The month of Ramadaan is the most sacred and important month in the Islamic calendar. Legislated in the second year of the Hijra, it is a special month of the year for Muslims throughout the world. Muslims eagerly wait for this blessed month since it has superb qualities to empower those observing it. It is truly a grand gift from Almghty Allah Taála.
THE TARAWÎH PRAYER
Tarwihah (pl. Tarawîh) is the pause observed after every four rakâhs of the Night Prayer during Ramadhân. The Tarawîh Prayer consists of twenty rakâhs and has the status of Sunnah both for the men and women. Rasulullâh Sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam observed this Prayer and after him his Companions also kept up the practice. It is independent of the fast and should be offered even by the person who does not observe the fast due to some reason, unless otherwise exempted.
MERIT OF THE TARAWÎH PRAYER
Once Rasulullâh Sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam addressed his followers on the last day of Sha’bân, on the eve of Ramadhân, and said: “There is a night in this month which is greater in excellence than a thousand months; Allâh has enjoined an extra prayer to be offered in the nights of this month. If a person performs a voluntary good act out of his own free choice during this month, he will be entitled to receive the reward of an imperative act performed in the other months…” (Mishkât).
In another tradition, he has regarded the Tarawîh Prayer as a means of the forgiveness of sins. He has said: “The one who observes the Tarawîh Prayer at night during Ramadhân with complete faith and devotion only for the sake of the recompense of the Âkhirat [Hereafter], will have all his previous sins forgiven by Allâh.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
TIME OF THE TARAWÎH PRAYER
First Tarawîh Prayer has to start from the evening the Ramadhân moon is sighted and has to be discontinued in the evening the Eid moon is sighted. The time for it starts after the Isha Prayer and lasts till the break of dawn. If a person offers his Tarawîh Prayer before the Isha Prayer, it will not be valid, or if he offers it after the Isha prayer, but then has to repeat his Isha Prayer due to some reason, he will have to repeat his Tarawîh Prayer as well (Durrul Mukhtâr). It is, however, commendable that the Tarawîh prger is offered after one third of the.night has passed and before it is midnight.
COLLECTIVE OFFERING OF THE TARAWÎH PRAYER
Rasulullâh Sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam led the Tarawîh Prayer in congregation on the 23rd, 25th and 27th of Ramadhân. Then when he saw the great keenness and enthusiasm of the Companions for the Prayer he decided to stay back in his house. The companions thought that perhaps he had gone to sleep, and so came to his door to call him out for the prayer. Rasulullâh Sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam came out and said:
“May Allâh increase your keenness and bless you; I have purposely not come out for the Prayer lest it should be made incumbent upon you and then you are not able to observe it regularly as a prescribed Prayer; so you should offer it privately in your houses, because offering a voluntary prayer in the house carries much more rewards (than offering it in the Mosque).” (Muslim)
This Hadîth at least shows that it is permissible to offer the Tarawîh Prayer in congregation, because Rasulullâh Sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam himself led it in congregation during three nights. After him the Companions also kept up this practice in small groups till Hadrat’ ‘Umâr Radiallâhu anhu, the second Caliph of Islâm, decided to establish it as a regular congregational prayer to which none of the Companions objected. This practice continued in the times of the later Caliphs also. That is why the scholars have regarded collective offering of the Tarawîh Prayer as a compulsory Sunnah having the Kifayah status.
RAKÂHS OF TARAWÎH
According to the consensus of the Companions the Tarawîh Prayer consists of 20 rakâhs which are to be offered two at a time with one salutation, and after every four rakâhs a short pause of rest has to be observed for the convenience of the people.
WHAT SHOULD BE RECITED DURING THE PAUSE
The worshipper has the option to sit quiet during the pause after each four rakahs, or recite some Tasbih, or offer a voluntary prayer. The people of Makkah, as mentioned above, used to perform a tawaf of the Ka’bah, and the people of Madinah offered four rakahs of Nafl. Somejurists, however, have recommended that the following Tasbih be recited in the pause:
Subhana dhil Mulki wal Malakuti
[Glorified is the Owner of the Kingdom of the earth and the heavens]
Subhana zil izzati wal ‘azmati wal haibati
[Glorified is the Possessor of Honour and Magnificence and Awe]
wal qudrati wal kibriy,âi waljabarut
[and Power and Greatness and Omnipotence].
Subhanal Maliki il Hayy, illazi la yanamu wa la yamut.
[Glorified is the Sovereign, the Living, Who does neither sleep nor die].
Subbuhun Quddusun Rabbuna wa Rabb ul Mala’ikati war Rûh.
[He is the most praised and the most Holy, our Rabb and Rabb of the Angels and the Spirit (Gabriel).]
