Is taraaweeh 20 raka’aats????

Is Tarâwîh Salâh 20 Raka’ât?
Compiled by Moulana Ebrahim Kadwa
Attested by Allamah Khalid Mahmood Saheb, Director Islamic Academy, Manchester, UK.


 It is an accepted fact among the authentic scholars of Islam that for centuries, tarâwîh salât was and is an additional salâh (prayer) in the month of Ramadân. Only the Shî’as reject tarâwîh. The Ahle Hadîth sect (or Salafis) also reject the fact that there is an additional prayer in Ramadân. Their belief is that tahajjud salât which is performed during the latter portion of the night was brought forward in Ramadân. Thus there is no addition in Ramadân.

(The Ahle Hadith are a sect that do not ascribe to any mazhab nor do they follow any particular Imam. They claim to derive their rules directly from the hadith. Another name used for this sect is Ghair Muqallideen. The Salafis also hold similar beliefs. The term Ahle Hadith used in this book refers in general to all those who hold such beliefs)

The Ahle Hadith hold the same belief as the Shî’a regarding tarâwîh. (It is interesting to not that Mia Nazir Husain Delhwi, the firts notable scholar of the Ahle Hadith sect remarked to Moulana Thanaullah Amritsari that the Ahle Hadith are small Shias due to the disrespect created by not adopting the taqlid of the Imaams. See Tarikh Ahle Hadith by Moulana Muhammad Ibrahim) According to them, Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) began performing his tahajjud earlier in Ramadân. This was then termed tarâwîh. According to this belief, there was no increase in the salât of Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) during Ramadân.

Salât is the highest form of physical worship in Islam. When the month of Ramadân arrives, the common masses begin increasing their salât by performing extra nawâfil (optional prayers). Can it then be possible for Rasûlullâh (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) that he encouraged excess worship in this month while he himself did not increase his nightly worship? If he merely transferred his tahajjud salât to an earlier time, then it implies that there was no increase in his salât. So why did he ask his followers to perform an additional prayer in Ramadân?

There is a narration that indicates an increase in his salât during the holy month. Hadrat Abu Hurairah (Radiallâhu anhu) reports that Rasûlullâh (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) said:

“Whoever stood in Ramadân (in worship) with Imân and to seek reward, all his past sins are forgiven.”(Sahih Muslim vol.1 pg.259)

This hadith indicates that Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) encouraged the people to stand and worship Allâh during the month of Ramadân i.e. by performing salât, but did he himself add anything to his salâh?

Is it suitable for the lofty status of this messenger that he encourages people to perform salât in such a holy month while he himself does not do so? Any person that studies the life history of Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam), knows that there was no contradiction between his speech and his action. He practically demonstrated all that he spoke of. Even people that are generally far from Dîn, perform some extra worship during Ramadân. Thus it is impossible for him to have omitted extra salât in Ramadân. He most certainly performed an additional salâh but was not strict in enforcing it.

Accordingly, the beliefs of the Ahle Hadith and Shias are similar on this issue; the only difference being that the Shia have not claimed the eight raka!ât of tahajjud being brought forward while the Ahle Hadith have done so. The Shî’as openly and directly claim that there is no extra salât in Ramadân and Rasûlullâh (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) did not add any salâh in the blessed nights of Ramadân.

With regards to the number of raka´ât of tarâwîh, for the past twelve centuries, the entire ummah without any exception has been performing twenty raka´ât of tarâwîh. This has been the practice of Muslims from the time of Rasûlullâh (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam), the Sahâbah (Radiallâhu anhum), the Tabi’een and the Ulama (Rahimahumullâh) until two centuries ago, when a newly-born sect called the Ahle Hadîth introduced the theory that tarâwîh is only eight raka´ât. Till today, tarâwîh in both the Haramain (Makkah and Madînah) is twenty raka´ât and thousands of Muslims observe it there in the month of Ramadân.

If we assume that eight raka´ât of tarâwîh is correct, then it means that the entire Ummah was deviated for all these centuries by performing twenty raka´ât without any Shar´î proof. Nonetheless, it can be conclusively proven that no musjid from the time of Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) till two centuries ago had the practice of eight raka´ât. Had eight raka´ât been the mazhab of anyone, a scholar like Imâm Tirmizi would have mentioned it in his Jâmi, but none of the Sihâh Sittah (six canonical works of hadîth) mention anyone’s practice to be of eight raka´ât in any musjid.

In this brief treatise, an effort has been made to prove that tarâwîh salât is an additional salât in Ramadân and that it is indeed twenty raka´ât. It is hoped that this treatise will remove all doubts and clarify the mas’alah for both students and the masses alike. May Allâh accept this humble effort and guide the ignorant. آmîn.

Chapter One

The Early Stage

Ibn Shihâb narrated that Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) passed away and the people continued observing salât (tarâwîh) individually and this continued in the era of Abu Bakr (Radiallâhu anhu) and the early stages of the khilâfah of Umar (Radiallâhu anhu).

Abdur Rahmân Ibn Abdil Qârrî narrates that he went out with Umar (Radiallâhu anhu) during one night of Ramadân to the musjid. The people were performing salât in different groups. Some people were praying alone or a person was performing salât with a small group behind him. Umar (Radiallâhu anhu) expressed his desire of gathering all the people behind one reciter (Qârî) and letting them perform salât in congregation. He felt this would be much better than people performing salât in different groups or individually. After he made a firm resolve to implement this desire of his, he gathered the people behind Ubayy Ibn Ka’b (Radiallâhu anhu). (Bukhari vol.1 pg.269)

Urwa (Radiallâhu anhu) narrates that آisha (Radiallâhu anhâ) informed him that Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) went out to the musjid during the middle of the night and performed salât with some men. In the morning the people spoke about it and more people gathered on the second night. In the morning the people again talked about it. On the third night, the musjid was full. On the fourth night, the musjid could not accommodate the large crowd that had gathered. Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) only came out in the morning for the fajr salât. After completing the fajr prayer, he addressed the people and told them that he knew of their presence in the musjid but did not attend in fear of the tarâwîh becoming compulsory on them. He also feared that they would not be able to practise on this punctually.(Bukhari vol.1 pg.269)

The Term Sunnah

When the word sunnat is used, it refers not only to the sunnat of Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) but also to the practice of the four rightly-guided caliphs. This is gleaned from a hadîth of Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) wherein he said, “Hold firmly on to my sunnah and the sunnah of the Khulafâ Râshidîn (the four rightly-guided caliphs).”(Abu Dawood vol2 pg 635, Tirmidhi vol.2 pg.108, Sunan Darimi vol.1 pg.43 and Ibn Majah pg.5) This hadîth clearly indicates that the Muslim ummah should bring into practice the sayings and practices of the Khulafâ also. Some Ulamâ like Sheikh Abdul Ghanî Muhaddith Dhelwî have gone to the extent of saying that the word Khulafâ is general and refers to all those people who follow the way of Rasulullah (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam), the four Imâms and the Khalifah Umar Ibn Abdil Azîz.(Injahul Hajah pg.5)

It can be gleaned from the above hadith that just as it is incumbent to follow the sunnah of Rasulullah (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam), so is it essential to adopt the way of the Khulafâ Râshidîn. And in the opinion of some scholars, even the way of the Mujtahidîn should be adopted. All the Khulafâ and Mujtahidîn did not perform less than twenty raka’ât of tarâwîh. Therefore to perform less than twenty raka’ât is against the sunnah of the Khulafâ.

Sheikh Badrudîn Aini (855 A.H.) writes in his commentary on Hidayah:

“There is no doubt that reward is obtained in following Abu Bakr and Umar (Radiallâhu anhumâ) and one will be punished if they are not followed because we have been commanded to obey them. Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) said, ‘Follow the two after me i.e. Abu Bakr and Umar’. Thus adopting their way is essential and to discard such a compulsion necessitates reproach and punishment.”(Majmuatul Fataawa, vol.1 pg.215)

Kamâluddin Ibn Humâm (869 A.H.) writes in Tahrîrul Usûl: “The Hanafi scholars have divided azîmah (resolution) into:

(a) Fard – whose compulsion is categoric,

(b) Wâjib – whole compulsion is most likely,

(c) Sunnah – the method adopted by Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) and the Khulafâ Ar-Râshidîn or some of them.

It is mentioned in Tabyîn, the annotation of Hussami that sunnah refers to the way of Dîn whether it is that of Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) or that of the Khulafâ Ar-Râshidîn. In short, the term sunnah is general, referring to both the sunnah of Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) and the sunnah of the Khulafâ. The sunnah of the Khulafâ was of twenty raka´ât tarâwîh. None of them performed anything less. They believed that it was the advice of Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) to pray more in the month of Ramadân.

