Sunday, August 1, 2010

Taraweh: Eight or Twenty, both are permissible

The people who hold that twenty rakats taraweh is a compulsory sunnah (Sunnah Muakiddah) usually bring forth two arguments, the first being that Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) united the Muslims upon twenty rakahs behind Ubay Ibn Ka’ab and Tamim Daari. The second being that the four Imams unanimously agreed that twenty rakahs is sunnah muakiddah.

Regarding how many rakahs Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) united the people
upon, Imam San’ai says, "There is a difference of opinion in the amount that Ubay Ibn Kab read. Some say it was eleven rakahs, others say it was twenty one rakahs, others say twenty, others say twenty three and there are other opinions as well," (Subulus Salaam Vol:2 Page: 356)

So we see that the scholars don’t even agree upon how many rakahs Umar united the people upon so this can not be a proof.

Regarding the four Imams, Imam Malik (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated the following in his Muwatta, "Umar ibn al-Khattab ordered Ubayy ibn Kab and Tamim ad-Dari to watch the night in prayer with the people for eleven rakats. The reciter of the Qur'an would recite the Mi'in (a group of medium-sized surahs) until we would be leaning on our staffs from having stood so long in prayer. And we would not leave until the approach of dawn," (Muwatta Malik 6:2:4). This narration also shows that Umar united the people upon eleven rakahs, not twenty.

Regarding the Hanafi viewpoint, Imam Muhammad, the student of Imam Abu Hanifah, mentions the following narration in his Muwatta, "the prophet (peace be upon him) would not read more than eleven rakahs, neither in Ramadan or out of it (Muwatta Muhammad, Chapter of the Ramadan prayer 71:239)

Imam Muhammad then says, "We (The Hanafis) go according to all of this, there is nothing wrong in praying in the month of Ramadan, the people praying voluntarily with an Imam," (Muwatta Muhammad, Chaper of the Ramadan prayer 71:241)

This shows that the belief of Imam Abu Hanifah and his students was that Taraweh is optional. When the hadith says eleven rakahs, it could mean eight rakahs taraweh and three rakahs witr or ten rakahs taraweh and one rakah witr, Allah knows best.

So it is clear that Taraweh is optional and each person should read what he is able to, with eleven rakahs (including the witr) being the sunnat. To make twenty rakahs compulsory upon Muslims is an innovation with no basis in the Quran or Sunnah.


Mogamat Ganief said...

question1? does this 11 raka-aat refer to kiyaamu layl or man kaamah-ramadaan. is it not so that there is a difference? question2? if the messenger of Allah said my sunnah is that which my companions are on, does this not include the 20raka-aat which sayedinaa umar instituted? question3? what was the rank of sayedinaa umar. Allah revealed ayaat of the quraan regarding this great man. who are we, that come hundreds of years later to insult the charater of sayedinaa umar by saying he instituted an innovation.

Abu Muawiyah Ismail Kamdar said...


Where in this article did anyone insult Umar (RA)? Please read the article again, as for Umar (RA) establishing 20 Rakahs, how do you explain the narration in the Muwaata of Imam Malik that goes as follows:

Yahya related to me from Malik from Muhammad ibn Yusuf that as-Sa'ib ibn Yazid said, "Umar ibn al-Khattab ordered Ubayy ibn Kab and Tamim ad-Dari to watch the night in prayer with the people for eleven rakas.The reciterof the Qur'an would recite the Mi'in (a group of medium-sized suras) until we would be leaning on our staffs from having stood so long in prayer. And we would not leave until the approach of dawn."

(Muwatta Imam Malik 6:2:4)

Massoud said...

@Mogamat, as our Ustadh Kamdar has indicated, the number of Rak'at imposed by Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was 8. As for the reports stating 20, it should be noted that these narrations attributed to Ubay (may Allah be pleased with him) are weak. Just a few of these reports are going to be responded to here:

1. The first route is found in Ibn Abi Shaybah in his Musannaf (2/163) with an authentic chain (عن عبد العزيز بن رفيع قال : ( كَانَ أُبَيُّ بنُ كَعبٍ يُصَلِّي بِالنَّاسِ فِي رَمَضَانَ بِالمَدِينَةِ عِشرِينَ رَكعَةً ، وَيُوتِرُ بِثَلاثٍ ) ). However, further analysis of its chain reveals that it is disconnected. An-Nimawi Al-Hanafi said (in Athar As-Sunan): "Abd Ul-Aziz bin Rafi' did not meet Ubay bin Ka'b." In fact, there is a gap of more than a century between them (see Tahdeeb At-Tahdeeb)!

Al-Mubarakpuri has also adamently provided a counter-argument, proving the falseness of this report (in Tuhfat Al-Ahwadhi):

"This report from Ubay is disconnected . . . it conflicts with what has been confirmed from Umar that he commanded Ubay bin Ka'b and Tamim Ad-Dari to lead the people with eleven Rak'at. It also conflicts with what has been confirmed from Ubay that he led some women at his house in the Qiyam of Ramadhan with eight Rak'at and Witr . . . Al-Haythami said about this report, 'Its Isnad is Hasan.'"

2. The second route, recorded in Al-Mukhtarah (1/384) by Al-Maqdisi contains Abu Jafar Ar-Razi, who is weak and he narrates Munkar reports (e.g. his report on Qunut). Therefore, the Isnad of this narration cannot be used as evidence, and it was classed as Da'if by Ibn Al-Qayyim (Zad Al-Ma'd 1/99) and Al-Albani (Salat At-Tarawih p.69-70)

3. It was reported from Yunus bin Ubaid, from Al-Hasan, that Umar bin Al-Khattab gathered the people behind Ubay bin Ka'b (in the month of Ramadhan). He led them for twenty nights (or it said Rak'at); he would not pray the Qunut except in the last half (of the month). When the last ten nights would start, he would not lead them, and instead pray in his house. So they would say, "Ubay has fled (like a slave)!" This Hadith is recorded in Sunan Abu Dawud (#1429) and it is weak.

First of all the word 'Rak'at' is a clear error. If we concede it is part of the text, it only appeared much later (tampering or mistake?). In fact, the word 'nights' occurs in all of the famous editions (e.g. Khattabi, Adheemabadi).

Regardless, however, this Hadith is weak because Al-Hasan Al-Basri did not encounter Umar in his lifetime. Therefore, the Isnad is weak. It was classed as weak by Al-'Ayni, An-Nawawi, Az-Zayla'i, Al-Albani, Zubair Ali Za'i and others.

Hence, it can be clearly seen that it is untrue that Ubay (may Allah be pleased with him) led the people in Tarawih with 20 Rak'at, rather the opposite is proven (i.e. 8).

And Allah knows best.