CONGREGATION FOR WITR PRAYER
The Witr Prayer is allowed to be offered collectively only during Ramadhân, and not in any other month. The people who happen to offer the Tarawîh prayer individually, may also join in the Witr congregation, but those who offer the Sunnah prayer of Tarawîh behind an Imâm are under obligation to offer the wâjib Prayer of Witr as well behind the Imâm. It is not proper to go to sleep after the Tarawîh Prayer and defer the Witr Prayer till Tahajjud time and offer it privately then. (Hidâyah, vol. 1, p. 131)
RECITAL OF THE WHOLE QUR’ÂN DURING TARAWÎH
It is a Sunnah of Rasulullâh Sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam to complete recital of the whole Qur’ân, from the beginning to the end, during Ramadhân. It has been related that the Rasulullâh Sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam himself used to recite the whole Qur’ân before Angel Jibra’îl Alayhis Salâm during every Ramadhân, but in the year he passed away he recited it twice before him. He has exhorted his followers also to keep up the practice. According to Hadrat Abdullah bin ‘Umâr Radiallâhu anhu, he has said:
“The Fast and the Qur’ân will intercede for the believer (on the Day of Judgment). The Fast will say: ‘My Rabb, I stopped this person from eating and drinking and gratifying his desires during the day and he abstained from these, so do accept my intercession on his behalf’ and the Qur’ân will say: ‘I stopped him from seeking ease and comfort during the night, and he abstained from sleep and kept standing in Thy presence, reciting the Qur’ân; so my Rabb, do accept my intercession on his behalf.’ So Allâh will accept the intercession of both.” (Mishkât)
The Companions kept up this practice. Hadrat ‘Umâr Radiallâhu anhu would make special arrangements for offering the Tarawîh Prayer collectively and recital of the whole Qur’ân during Ramadhân.
MISCELLANEOUS REGULATIONS ON TARAWÎH
1. Tarawîh Salâh is Sunnah e Muakkada for both men and women.
2. To perform Tarawîh in Jarnât for Men is Sunnah e Kifaya.
3. If a person performs Tarawîh at his home while Tarawîh Salâh are said in the neighbouring masjid, the person who says it alone will not be sinful, but if all of the neighbours say it alone in their homes, all of them will be sinful for neglecting Tarawîh Jamât.
4. The intention is to observe two rakâhs of sunnah of the Tarawîh Prayer, and thus to complete 20 rakâhs with 10 salutations.
5. It is preferable to offer the Witr Prayer after the completion of the Tarawîh Prayer, but if the Witr Prayer is offered before the Tarawîh Prayer, or after offering some rakâhs of the Tarawîh, Prayer, there is no harm (Ilm al Fiqh, vol. II, p. 52)
6. If a late comer for the Tarawîh Prayer finds that the Imâm has stood up for the Witr Prayer when he has yet to complete some of his Tarawîh rakâhs, he should join in the Witr congregation, and should complete his remaining rakâhs of Tarawîh later in his own time.
7. It is desirable to observe the pause of rest after each four rakâhs for as long as the time taken for observing the four rakâhs; however, if the followers find it hard and inconvenient they may observe a shorter pause. 8. It is not valid to join in the Tarawîh congregation before first observing the Fard Prayer of Isha, for the Tarawîh Prayer has to start after the Isha Prayer.
8. If a person has oberved his Fardh Prayer of Isha in congregation, but has not observed the Tarawîh Prayer in congregation, he is permitted to offer his Witr Prayer in congregation.
9. Even if he has not observed the Fard Prayer of Isha in congregation, he is allowed to offer the Witr Prayer in congregation.
10. It is undesirable to offer the Tarawîh, Prayer sitting unless one has a genuine excuse for doing so.
11. If a person is not able to observe the Fard Prayer of Isha in congregation, he can offer his Tarawîh Prayer in congregation.
12. It is permissible that the Fard and Witr congregational Prayers are led by one Imâm and the Tarawîh congregation by another. Hadrat ‘Umar (R.A.) used to lead the Fard and Witr Prayers while the Tarawîh congregation was led by Hadrat Abi bin Ka’b (R.A.).
13. If a few rakâhs of Tarawîh, are invalidated due to some reason, and they have to be repeated, the relevant portion of the Qur’ân should also be repeated so as to make the recital of the Qur’ân complete and valid.
14. If the Imâm stands up by mistake after completing two rakahs of Tarawîh, and realizes his mistake before going down for Sajdah, or is reminded by a follower, he should sit down in Qadah, recite Tashahhud and complete the prayer with Sajdah Sahwa. If, however, he realizes the mistake after the Sajdah of the third Rakâh has been performed, he should observe the fourth Rakâh as well; in this case the four rakahs thus performed will represent the original two rakahs only.
15. If the Imarn sits in Qadah after two rakahs, but then stands up by mistake for the third Rakâh, he should complete four rakahs, which will be counted valid and in order.
