Taraweeh 8 or 20 : An Ultimate Discussion

In the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast during the day and perform Taraweeh prayer at night. Some people differ from others on Taraweeh 8 or 20 Rakat, but no one underestimates its importance and virtues.

A number of Hadiths on the importance and virtue of Taraweeh have been written in Sihah Sitta or Kutub al-Sittah. The following Hadith is from Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 3, Book 32, Hadith 226. It is narrated by Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said: I heard Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) saying regarding Ramadan, “Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.”

Subhanallah! What a great chance of getting forgiveness from almighty Allah. We are going to discuss how one can utilize this chance of getting forgiveness and some other important things related to Taraweeh. Stick with us till the end.

What is Taraweeh?

Well, you may not know Taraweeh meaning. Taraweeh (in Arabic تراويح‎‎) is an Arabic word. The word Taraweeh is the plural form of the word Taraweeh (singular) which literally means ‘to rest’. As while performing this prayer Muslims take an interval for a while after every four rakat this prayer is called Salat Al-Taraweeh or the Prayer of Rest.

Salat Al-Taraweeh is the prayer that is performed by Muslims at night during the 9th month Ramadan of the Islamic calendar after Salat Al-Isha.

History of Taraweeh Prayer

Taraweeh Prayer During the Time of the Prophet (ﷺ)

The Prophet (ﷺ) perform Taraweeh in a congregation with his companions 2 or 3 nights according to a narration from the mother of the believers Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her). On the third or fourth night, the companions gathered to perform Taraweeh with him, but the Prophet (ﷺ) didn’t come out and led the Taraweeh prayer. In the morning, He (ﷺ) said: I feared that this prayer might become obligatory for you (if I continued leading the prayer. That’s the reason why I stopped performing Taraweeh with you in the congregation).

The mother of the believers Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) reported that “the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) prayed one night in the mosque and people also prayed along with him. He then prayed on the following night and there were many persons. Then on the third or fourth night (many people) gathered there, but the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) did not come out to them (for leading the Tarawih prayer). When it was morning he said: I saw what you were doing, but I desisted to come to you (and lead the prayer) for I feared that this prayer might become obligatory for you. (He the narrator) said: It was the month of Ramadan.”

-Sahih Muslim; Book 4, Hadith 1666

Taraweeh Prayer During the Time of Abu Bakr

During the time when Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) was the caliph, people prayed at home alone and in mosques with a congregation. Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) didn’t reinstate Taraweeh in the congregation, but he didn’t even forbid to perform in the congregation. It remained as it was during the time of the Prophet (ﷺ).

It is narrated by Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said: “Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Whoever prayed at night the whole month of Ramadan out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.” Ibn Shihab (a sub-narrator) said, “Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) died and the people continued observing that (i.e. Nawafil offered individually, not in congregation), and it remained as it was during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr and in the early days of ‘Umar’s Caliphate.””

-Sahih al-Bukhari; Vol. 3, Book 32, Hadith 227

Taraweeh Prayer During the Time of Umar

Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) is the caliph who reinstated Taraweeh in the congregation. People started performing 20 rakat Taraweeh in the congregation and completing recitation the whole Quran in the Salat Al-Taraweeh.

It was narrated that Abdur Rahman bin Abdul Qari said, “I went out in the company of ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab one night in Ramadan to the mosque and found the people praying in different groups. A man praying alone or a man praying with a little group behind him. So, ‘Umar said, ‘In my opinion, I would better collect these (people) under the leadership of one Qari (Reciter) (i.e. let them pray in congregation!)’. So, he made up his mind to congregate them behind Ubai bin Ka’b. Then on another night I went again in his company and the people were praying behind their reciter. On that, ‘Umar remarked, ‘What an excellent Bid’a (i.e. innovation in religion) this is, but the prayer which they do not perform, but sleep at its time is better than the one they are offering.’ He meant the prayer in the last part of the night. (In those days) people used to pray in the early part of the night.”

-Sahih al-Bukhari; Vol. 3, Book 32, Hadith 227

Taraweeh Prayer During the Time of Uthman

The caliph Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) also continued performing 20 rakat Taraweeh in the congregation as like the time of Umar (may Allah be pleased with him).

