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Taraweeh and Qiyaam (Nightly) Prayers

Qiyam prayers are one of the many highlights of the month of Ramadan. These prayers refer to nightly prayers after the last obligatory prayers of the night (Isha). Reciting Quran during the nightly Qiyaam prayers is a major blessing and a great opportunity for Muslims. The reward for reciting Quran, especially during Qiyaam prayers is enormous. Add that reward by doing this worship in Ramadan and the rewards can be without limits only known to Allah and granted by Him.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever prays at night and reads one hundred aayaat will not be recorded as one of the negligent.” According to another hadeeth: “…and reads two hundred aayaat, will be recorded as one of the devout and sincere believers.”

ramadan book

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Allah has added one more prayer for you, which is witr, so pray it between Salaat al-‘Isha’ and Salaat al-Fajr.”

Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “We fasted Ramadan with the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and he did not lead us in qiyaam at all until there were only seven days left, when he led us in prayer until a third of the night had passed. When there were six days left, he did not lead us in qiyaam. When there were five days left, he led us in prayer until half the night had passed. I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, I wish that you had continued until the end of the night.’ He said, ‘If a man prays with the imaam until he finishes, it will be counted as if he prayed the whole night.’ When there were four nights left, he did not lead us in qiyaam. When there were three nights left, he brought together his family, his wives and the people, and led us in qiyaam until we were afraid that we would miss al-falaah. I asked, ‘What is al-falaah?’ he said, ‘Suhoor. Then he did not lead us in qiyaam for the rest of the month.’” (Saheeh hadeeth reported by the authors of Sunan).

Praying nightly prayers is encouraged by both Allah and is clear by observing the life of the prophet and his sunnah. Allah says in the Quran about the devout:

prayers in ramadan nights

And those who spend the night before their Lord, prostrate and standing. (Quran: Al-Furqan 25: 64)

The prophet (s.a.w.) said:

“O people! Spread peace; feed the needy, and join the blood ties among the next of kin; and establish prayer while people are at sleep, you will enter paradise peacefully.” (Tirmidhi)

In Ramadan, when Taraweeh prayers are prayed, Taraweeh provides the opportunity for recitation of Quran. Allah also says in the Quran:

blessings of reciting quran

Verily, those who recite the Book of Allah (this Quran), and perform AsSalat (prayers), and spend (in charity) out of what We have provided for them, secretly and openly, hope for a (sure) trade gain that will never perish. [Surah al-fatir 35:29]

Through ahadith we know that our Quran recitation and fasting will intercede on our behalf during the Day of Judgment when we would need such intercession desperately. The prophet (s.a.w.) said:

“Fasting and the Quran will intercede for the servant on the Day of Judgment. Fasting will say: My Lord, I prevented him from food, and drink during the day, and the Quran will say: My Lord, I prevented him from sleep during the night, so give us intercession for him. [Ahamd and Nisaee)

quran dua

Fasting will intercede for a person on the Day of Judgment and will say, “O Lord, I prevented him from his food and physical desires during the day, so let me intercede for him.” [Reported by Ahmad, 2/174. Al-Haythami classed its isnaad as hasan in al-Majma’, 3/181. Saheeh al-Targheeb, 1/411.]

Offering prayers nightly in congregation is, therefore, very highly encouraged by the prophet (s.a.w.) and involves high spiritual rewards.

Al-Tirmidhi (806) narrated that Abu Dharr said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever prays qiyaam with the imam until he finishes, will be recorded as having spent the whole night in prayer.” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.

The importance of Quran and its recitation can’t be overemphasized and, therefore, Taraweeh and Qiyam prayers provide an excellent opportunity to recite and listen to Quran recitation. The prophet (s.a.w.) said:

“Verily, Allah elevates some people with the Quran and humiliates others” (Saheeh Muslim)

Allah says in the Quran:

allah's order about qayyam in ramadan

“O you wrapped in your garments (i.e., Prophet Muhammad)! Stand (to pray) all night, except a little. Half of it, or a little less than that, or a little more; and recite the Quran (aloud) in a slow, (pleasant tone and) style.” [Surah al-Muzzammil 73:1-4].

