Taraweeh – The Essence of Ramadan

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Umm Usman

Umm Usman is a freelance writer.

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Vol 4- Issue 2 Essence of taraweehUmm Usman highlights some important Ahadeeth discussing the rulings for Taraweeh

The Ramadan nightly prayer has a special merit over other nights. The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Whoever observes the night prayer in Ramadan as an expression of his faith and to seek reward from Allah, his previous sins will be blotted out.” (Muslim)

In this Hadeeth, ‘faith’ means the faith in what Allah (swt) has promised the observers of night prayers. ‘To seek reward’ means that the observer’s intent is not for the eye service.

Taraweeh is derived from the Arabic root word Raaha, which means ‘to rest, relax, and use as recreation.’ It is so called, because the believers used to prolong it. After every four Rakahs, they would stop for rest and resume, until Taraweeh was complete.

Taraweeh in Congregation

The Messenger of Allah (sa) was the first to establish the Sunnah of congregational (Jamah) prayer of Taraweeh in Masjid. Then, he did not continue with this Sunnah because of fear that it might be made mandatory on the Ummah in Ramadan, and they might not be able to do it.

Aisha (rta) said: “The Messenger of Allah (sa) observed Taraweeh prayer in the Masjid one night and people prayed with him. He repeated the following night and the number of participants grew. The companions congregated the third and fourth night, but the Messenger (sa) did not show up. In the morning, he told them: ‘I saw what you did last night, but nothing prevented me from joining you, except my fear that it might be made mandatory on you in Ramadan.’” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Number of Rakahs in Taraweeh

The worthy ancestors Salaf As-Salih disagreed on the amount of Rakahs for Taraweeh and Witr. The following numbers are mentioned: 39, 29, 23, 19, 13, and 11 Rakahs. According to a particular view, of all the numbers mentioned, none is sounder than 11 Rakahs. When Aisha (rta) was asked regarding the prayer of the Prophet (sa), she replied: “He did not pray in Ramadan or some other times more than eleven Rakahs.” (Muslim and Bukhari)

However, there is nothing wrong with praying more than 11 Rakahs. Perhaps, this is why different numbers are observed. When the Prophet (sa) was asked about the night prayer, he said: “It may be done in two Rakahs, and if anyone fears the appearance of morning, he should pray one Rakah as a Witr for what he has already prayed.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

In their desire to pray more Rakahs, some people make Taraweeh in extreme speed. This is wrong, especially when the speed leads to a breach of certain rules of prayer. In that case, the prayer will not be valid. Similarly, it is undesirable for an Imam to pray with such speed, whereby the followers would have difficulty observing the necessary deeds in Salah.

Neglecting Taraweeh

No one should neglect Taraweeh without a good reason. It is part of physical and spiritual training, and its observation soon after Iftar insures timely and proper digestion of food. Besides, there are spiritual rewards awaiting the observers of this prayer.

Everybody should attend the Masjid prayers, including women, provided they are properly covered. The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Prevent not the women servants of Allah, from going to the Masjid of Allah.” However, some scholars state that there must be separate arrangement for ladies when they attend the Masjid to avoid creating Fitna (trails). They should also neither wear perfume, nor raise their voices, nor show their beauty. Allah (swt) states: “They should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof.” (An-Nur 24:31)

‘What ordinarily appears’ refers to the outer garments, for when the Messenger (sa) commanded women to attend Eid prayer, Umm Atiyah (rta) said: “Messenger of Allah, some of us do not have the outer garment (Jilbab).” The Messenger of Allah (sa) told her to let a sister (who has more than one) give her one to wear. (Agreed upon)

It is Sunnah that women pray behind the men in the rear lines. The Messenger (sa) has been reported as saying: “The best lines for men are the front lines, and the worst lines for men are the rear lines. The best lines for women are the rear ones, and the worst lines of women are the front ones.” (Muslim)

The women should leave the Masjid as soon as the Imam says ‘As-Salaamu Alaikum.’ They should not delay without a valid reason. Umm Salmah (rta) said: “When the Messenger of Allah (sa) saluted to end prayer, the women would stand up to leave, and the Messenger (sa) would remain in his place for a while. Allah is the Best Knower, but perhaps the Messenger (sa) did this, so women would leave, before men could overtake them.” (Bukhari)

Taraweeh is significantly the essence of Ramadan. Qiyam-ul-Lail might not be possible for many through out the year except in the holy month of Ramadan. Muslims flock to the Masjid or other Taraweeh congregations in hope of reaping optimum benefit. And why not? Ramadan is the only month when Nafl Ibadah (optional worship) equates to the reward of Fard Ibadah (obligatory worship). May Allah (swt) bless every believer with this golden opportunity to earn His Pleasure. Ameen.

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