement of the companions that it is to be performed in congregation according to the command of the rightly guided caliph, ‘Umar (ra), who the Prophet (saw) commanded us to follow in his statement: “Follow my sunnah and the sunnah of the rightly guided caliphs”. The companion’s performance of this prayer is well known and has been received by the ‘ummah from the early generations up until today. There are also many narrations that state the virtue of this prayer such as the hadeeth: “Whoever stood in prayer in Ramadan with iman and hope for its reward will have his sins forgiven.” (Agreed upon). It is not considered to be an obligation since the Prophet (saw) prayed it with his companions for two or three nights then left it saying: “[I left it] out of fear that it would become obligatory upon all of you and then you would be unable to perform it.”

[2] Some linguists stated that Tarāwīh is the plural of Tarwīhah, which in origin is a name given for the practice of sitting. Then it was used to refer to the sitting that takes place every four units of prayer during the nights of Ramadan so that people could rest, or because they used to rest after every two units of prayer. It was stated in al Misbāh: The term: ‘arihna bis-salāh’ (lit. soothe us by the prayer) means to establish the prayer. Thus praying achieves a sense of rāhah (repose/tranquillity). Thus the word tarāwīh has been derived from that word. It (i.e. tarāwīh) is prayed in the month of Ramadan. It was stated in al-Furū: ‘One (can) rest between every 4 unit of prayer according to the agreement of the scholars, and supplicate therein. This was done by the pious predecessors. However, there is no harm in leaving that.”

[3] This was reported by Ibn Abi Shaybah. However, the chain of narration contains Ibrahim bin ‘Uthman who is considered to be weak according to the agreement of the scholars. Al Bayhaqi narrated in ‘al Ma’rifah’ on the authority of Sā’ib bin Yazeed who said: ‘We used to pray at the time of ‘Umar (ra) 20 rak’ah as well as witr.’ Imam an-Nawawi said: ‘its chain of narration is saheeh.’ Malik also reported as well as others that: the people used in the time of ‘Umar (ra) in the month of Ramadan 23 rak’ah. Thus 20 was the established practice of the rightly guided caliphs. Al Qādhi said: ‘There is no difference of opinion that there is no specific limit that one cannot go beyond or decrease from. Rather the difference of opinion lies in how much the Prophet (saw) exactly prayed and what he chose for himself to pray.’ It has been reported from the Prophet (saw) through multiple chains of narration that he did not pray more than 11 rak’ah in Ramadan or outside of Ramadan, and according to another narration; 13. When the Prophet (saw) became old he would pray 9 or 7 rak’ah. It was the case that Imam Ahmad as well as well as the majority of scholars chose 20 rak’ah since the night prayer is an act of worship which its reward for it is increased the more it is performed. This is something the scholars do not dispute over.

[4] I.e. the tasleem is performed every two rak’ah due to the hadeeth: “The night prayer should be prayed in units of two.” The wtir should be performed with two (sets of) tasleems as has already been mentioned. It is more virtuous to perform it in congregation rather than individually according to the consensus of the companions as well as scholars. It is however permissible to pray it individually. Malik and Shāfi’e said: ‘it is better to pray it at home’ due to the narration: “The best prayer of a person is at home unless it is an obligatory prayer.” Al Baghawi and others stated: ‘The difference of opinion lies in the case for the one who has memorised the Qur’an and does not fear becoming lazy if he prayed by himself as well as the congregation in the mosque being affected by his absence. If any of these conditions are not met, than praying in congregation is more virtuous without any dispute.’

