In the name of Allah ,the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

Taraweeh Prayer (Al Qiyaam)

What is Taraweeh Prayer

The Taraweeh Prayer is an emphasised Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah ( peace be upon him ) during the month of Ramadan.

Both al-Bukhaari (1129) and Muslim (761) narrated from ‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) prayed one night in the mosque, and the people followed him in prayer. Then he prayed the next night, and many people came. Then they gathered on the third or fourth night, and the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not come out to them. The next morning he said: “I saw what you did, and nothing kept me from coming out to you except the fact that I feared that it would be made obligatory for you.” And that was in Ramadan

These hadith show that praying Taraweeh in congregation is prescribed in the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him).  Umar during his Khilafah re-established this Sunnah of prayer in congregation.

It was narrated in al-Saheehayn from ‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would forgo doing something that he liked to do lest the people do it and it become obligatory upon them. (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1060; Muslim, Salaat al-Musaafireen, 1174).

al-Bukhaari (2010) narrated that ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn ‘Abd al-Qaari said: I went out with ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allah be pleased with him) to the mosque one night in Ramadan, and the people were scattered, each man praying by himself. Some men would pray and have groups of people behind them following them. ‘Umar said: “I think that if I unite all these people with one reader, it will be better. Then he resolved to gather them behind Ubayy ibn Ka’b. 

al-Haafiz said: Ibn al-Teen and others said that ‘Umar based this decision on the Prophet’s approval of those who prayed with him on those nights. Although he disliked that for them, that was based on the fear that it might be made obligatory for them. When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) died, there was no longer any fear of that happening, and ‘Umar thought, because of the potential division that might arise from people praying separately, and because uniting them behind one reader is more motivating for many people. The majority agreed with ‘Umar’s decision. End quote from Fath al-Baari.

What is the difference between the Taraweeh prayer and the Tahajud prayer?

Both prayers are the same they are  both classified as part of qiyaam al-layl.
However the Qiyaam al-layl during Ramadaan is called Taraaweeh because the Salaf  used to rest (istaraahu) after every two or four rak’ahs,
because they made their prayers long in order to make the most of this season of great reward.

The virtues of the Taraweeh Prayer

Abu Hurayrah said: Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said "He who prays during the night in Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven" (Agreed Upon)

The Majority of scholars say that by all his pasts sins it means his minor sin not major sins if the person stand all the nights of Ramadan in prayer and not just a few nights . The scholars say in order for major sins to be forgiven a person is required to make  sincere toba (sincere repentance)

 Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever stands with the Imam until he finishes, it is equivalent to spending the whole night in prayer.”

Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 806; Abu Dawood, 1375; al-Nasaa’i, 1605; Ibn Maajah, 1327. Classed as saheeh by al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Khuzaymah (3/337), Ibn Hibbaan (3/340) and al-Albaani in Irwa’ al-Ghaleel, 447.

How to pray the Taraweeh prayer

Time for Taraweeh prayer

The time for Taraweeh prayer is between Isha and Fajr. Generally during Ramadan the taraweeh prayer is prayed after the Isha prayer in the Masjids in congregation.

How is the Taraweeh prayer performed

1. The Number of Rakahs

There are two opinions as to how many rakkahs should be prayed. One opinion says that it should be 8 rakkahs followed by three rakkahs of witr. The proof of which are the following hadiths 
This proof is hadith of Abu Salamah ibn ‘Abd al-Rahmaan, who asked ‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her), “How did the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) pray during Ramadan?” She said: “He did not pray more than eleven rak’ahs in Ramadan or at other times. He would pray four, and do not ask how beautiful and long they were, then he would pray four, and do not ask how beautiful and long they were, then he would pray three. I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, will you sleep before you pray Witr?’ He said, ‘O ‘Aa’ishah, my eyes sleep but my heart does not.’” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1909; Muslim, 738 )

‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to pray eleven rak’ahs at night, and say the tasleem after each two rak’ahs, and he would pray Witr with one rak’ah. Saheeh, (agreed upon)

As to whether to pray 4 rakahs or 2 rakahs by 2 rakah. Scholars say that it should be 2 by 2 because there is a hadith of Ibn ‘Umar according to which a man asked the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) about prayer at night. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Prayers at night are to be offered two by two (two rakahs at a time). If any of you fears that the time of dawn is approaching then let him pray one rak’ah as Witr.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 846; Muslim, 749)
To explain the above hadiths the scholars have said that the hadith does not mean 4 with just one tasleem but rather 2 then tasleem and then two again and then tasleem and Allah knows best.

