بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
The scholars unanimously agree that tarāwīḥ is a highly meritorious and recommended prayer that is observed during Ramaḍān. Its virtue is established in the primary texts. The Prophet (upon him be peace) said:
من قام رمضان إيمانا واحتسابا غفر له ما تقدم من ذنبه
“Whoever stands in prayer during Ramaḍān, in faith and expecting reward, his past sins will be forgiven.”
In this narration, “standing in prayer” means performing tarāwīḥ. This is a devotion through which one will earn abundant reward. It is a prayer that the Muslims have continually observed, every year, from the first generation until now. ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb (Allāh be please with him) emphasized the institutionalization of its congregational performance, and the ummah has been vigilant and steadfast in that ever since. It is one of Islām’s publicly observed rituals (ar. shaʿīrah), like the Eid and Friday prayers.
It should be noted that not all publicly observed rituals are obligatory acts. In fact, there are some, like tarāwīḥ, that are recommended. According to the Ḥanafī Madhhab, performing tarāwīḥ in congregation is a communal recommendation (ar. sunnah ʿalā al-kifāyah). And its performance by the individual is also recommended (ar. sunnat ʿayn). The scholars differed on the extent to which tarāwīḥ needs to be performed to fulfill its sunnah ʿalā al-kifāyah ruling. Some said that every mosque must perform it. Others said that one mosque in the town must do so. And others said that it must be observed by a mosque in one’s locality. Ibn ʿĀbidīn preferred the third opinion. And in this way, the communal duty to perform it in congregation is achieved. For anyone who does not offer it at the mosque, it is still recommended that he perform it.
In the current situation, governmental authorities have issued shelter-in-place orders for everyone in our area. Schools, businesses, and many other places are closed, including places of worship. The reason for why these places closed is serious. There is a major health crisis that we are facing, a highly contagious virus that is, in many cases, fatal.
While some mosques may maintain limited congregations that will perform it, thereby fulfilling its sunnat kifāyah ruling for the community, most of us will pray at home. Moreover, the community is advised to perform it at home. We should not go to seek out tarāwīḥ prayers in the masājid during the coming month. The current advice for the community, the advice coming from the scholars, is to stay home and perform it there. The purpose of this writing is to highlight and outline some important points regarding tarāwīḥ prayers in this situation.
When advising that tarāwīḥ be performed at home, one may note that the scholars discussed which way is preferred: should one pray it in the mosque or alone at home?
Imām Abū Ḥanīfah, many Shāfiʿīs, some Mālikīs, and Imām Aḥmad considered that making it in congregation at the mosque is best. Still, others considered that performing it at home is preferable. An opinion along these lines has been related from Qāḍī Abū Yūsuf, Imām Taḥāwī, and some of the Shāfiʿīs. This difference is being mentioned to show that performing tarāwīḥ prayers at home has a basis. Thus, in the crisis that we are in, one may note that the most virtuous way to perform it is a point on which the scholars differed. The first view may be more prominent, and we will, inshāʾAllāh, continue to practice on it in the years to come.
It may also be noted that performing it at the mosque is one virtue and performing it in congregation is another. It is good for one to gather their family at home and perform it together. In doing so, one will add to the reward that they will receive and virtue by performing it in congregation. Even if one performs it at home with just his womenfolk, it is still counted as tarāwīḥ. And this is what should be done now. We should make our homes radiate with the light of worship and Allāh’s remembrance.
In a few days, Ramaḍān will be here, now is the time to prepare. During this month, most of us will be observing many of the acts of worship specific to Ramaḍān, which are usually performed in the masjid, at home. At this time, we will be at home engaged in worship with our families and not going out like we normally do. This is a unique set of circumstances, something that none of us have ever experienced; and while facing this challenge, we will all strive to gain Allāh’s pleasure.
The following points should be noted regarding tarāwīḥ this month:
Tarāwīḥ’s time extends from ishāʾ until fajr along with time for witr. It is recommended that it be performed after one-third or half the night has passed. It is best that most of one’s night be spent in prayer. If tarāwīḥ is begun after half the night passed, it is not disliked, while it is better to begin it before then. Observing it earlier will ensure that one does not miss anything from it.