[5]Sheikh ul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah stated: ‘This is according to the agreement of the pious predecessors and the leaders of the Muslims. It is also called: Qiyāmu Ramadan as the Prophet (saw) stated: “Indeed Allah (swt) has ordained upon you fasting in Ramadan and praying in Ramadan (Qiyāmahu [i.e. Qiyāmu Ramadan] so the one who fasts and prays will have his sins forgiven.” As for it being held at the beginning of the night, then this is because the people used to do this in the time of ‘Umar (ra) and it will be seen that they used to extend it towards the end of the night. As for the statement: ‘It is better to pray it after its sunnah’ i.e. it is better to pray tarāwīh after the ‘isha prayer after its sunnah due to the emphasis of the sunnah of ‘isha. It is however permissible for one to pray it between ‘isha and its sunnah, however it is better to pray it after ‘isha’s sunnah due to what (Ahmad) stated. Al Majd stated: ‘This is because it is disliked to delay the sunnah of ‘isha beyond the preferred (mukhtar) time of ‘isha, thus to follow ‘isha with its sunnah is better.’ Likewise it is permissible if one was to pray it after witr and before fajr, but it will not be accepted to pray it before ‘isha according to consensus. Ibn Taymiyyah stated: ‘Whoever prays it before ‘isha has traversed the path of the innovators, and once fajr has enters, the time for the prayer would have elapsed.’ The (timing of it) as stated by al ‘iqnā’ & others is as follows: ‘Its timing begins after ‘isha & its sunnah, before witr up until the second fajr.

[6]What is apparent is that he (saw) feared that praying during the nights of Ramadan in congregation would become obligatory for the people due to his (saw) continual observance of the prayer. It was reported in the saheeh (i.e. Bukhari): ‘On the fourth night the people were unable to fit into the mosque’ and in the hadeeth of Zayd: ‘Until I feared that it would become obligatory upon all of you, and if it was prescribed for you, you would have not been able to do it.’ The shāhid (point of note) lies in his statement: ‘They prayed with him and he acknowledged that’. He (saw) also said: “Whoever prayed with the Imam until he finishes will have it written for him that he prayed for the whole night.” The companions used to pray it in the mosque at first in separate groups during his lifetime whilst he was aware of that and acknowledged what they were doing.

[7]Imam Ahmad (rh) stated: ‘Ali (ra), Jābir and ‘Abdullah used to pray in congregation, and the companions continued to do this. It was also reported by al Bayhaqi & others that ‘Ali used to appoint an Imam for the men and an Imam for the women.

[8]This is an encouragement to pray with the Imam (until he finishes), and is more stressed than an absolute sunnah. If they delayed tarāwīh or part of it towards the end of the night or extended the prayer to then end of the night; then that it better. Allah (swt) says: “Verily, the rising by night (for Tahajjud prayer) is very hard and Most potent and good for governing (the soul), and Most suitable for (understanding) the word (of Allâh).”(73:6). This is a time that Allah (swt) descends and says: ‘Is there anyone in need of something, is there anyone seeking forgiveness, is there anyone seeking to repent?’ And it is (better to delay the prayer) during the last ten nights, and Ibn Taymiyyah preferred that one spend the night in prayer. He stated: ‘To pray some of the nights in entirety has been reported in the sunnah. It was reported in the two Saheehs that: ‘When the last ten nights entered he (saw) would spend the night in prayer and awoke his family and tightened his waist wrapper.’ It was also reported in at-Tirmidhi that: ‘Towards the end of the month, he (saw) would call his family and prayed with them so that they would fear that the time of suhoor would pass by them’ and the companions used to extend their prayers in the last ten nights close to the time of fajr as was reported in many narrations. Abu Dawud reported that ‘Umar (ra) said: ‘To delay the prayer towards the end of the night is the sunnah of the Muslims.’ And Imam Malik reported that ‘Umar commanded Ubayy and Tameem to lead the people in prayer with chapters that were longer than 100 verses (mi’een) such that people would lean on their sticks due to the length of the prayer, and we did not leave until fajr had almost entered.’ He also reported that Ubay said: ‘When we used to finish from our night prayers in Ramadan we would hurry our servants in serving suhoor out of fear that fajr would enter.’ Likewise, the hadeeth: “Indeed, the prayer towards the end of the night is witnessed (mashoodah), and that is better.” There is no dispute over this, and likewise to depend on a stick for the night prayer is permissible according to the agreement of the scholars.