Chapter Two

Various Narrations mentioning Twenty Raka’at

(1) It is reported by Yazîd Ibn Khusayfah from Sâib Ibn Yazîd (Radiallâhu anhu) that all the people used to perform twenty raka´ât of tarâwîh in the month of Ramadân during the era of Umar Ibn Khattâb (Radiallâhu anhu). (Baihaqi in As Sunaul Kubra, vol.2 pg.496)

This narration has been reported by Baihaqi with a correct chain of narrators in Ma’rifah whilst Imâm Nawawi (676 A.H), Ibnul Iraqi and Imâm Suyuti (911 A.H.) have attested to the correctness of this narration in Khulâsah, Sharh Taqrîb and Masâbîh respectively.

(2) Yazîd Ibn Rumân reports that all the people used to perform twenty three raka´ât in Ramadân during the time of Umar (Radiallâhu anhu). (twenty raka´ât tarâwîh and three raka´ât witr).(Baihaqi in Sunaul Kubra vol.2 pg.496) When a report is made of a period, it is not necessary that Yazîd Ibn Rumân should belong to that period. The well-known affairs are generally known and do not require that the narrator be linked with that period. (for a detailed analysis of the hadith, see Raka’ate Tarawih of Sheikh Habibur Rahman Azmi pg.63-68)

This hadîth has also been narrated by Imâm Mâlik (179 A.H.) in his Muwatta.(pg. 9) Shâh Waliullâh writes regarding the Muwatta: Imâm Shâfi’î (204 A,H.) said, “The most authentic book after the Qur!ân is the Muwatta. The scholars of hadîth are unanimous that whatever it contains is correct in the opinion of Imâm Mâlik and those that conform to his principles.”

Thus, although this hadith is mursal in As-Sunanul Kubra, it is narrated in the Muwatta of Imâm Mâlik. Furthermore, a mursal hadith is accepted by Imâm Abu Hanifa and Imâm Mâlik. Imâm Shâfi’î accepts a mursal hadith if it is given credence by other supporting narrations. (Sharh Nukhbatul Fikr, pg.64) The narrations which follow are sufficient in supporting this narration and lending weight to it.

(3) Hadrat Umar Ibn Khattâb (Radiallâhu anhu) commanded a person to perform twenty raka´ât tarâwîh for the people.(Abubakr Ibn Shaibah in his Musannaf, vol.1 pg.483)

(4) Hadrat Ubayy Ibn Ka’b (Radiallâhu anhu) used to lead the prayers by performing twenty raka´ât tarâwîh and three raka´ât witr. (Abu Dawood pg.202)

(5) The eminent Tâbi´î, Atâ said, “I found the people performing twenty raka´ât tarâwîh and three raka´ât witr.” (Abubakr Ibn Shaibah in his Musannaf, vol.1 pg.483)

(6) Abul Khusaib says that Suwaid Ibn Ghaflah used to make five sittings, i.e. he used to perform twenty raka´ât (and sit after every four). (Baihaqi vol.2 pg. 496)

(7) Nâfi Ibn Umar reports that Ibn Abi Mulaykah used to perform twenty raka´ât for them in Ramadân. (Abubakr Ibn Shaibah in his Musannaf)

(8) It is reported by Saîb Ibn Ubaid that Ali Ibn Rabî´ah used to make five tarwîhas (i.e. read twenty raka´ât and rest after every four) with the people and he used to perform three raka´ât of witr. (Abubakr Ibn Shaibah in his Musannaf)

(9) Ibn Abbas reports that Rasulullah (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) used to perform twenty raka´ât in Ramadân individually and he also performed witr. (Abubakr Ibn Shaibah in his Musannaf and Baihaqi)

This hadith has been accepted by the Ummah and is unanimously practised worldwide. However, it is essential to indicate the partiality of the Ahle Hadith when discussing the sanad (chain of narrators) of this hadith.

They have blackened pages upon pages in denigrating one narrator of this hadith viz. Ibrâhim Ibn Uthmân. In their opinion, he is a very weak and unreliable narrator. But the Ahle Hadith, in making Surah Fâtihah fard (or sunnat according to some) in Salâtul janâzah, have used a hadith with the same narrator, Ibrâhim Ibn Uthmân. (Salatur Rasool of Hakim Muhammad Siyalkoti, pg.434) Here, no one has written anything about this narrator nor is any challenge given regarding the authenticity of the hadith.

Hâfiz Ibn Hajar has stated that Ibrâhim Ibn Uthmân was a hâfiz i.e. he was well versed in the field of hadith. No one has criticised his memory. Some scholars like Imâm Shu’bah have criticised his authenticity while others like Yazîd Ibn Hâroon have regarded him as authentic. Thus he is a mukhtalaf fîh narrator (one regarding whom there is a difference of opinion). Thus, the hadith falls in the category of hasan. (Hasan is that category of authentic hadith whose narrator’s retention capacity is lower than that of a Sahih hadith – the highest category of hadith)  This is on the assumption that Imâm Shu’bah did not retract from his criticism. However, if his retraction can be established, then this hadith falls in the category of sahîh. (A Sahih hadith is one that is narrated by a person who has perfect retention capacity while the chain of narrators is uninterrupted and there is no deficiency or irregularity in the hadith)

The eminent traditionist of Delhi, Shâh Abdul Azîz states that he is not a weak narrator to the extent that his narration be rejected.

(10) Shaytar Ibn Shakl who was a student of Alî (Radiallâhu anhu) reports that he (Alî) used to make Imâmat of twenty raka´ât in Ramadân and he used to make three raka´ât of witr. (Baihaqi vol.2 pg.496)

(11) Abdur Rahmân Sulami narrates that Hadrat Alî (Radiallâhu anhu) called the Qurrâ (reciters of the Qur!ân) in Ramadân and commanded one of them to perform twenty raka´ât while Alî (Radiallâhu anhu) himself used to lead the witr salât.(Baihaqi vol.2 pg.496)

(12) It is reported in Qiyâmul Layl by Muhammad Ibn Ka’b Al- Qurazi that all the people used to perform twenty raka´ât tarâwîh in the month of Ramadân. They used to lengthen the qirâ’t and perform three raka´ât of witr. (Qiyamul Layl by Muhammad b. Nasr Marwazi pg.91)

(13) A’mash says that Abdullah Ibn Masood (Radiallâhu anhu) used to perform twenty raka´ât tarâwîh and three raka´ât of witr.(Qiyamul Layl by Muhammad b. Nasr Marwazi pg.91)

(14) Nâfi, who was the freed slave of Ibn Umar (Radiallâhu anhumâ) and the student of Hadrat آ!isha, Abu Hurairah and Abu Rafi’ (Radiallâhu anhum), reports that he saw the people performing 36 raka´ât of tarâwîh and witr. (Tuhfatul Ahwazi vol.2 pg.73) (The reason for the difference in the number of raka’at will be discussed in chapter three)

(15) Dawûd Ibn Qays reports that during the era of Umar Ibn Abdil Aziz (101 A.H) and Abân Ibn Uthmân (105 A.H.), he saw the people of Madinah performing thirty six raka´ât. Hadrat Umar Ibn Abdil Aziz had ordered the Qurrâ to perform thirty six raka´ât.(Qiyamul Layl by Muhammad b. Nasr Marwazi pg.91-92)

(16) Abdul Aziz bin Rafai’ (Rahimahullâh) mentions that Ubay bin Ka’ab (Radiallâhu anhu) used to perform twenty raka!ât for the people and thereafter three raka!ât of witr. (Atharus Sunan pg.53)

(17) Ubay bin Ka’ab (Radiallâhu anhu) reports that Umar (Radiallâhu anhu) instructed him saying that if he lead the salâh it will be better. Thereafter he said, “Perform twenty raka!ât for the people.” Atharus Sunan pg.255)

(18) It is reported by Hasan that Umar Ibnul Khattâb (Radiallâhu anhu) gathered the people with Ubayy Ibn Ka’b (Radiallâhu anhu) and he used to perform twenty raka!ât with them. (Abu Dawood, pg.1429 -Arabian print)

There are two prints of Sunan Abi Dâwûd. Some prints have ‘twenty raka!ât’ while others have ‘twenty nights’. Just as the two different qirâ’at of the Qurân are accepted, so too should the two differing narrations of a hadith. Shaikh Muhammad Ali As-Sâbooni of Makkah has also narrated this hadith in his book, Al-Hadyun Nabawi As-Sahîh fî Salâtit-Tarâwîh. Thus, to accuse the Ulama of Deoband of interpolation is highly irresponsible. Furthermore, Allâmah Dhahabi has reported this hadith with the words ‘twenty raka!ât’ in his Siyar آlâmin Nubalâ. This was centuries before Deoband could even be established.