16. It is not proper to offer the Tarawîh Prayer in congregation for the persons who have not first offered the Fard Prayer of Isha in congregation, because this would mean giving preference to a voluntary prayer over an obligatory prayer which is not good.
17. If some people have started the Tarawîh Prayer collectively after observing the Isha Prayer duly in congregation, they may be joined by other people who did not observe the Fard Prayer in congregation, because in this case the latecomers would only be following those who have observed the Isha Prayer duly in congregation before starting the Tarawîh Prayer.
18. If a person reaches the masjid at a time when the Isha congregational Prayer has already been held, he should first offer the Isha Prayer independently, and then join the Tarawîh congregation; the rakahs of Tarawîh which he has missed may either be offered during the pauses or at the end of the Witr Prayer.
19. The persons who have not offered the Isha Prayer in congregation, but individually, may also join in the Witr congregation along with those who may be offering it after having observed the Isha Prayer in congregation.
20. The custom of holding Shabinahs which has become common these days is not correct; the Qur’ân needs to be recited most carefully and the followers have to listen to it with due attention and understanding in order to draw spiritual benefits as was the practice in the time of the Compainions. The Qur’ân says: “This Book which We have sent down to you is full of blessings so that the people may ponder over it verses and those endued with understanding may learn lessons from it.” (38: 29)
Rasulullâh Sallallâhu ‘alayhi wasallam has warned: “The person who finished recital of the Qur’ân in less than three days, has drawn no benefit from it.” (Tirmidhi)
And the Qur’ân says: “When the Qur’ân is recited, you should listen to it with due attention.” (204)
21. According to the Hanafis, ‘Bismillah ir Rahman ir Rahim’ is a verse of the Qur’ân and has to be recited aloud by the Imâm in the beginning of any Sûrah, not necessarily Al-Ikhlas (112), at least once in the Tarawîh Prayer during Ramadhân. However, according to Imâm Shafi‘î Rahimahullâh ‘alayhi and the reciters of Makkah and Kufah, it is a verse of every Sûrah, and thus has to be recited aloud in the beginning of every Sûrah accordingly.
22. It is undesirable to recite Sûrah Ikhlas (112) thrice in the same Rakâh of the Tarawîh Prayer; some jurists, however, regard this as commendable, but outside the prayer, not inside it.
23. When recital of the Qur’ân has been completed once, it is commendable to start reciting it again from the beginning in the next Rakâh of Tarawîh and continue it till the end of v. 5 of Al-Baqarah (2). (Ilm al Fiqh, vol. 11, p. 174)
24. It is not permissible to appoint a boy who has not yet attained puberty, as an Imâm for the Tarawîh Salâh (Kabiri). However such a boy may lead the Tarawîh Salâh if the followers of his congregation are also all immature children. (Kaniyyah).
25. If the Imân of one’s masjid recites the Qur’ân incorrectly, there is no hindrance in performing the Tarawîh in the Masjid of another area. (Alamgiri).
26. It is makrûh [abominable] to summon an Imarn for Tarawîh on a fixed remuneration basis (Alamgiri).
27. If someone missed the Tarawîh Salâh (of some night) due to some reason, there is no Qadhâ for it (after the lapse of that night) neither with nor without Jamât. Albeit, if someone mAkes the Qadhâ, it will not be regarded as Taraweh but as Nafl Salâh. (Bahr)
28. When the Jamât of Tarawîh commences, a person remains seated. As soon as the Imâm goes into ruku, he quickly makes his niyyah and joins the Imâm. This type of action is makrûh [abominable] and is analogous to the actions of hypocrites. (Kabiri)
29. It is mustahab [desirable] to spend a major portion of the night in Tarawîh. (Bahr)
30. To complete the Qur’ân once (either by reciting or listening) is Sunnah. To complete it twice is superior and to complete it thrice is even better. if the Irnârn recites only ten âyâh [verses] in each rakât, the Qur’ân can be very conveniently completed once. In this way, it will not be burdensome on the Muqtadis either. (Khaniyyah).
31. It is better to complete the Qur’ân once in every ten days (Bahr).
32. It is meritorious for those who are Huffâz of the Qur’ân to perform a further twenty rakâts at home after returning from the masjid, so that they may thereby acquire the virtue of completing the Qur’ân twice. (Khaniyyah)
33. If the Imâm of one’s local masjid does not complete the Qur’ân in Tarawîh, there is nothing wrong in performing Tarawîh in another masjid where completion of the Qur’ân does take place (Kabiri); because the sunnah of completion of the Qur’ân will only be achieved there. (Fatâwa Mahmoodiya 1 vol. 2)
In Tarawîh, the Imâm should recite Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim at least once in a loud voice at the beginning of any Sûrah. By reciting it silently, the Imâm will have recited the entire Qur’ân, but the Muqtadi’s (followers) will not have heard the entire Qur’ân. (ibid.)