[9]Tahjjud is a prayer which is performed at night or after sleeping at night. Al Jawhari stated: ‘hajada & tahajjada means to sleep at night and it also means to stay awake. Thus it is from the verbs that have opposite meanings. From this, the word the term for the night prayer; tahajjud was formed.

[10]The Prophet’s (saw) witr used to end towards the end of the night, and there are many authentic narrations that show this. Thus if one does not want to pray tahajjud, should pray witr with the Imam to attain the reward of praying in congregation.

[11]The description of annulling his witr for the one who wants to pray more after his witr is as follows: he prays one extra rak’ah intending to annul his witr and then after completing that extra rak’ah it would be as if he prayed an even (shaf’) amount of rak’ah. Then he prays whatever he wishes in units of two and then concludes with witr with one rak’ah due to the narration: “There are no two witr in one night”. A’ishah (ra) was asked about the one who annuls his witr to which she replied: ‘He is the one who plays with his witr, if he wishes to leave the tarāwīh and pray witr at the end of the night should do that.’

[12]i.e. he should pray an even amount of prayers until the second fajr, since it has been established that the Prophet (saw) used to pray 2 rak’ah after witr and not conclude with another witr since the 1st witr sufficed. This is due to the narration: “There are no two witr in one night.” Reported by Ahmad & Abu Dawud. This is the opinion of the majority of scholars such as Malik, ibn al Mubarak, ash-Shafi’ee, Ahmad and others. This narration was also declared authentic by at-Tirmidhi & others. This is also because the witr that he (saw) has prayed was completed and thus it is not deemed correct to nullify it after completing it.

[13]This is also the case if the Imam appointed somebody else to lead them for that ra’kah. Thus, if the Imam finished the prayer the other person will come and lead the people in prayer for that rak’ah in order to attain the virtue of praying in congregation as well as attaining the reward of making witr the last prayer of the night. And the evidences for the virtue of that have already been mentioned.

[14]Similar has also been reported from ‘Ubādah and ‘Uqbah bin ‘Āmir. It was mentioned to Imam Ahmad (rh) that some companions permitted this and thus replied: ‘That is falsehood (bātil)’. That is the case because it shows that the person is not content with the Imam. This all applies if there was no large gap been between the prayers; for example if the Imam left the mosque or the Imam delayed part of the prayer towards the end of the night, which in that case; is permissible. This was stated by our Sheikh. As for the aforementioned al Athram, then his full name is Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Hāni’ at-Tā’ī, of the great scholars of Islam and the author of as-Sunan and other works. He narrated from Imam Ahmad, ‘Affan and others. Imam an-Nasā’ī narrated from him as well as others. He died in the year 260AH.

[15]Al Majd and others stated: if the prayer was delayed to midnight it is not disliked according to the mathhab, even if they prayed supererogatory prayers after resting, or if they prayed towards the end of the night. This was explicitly stated by Imam Ahmad and his view was chosen by many.

[16]He used to see no problem with that since it is an act of worship, even if they delayed it towards the end of the night.

[17]What is apparent is that the sunnah of tawāf is also not disliked due to what has been mentioned. This is the case even if they returned to it before sleep or they did not delay it to midnight.

[18]This is in order not to make it difficult for the people. This was stated by al Qadhi and others. Imam Ahmad said: ‘He should recite in the month of Ramadan that which is easy for the people and not make it difficult for them, especially in the shorter nights. It was stated in al Ghunyah: ‘One should not recite more than the whole Qu’ran (throughout Ramadan) as it might be difficult for the people as well as result in them leaving the prayer, and thus his sin will become greater.’ It was also said that one should look into the state of the people. Ibn Taymiyyah also stated as previously mentioned that the best for the one who cannot manage a lot; is to lighten the prayer for him.

[19]In such a case, it is recommended according to consensus.