Sheikh Ibn Taymiyyah states that it has been proven that Ubayy Ibn Ka’b (Radiallâhu anhu) used to perform twenty raka!ât of tarâwîh as the Imâm of the congregation and thereafter he used to perform three raka!ât of witr. Thus most of the scholars have deduced it to be sunnah because he performed this among the Muhâjirîn and Ansâr and no one had any objection. (Fataawa Ibn Taymiyyah, new edition, vol.33 pg.112)

Ibn Taymiyyah states elsewhere that if a person performs tarâwîh like the mazhab of Imâm Abu Hanifah, Imâm Shâfiî and Imâm Ahmed viz. twenty raka!ât or thirty six raka!ât like Imâm Mâlik or twenty three or eleven, then he has done well. (Fataawa Al-Kubra, vol.4 pg.176) He is also of the opinion that most of the Muslims practise on twenty raka!ât. (Majmuah Fataawah Ibn Taymiyyah, vol.22 pg.272)

There are many more narrations proving the number of raka!ât. Abdullâh Ibn Masûd (Radiallâhu anhu) also used to perform twenty raka!ât. (Tuhfatul Ahwazi vol.2 pg.75)

Until the era of Imâm Malik (179 A.H.), the standard custom of Madinah was of thirty six raka´ât. Sometimes due to the number of raka´ât of witr, it used to be forty one raka´ât. Imâm Tirmizi has mentioned the custom of Madinah to be of forty one raka´ât. Thirty six raka´ât were performed wherever the followers of Imâm Malik went.

In Makkah, until the era of Atâ Ibn Abi Rabâh (114 A.H.), twenty raka´ât used to be performed. (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaibah)  Imâm As Shâf!î (204 A.H.) agrees with this view. Imâm Tirmizi states that most of the scholars have accepted the narration of Ali and Umar (Radiallahu anhuma) amongst others – namely twenty raka´ât. (Tirmidhi) Nâfi’ Ibn Umar states that Ibn Abi Mulaykah (117 A.H.) used to make them perform twenty raka´ât.

Abdullâh Ibn Masûd (32 A.H.), Suwaid Ibn Ghaflah (81 A.H), Ali Ibn Rabîah, Sufyân Thauri, Abdullah Ibn Mubârak (181 A.H.) of Khurasân, Dawûd Zâhiri, Imâm Abu Hanîfa (150 A.H.) and all his followers, Imâm Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (241 A.H.) and all his followers, Imâm Shâfi’î and all his followers used to perform twenty raka´ât.

This in short was the practice of the pious precursors from the era of Umar (Radiallâhu anhu) till about the middle of the third century in the main centres of learning such as Makkah, Madinah, Kufa, Basrah, Baghdad, Khurasân, etc. All the authentic books of the four mazhabs amongst others are unanimous on the practice of twenty raka´ât. (for more details see Bidayatul Mujtahid vol.1 pg. 210; Tirmidhi vol.1 pg.112; Kashful Qana pg.276; Sharh Muhtahil Iradat vol.1 pg. 256, Mughni Ibn Qudamah; Sharh Nawai ala Muslim)


Mullâ Ali Qâri states that that the Sahâba (Radiallâhu anhum) have made consensus (Ijmâ) on the practice of twenty raka!ât.(Mirqat vol.3 pg.194) Allâmah Ibn Abdul Barr Mâliki and Ibn Hajar Makki have narrated Ijmâ on twenty raka!ât. Allâmah Qâdi Khan, Allâmah Shamsuddîn, Allâmah Qastalâni, Sheikh Muhammad Zakarriyya Kandhelwi, Allâmah Abdul Hayy Lucknowi and Nawwâb Siddiq Hasan have narrated this Ijmâ in their works. (Fataawa Qadi Khan, Sharh Muqanna vol.1 pg.852, Sharh Bukhari of Qastalani)  Imâm Nawawi states that the practice of twenty continued from the pious precursors and has been firmly established. Ibn Qudâmah has stated in Al-Mughni that this is like Ijmâ.(Al Mughni vol.1 pg.803) Ibn Hajar Makki has stated that the Sahâba (Radiallâhu anhum) were unanimous on twenty. (Mirqat) If one only takes this proof, it is sufficient for the establishment of twenty raka!ât because the sunnah of the Khulafâ is equivalent to the sunnah of Nabi (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam). Huzaifa (Radiallâhu anhu) has narrated that Nabi (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “Follow the the two after me.” and he indicated to Abu Bakr and Umar (Radiallâhu anhu). (Tirmidhi vol.2 pg. 229) Had twenty raka!ât not been a sunnah, who was a greater enemy of bid’ah (innovation) than Umar (Radiallâhu anhu)? And if he had erred, the Sahaba (Radiallâhu anhum) would not have accepted it. They most certainly knew of a statement or action of Nabi (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) whether it has reached us with a correct chain of narrators or not. Imâm Abu Yusuf states that he asked Imâm Abu Hanifa about tarâwîh and the practice of Umar (Radiallâhu anhu). Imâm Abu Hanifa replied that tarâwîh is sunnat muakkadah (an emphasised sunnah) and Umar (Radiallâhu anhu) did not invent it himself nor was he an innovator. He initiated it due to a practice which he learnt from Nabi (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam). (Maraqil Falah pg.8)

Sheikh Atiyyah Muhammed Sâlim, who is a judge of the supreme court of Madina Munawwarah and an orator and teacher in Masjidun Nabawi (Alâ Sâhibihi As-salâm) has written a book in which he has recorded the history of tarâwîh for more than a thousand years in Masjidun Nabawi (Alâ Sâhibihi As-salâm). He has recorded the historical events dating from the era of Nabi Sallallahu alaihi wasallam right up to 1390 of the Hijrah calender i.e. almost fourteen centuries. From his writings it is ascertained that during this lengthy period, tarawîh salâh was never less than twenty raka!ât in Masjidun Nabawi (Alâ Sâhibihi As-salâm). The practice and norm was only twenty raka!ât or more (never less than that). After recording the historical facts till page 151 of his book, Sheikh Atiyyah poses a question to the readers. During this lengthy period, were eight raka!ât the maximum limit or were less than twenty raka!ât ever performed?! For fourteen hundred years, the tarawîh salâh was between twenty and forty raka!ât. No person possessing Imân ever said that to perform more than eight raka!ât is not permissible.

Before that in 1376 Hijri, a renowned scholar of hadith of India, Moulanâ Habibur Rahman Azmi wrote a book entitled “Raka’ât-e-Tarâwîh” in which he writes:

“The clamour that the Ghair Muqallidîn (the group of people who do not follow any Imâm or Mazhab) of India had started for the past hundred years or so was never heard of before. Throughout the Islamic world, twenty raka!ât or more were being performed. Similarly, from the time of Umar Radiallâhu anhu till the time of this uproar, there was no masjid in the world where eight raka!ât of tarawîh used to be performed, which implies that for approximately twelve hundred and fifty years, all the Muslims (Ahle Sunnah) used to regard twenty raka!ât or more than twenty raka!ât as sunnah and worthy of being practised. After such a long period, this sect has made a new manifestation – that up to now what the Muslims were doing was incorrect. The correct version is only eight raka!ât.” Thereafter Ml. Habibur Rahman Azmi discusses from the books of hadith with references regarding what transpired during these twelve hundred and fifty years. He states that the practice of the Muslims (of twenty raka!ât tarawîh) is not contrary to hadith, but rather is in conformity to the sunnah of Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam and the rightly-guided Khulafa (Radiallâhu anhum).

Sheikh Atiyyah, in a similar manner, has proven the performance of twenty raka!ât from history and the hadith. He has also quoted from the books of the four Imâms (Malik, Shafi, Ahmed and Abu Hanifa Rahimahumullâh) and has subsequently quoted the following authentic hadith:

“Hold steadfast unto my sunnah and the sunnah of the rightly guided Khulafa (i.e. Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali Radiallahu anhuma.”(Mishkat pg.30)

We can challenge anyone to prove that any jurist or muhaddith has rejected twenty raka!ât of tarâwîh from the era of Umar till the era of the British Empire in India. We also challenge anyone to prove from authentic Islamic literature that there was a protest against adopting this practice.

