Ramadan Special


Tarawih Prayer

August 19, 2009.

The Islamic fasting month of Ramadan is a blessed month in which Muslims are generally exhorted to come up with as many optional activities as is possible for great rewards are awarded for deeds performed during this holy month. It is in appreciation of this that the Prophet (peace be upon him) traditionalized for the MuslimUmmah a voluntary prayer to be performed during the nightsof thisholy month. This voluntary prayer is known as “Tarawih” or “Qiyaam”; Tarawih meaning “The Act Of Taking Rest.” The number of rak’ats at first was eleven, and it was increased to twenty with an addition of three rak’ats of Witr prayers. The Prophet (peace be upon him) fixed no time at night wherein it could be said, but it should be after I’sha and before Fajir prayers. The Prophet (peace be upon him) himself generally performed it at the latter portion of the night, having taken rest in the early part, and sometimes when one-third of the night had passed by. The virtue of this prayer can be noted from the following saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him):

“Anybody who performs Tarawih prayer during the month of Ramadan with deep sense of belief and scrutiny will have his previous sins forgiven” (Reported by Imam Bukhari).

Indeed, the Prophet (peace be upon him) manifested the importance of this prayer by personally leading its initial congregations although he did not insist on its performance for fear it was made obligatory on the Ummah. The mother of the faithful Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) says:“ Many people performed Tarawih with the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the first night and many more in the second night. In the third night, even a larger congregation attended the Mosque to perform the prayer with the Prophet (peace be upon him) but he did not go out for them. In the next morning, the Prophet (peace be upon him) told them that I saw your assembly but nothing prohibited me from coming out to you except the fear that it be made obligatory upon you” (Reported by Imam At-Tirmidhi).

After the death of the Prophet (peace be upon him), there was no longer any fear of this prayer being made obligatory and it was Caliph Umar who during his reign reactivated the performance of this prayer in congregation. Since then, the Ummah has practised this prayer in congregation but it is permissible for someone to perform it on an individual basis, although much preference is given to performing it with the congregation as can be noted from the following saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him):

“ Whoever prays Tarawih with the congregation till the Imam leaves will be rewarded as if he prayed the whole night” (Reported by Imams Ahmad and Tirmidhi).

According to the consensus of Muslim scholars, Tarawih is not considered mandatory on either men or women. Rather, it is only considered a recommended act. There is no evidence in the sources to make it obligatory and no jurist or imam has expressed such an opinion. Tarawih can be performed in the masjid or at home: We know from the traditions that the wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and other companions often used to pray Tarawih at home. Some of them even opened the Qur’an and read from it while performing Tarawih. Based on the above, if you are not able to go to the mosque, you would not be deprived of the reward or blessings if you were to perform it at home.

Furthermore, Dr Muhammad Abu Laylah, professor of the Islamic Studies & Comparative Religions at Al-Azhar Univ., adds: Tarawih prayer is a Sunnah and to do it in a Mosque is also a Sunnah.

Women and even children should attend it at the Mosque because it displays the unity among Muslims and cements their relationships.

Adapted by MPAC from various sources.

 Tarawih       Suhoor      Breaking Fast        Lailatuhl Qadr        ‘Eid



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