Taraweeh Prayer During the Time of Ali

The last caliph Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) also continued performing 20 rakat Taraweeh in the congregation as like the time of Umar and Uthman (may Allah be pleased with them).

Narrated by Abu Abdur Rahman Sulami (may Allah forgive him) that “In the nights of Ramadhan, Sayyidina Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) called upon the reciters of the Qur’an and ordered one of them to lead the people in 20 Rakats of Taraweeh. Sayyidina Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) would lead the people himself in the Salatul Witr.”

-Sunan Kabeer Baihaqi Vol. 2, P. 496;Fathul Bari Vol. 4, P. 219

If you would like to know more, please check out this Arabic blog post on the number of Taraweeh rakat.

How to Pray Taraweeh : Step by Step Taraweeh Prayer Method

How to Pray Taraweeh

Step by Step Taraweeh Prayer Method

We have just known the history of Taraweeh prayer. Let’s know how to pray Taraweeh namaz step by step and Taraweeh prayer method.

Step 1: We have mentioned above that Salat Al-Taraweeh is performed after Salat Al-Isha. So perform 4 rakat Fard of Isha with congregation and 2 rakat Sunnah alone following the Fard.

Step 2: Total 20 rakat Taraweeh is performed in 10 sets of 2 rakats each. So make intention (Niyah) for 2 rakat every time. While making Niyah remember that Taraweeh is Sunnah Al-Muakkadah.

Step 3: Salat Al-Taraweeh is not different from other 2 rakats salat. If you are performing Taraweeh with congregation in a mosque, just follow the Imam. If you are performing alone, perform it as you perform 2 rakats of Salat Al-Fajr.

Step 4: Repeat this process 10 times and complete performing 20 rakats.

Step 5: We have mentioned before that this prayer is called Salat Al-Taraweeh or the Prayer of Rest because an interval is taken after every four rakats. So take an interval and rest for a while after every 4 rakats.

Step 6: Perform 3 rakats of Salat Al-Witr with congregation in the mosque after you complete performing 20 rakats of Taraweeh.

That is the complete Taraweeh prayer method. I hope it is 100% crystal clear to you. If it is not, please take 2 minutes more and read once again. May Allah make it easy for you.

Taraweeh Prayer Dua after 4 Rakat

In some regions, people emphasize reading the following Taraweeh Dua after 4 rakat. They think it’s important and obligatory to read it. But the reality is this Taraweeh dua after 4 rakat is not even proved by Sunnah. We didn’t find it in Sihah Sittah or in authentic Fiqh books.

Taraweeh prayer dua after 4 rakat

This popular Taraweeh Prayer Dua is not available in Sihah Sittah or in authentic Fiqh books.

So if you ask what is Taraweeh prayer Dua, my answer will be there is no Taraweeh prayer Dua. You can read any Dua, recite the holy Quran, read Durood, perform Nafl Salah or just take some rest.

Please don’t get involved in Bidah. Bidah may ruin all of your Aamal and lead you to hell-fire. The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “The worst of things are those that are newly invented; every newly-invented thing is an innovation and every innovation is going astray, and every going astray is in the Fire.” -Sunan an-Nasai, Vol. 2, Book 19, Hadith 1579

Taraweeh 8 or 20?

The most discussed thing about Taraweeh is “whether Taraweeh prayer 8 or 20?” Nasir Uddin al-Albani (may Allah forgive him) is the only scholar who declared that the companions’ unanimous practice of 20 rakats of Taraweeh is an innovation or Bidah! Allah forbid.

We have already discussed that the practice of 20 rakats of Taraweeh has been continuing since the time of Prophet (ﷺ). The four caliphs also followed that. That means performing 20 rakats Taraweeh is a 1400-year-old practice. 20 rakats Taraweeh a Sunnah Muakkadah and whosoever rejects it goes against the Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ) and the consensus of his companions. May Allah grant us the ability to understand.