Chapter Three

Some of the narrations report more than twenty raka´ât. In fact, for more than 150 years, the standard practice in Madinah was of thirty six raka´ât. The reason for this number (36) is that some saints used to perform four raka´ât individually at every interval (tarwîhah), thus adding an additional number of sixteen to the total of twenty. However, only twenty raka´ât were performed with congregation. Eventually the additional four raka´ât of every interval were omitted and twenty raka´ât became the standard practice of every city. Although the names of all the Ulama are not explicitly mentioned in the books of Fiqh, nonetheless this much is certain that after the Khairul Quroon (the era of Nabî Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam and the Sahâba), all the Ulama of the Ahle Sunnat wal Jamâ’at gave a verdict of twenty raka´ât.

The names of some of the Ulama (scholars) who upheld the view of twenty raka´ât are as follows :

Sheikhul Islam Imâm Ibn Abdul Barr Qurtubi (463 A.H.) : His opinion is that twenty raka´ât tarâwîh and three raka´ât witr is the most authentic narration.(Masabih)

Imâm Ghazali (550 A.H.) writes: Tarâwîh is twenty raka´ât, its method is well known and it is sunnah muakkadah. (Ihya ul Uloom vol.1 pg.139)

Sayyid Abdul Qadir Jailani (561 A.H.) writes: Tarâwîh salât is a sunnah of Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) and it comprises of twenty raka´ât. (Ghunyatut Talibin pg.464)

Imâm Ibn Qudâma Hambali (620 A.H) states: According to Imâm Ahmad Ibn Hambal, the most acceptable view is of twenty raka´ât. (Al Ghina vol.1 pg.802)

Imâm Muhîudîn Nawawi (676 A.H.), the commentator of Sahîh Muslim writes: Remember that tarâwîh is a unanimously accepted sunnah of the Muslims. It is twenty raka´ât. (Kitabul Azkaar pg.83)

Sheikh Ibn Taymiyah (728 A.H.) writes: It has been accepted that Ubayy Ibn Kab used to lead the salât for the people by performing twenty raka´ât in Ramadân and three raka´ât witr. Accordingly, most of the Ulama regarded twenty raka´ât as sunnat because Ubayy used to lead the congregation of the Muhâjirîn and the Ansâr and none of them rejected his act. (Fataawa Ibn Taymiyyah vol.23 pg.112)

Allamah Subki (756 A.H.) writes in Minhâj: Have conviction that the number of raka´ât in these nights has not been established from Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) whilst our mazhab is of performing twenty raka´ât.

Allamah Badrudîn Aini (855 A.H.) has proved conclusively in his annotation of Sahîh Bukhârî, the authenticity of twenty raka´ât tarâwîh. (Aini Sharh Bukhari)

Hâfiz Ibn Hajar Asqalâni (852 A.H.) states that the practice of twenty raka´ât has remained in vogue. (Al Masabih)

Abdul Wahhâb Sharâni (973 A.H.) is of the opinion that twenty raka´ât of tarâwîh in Ramadân is more virtuous with jamâ’at (congregation). (Mizan Sha’rani)

Ibn آbidîn Shâmi (1203 A.H.) writes: Tarâwîh is sunnah muakkadah because the Khulafâ Ar-Râshidîn were punctual on it. It is twenty raka´ât after Esha salât. This is the view of the Jumhûr (the majority) and all the people practise it in the east and the west. (Ad Durrul Mukhtar vol.1 pg.511)

Chapter Four

Two Incorrect Claims

Some people are of the opinion that eight raka´ât of tarâwîh have been transmitted from Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) and that Sayyidinâ Umar (Radiallâhu anhu) had given the decree of eight raka´ât. (for details of the nazhab and proofs of the Ahle Hadith, see Tuhfatul Ahwazi vol.2 pg.72-76)

The proponents of the first claim quote the following hadîth of Sahîh Bukhârî :

Hadrat آ’isha (Radiallâhu anhâ) was asked about the salât of Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam). She replied, “Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) did not exceed eleven raka!ât in Ramadân nor in any other month. He used to perform four raka!ât and do not ask me about their beauty and their length. Thereafter he used to perform four raka!ât and do not ask me about their beauty and their length. Then he used to perform three raka!ât.” Hadrat Aisha asked him, ” O Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) of Allah, do you sleep before performing witr.” He replied , “O Aisha, my eyes sleep but not my heart.”(Bukhari pg.154 , Qadimi Kutub Khana Karachi)

This hadîth apparently seems to indicate that Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) used to perform eight raka!ât tarâwîh and three raka!ât witr.

Sheikh Nâsirudîn Albâni has quoted this hadith in his book ‘Salât at Tarâwîh’. The Salafis and the Ghair Muqallidîn also hold this view.

Nâsiruddîn Albâni, a Salafi scholar, was expelled from Saudi Arabia when he wrote a book on tarâwîh and in it regarded twenty rakâat tarâwîh as an innovation. In this way he labelled the Ahlus Sunnah of fourteen centuries as innovators.

Whenever any person becomes a salafi, his first task is to discredit the mutawâtir salâh (the unanimously accepted salaah performed throughout the ages) which has been performed by the Ummah for fourteen centuries and he introduces a new salâh which clashes with the mutawâtir salâh. This is done in order that the Muslims should dispute and clash at least five times daily and every musjid should be made a battlefield. Even if he does not know Arabic, by studying translations, he compiles books and sometimes calls it Salâtur Rasool or Salâtun Nabi. Thus, he objects to the salâh of the Hanafis, Shâfiîs, Mâlikis and Hambalis and presents a new salâh for the general masses.

Albâni, by adopting the Salafi sect has also fulfilled this obligation of his. He has written a book, “Sifat Salâtin Nabi…“. His very reason for writing this book in his words is that till today (1376 A.H.), no concise book on the salâh of Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) has been written. Therefore this gigantic task has fallen on his shoulders. He has gathered pieces from approximately 162 books in compiling this work. In this book, he has not only found fault with the salâh of all four mazhabs, but he has even found errors of the salâh of the Salafis. Ever since the formation of this sect, they have regarded the hadith:

“When the Imâm recites, remain silent.” as incorrect. Albâni has accepted this hadith as correct. (Sifatu Salatin Nabi … pg.95)

Another hadith which they always disregarded is:

“Whoever has an Imâm, the recitation of his Imâm is a recitation for him.” Albani has also accepted this hadith.

With regards to tarâwîh, Albani claims that jamât is mustahab (preferable). This firstly contradicts the Salafi belief because according to Fatâwâ Ulamâ Hadith, (vol.6, p.388), jamâ’at is a condition. However, Albani thought that if he had to adopt this view, he would not be able to use the above-mentioned hadith of آisha (Radiallâhu anhâ) because it refers to a salâh performed individually.

In fact, Professor Abdullah Bahawalpuri claims that even the name tarâwîh was adopted after the era of Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam). Thus according to the Ahle Hadith, even the word ‘tarâwîh’ is an innovation! (Rasail Bahawalpuri, pg 101, first edition)

To substantiate his claim of jamâ’at in tarâwîh, Albani quotes the hadith of Thalabah Ibn Abi Mâlik Al-Qurazi and then he goes on to say that this hadith is mursal hasan and has a supporting hadith (shâhid) in Abu Dawûd. But he does not mention what Imâm Abu Dawûd states after the hadith: “This hadith is not strong as Muslim Ibn Khalid is a weak narrator.” (Abu Dawood vol.1 pg.217)

He has conveniently omitted this text as it goes against his proof. Furthermore, a mursal hadith in his terminology is weak, yet here he has called it hasan and has used it for his own expediency. This hadith also goes against the accepted hadith of Sahîh Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim. (Bukhari vol.1 pg. 101; Muslim vol.1 pg.266)

Definition of Sunnat

Once Moulana Muhammad Amîn Safdar had a debate with Moulana Muhammad Rafîq Pisarwari of the Ahle Hadith sect. Moulana Muhammad Rafîq wrote his claim thus:

“Eight raka!ât of tarâwîh are sunnat muakkadah with jamât in Ramadân.”

Moulana Muhammad Amîn Safdar asked him to first give the definition of tarâwîh and sunnat. But his definition should only be from the Qur!ân and hadith, not plagiarism from any Ummati’s book of jurisprudence.

Moulana Muhammad Rafîq replied that sunnat is what Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) himself practised always.