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The closest that the Lord is to His slave is in the later part of the night, so if you can be one of those who remember Allah at that time, then do so.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi and al-Nisaa’i).

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Our Lord admires two men: a man who leaves his mattress and cover, and slips away from his wife and lover, to go and pray. Allah says, ‘O My angels, look at My slave. He has left his mattress and cover and slipped away from his lover and wife to pray, out of hope for what is with Me and out of fear of what is with Me.” (Reported by Ahmad. It is a hasan report. Saheeh al-Targheeb, 258).

dua for success Allah

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever recites ten aayaat (verses) in qiyaam will not be recorded as one of the forgetful. Whoever recites a hundred aayaat in qiyaam will be recorded as one of the devout, and whoever prays a thousand aayaat in qiyaam will be recorded as one of the muqantareen (those who pile up good deeds).” (Reported by Abu Dawood and Ibn Hibbaan. It is a hasan report. Saheeh al-Targheeb, 635).

Mukhallad ibn Husayn said: “I never woke up at night except I saw Ibraaheem ibn Adham remembering Allah and praying, and this made me depressed, so I consoled myself with this aayah: ‘…That is the Grace of Allah which He bestows on whom He pleases. And Allah is the Owner of Great Bounty’ [Surah al-Hadeed 57:21].”

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “There is no Muslim who goes to sleep remembering Allah and in a state of purity, and when he turns over he asks Allah for good in this world and the next, but it will be given to him.” (Reported by Abu Dawood and Ahmad. Saheeh al-Jaami’, 5754).

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Purify these bodies and Allah will purify you, for there is no slave who goes to sleep in a state of purity but an angel spends the night with him, and every time he turns over, [the angel] says, ‘O Allah, forgive Your slave, for he went to bed in a state of purity.’” (Reported by al-Tabaraani. Al-Mundhiri said, its isnaad is jaayid. Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3831).

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever turns over at night and says ‘Laa ilaaha ill-Allah wahdahu laa shareeka lah, lahu’l-mulk wa lahu’l-hamd wa huwa ‘a’l kulli shay’in qadeer. Al-hamdulillahi, subhaan Allah wa laa illaaha ill-Allah wa Allahu akbar wa laa hawla wa laa quwwata illa Billaah (There is no god but Allah Alone, with no partner or associate. His is the Dominion and the Praise, and He is Able to do all things. Praise be to Allah, glory be to Allah. There is no god except Allah, Allah is Most Great and there is no strength and no power except in Allah),’ then says, ‘Allahumma ‘ghfir li (O Allah, forgive me),’ or some other dua, it will be answered, and if he does wudoo’ and then prays, his prayer will be accepted.” (Reported by al-Bukhari)

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “When a man from my ummah gets up to pray at night, striving against his own self to get up and purify himself, there are knots on him. When he washes his hands in wudoo’, one knot is undone. When he washes his face, another knot is undone. When he wipes his head another knot is undone. When he washes his feet, another knot is undone. Then Allah says to those who are veiled (in the Unseen): ‘Look at this slave of Mine, he is striving against his own self and asking of Me. Whatever My slave asks of Me shall be his.” (Reported by Ahmad and Ibn Hibaan. Saheeh al-Targheeb, 627).

prayer rugs

Count of Taraweeh Prayers

The following provides an insight into the count of Rakaahs for Taraweeh prayers.

Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) was asked about how he prayed in Ramadan. She said, “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) never prayed more than eleven rak’ahs (of qiyaam), whether during Ramadan or any other time. He would pray four, and don’t ask me how beautiful or how long they were. Then he would pray four, and don’t ask me how beautiful or how long they were. Then he would pray three.” (Reported by al-Bukhari, Muslim and others).

‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) was asked how many rak’ahs the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to pray in witr? She said, “He used to pray four and three, or six and three, or ten and three. He never used to pray less than seven, or more than thirteen.” (Reported by Abu Dawood, Ahmad and others).

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The night prayers are two by two.” (Saheeh – agreed upon, from the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Umar.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Prayers at night are to be offered two by two (two rak’ahs at a time). If any of you fears that the time of dawn is approaching then let him pray one rak’ah as Witr.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari, 846; Muslim, 749)

Ibn Qudaamah said: The favored view according to Abu ‘Abd-Allah (i.e., Imam Ahmad, may Allah have mercy on him), is that it is twenty rak’ahs. This was the view of al-Thawri, Abu Hanfeefah and al-Shaafa’i. Maalik said it is thirty-six. Al-Mughni, 1/457

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said: If a person prays Taraaweeh according to the madhhabs of Abu Haneefah, al-Shaafa’i and Ahmad, with twenty rak’ahs, or according to the madhhab of Maalik, with thirty-six rak’ahs, or with thirteen or eleven rak’ahs, he has done well, as Imam Ahmad said, because there is nothing to specify the number. So the greater or lesser number of rak’ahs depends on how long or short the qiyaam (standing in the prayer) is. Al-Ikhtiyaaraat, p. 64

Al-Suyooti said: What is narrated in the saheeh and hasan ahaadeeth is the command to observe night prayers during Ramadan, which is encouraged without specifying a particular number. It is not proven that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) prayed twenty rak’ahs of Taraaweeh, rather that he prayed at night, with an unspecified number of rak’ahs. Then he delayed it on the fourth night lest it become obligatory for them and they might not be able to do it. Ibn Hajar al-Haythami said: There is no saheeh report that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) prayed twenty rak’ahs of Taraaweeh. The narration which suggests that he “used to pray twenty rak’ahs” is extremely weak (da’eef). Al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah, 27/142-145

Virtues And Importance Of Taraweeh Prayers

There are many rewards with one praying Qiyaam. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“Whoever prays qiyaam with the imam until he finishes, it will be written that he spent the whole night in prayer.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 806; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi)

Women Praying Taraweeh Prayers At The Mosque

Although for regular prayers, women were encouraged by the prophet to pray at home, for Taraweeh the prophet (s.a.w.) allowed women to pray in the mosque. The prophet (peace & Blessings of Allah be upon Him) said:

“A woman’s prayer in her house is better than her prayer in her courtyard, and her prayer in her bedroom is better than her prayer in her house.” (Reported by Abu Dawud in al-Sunan, Baab maa jaa’a fee khurooj al-nisaa’ ilaa’l-masjid. See also Saheeh al-Jaami’, no. 3833).

The Prophet (Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon Him) said: “Do not prevent your women from going to the mosque, even though their houses are better for them.” (Reported by Abu Dawud in al-Sunan, Baab maa jaa’a fee khurooj al-nisaa’ ilaa’l-masjid: Baab al-tashdeed fee dhaalik.)

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Do not prevent your women from coming to the mosques, but their houses are better for them.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood, 567; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani).

A very important reminder for women who go to the mosques is that they refrain from adorning themselves and not getting in the sight of non-mahram men.  Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

There is nothing wrong with women attending Taraweeh prayers so long as there is no danger of fitnah, subject to the condition that they go out in a decorous manner, not making a wanton display of their adornments or wearing perfume. End quote. Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 14, question no. 808.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said that it is better for women to offer obligatory prayers in their houses than to pray in the mosque, so it is more apt that this should also apply to naafil prayers. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The best mosques for women are the innermost parts of their houses.” Narrated by Ahmad, 26002; classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Targheeb, 341.