Some scholars opted for a different number of rakahs Imam Ahmad, Imam Abu Haneefah and Imam al-Shaafa’i said one should pray 20 instead of 8. Imam Maalik said it is thirty-six. However there is no authentic hadith to support 20 , 36 or unlimited number.

The Hadith of Aisha specifies how many rakahs were prayed in total.

What is recited in the Taraweeh Prayer

So now that we have determined how the time of the Taraweeh prayer and the number of rakahs. Let us look at how it is actually prayer.

The Tarawi prayer is prayed two rakahs at a time and the prayer is a loud prayed rather than a quite prayer.

So you pray 2 rakahs and then another 2 rakahs and then another 2 rakahs and then another 2 rakahs and then finally 3 rakahs of witr prayer.

If you have memorised the whole Quran then after reciting Surah Fathiha in the first rakah of the first Taraweeh Prayer you should start reciting the beginning of the secound Surah of the Quran called Surah Baqarah. You can recite how much you want depending on your stamina. Then in the secound rakah, after you have recited Surah Fathiha, you should resume your recitation of the Quran from were you ended in the previous rakah. So in each rakah you start your Quranic recitation from were ended in the previous rakah. After the end of the 8 rakahs of Taraweeh you should make a note of were you finished of your recitation of the Quran in case you forget. So the next day you begin your recitation from were you finished your recitation the previous day. By the end of Ramadan you will probably have recited the whole of the Quran.

Most Masjids have Imams  who have  memorised the whole Quran. They will recite it in the taraweeh prayers and by the end of Ramadan the congregation will have listened to the recitation of the whole Quran.

If you are praying at home but have not memorised the whole Quran, then you recite what you have memorised of the Quran in the 8 rakahs and then pray 3 witr.
There is no set limit as to how much Quran is recited in each night of the tarawi prayers

The Prophet peace be upon him recitation used to vary, sometimes it would be long, at other times short. Sometimes in every rakah he would recite the equivalent of ‘Yaa ayyuha’l-muzammil, which is twenty aayaat; sometimes he would recite the equivalent of fifty aayaat. He used to say, “Whoever prays at night and reads one hundred aayaat will not be recorded as one of the negligent.” According to another hadeeth: “…and reads two hundred aayaat, will be recorded as one of the devout and sincere believers.”

When he was sick, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) recited the seven long soorahs in his night prayers, i.e., al-Baqarah, Aal ‘Imraan, al-Nisaa’, al-Maa’idah, al-An’aam, al-A’raaf and al-Tawbah.
In the account of Hudhayfah ibn al-Yamaan praying behind the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), in one rakah he recited al-Baqarah, al-Nisa’ and Aal ‘Imraan, and he recited them in a slow and measured tone. It is proven with the soundest (most saheeh) of isnaads that when ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) appointed Ubayy ibn Ka’b to lead the people in praying eleven rakahs in Ramadan, Ubayy used to recite aayaat by the hundreds, so that the people behind him would be leaning on sticks because the prayers were so long, and they did not finish until just before Fajr.

It is also reported in a saheeh account that ‘Umar called the readers during Ramadan, and told the fastest of them to recite thirty aayaat, the moderate ones to recite twenty-five aayaat, and the slowest ones to recite twenty aayaat.

Witr Prayer

Each day after the 8 rakahs of the Tarawi prayers the witr are also prayed.
In Qiyaam of Ramadan Sheik Albaani said

It is Sunnah to recite Sabbih ismi Rabbika al-‘A’laa in the first rakah, Qul Yaa ayyuha’l-Kaafiroon in the second rakah, and Qul Huwa Allaahu ahad in the third rak’ah. Sometimes Qul a’oodhu bi Rabbi’l-Falaq and Qul a’oodhu bi Rabbi’l-Naas may be added as well.