Moulana Muhammad Amîn said that this definition was not concise and nor was it taken from the Qur!ân or hadith. Turning to the audience, he told them that they all knew that azân and iqâmah is sunnah muakkadah, yet Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) never gave azân once. According to Molvi Rafîq’s definition, neither is azân sunnat nor iqâmah. Furthermore, Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) himself practised all the farâid (compulsory acts). According to the above definition, even the farâid become sunnats. The issue was very clear and the audience realised that Moulana Muhammad Rafîq could not define sunnat. He asked for a respite of three months to give the definition but even after three months was unable to produce anything. In defeat, he called the police to terminate the debate.

The first claim (that eight raka´ât of tarâwîh have been transmitted from Nabî Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) is incorrect for the following reasons :

The First Reason

In this hadîth, the words ‘nor in any other month’ i.e. besides Ramadân, in other months he used to perform eleven raka´ât as well shows clearly that this question to آ!isha concerned the Tahajjud Salât which he performed in all twelve months of the year. Hadrat آ!isha has reported the following hadîth:

“During the last ten nights of Ramadân, Rasulullah used to fasten his lower garment, remain awake the whole night and awaken his family also.” (Bukhari vol.1 pg.271)

Upon hearing this, the inquirer probably thought that he (i.e. Nabî Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) increased his tahajjud in Ramadân. Hadrat آ!isha replied that Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam)’s habit was of eleven lengthy raka´ât. This clearly proves that this hadîth concerns Tahajjud and not tarâwîh.

The Second Reason 

On the assumption that this hadîth concerns tarâwîh, then too it is incorrect to say that Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) never performed more than eleven raka´ât because another hadîth of آ!isha states that Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) used to perform thirteen raka´ât.

The commentators of hadîth such as Hafiz Ibn Hajar have reconciled these two differing ahâdith by stating that they refer to different conditions and times. At some occasions Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) used to perform thirteen raka´ât and at others only eleven raka´ât. (Fathul Bari vol.3 pg.14)

Moulânâ Abdur Rahmân Mubârakpûri (1353 A.H.), a respected scholar of the Ahle Hadîth sect has also accepted the fact that Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) performed thirteen raka´ât. (Tuhfatul Ahwazi vol.2 pg.3)

This hadîth of ‘thirteen raka´ât’ categorically negates the claim that Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) never performed more than eleven raka´ât.

Sheikh Suyuti has quoted the statement of Allamah Bâjî that the words of آ’isha (Radiallâhu anhâ) ‘did not exceed’ indicate his habit which was done most of the time and not his perpetual habit. (Tanwirul Hawalik vol.1 pg.142)

The Third Reason

In this hadîth Hadrat آ!isha states that Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) used to read four lengthy raka´ât, then another four and finally witr. Hence, in order to practise this hadîth, one has to perform four raka´ât with one salâm, then four raka´ât with one salâm and finally three witr with one salâm. The proponents of eight raka´ât tarâwîh do not practise in this manner. Consequently, to use this hadîth against those that perform twenty raka´ât is illogical.

The Fourth Reason 

Imâm Muhammad Ibn Nasr Marwazi (294 A.H.) has written a chapter on the number of raka´ât of tarâwîh in his book ‘Qiyamul Layl’. In this chapter, he has mentioned numerous ahâdith but he has not in the slightest way made any indication towards this hadîth of آ!isha (Radiallâhu anhâ) which is the most authentic. This clearly shows that this hadîth concerns nafl salât and not tarâwîh.

The Fifth Reason

At the end of this hadîth, Hadrat آ!isha enquired from Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) whether he slept before witr or not and Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) replied that his eyes slept but not his heart. There is absolutely no mention in any hadîth that Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) performed eight raka´ât tarâwîh and then slept while the Sahâba (Radiallâhu ahhum) remained waiting. However, he used to perform tahajjud at home and sometimes slept before witr. Furthermore, had it been tarâwîh, Hadrat آ!isha would have stood in the ladies’ row behind the men and the men would have known about it first. The fact that the men did not know indicates that it was tahajjud salât being performed in the privacy of the home and not tarâwîh as is wrongly assumed.

The Sixth Reason

Generally the Muhaddithîn (Scholars of hadîth) categorize every hadîth by giving it a title. The title indicates the subject matter of the hadîth. The fact that all the Muhaddithîn have not given a title of tarâwîh to this hadîth, indicates that in their opinion it refers to nafl salât and not tarâwîh.

Imâm Muhammad, a renowned jurist, mentions that the cause of the following hadith is that Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) did not make any addition to Tahajjud because of the additional salâh of Ramadân viz. tarâwîh. This is the relation between the hadith of آ’isha (Radiallahu anhâ) and the chapter heading.

This hadîth of آ’isha (Radiallahu anhâ) appears several times in Sahîh Bukhâri in the following chapters:

1. Kitâbut Tahajjud – Chapter on Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam)’s worship at night in Ramadân and other months. (Vol.1 Page 154) (this reference and the subsequent ones refer to the Qadimi Kutub Khana print of Sahih Bukhari, Karachi, Pakistan)

2. Kitâbus Saum – Chapter on the virtue of worship in Ramadân. (Vol.1 Page 269)

3. Chapter – Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam)’s eyes used to sleep, not his heart.(Vol.1 Page 504)

4. Chapter on witr. (Vol.1 Page 135)

These captions clearly indicate a reference to tahajjud salât. Nowhere is there the slightest indication of tarâwîh. Imâm Muslim, Imâm Mâlik, Imâm Abdur Razzâq, Imâm Abu Dawûd, Imâm Nisâi, Imâm Tirmizi, Imâm Abu Awânah, Imâm Ibn Khuzaimah, Imâm Marwazi, Imâm Dârimi, the author of Bulooghul Marâm and Mishkât have all mentioned this hadith in their works but not one of them has mentioned it under the chapter of tarâwîh.

Imâm Muslim, Abu Dawûd and Tirmizi have narrated this hadith under Qiyâmul Layl (worship at night viz. tahajjud) (Muslim vol.1 pg254; Abu Dawood vol.1 pg.189; Tirmidhi vol.1 pg.99). Imâm Tirmizi has not even mentioned eight raka!ât under tarâwîh. This indicates that up till the time of Imâm Tirmizi, there was no scholar of the opinion that tarâwîh is eight raka!ât nor did anyone understand this hadith to refer to tarâwîh.

Imâm Mâlik and Imâm Nisai have narrated this hadith in the chapter of witr. (Muwatta Imam Malik pg.102, Abu Dawood vol.1 pg.248)

This hadith has also been narrated in the chapter of tahajjud in Mishâtul Masâbîh, Musannaf Abdur Razzâq, Abu Awânah, Sahîh Ibn Khuzaimah, and Sunan Dârimi.

Hâfiz Ibn Hajar states:  “It has appeared to me that the wisdom in not performing more than eleven raka´ât is that tahajjud and witr are prayers of the night while the prayers of the day which are Zuhr (4 raka´ât), Asr (4 raka´ât) and Maghrib (3 raka´ât) also total eleven. Consequently it was suitable for the salât of the night to conform in number to the salât of the day.” (Fathul Bari vol.3 pg.16)

The Seventh Reason

 آ’isha (Radiallahu anhâ) never used this hadith against those who performed twenty raka!ât during the eras of Umar, Uthman and Ali (Radiallâhu anhu). In fact, this hadith of tahajjud has been narrated by many Sahâba (Radiallâhu anhu) but not one of them has quoted it against those who performed twenty raka!ât tarâwîh. After the era of the Sahâba (Radiallâhu anhu), the Tâbiîn and Taba-Tâbiîn also performed twenty raka!ât but not one them used this hadith against those who performed twenty raka!ât.

Even the Ahle Hadith do not practise this hadith according to its purport. The hadith has the words, ‘besides Ramadân’ but they do not perform tarâwîh out of Ramadân. The hadith mentions the salâh in units of four; they perform it in units of two. The hadith mentions the salâh being performed at home; they perform it in the musjid. The hadith mentions three raka!ât of witr; they perform one rakât. The hadith mentions the salâh being performed individually; they perform it in congregation. The hadith mentions sleeping before witr; they do not sleep before the witr.