We have quoted some 20 rakat Taraweeh Hadiths above. Let’s read another 20 rakat Taraweeh Hadith narrated by Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him). He says, “The Prophet (ﷺ) would pray 20 rakats and then Salat Al-Witr in the month of Ramadhan.” -Musnad ibn Abi Shaybah Vol. 2, P. 294; Sunan Baihaqi Vol. 2, P. 496; Tabarani Kabir Vol, 11, P. 393

SubhanAllah! See how many rakat Rasool (ﷺ) himself prayed. There are a number of Hadiths like this one that clearly prove that Rasool always prayed 20 rakats of Taraweeh followed by 3 rakats of Salat Al-Witr.

The 8 rakat Taraweeh Hadith that our Ahle Hadith brothers use as evidence is narrated by Abu Salama bin Abdur-Rahman (may Allah be pleased with him). He says, “That he asked Aisha “How was the prayer of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) in the month of Ramadan?” She replied, “He used not to pray more than eleven rakat whether in Ramadan or in any other month. He used to offer four rakat, let alone their beauty and length, and then four rakat, let alone their beauty and length. Afterward, he would offer three rakat. I said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! Do you go to bed before offering the witr prayer?’ He said, ‘My eyes sleep, but my heart does not sleep.’” –Sahih al-Bukhari; Vol. 4, Book 56, Hadith 769

This Taraweeh Hadith in Bukhari and they think is a strong evidence of 8 rakat Taraweeh, but it is not! Because in this Hadith, the mother of the believer Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) says about Salat Al-Layl (Tahajjud) or Night Prayer, and Salat Al-Layl and Taraweeh aren’t the same prayers.

Look at the Hadith again. Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) uses the phrase “in Ramadan or in any other month”. Pay heed! She is talking about a Salah that is performed all around the year; not only in Ramadan. We all know that Taraweeh is only performed in the month of Ramadan. That means she is not talking about Taraweeh; she is talking about Salat Al-Layl (Tahajjud).

So Nasir Uddin al-Albani (may Allah forgive him) and our Ahle Hadith brothers just messed up the Hadith of Salat Al-Layl (Tahajjud) with the Hadiths of Taraweeh. This Hadith can’t be an evidence against 20 rakat Taraweeh Hadith. Allah knows best.

To study further please read this book.

[Video] Taraweeh 8 or 20 Rakat? – English Lecture by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq

Is Taraweeh and Salat Al-Layl Same?

It is a mistake that our Ahle Hadith brothers make. They messed up the Hadith of Salat Al-Layl with the Hadiths of Taraweeh. How can it be same?! We only perform Taraweeh in the month of Ramadan, but we perform Salat Al-Layl the whole year round.

“The Prophet (ﷺ) prayed Salat Al-Layl the whole year round, but there was never the same congregation as was found in the 3 days of Ramadan (as we mentioned above). Nor did the Khulafa Rashideen (may Allah be pleased with them) gather and perform their own congregation. The Prophet (ﷺ) never led the congregation of the companions (may Allah be pleased with them) in Salat Al-Layl.” For more information, please see Fatawa Rahimiyah Vol. 1, P. 331.

So Taraweeh and Salat Al-Layl aren’t same. Taraweeh is Sunnah Al-Muakkadah only in the month of Ramadan and Salat Al-Layl is Mustahab (recommended) the whole year round.

Can I Pray Taraweeh at Home?

Taraweeh at home

You should not perform Taraweeh at home individually.

People often ask about praying Taraweeh at home individually.

Well, it was narrated from Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Praying in congregation is twenty-seven times better than praying alone.” -Sunan an-Nasai; Vol. 1, Book 10, Hadith 838

Another Hadith that is narrated by Abu Dharr (may Allah forgive him). He said: “We fasted with the Prophet (ﷺ), so he did not pray (the night prayer) with us until seven (nights) of the month remained. Then he (ﷺ) led us in prayer until a third of the night had gone, then he did not lead us in prayer on the sixth. Then he led us in prayer on the fifth until half of the night had gone. We said to him: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Wouldn’t you lead us in prayer for the remainder of the night?’ He said: ‘Indeed, whoever stands (praying) with the Imam until he finished, then it is recorded for him that he prayed the whole night.; Then he did not lead us in prayer until three (nights) of the month remained. Then he led us in prayer on the third and he called his family and his women to pray with us until we feared missing the Falah” I (Jubair bin Nufair) said to him: “What is the Falah” He said: “The Suhur.”” –Jami at-Tirmidhi; Vol. 2, Book 3, Hadith 806