Al-Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeem Abaadi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: It is better for women to pray in their houses because then there is no danger of fitnah. This ruling is even more emphatic because of the wanton display (tabarruj) and adornment of women.  ‘Awn al-Ma’bood, 2/193

Ibn Qudaamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: She should recite out loud in prayers where it is required to recite out loud, but if there are any men present, she should not recite out loud, unless they are her mahrams, in which case she may do so. Al-Mughni, 2/17

Timing of Taraweeh Prayers

The Taraweeh prayer time starts after Isha and continues until dawn. Consider the following:

“The time for Taraweeh is from after ‘Isha’ prayer until dawn comes.” Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 14/210

For those who come to the mosque late and miss the obligatory Isha prayers, there is nothing wrong with joining the Imam who is praying Taraweeh and completing obligatory prayers with him. Consider the following:

“There is nothing wrong with praying ‘Isha’ behind one who is praying Taraweeh. Imam Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) stated that if a man enters the mosque in Ramadan when they are praying Taraweeh, he should pray behind the imam with the intention of praying ‘Isha’, then when the imam says the salaam at the end of the prayer, he should complete whatever remains of ‘Isha’ prayer.”  Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 12/443, 445

The time for Taraweeh begins when ‘Isha’ prayer is over, as was stated by al-Baghawi and others, and lasts until dawn comes. Al-Nawawi said in al-Majmoo’ (3/526)

The time for it (i.e., Taraweeh) begins after ‘Isha’ prayer and its Sunnahs, according to the correct view. This is the view of the majority and is the practice of the Muslims.  al-Insaaf (4/166)

Alternate Dua for Witr

Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked about the ruling on reciting the dua of Qunoot in Witr during the nights of Ramadan, and whether it is permissible to omit it. He replied:

Qunoot is Sunnah in Witr and if a person omits it sometimes, there is nothing wrong with that. And he was asked about a person who always recites Qunoot in Witr every night – was that narrated from our forebears (the salaf)?

He replied: There is nothing wrong with that, rather it is Sunnah, because when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) taught al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) to say Qunoot in Witr, he did not tell him to omit it sometimes or to do it all the time. This indicates that either is permissible. Hence it was narrated that when Ubayy ibn Ka’b (may Allah be pleased with him) led the Sahaabah in prayer in the Mosque of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), he used to omit Qunoot some nights; perhaps that was in order to teach the people that it is not obligatory. And Allah is the Source of strength. Fataawa Islamiyyah, 2/159.

Holding Mushaf (Quran) Behind The Imam

A number of people hold mushaf (Quran) in Taraweeh when the Imam is reciting Quran. The general view among some scholars and schools of thought is that it is permissible for Taraweeh / Qiyaam prayers. Shaykh Ibn Baaz was asked about the ruling on reading Quran from the Mushaf in Taraaweeh prayer, and what the evidence is for that from the Quran and Sunnah. He replied:

“There is nothing wrong with reading from the Mushaf when praying at night during Ramadan because that will enable the believers to hear all of the Quran. And because the evidence of sharee’ah from the Quran and Sunnah indicates that it is prescribed to recite Quran in prayer, which includes both reading it from the Mushaf and reciting it by heart. It was narrated from ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that she told her freed slave Dhakwaan to lead her in praying night prayers during Ramadan, and he used to read from the Mushaf. This was narrated by al-Bukhari (may Allah have mercy on him) in his Saheeh, in a mu’allaq majzoom report. Fataawa Islamiyyah, 2/155

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Allah says in the Quran:

receive allah's mercy by listening quran

“So, when the Quran is recited, listen to it, and be silent that you may receive mercy” [Surah al-A’raaf 7:204]

‘Ubaadah ibn al-Saamit (may Allah be pleased with him) said: We were behind the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in Fajr prayer, and the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) recited and the recitation became difficult for him. When he had finished he said: “Perhaps you were reciting behind your imam?” We said: Yes, that is so, O Messenger of Allah. He said: “Do not do that, except for the Opening of the Book (al-Faatihah), for there is no prayer for the one who does not recite it.” Narrated by Abu Dawood, 823; classed as saheeh by Shaykh Ibn Baaz in his Fataawa, 11/221.

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