In this belated day and age, every morning heralds a new fitna, a fitna that strikes at the very root of our Imaan and amal. For the past fourteen hundred years the Ummah has been performing twenty rakaats of taraweeh without question. However “a sect” now claims that taraweeh is ONLY eight rakaats, which implies that for fourteen hundred years the Ummah had deviated from the sunnah of Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam and had performed twenty rakaats without any shari proof.
The Virtue of Taraweeh
Abdullah Bin Ammar radhiallahu anhu states that Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam said: “The fast and the Quraan will both plead on behalf of the bondsmen who keeps fast in the day and recites or listens attentively to the recitation of the Quraan at night standing in the presence of Allah (in taraweeh). The fast will say “O my Lord, I had held him back from food, drink and sexual gratification, accept my intercession for him today and treat him with mercy and forgiveness. The Quraan will say, “I had held him back from taking rest and sleep at night, O’ my Lord, accept my intercession for him today and treat him with mercy and forgiveness”. The intercession of both the fast and Quraan will be accepted and he will be treated with exceptionl kindness”. (Baihaqi).
Sayyidina Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudree radhiallahu anhu narrates that Sayyidina Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam said: “When the first night of Ramadhaan dawns (comes), the doors of the skies are opened, and none of its doors are then closed until the last nights of Ramadhan”.
No mu’min servant (of Allah) performs salaah during its night (any night of Ramadhaan), but Allah will record for him one thousand five hundred hasanah (rewards) for every sajdah that he makes. And Allah will build a home for him in Jannah made out of red ruby, which will have sixty thousand doors, each of its doors having (interlinked to, leading to) a palace made out of gold, ornamented (beautified and decorated) with rubies.
Thus, when he (the mu’min) fasts on the first day of Ramadhaan, all his past sins are pardoned, and seventy thousand malaaikah make istighfaar for him, daily, from the time of the fajr salaah, until the sun sets.
And for every sajdah that he makes during Ramadhaan, either by day or by night, there will be for him a tree, (in Jannah, so huge that) a person on horseback will ride in its shade for five hundred years.” (Baihaqi, Targheeb)
Salmaan radhiallahu anhu reports: “On the last day of Sha’baan the Messenger of Allah addressed us and said: ‘O people, there comes over you now a great month, a most blessed month in which lies a night more greater in virtue than one thousand months. It is a month in which Allah has made compulsory that the days shoud be observed by fasting. And he has made sunnah the Taraweeh by night. Whosoever intends drawing nearer to Allah by performing any virtuous deed, for him shall be the reward like him who had performed a fardh in any other time. And whoever performs a fardh, for him shall be the reward of seventy faraa’idh in any other time. This is indeed the month of patience, and the reward for true patience is Jannah (paradise). It is the month of sympathy with one’s fellow men. It is the month wherein a true believer’s rizq is increased.
Whosoever feeds another who fasted, in order to break the fast (at sunset), for him there shall be forgiveness for his sins and emancipation from the fire of Jahannam (hell) and for him shall be the same reward as him (whom he fed) without that person’s reward being decreased in the least….”. From this hadeeth it is noted that the command for taraweeh prayers too comes from Allah Himself. All the authorities of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamm’ah are agreed upon the fact that taraweeh is sunnah.
Taraweeh During the Era of Nabi Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam and the Sahabah Radhiallahu Anhu
Ibn Abbass radhiallahu anhu states that during the month of Ramadhaan, Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam performed twenty rakaats (taraweeh) and thereafter performed the witr salaat. (Baihaqi and Musannaf Ibn Abie Shaiba).
Ubay bin Ka’ab radhiallahu anhu led the taraweeh prayers and offered 20 rakaats and three rakaats waajib salaat.
Umar radhiallahu anhu commanded the Imaam to perform twenty rakaats Taraweeh salaat for the congregation.
Views of the Scholars
Imaan Qurtubi radhiallahu anhu states: “Twenty rakaats taraweeh and three rakaats witr is the most authentic narration.”
Imaam Nawawi radhiallahu anhu states: “Taraweeh is a unanimously accepted sunnah of the Muslims. It is twenty rakaats”.
“The pandemonium that the Ghair Muqallideen (people who do not follow any Mazhab) had started for the past hundred years was never heared of in the Islamic world before……… Similarly from the time of Umar radhiallahu anhu upto the emergence of this sect there was no masjid in the world where eight rakaats of Taraweeh was performed……”. (Moulana Habib ur Rahmaan Azmi).
A Grave Misconception
The proponents of eight rakaats taraweeh quote the following hadeeth of Ayesha radhiallahu anha as stated in Bukhari Shareef. Ayesha radhiallahu anha was asked about the salaat of Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam. She replied by saying that Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam did not exceed eleven rakaats in Ramadhaan nor in any other month…”.
This hadeeth apparently indicates that Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam performed eight rakaats taraweeh and three rakaats witr. However the words ‘nor in any other month’ clearly indicates that this was with reference to tahajjud salaat and not taraweeh salaat. The fact that Imaam Bukhari (R.A.) himself has not mentioned this hadeeth under the caption of Taraweeh salaat is clear proof that the salaat in question refers to witr and not taraweeh salaat.
Hazrat Umar radhiallahu anhu during his khilaafat had directed that taraweeh salaat be performed collectively in the masaajid, lest the practice gradually dissipates from the Ummah. He did not introduce the number of rakaats on his own accord. To believe that the twenty rakaats is an innovation of Umar radhiallahu anhu is to undermine the integrity of Umar radhiallahu anhu and all the Sahabah who were present at that time!