The third Hadith that was narrated by Abdur Rahman bin Abdul Qari (may Allah forgive both of them). He said, “I went out in the company of ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab one night in Ramadan to the mosque and found the people praying in different groups. A man praying alone or a man praying with a little group behind him. So, ‘Umar said, ‘In my opinion, I would better collect these (people) under the leadership of one Qari (Reciter) (i.e. let them pray in congregation!)’. So, he made up his mind to congregate them behind Ubai bin Ka’b. Then on another night I went again in his company and the people were praying behind their reciter. On that, Umar remarked, ‘What an excellent Bid’a (i.e. innovation in religion) this is, but the prayer which they do not perform, but sleep at its time is better than the one they are offering.’ He meant the prayer in the last part of the night. (In those days) people used to pray in the early part of the night.” –Sahih al-Bukhari; Vol. 3, Book 32, Hadith 227

Imam Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) says, “Taraweeh is a communal Sunnah. That means if they are not performed in congregation at all in the mosque, the entire community would be at blame and, with persistence, would be sinful. However, if some members of the community perform in congregation in the Mosque, and a person performs in his home alone, he would have left a more virtuous deed. Even if he performed them in congregation in his home, he would have missed the merit of performing in the mosque”. -Radd al-Muhtar 2/45

The aforementioned 3 Hadiths and the opinion of Imam Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) proved that praying Taraweeh in the mosque with the congregation is far better than praying at home alone. You should not miss the congregation except you are sick or in danger. May Allah give us the ability to perform Taraweeh with the congregation in the mosque.

Summing Up

Since the time of Prophet (ﷺ) generation after generation people have been performing twenty rakats of Taraweeh for last 1400 years. We should not follow someone who invented a short version of Taraweeh after 1400 year and claims that is Sunnah.

Ramadan is only a few days away from us. It is a month of forgiveness. Let’s not get engaged in controversy of Taraweeh 8 or 20 rakat. Instead, try to utilize the great chance of getting forgiveness from almighty Allah. May Allah grant us the ability to utilize the chance of getting forgiveness and make him pleased on us. Ameen.

1 Comment
  1. I AM 70 YEARS OLD AND WE HAVE BEEN PRAYING 20 RAKAT TARAWEEH AND 3 RAKAT WITR FROM CHILD HOOD.
    FOR WITR WE USED TO MAKE NIYAT FOR 3 RAKAT, AFTER 2 RAKAT WE USED TO SIT DOWN, RECITE ATTTHIYATU UP TO ABDUHU WAH RASULU AND STAND UP, RECITE DUA E KANOOD SILENTLY.IN THE THIRD RAKAT..
    HOWEVER, THIS YEAR OUR NEW IMAM SAYS 20 RAKAT IS BIDDAH AND WANTS TO ONLY HAVE TARAWEEH 8 RAKATS. WITR 2 RAKAT AND AFTER THAT 1 RAKAT, BEFORE GOING TO RUKU HE WANTS TO RECITE DUA LOUDLY. HE IS TRYING TO BULLDOZ HIS WAY. HE EVEN COMMENTED THAT THE WAHABEES WHO ARE PRAYING 20 RAKAT TARAWEEH IN MAKKAH, HARAM SHARIFF ARE WRONG EVEN THOUGH HE STUDIED IN SAUDI ARABIA.
    HOW WE CAN CONVINCE HIM THAT 20 RAKAT TARAWEEH IS CORRECT AND 8 RAKAT IS TAHAJJUD . PLEASE URGENTLY SEND CLARIFICATION TO MY EMAIL: yunus_fiji@yahoo.com.
    ALSO PLEASE CALL ME +61406984548.
    WE AR IN CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA.

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