It was reported in a saheeh report that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) once recited one hundred aayaat of Soorat al-Nisa’ in one rakah of witr

A person may also humble himself before Allah by reciting the du’aa’ which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) taught to his grandson al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him), which is:

“Allaahumma’hdinee fiman hadayta wa ‘aafinee fiman ‘aafayta wa tawallanee fiman tawallayta wa baarik lee fimaa a’tayta wa qinee sharra maa qadayt, fa innaka taqdee wa laa yuqdaa ‘alayk. Wa innahu laa yadhillu man waalayta wa laa ya’izzu man ‘aadayt. Tabaarakta Rabbanaa wa ta’aalayt. Laa majaa minka illa ilayk

(O Allaah, guide me along with those whom You have guided, pardon me along with those whom You have pardoned, be an ally to me along with those whom You are an ally to, and bless for me that which You have bestowed. Protect me from the evil You have decreed for verily You decree and none can decree over You. For surety, he whom You show allegiance to is never abased and he whom You take an enemy is never honored and mighty. O our Lord, Blessed and Exalted are You. There is no refuge from You except with You).”

Sometimes one may send blessings on the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and there is nothing wrong with adding other du’aa’s that are known from the Sunnah.

There is nothing wrong with reciting Qunoot after rukoo’, or with adding curses against the kuffaar, sending blessings on the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) or praying for the Muslims in the second half of Ramadan, because it is proven that the imaam used to do this at the time of ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him). At the end of the hadeeth of ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn ‘Ubayd al-Qaari mentioned above, it says: “… They used to curse the kuffaar in the middle, saying,

‘Allaahumma qaatil al-kafarata alladheena yasuddoona ‘an sabeelik wa yukadhdhiboona rusulak wa laa yu’minoona bi wa’dik. Wa khaalif bayna kalimatihim wa alqi fi quloobihim al-ru’b wa alqi ‘alayhim rijzaka wa ‘adhaabak ilaah al-haqq

(O Allaah, destroy the kuffaar who are trying to prevent people from following Your path, who deny Your Messengers and who do not believe in Your promise (the Day of Judgement). Make them disunited, fill their hearts with terror and send Your wrath and punishment against them, O God of Truth).” Then he would send blessings on the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and pray for good for the Muslims as much as he could, and seek forgiveness for the believers.

After he had finished cursing the kuffaar, sending blessings on the Prophet, seeking forgiveness for the believing men and women and asking for his own needs, he would say:

“Allaahumma iyyaaka na’bud wa laka nusalli wa najud, wa ilayka nas’aa wa nahfud, wa narju rahmataka rabbanaa wa nakhaafu ‘adhaabak al-jadd. Inna ‘adhaabaka liman ‘aadayta mulhaq

(O Allah, You do we worship, to You do we pray and prostrate, for Your sake we strive and toil. We place our hope in Your Mercy, O our Lord, and we fear Your mighty punishment, for Your punishment will certainly overtake the one whom You have taken as an enemy.” Then he would say “Allah hu akbar” and go down in sujood.

What should be said at the end of witr

It is Sunnah to say at the end of witr (before or after the salaam):

“Allaahumma innee a’oodhu bi ridaaka min sakhatika wa bi mu’aafaatika min ‘aqoobatika, wa a’oodhu bika minka. La uhsee thanaa’an ‘alayka, anta kamaa athnayta ‘ala nafsik

(O Allah, I seek refuge in Your good pleasure from Your wrath, and in Your protection from Your punishment. I seek refuge with You from You. I cannot praise You enough, and You are as You have praised Yourself.”
When he gave salaam at the end of witr, he said: “Subhaan il-Malik il-Quddoos, subhaan il-Malik il-Quddoos, subhaan il-Malik il-Quddoos (Glory be to the Sovereign, the Most Holy), elongating the syllables, and raising his voice the third time
Two rak’ahs after witr

 A person may pray two rakahs after witr if he wishes, because it is proven that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did this. Indeed, he said, “This travelling is exhausting and difficult, so after any one of you prays witr, let him pray two rakahs. If he wakes up, this is fine, otherwise these two rakahs will be counted for him.
 It is Sunnah to recite Idha zulzilat al-ard and Qul yaa ayyuha’l-kaafiroon in these two rak’ahs.
From Qiyaam Ramadaan by al-Albaani
End of quote

Women may also pray Taraweeh  in congregation. Most large Masjids have facilities to accommodate woman. They may also bring children for the prayers.