Its Number of Rakʿahs
Tarāwīḥ consists of twenty rakʿahs. Performing them should be maintained throughout the entire month. If one would complete the Qurʾān early in the month, like during the twenty-seventh night, then continuing to pray it for the rest of the month remains recommended.
The Prophet’s Companions agreed that tarāwīḥ is performed as twenty. And their scholarly consensus (ar. ijmāʿ al-ṣaḥābah) is a proof for the generations after. The Ḥanafī Madhhab, after reviewing and evaluating the evidence, opined that it should be performed as twenty. Twenty is the opinion that the majority have maintained throughout the centuries. In fact, the Ḥanafīs, some Mālikīs, the Shāfiʿīs, and the Ḥanbalīs all follow this.
Tarāwīḥ is sometimes divided into what is called a “tarwīḥah.” And there are five of these in each tarāwīḥ. Thus, each tarwīḥah consists of four rakʿahs and two taslīms.
How Its Rakʿahs are Performed
The established practice is that the twenty rakʿahs are performed in units of two with ten taslīms. This means that after each set of two rakʿahs, one makes taslīm. Then, one performs another set until they have completed ten sets of two-rakʿah unit prayers. Thus, at the end of a night, the number that they have completed is twenty rakʿahs in total.
It is recommended that those praying tarāwīḥ take a brief rest after each tarwīḥah. The period of rest between the last tarwīḥah and witr is recommended unless it will make things difficult on people. If this is the case, it does not need to be observed. During these resting periods, those who are praying may sit quietly or engage in dhikr. The length of resting periods is the same as the length of a tarwīḥah.
Completing the Qurʾān
It is recommended that the entire Qurʾān be recited once in tarāwīḥ. Some recommended that its completion should occur on the twenty-seventh night in order for it to correspond to the Night of Power (ar. Laylat al-Qadr). One way in which this is prescribed is that one recites ten verses in every rakʿah. By observing this, one will finish the entire Qurʾān with ease. There are approximately six hundred rakʿahs in a Ramaḍān’s tarāwīḥ, and the Qurʾān contains around six thousand verses. Accordingly, when done this way, one will be able to finish it without the amount that is read each night being too much.
Still, some later-day scholars prescribed that one limit the recital to three short verses or one long verse in order that people do not become overly tired and avoid attending because it is too arduous.
If there is one who is suitable for imāmah available where the prayer is being performed who is a ḥāfiẓ of the Qurʾān, then this meritorious sunnah may be observed. Otherwise, the one who leads the prayer should recite as much as he has memorized.
Reciting from Memory
According to the Ḥanafī Madhhab, one may not recite by relying on a copy of the Qurʾān in prayer. In fact, doing so invalidates one’s prayer. Accordingly, the prayer must be performed by reciting from memory.
The Witr Prayer
The witr prayer is generally made after one has finished praying tarāwīḥ. Imām Abū Ḥanīfah held that witr is obligatory (ar. wājib); and it is prayed in congregation during Ramaḍān. In fact, it is best (ar. afḍal) that it be performed in congregation during the month. Between tarāwīḥ and witr, one will perform a total of twenty-three rakʿahs in congregation.
The prayer itself consists of three rakʿahs with two sittings for tashahhud. And, like the maghrib prayer, it is not separated by a taslīm. In witr, after one has finished reciting Qurʾān in the third rakʿah, he pronounces the takbīr while raising his hands and then reads the duāʾ of qunūt prior to bowing into rukūʿ. When one is leading the witr prayer during Ramaḍān, he should recite audibly.
A Few Practical Points & Tips
– It is good to set up a place in one’s house where tarāwīḥ, and other prayers, will be offered. A nook in which the household can pray is important to keep our worship engaged and our hearts spiritually thriving. Try and make this area like the masjid; we should try to limit distractions when there to focus on connecting with Allāh.
– For families with children, it is important to realize that they are growing and developing. They are learning from us in this situation. It is important that we, as parents and adults, demonstrate to them how to handle afflictions and difficulties. When they remember these times later, we want them to remember how the family turned to Allāh in worship.