Chapter Five

Tahajjud and Tarawih are Seperate Salats

Tahajjud and tarâwîh Salât differ in the following ways:

(1) Tahajjud was ordained by Allâh Ta!âlâ. Allâh Ta!âlâ told Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam):”O the one wrapped in a blanket, stand up (in worship) at night except a little…” (Surah 73 Verse 2)

The following verse also indicates the compulsion of Tahajjud: “And perform the tahajjud salâh at night, it would be an additional prayer for you.” (Surah 17 Verse 79)

No other verse informs us that in Ramadân we are exempted from its compulsion. Regarding tarâwîh, Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) feared that it would be made compulsory on the ummah.

On the other hand, Tarawîh was initiated by Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam). It is mentioned in a hadith, “It is a month in which Allâh has made fasting compulsory while I (Nabî Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) have made the Tarawîh sunnah.”(Nisai vol.1 pg.308; Ibn Majah pg.94) The two acts have been described in comparison to each other.

(2) Tahajjud was ordained in Makkah whilst tarâwîh was prescribed in Madinah.

(3) It is unanimously accepted that the number of raka´ât of tahajjud have been transmitted from Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam). They are a maximum of thirteen raka´ât if witr is included and a minimum of 7 raka´ât including witr. However, as regards tarawîh, no fixed number has been narrated with regard to the nights when Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) led the salâh of tarawîh in the musjid. Accordingly, there is a difference of opinion among the Mujtahidîn. Some say thirty, some thirty six or more. Thus the narration of Imâm Bukhâri (in which eight raka!ât have been mentioned) cannot refer to tarâwîh. According to this narration it can be deduced that Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) did not add anything in his Tahajjud Salâh in the month of Ramadân, because he intended another prayer in this month known as tarâwîh. What آisha (Radiallâhu anhâ) meant in this hadith was that Nabi (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam)’s tahajjud was not different in Ramadân nor in any other month. However, in Ramadân, he increased his worship tremendously by performing tahajjud as well as tarâwîh. (Durrul Manthur vol.1 pg.185; Bukhari vol.1 pg. 271; Muslim vol.1 pg.372; Abu Dawood vol.1 pg.190; Sunan Darimi vol.1 pg.285)

(4) The following statement is mentioned in Muqanna, an authentic book of the Hanbali Mazhab:

“Tarâwîh is twenty raka´ât performed in Ramadân in congregation. If a person wants to perform tahajjud as well, then he should not read witr after tarâwîh. Witr should be delayed till after the tahajjud.” (Muqanna pg.184)

From the above quotation it can be clearly seen that even Imâm Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (241 A.H.), the teacher of Imâm Bukhâri understood tarâwîh and tahajjud to be separate salâts. Imâm Bukhâri also had a similar practice. He used to perform tarâwîh salât with his students in the early part of the night during which he used to complete one Qur!ân. At the time of sehri he used to perform salât (tahajjud) individually. (Tarikh Baghdad)

Talq Ibn Ali (Radiallahu anhu) a Sahabi, offered the tahajjud salâh after completing tarâwîh with other Sahâba (Radiallahu anhum). (Sunan Nisai)

(5) Tahajjud is normally performed after sleeping while tarâwîh is performed immediately after Esha. (Sahih Bukhari vol.1 pg.269. Umar radhiallahu anhu encouraged people not to discard tahajjud salat in the latter portion of the night while also performing tarawih in the first portion.)

(6) Tahjjud is performed during the whole year while tarâwîh is specific with Ramadân. (Even the Ahle Hadith accept this. See Fataawa Ulama Hadith vol.6 pg.243) The hadith of آ’isha (Radiallâhu anhâ) mentions the salâh which is performed the whole year viz. tahajjud.

(7) Jamât (congregation) is a condition for tarawîh. (Fatawa Ulama Hadith vol.6 pg.243) If one performs tarâwîh alone, it will not be accepted. The hadith of آisha (Radiallâhu anhâ) mentions the salâh which is performed individually viz. tahajjud. (Majmauz Zawaid vol.3 pg.172 and Atharus Sunan pg.200)

There are other differences between these two salâts which have been ommitted for the sake of brevity. Moulânâ Rashîd Ahmad Gangohî (1323 A.H) has conclusively proved their differences in his book ‘Ar-Ray An-Najîh’. Similarly Moulânâ Qâsim Nanotwî has also explained their differences in his book ‘Al-Haqq As-Sarîh’.

Allâmah Anwar Shâh Kashmiri holds the view that if a person does not perform tarâwîh salâh but he performs tahajjud salâh in the month of Ramadân, he will be absolved of the liability of performing tarâwîh and will not be accused of neglecting tarâwîh salâh. This is only Allamah’s view and not the view of the majority of the scholars. He does not claim that Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) did not perform tahajjud salâh when he performed tarâwîh at home in the early part of the night. In this sense he believes that tahajjud is not other than tarâwîh.

However, he clearly gives a warning to those who uphold the practice of eight raka!ât only. He says. “Whoever performs eight raka!ât only, and separates himself from the majority and begins accusing them of innovation should be careful of his consequence.

Chapter Six

The Second Hadith

The second hadîth which the proponents of eight raka´ât quote is as follows:

It is narrated by Jabir (Radiallâhu anhu) that Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) performed eight raka´ât and witr. We gathered in the musjid the following night hoping that Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) would come again. We remained waiting till the morning. Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) said, “I feared that witr will become incumbent on you.” (Therefore he did not come the previous night).

Analysis Of This Hadith 

The Ahle Hadith have to prove three points from this hadith. Firstly, they must prove that the hadith is correct and authentic. Secondly, they must prove that there was continuous practice (muwâzabah) on eight raka!ât. Thirdly, that Hadrat Jabir used this hadith against all those who performed twenty raka!ât tarâwîh in Musjidun Nabawi in congregation during the eras of Umar, Uthman and Ali (Radiallâhu anhu) and that he (Jâbir) made his own musjid to perform eight raka!ât.

As for the authenticity of this hadith, one narrator of this hadith is Yaqoob Ibn Abdillah Al-Qummi. Ibn Kathîr has rejected this hadith and stated that Yaqoob was a Shia and his narrations cannot be accepted. (Al Bidayah wan Nihayah vol.8 pg.375)  This narration of his goes against the Ijmâ of the Sahâba (Radiallâhu anhum).

There is only one person narrating from Jâbir viz. Isâ Ibn Jâriyah. Hâfiz Dhahabi and Hâfiz Ibn Hajr have mentioned this narrator in Mizânul Itidâl (vol.2 pg.311) and Tahzîb-at-Tahzîb respectively. They have quoted Yahyâ Ibn Maîn, who is the leading scholar in the science of ‘Jarh wat Tadîl’ (the science of invalidating a hadîth or declaring it reliable). According to him, Isâ Ibn Jâriyah is not an authentic narrator. Imâm Nisai and Abu Dawûd regard him as munkarul hadîth.(A technical term meaning narration of an unworthy narrator that contradicts the narration of a group of trustworthy narrators) Nisai has also called him matrûk.(The narration of a person that is suspected of fabricating hadith) Saji Uqaili regards him as weak while Ibn Adi (365 A.H.) says that his narrations are not mahfûz.(The narration of a trustworthy person that is in conflict with the narration of those who are more trustworthy than himself)   Only Abu Zur’ah and Ibn Hibbân (354 A.H.) have given him any credibility. It is a principle of hadîth that jarh (declaring invalid) precedes tadîl (declaring reliable). Hence Isâ will be regarded as majrûh (unreliable), especially when one considers the words used by Imâm Nisai and Abu Dawûd for him.

Moulana Abdur Rahman Mubarakpuri (1353 A.H.) [of the Ahle Hadîth sect] has written that the ahadîth of a narrator who is known as munkarul hadîth, are worthy of being rejected.(Ibkarul Matn pg.191) Accordingly, this hadîth of Isâ is not acceptable especially when he is the only narrator from Jâbir and does not have any substantiating narrator (mutâbi’).

Muhammad Ibn Humaid Râzi, another narrator in the chain of this hadîth is also regarded as a weak narrator, thus rendering this hadîth unacceptable.(Taqrib) It makes one wonder why the Ahle Hadith mostly depend upon weak ahâdith.