[20] i.e. the reward of the khatmah. Thus the people should be able to listen to the entire Qur’an with him. Ibn Taymiyyah stated that to recite the (entire) Qur’an in tarāwīh is recommended according to the agreement of the scholars of the Muslims. In fact, one of the intended objectives of tarāwīh is to recite the Qur’an so that people can listen to the speech of Allah (swt). This is the case since Ramadan was the month in which the Qur’an descended, and in this month Jibreel used to revise the entire Qur’an with the Prophet (saw). The Prophet (saw) was also the most generous of people and he used to be even more generous in Ramadan when he used to meet Jibreel and revise the Qur’an with him.

One should try and finish the Qur’an in the last tarāwīh before the rukūʿ, and it is recommended for one to supplicate after that as was stated by Imam Ahmad. He also used in support of his view that he saw the people of Shām as well as Sufyan bin ‘Uyaynah doing that. It was also transmitted from the people of Basrah that they used to do that in addition to ‘Uthman and other companions. And there is no harm if a person was to raise his hands in doing so. Likewise many scholars recommended that. Ibn Taymiyyah had a supplication for the khatm of the Qur’an which was very comprehensive. He said: ‘It was reported that there is a supplication that is answered at the time of a khatmah. Thus if a person supplicated at the end of a khatmah for himself, his parents, his scholars, the believing men & women etc, then that is legislated.’ It is befitting that the one who delays part of the tarāwīh in the last ten nights to do so to the last part of the night, so that those who didn’t attend the first part could attend the second part. Likewise they can begin another khatmah so that those who attend the second part of the prayer can listen to the entire Qur’an.

About Sheikh Alomgir Ali

Ustdah Alomgir has a BA in Arabic & English language and has studied Arabic and Islamic studies in Cairo. He is currently pursuing a degree in Shariah at al Azhar University in Cairo. He has translated a number of books and holds weekly Tafseer classes in London and is a regular Khateeb in a number of mosques in London. He also taught Arabic and Islamic studies at the Tayyibun Institute in London and is currently an instructor for the Sabeel retreats and seminars.


  1. Document format – difficult to read
    Assalamu Alaikum

    Jazah Kallah Khair it was very beneficial to read this.

    The only thing I would say was due to the length of the footnotes, it was hard to follow the main text of the document especially if trying to also follow the relevant footnote.

    Could the document be structure any better to aid readability especially for a layman like myself?


  2. Muslim
    Peace and Blessings of ALLAH be upon you and your family. Fellow Believers is it not best for us to join together in th struggle to do what is right? Why then are we here looking for some sort of disagreement in the ranks? This is showing the new Muslim bad conduct during the Month of Ramadan. We pray for the connection with ALLAH and the prayers are for ALLAH. Let us enjoy this month and please let us show the new Muslim the best of the community let us begin with peace and end with peace. Remember the community of non believers is where the new Muslim converts from let us not getr in his or her way. Peace and Blessings of ALLAH be upon you and your family.

  3. ˜˜˜∫˙∆∆˙

    Taraweeh ?
    Taraweeh is not a sunnat of Rasul Allah s.a.w it is the sunnat of Omar r.a

    • True! The Prophet (asws) never meant to pray “taraweeh” with his companions (ra). Correct your views on this subject brothers and sisters.

      Narrated Zaid bin Thabit:
      Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) made a small room (with a palm leaf mat). Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) came out (of his house) and prayed in it. Some men came and joined him in his prayer. Then again the next night they came for the prayer, but Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) delayed and did not come out to them. So they raised their voices and knocked the door with small stones (to draw his attention). He came out to them in a state of anger, saying, “You are still insisting (on your deed, i.e. Tarawih prayer in the mosque) that I thought that this prayer (Tarawih) might become obligatory on you. So you people, offer this prayer at your homes, for the best prayer of a person is the one which he offers at home, except the compulsory (congregational) prayer.”
      Reference : Sahih al-Bukhari 6113
      The best prayer is at home, so how come we encourage people to oppose the Prophet’s words (asws).

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