– For those of us having trouble, be it health or work related, etc., Ramaḍān is a month in which one’s duāʾ is readily accepted. Laylat al-Qadr is found in Ramaḍān. If we beseech Allāh in supplication, this is a time in which our prayers will be answered.
– Engage in prayer, give charity, make tawbah, seek Allāh’s forgiveness, recite Qurʾān, and remember Him. This is a month in which His mercy descends upon us.
– Be punctual in prayer times. The five daily prayers are important, in fact, they are more important than tarāwīḥ. Set up prayer reminders in the house and everyone should try to stick to them. During Ramaḍān, tarāwīḥ’s time will come after ishāʾ. Scheduling Ramaḍān activities in the home may help ensure that we are punctual with them.
– We should maintain consistency in the sunnahs before and after the prayers.
– Even if one cannot hear the whole Qurʾān recited in tarāwīḥ this year, they can hear the entirety of it recited as many times as they are able to recite it outside of prayer. Ramaḍān is the month of the Qurʾān. Reciting and studying it are recommended.
– At-home learning has become the norm these days. And while we are not able to attend lectures and classes at the masjid, there are many opportunities available to attend daily lectures remotely. Currently, Masjid DarusSalam has daily online lectures that are available for everyone to attend. Please visit our YouTube channel at: YouTube.com/MASJIDDS and remember to subscribe.
May Allāh grant us the tawfīq to fully benefit from this Ramaḍān. May He give us health and safety. And may the doors of His mercy be opened for us during this month. May Allāh make our sustenance plentiful and remove the difficulties that we are facing during these times. O Allāh, You are our Creator, Sustainer, and there is none worthy of worship but You. May the choicest of prayers and salutations be bestowed upon Your Prophet and Messenger, Muḥammad, his house, and his Companions.
 Sharḥ Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, 6:39.
 Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, #759.
 Radd al-Muḥtār ʿalā al-Durr al-Mukhtār, 2:45.
 Sharḥ Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, 6:39; Ṭarḥ al-Tathrīb, 4:162; ʿUmdat al-Qārī, 1:233.
 al-Fatāwā al-Hindīyah, 1:116; Jāmiʿ al-Muḍmarāt, 2:210.
 al-Fatāwā al-Hindīyah, 1:116.
 al-Fatāwā al-Hindīyah, 1:115; Marāqī al-Falāḥ, 414.
 al-Baḥr al-Rāʾiq, 2:73.
 Badāʾiʿ al-Ṣanāʾiʿ, 1:288; Radd al-Muḥtār ʿalā al-Durr al-Mukhtār, 2:44.
 Marāqī al-Falāḥ, 414; Radd al-Muḥtār ʿalā al-Durr al-Mukhtār, 2:45; al-Baḥr al-Rāʾiq, 2:71.
 al-Fatāwā al-Hindīyah, 1:118.
 Marāqī al-Falāḥ, 414.
 Radd al-Muḥtār ʿalā al-Durr al-Mukhtār, 2:45; al-Baḥr al-Rāʾiq, 2:71.
 al-Mawsūʿah al-Fiqhīyah al-Kuwaytīyah, 27:141.
 al-Fatāwā al-Hindīyah, 1:115.
 Badāʾiʿ al-Ṣanāʾiʿ, 1:288; al-Baḥr al-Rāʾiq, 2:72; Marāqī al-Falāḥ, 414.
 al-Fatāwā al-Hindīyah, 1:115.
 al-Muḥīṭ al-Burhānī, 1:456.
 Radd al-Muḥtār ʿalā al-Durr al-Mukhtār, 2:46.
 al-Fatāwā al-Hindīyah, 1:118.
 Ibid., 2:11.
 al-Muḥīṭ al-Burhānī, 1:273; al-Baḥr al-Rāʾiq, 2:72.
 Marāqī al-Falāḥ, 386.
 Badāʾiʿ al-Ṣanāʾiʿ, 1:273; al-Baḥr al-Rāʾiq, 2:43.
 al-Fatāwā al-Hindīyah, 1:72.