Moulana Muhammad Amîn Safdar once had a debate with Hâfiz Abdul Qâdir Ropri of the Ahle Hadith sect. The former very aptly told him that the Ahle Hadith do not have any right to classify any hadith as Sahîh or daîf because they do not accept anyone’s statement besides those of Allah and His Rasool. And Allah and His Rasool have not classified any hadith as Sahîh or daîf. Since they have not classified the ahâdith, the Ummah has to make the decision. This will be by means of examining the hadith if it was practised in the khairul quroon (the era of the Sahâba and Tabiîn), it will be accepted, but if it was not accepted in the khairul quroon, it will be rejected. The muhaddithîn have also accepted this principle. A maqbool hadith (accepted one) is one which the Ummah has accepted even if it does not have a correct sanad (chain of narration). (Tadribur Rawi of Sheikh Suyuti)

Chapter Seven

The Second Claim 

 To substantiate the second claim that Hadrat Umar (Radiallâhu anhu) gave the command of eight raka´ât, the following hadîth of Muwatta Imâm Mâlik has been quoted: Sâib Ibn Yazîd has reported that Umar (Radiallâhu anhu) ordered Ubayy Ibn Kab (Radiallâhu anhu) and Tamim Dâri (Radiallâhu anhu) to perform eleven raka´ât (including three witr) for the people. (Muwatta Imam Malik – Asahhul Matabi, pg 98; Qiyamul Layl pg.91)

If we analyse the chain of transmission of this hadîth, we notice that Muhammad Ibn Yusuf narrates from Sâib Ibn Yazîd. Muhammad has five students and the narration of each student differs from the next. The five students are:

(1) Imâm Mâlik

(2) Yahyâ Ibn Qattân

(3) Abdul Azîz Ibn Muhammad

(4) Ibn Ishâq and

(5) Abdul Razzâq

Their narrations are as follows:

(1) Imâm Malik says that Umar ordered Ubayy Ibn Ka’b and Tamim Dari to perform eleven raka´ât.

What practice occurred thereafter is not mentioned nor is Ramadân mentioned.

(2) Yahyâ Ibn Qattân says that Umar made the people gather with Ubayy Ibn Ka!b and Tamim Dâri and both of them began performing eleven raka´ât.

Hadrat Umar’s command is not mentioned nor is any mention of Ramadân made. It is not clear whether the two performed eleven raka´ât separately or collectively but it is clear that witr cannot be led two times while the two Imâms are together.

(3) Abdul Aziz says that they used to perform eleven raka´ât in the era of Umar.

Neither is the command mentioned nor are Ubayy, Ka!b or Ramadân mentioned.

(4) Ibn Ishâq says that they used to perform thirteen raka´ât in Ramadân during the era of Umar.

Neither is the command of Umar mentioned nor is Ubayy or Tamim mentioned. Instead of eleven raka´ât, thirteen are mentioned.

(5) Abdur Razzâq says that Umar gave the command of twenty one raka´ât.

In this narration, twenty one raka´ât are mentioned instead of eleven.

Besides the narration of Imâm Malik, eleven raka´ât cannot be established from the other narrations. Due to this difference, the narrator, Ibn Ishâq gave preference to thirteen while Ibn Abdul Barr Mâliki (463 A.H.) also preferred twenty one. Therefore this narration is mudtarib with regards to the number and hence unacceptable. (Mudtarib is a hadith that is transmitted in different  manners so that the contents of each transmission differ and it is not possible to give reference to any  particular transmission) The narration of twenty one is the preferred narration.

The above was an analysis of Muhammed Ibn Yusuf’s narration via Sâib Ibn Yazîd. Now let us examine the narration of Yazîd Ibn Khasîfah via Sâib which is mentioned in As-Sunan Al-Kubrâ of Baihaqî. (As Sunan Al-Kubra vol.2 pg.496)

Abu Zi’b narrates from Yazîd Ibn Khasîfah who reports from Sâib Ibn Yazîd that the people used to perform twenty raka´ât in the month of Ramadân during the era of Umar.

Imâm Nawawi (676 A.H), Iraqi (806 A.H) and Suyuti (911 A.H) amongst others have accepted the authenticity of this hadîth. (Tuhfatul Akhyar pg.192 and Irshadus Sari pg.74)

Muhammad Ibn Jafar has quoted the same statement from Yazîd as Abu Zi’b. This narration is mentioned in Marifatus Sunan of Baihaqi. Allamah Subki (756 A.H) and Mullâ Ali Qâri (1014 A.H) have stated in Sharh Minhâj and Sharh Muwattâ respectively that the chain of narrators of this hadîth is correct. (Tuhfatul Ahwazi vol.2 pf.75)

From the above narration we can clearly see that both the students of Yazîd unanimously narrate the fact that during Umar’s era, twenty raka´ât was the standard practice. On the contrary, the five students of Muhammad Ibn Yusuf quote Sâib differently.

In such a situation, the correct approach would be to rely on the narration of Yazid Ibn Khasîfa. However the Ahle Hadîth have unjustly discarded this narration and adopted the doubtful one of Muhammad Ibn Yusuf which has differing versions. This goes against the principles of hadîth.

Sheikh Atiyyah states: “The practise of Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam of performing thirteen raka!ât as narrated by Ibn Abbas Radiallâhu anhu, the six raka!ât after the Esha salâh and the two raka!ât with which Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam used to commence the salâtul-layl as narrated by Hazrat Aisha Radiallâhu anhu, makes a total of twenty one raka!ât. This is why Umar Radiallâhu anhu instructed Ubay bin Kâb Radiallâhu anhu to perform twenty one raka!ât for the people. Thus its (twenty one raka!ât) proof exists in this hadith. It is not merely the opinion of Umar Radiallahu anhu. (Salatut Tarawih, Sheikh Atiyyah, pg.22)

Moulana Fadlur-Rahman Azami states that even if the proof of twenty one or twenty three raka!ât is not from any marfû hadith (i.e. a narration containing the actual speech of Nabi Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and is only based on the view of Umar Radiallâhu anhu, then also, to adhere to it will be regarded as sunnah because Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam has ordered us to adhere to the ways of the rightly-guided Khulafâ. Thus to adhere to it in actual fact is to practise on a marfû! hadith.

Chapter Eight

Regarding tarâwîh salâh, the Ahle Hadith and Salafis have not been able to answer the following questions using Sahîh Ahâdith that do not have any contradictory narrations (muta’ârid):

(1) Is there any salâh with the name of tarâwîh in the Sahîh ahâdîth as the other salâts have been mentioned like Fajr, Zuhr etc?

(2) Hadrat آisha (Radiallâhu anhu) states that Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) used to perform four raka!ât at night and then rest for a long while.  (As Sunanul Kubra of Bayhaqi, vol.2 pg.497) Imâm Bayhaqi has regarded this hadith as weak but the entire ummah has named this salâh as tarâwîh and have accepted this hadith due to the practice of tarâwîh being unanimously accepted by the Sahâba (Radiallâhu anhu.). Due to this acceptance by the ummah, the Ahle Hadith have also named it tarâwîh.

(3) Hadrat Umar (Radiallâhu anhu) used to perform four raka!ât and relax for the amount of time it took a person to go to Mount Sila.

(4) According to the scholars of the Ahle Hadith, salâtut-tarâwîh is that salâh which is performed in Ramadân after Isha in congregation and it is called tarâwîh because the people rest (tarwîhah) after every four raka!ât. (Fataawa Ulama Hadith vol.6 pg.241)

(5) The scholars of the Ahle Hadith state that Qiyâme Ramadân (worship in Ramadân) is more general than tarâwîh because jamât (congregation) is a condition for tarâwîh. If one performs it alone, it will not be valid in contrast to Qiyâme Ramadân for which jamât is not a condition. (Fataawa Ulama Hadith vol.6 pg.243)

(6) They also reiterate that the statement of Allâmah Kirmâni that Qiyâme Ramadân unanimously refers to tarâwîh is unique. (Fataawa Ulama Hadith vol.6 pg.241)

(7) If one performs tarâwîh during the first part of the night, it is tarâwîh and if one performs it in the latter part, it is tahajjud. (Fataawa Ulama Hadith vol.6 pg.329)

(8) Tahajjud occurs throughout the year while tarâwîh is specific with Ramadân. (Fataawa Ulama Hadith vol.6 pg.230)

(9) One who performs tarawîh after Ishâ salâh in Ramadân, can perform tahajjud during the last part of the night. Tahajjud is not performed in the earlier part of the night. (Fataawa Ulama Hadith vol.6 pg.241)

If the above-mentioned points from number 4 till number 9 are established from any correct hadith, can the Ahle Hadith mention those ahâdith. If not, then are the writers of these statements not mushriks (polytheists) by making taqlîd of other human beings. (The Ahle Hadith believe that one who makes taqlid of a human is a mushrik (polytheist).

(10) Tarâwîh and tahajjud are both one. They should prove this from the Qurân or Sahîh hadith. They should not use qiyâs (analogy) and become shaytâns or adopt taqlîd and become mushriks.

(11) Did Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) say that there is a salâh which is called tahajjud for eleven months and tarâwîh in the twelfth?

(12) Did Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) say that this salâh is nafl for eleven months and sunnat in the twelfth?

(13) Did Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) say that the time of this salâh for eleven months is the last part of the night and in the twelfth month it is immediately after Ishâ?

(14) Did Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) say that one should perform this salâh individually for eleven months and with congregation in the twelfth?

(15) Did Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) say that for eleven months it is not sunnat to complete the Qurân but in the twelfth month it becomes sunnat?

(16) A person performed tarâwîh in congregation for three days only during his whole life. Now he does not perform it. Is he sinful?

(17) Are those muhaddithîn and fuqahâ who have written separate chapters for tahajjud, tarâwîh and witr rejectors of hadith?

(18) Some Ahle Hadith specify the condition that we must prove that Hadrat Umar (Radiallâhu anhu) himself participated in the tarâwîh. Is this condition according to any hadith? If a person says that you must prove that Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) and Abu Bakr (Radiallâhu anhu) wrote the Qurân themselves, otherwise I will not accept it, or he says that you must prove that Uthman (Radiallâhu anhu) himself gave the first azân of Jumuah otherwise I will not accept this azân, is this statement of his correct?

(19) Has it been proven that Umar (Radiallâhu anhu) himself performed tarâwîh in congregation, performed tarâwîh in the first part of the night, performed tarâwîh during the whole month in the musjid, performed witr with congregation in Ramadân, recited the whole Qurân or heard its recital or will these acts also be discarded?

(20) Moulana Dawûd Ghaznawî (of the Ahle Hadith sect) used to announce that eight raka!ât of tarâwîh is the sunnah of Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) while the remaining twelve are mustahab. This can terminate all disputes. (Fataawa Ulama Hadith vol.6 pg.265)

(21) Madrasah Rahmâniyyah (of the Ahle Hadith) announces every year that more than eight raka!ât of tarâwîh is correct and a means of greater reward. (Fatawa Satariya vol.3 pg.19)

Are points number 20 and 21 established from a hadith or are they the isolated (shâz) statements of Ibn Humâm? (Ibn Humam has permitted eight raka’at -Fathul Qadir vol.1 pg.334 – Moulana Zafar Ahmad Uthmani has rejected this view with complete proofs – See I’laus Sunan vol.7 pg.68-72)

(22) A hadith has been quoted in Fatâwâ Ulamâ-e-Hadith (vol.6 p.47 and vol.6 p.88) in which it is mentioned that if a person performs an optional act in Ramadân, it will be as if he performed an obligatory duty out of Ramadân. Will a person who performs twenty raka!ât tarâwîh obtain this reward or not?

(23) Do those who prevent others from this reward not fall within the purview of the verse, “preventer of virtue, have you seen the one who prevents the servant (of Allah) when he performs salâh?”(Surah Al Qalam verse 12)

(25) Rahmâni Sâhib (of the Ahle Hadith) has written in Anwârul Masâbîh (p.262) that why should Umar (Radiallâhu anhu) prevent those who performed twenty raka!ât from doing so. It was not some prohibited act. He also reiterates that Umar (Radiallâhu anhu) did not reject twenty raka!ât. According to him, this is the view of the Ahle Hadith. From this it is apparent that those who write booklets and pamphlets against twenty raka!ât tarâwîh are not Ahle Hadith but are in fact Munkirîn-e-Sahâba (rejectors of the Sahâba Radiallâhu anhum).

(26) Molvi Muhammad Uthmân Dehlwi, a very respected scholar of the Ahle Hadith, stated that the one who performs four raka!ât of Maghrib salâh, his Maghrib will not be fulfilled although three raka!ât are included in four. Similarly, he states, that the one who performs twenty raka!ât tarâwîh, his eleven raka!ât have not been fulfilled. (Raf’ul Ikhtilaaf pg.5) This satanic analogy of Molvi Uthmân makes the entire Ummah innovators. Is it mentioned in any hadith that the one who performs twenty, his eight are not performed?


From the facts quoted above it becomes manifestly clear that:

(1) The practice of the entire ummah from the era of Umar till recently was of twenty raka´ât or more. If at any point in time, any individual was of the opinion of less than twenty raka´ât, then there is no evidence of this practice occurring in any musjid.

(2) The establishment of twenty raka´ât by Hadrat Umar’s command or by his tacit approval cannot be denied by any scholar of hadîth.

(3) The Ahle Hadîth, by relating eleven raka´ât tarâwîh to Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) have differed with the pious predecessors. Allamah Ibn Taymiyah, Allamah Subki, Shaukani, Ml.Wahîduz Zaman and Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan (1307 A.H) amongst others have in no way indicated that Hadrat آ!isha’s hadîth (quoted on page 26) refers to tarâwîh. Are the Ahle Hadîth and Salafis of today more learned than the above-mentioned scholars?

(4) The objections which the Ahle Hadîth raise on the narrations of twenty raka´ât are contrary to the principles of hadîth. In fact even Nawâb Siddiq Hasan (of the Ahle Hadîth) admits that a person who performs twenty raka´ât has complied with the sunnah. When this is the case, then why should there be such an insistence on performing eight raka´ât which does not have the approval of the learned elders of the ummah.

The Ahle Hadith of today have differed with Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) in the following practices:

  1. The Ahle Hadith begin tarâwîh in the first night of the month with congregation whereas Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) did not do this throughout his life. This is not a sunnah of Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) but a sunnah of the Khulafâ (Radiallâhu anhu).

  2. Nowadays, the Ahle Hadith perform tarâwîh during the whole month of Ramadân with congregation whereas Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) told the people to perform their salâh at home. Performing tarâwîh for the whole month in congregation is a sunnah of the Khulafâ and not a sunnah of Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam).

  3. Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) only performed tarâwîh in congregation during one year in the last ten days of Ramadân for three nights. Thus performing tarâwîh every year in congregation is a sunnah of the Khulafâ and not a sunnah of Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam).

  4. To perform tarâwîh immediately after Isha is a sunnah of the Khulafâ. The Ahle Hadith perform tarâwîh immediately after Isha whereas Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) did not do so.

  5. The Ahle Hadith complete the whole Qurân in tarâwîh which is not a sunnah of Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) but a sunnah of the Khulafâ (Radiallâhu anhu).

  6. The Ahle Hadith sleep away after tarâwîh which is not a sunnah of Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam). Hadrat آisha (Radiallâhu anhu) states that when Ramadân began, Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) never used to sleep the whole night. However, it has been established that the Sahâba (Radiallâhu anhu) slept.

  7. It is reported in Sahîh Bukhârî (vol.1 p.269) that Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) used to awaken his wives during the last ten nights. The Ahle Hadith do not awaken their wives.

  8. Nowadays the Ahle Hadith recite the Qurân in tarâwîh by holding the Qur!ân, turning the pages, leaving it on the floor during ruku and lifting it up again at the beginning of the next rakât. This practice is in no way a sunnah of Nabi (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam).

May Allâh Tâla grant us all the correct understanding of Dîn and protect us from the deviations of the misguided.


Al Qur’ân

Sahîh Bukhârî

Sahîh Muslim

Sunan Abî Dawûd

Sunan Ibn Mâjah

Sunan Nisâî

Muwatta Imâm Mâlik

Sunanul Kubrâ – Baihaqîi

Sharh Muwattâ – Mullâ Ali Qârî

Mussanaf Ibn Abî Shaibah

I’lâus Sunan

Tahzîb – Hafiz Ibn Hajar

Taqrîb – Hafiz Ibn Hajar

Tuhfatul Akhyâr

Tanwîrul Hawâlik – Sheikh Suyuti

Irshâdus Sârî

Jâmi Tirmizî – Zurqanî

Dars-e-Tirmizi – Mufti Muhammad Taqi Uthmani

Khairul Masâbîh Fî Adadit-Tarâwîh – Moulanâ Khair Muhammad Jalandrî

Raka!âte Tarâwîh – Moulanâ Habibur Rahmân Azami

Ar-Ra’yun Najîh fî Adadi Rakaâtit Tarâwîh – Moulana Rashîd Ahmad Gangohi

Fatâwâ Rashidiyyah – Moulana Rashîd Ahmad Gangohi

Masâbîhut Tarâwîh – Moulana Qâsim Nanotwi

Tahqîqut Tarâwîh – Sheikh Riâya

Published by: Madrasah Arabia Islamia, P.O.Box9786, Azaadville, 1750, South Africa


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