Jul 25

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Asalaamualaikum wa rehmatullahi wa barakaatuhu

mufti sahab .
I would like to know the rulings of all the four Imams separately regarding how many rakaat of Taraweeh one has to offer. Please mention in detail if it is convenient for you.
Jazakila khairan.



The rulings of the four Imams with respect to the number of rakaats in the Taraweeh Salaat are as follows:-

1) According to Imam Abu Hanifa and the scholars of the Hanafi Mazhab, the Taraweeeh Salaat consists of twenty rakaats which shall be read in twos. Their proof for this is that which is recorded in Sahih Muslim that Sayyiduna Umar (RA) gathered the people and established this amount in the masjid. The other Sahabahs agreed with him and also implemented this. The other Khalifas followed in this same manner of performing Taraweeeh Salaat with twenty rakaats and no one after their times opposed them. Regarding following the khalifas, the Prophet (SAS) said, ‘It is essential upon you to follow my way, and the way of the rightly guided khalifas. (Abu Dawood, Tirmizi).

Imam Abu Hanifa (AR) was asked about the action of Umar (RA) (with respect to 20 rakaats of Taraweeh Salaah), and he said, “Taraweeh is Sunnah Mu’akadah (an emphasized Sunnah). Umar (RA) did not deduce this from his own self, nor was he an innovator in this. He did not order (the Muslims) to do this except that he had a source for it and had known it from the Prophet (SAS) (Al Fiqhul Islami Wa Adilatihi vol.2 pg.1060).

It is also narrated from Saa’ib bin Yazeed (RA) that he said, ‘We used to establish during the time of Umar (RA) twenty rakaats (in Taraweeh) and witr Salaah’. (Imam Baihaqi has narrated it in Al Marifah and Allama Subki has considered it sound in his ‘Sharhul Minhaaj’. Imam An Nawawi has also stated that the Sanad is Sound (Saheeh).(Ilaa As Sunan vol.7 pg.69; Nasbur Rayah vol.2 pg.151).

It is also narrated fromYahya bin Saeed that Umar bin Al Khattab (RA) ordered a man to perform the Taraweeh Salaah with the Muslims as twenty rakaats. ( Abu Bakr bin Abi Shaiba has narrated it in his Musannaf with a strong Mursal and all the narrators are sound and reliable-Ilaa As Sunnan vol.7 pg.69).

Abdul Azeez bin Rafee narrated that the Sahabi Ubai bin Kaab (RA) used to lead the people in Salaah in Ramadhan at Madina with twenty rakaats and read the witr with three rakaats. (Abu Bakr bin Abi Shaiba has recorded it in his ‘Musannaf’ with a strong Mursal- (Ilaa As Sunan vol.7 pg.70).

Imam Malik has also narrated in his Muwatta from Yazeed bin Ruman that he said, ‘The people during the time of Umar (RA) used to perform in Ramadhan, twenty three rakaats (twenty rakaat as Taraweeh and three rakaats in witr Salaah). (Nasbur Rayah vol.2 pg.151).

It is also reported from Ibn Abbas (RA) that he said that the Prophet (SAS) used to perform twenty rakaats in Ramadhan besides the witr Salaah. (Ibn Abi Shaiba has narrated it is his Masannaf; ImamTabrani has narrated it in his ‘Mujam’ – Nasbur Rayah vol.2 pg. 150).

2) According to Imam Malik (RA), his famous verdict is that Taraweeh Salaah consists of twenty rakaats besides the witr Salaah. The proofs for this is the same which have been given before. Imam Malik himself has narrated directly from Yazeed bin Ruman that the Muslims during the time of Umar (RA) used to perform twenty three rakaats in Ramadhan. (Twenty as Taraweeh and three as witr).

In another opinion of Imam Malik (which Ibn Al Qasim terms as the old opinion), it is narrated that he said Taraweeh consists of thirty-six rakaats besides the witr. This was based on the narration from Dawood bin Qais who said, ‘I found the Muslims in Madina during the time of Umar bin Abdul Azeez and Abaan bin Uthman performing thirty six rakaats and three witr’. Based on this, Imam Malik had adopted this practice of the people of Madina. (Bidayatul Mujtahid vol.1 pg.214).

While explaining the performance of thirty six rakaats, the scholars have explained that ‘the taraweeh was performed as twenty rakaat and at the time of Umar bin Abdul Azeez, the people of Madinah performed it with thirty six rakaats. The reason for this addition was that the people of Madinah wanted to be equal to those in Makkah in virtues and rewards. It is narrated that while performing twenty rakaats as Taraweeh in Makkah, the people of Makkah used to perform one complete tawaaf at the Holy Kaaba after every four rakaats of Taraweeh. Seeing this, Umar bin Abdul Azeez saw that in place of the tawaaf (of the people in Makkah) he would perform four rakaats of extra Salaah. In this way, at his time, the people in Madinah started to perform thirty-six rakaats. (Since the people in Makkah used to do four complete Tawaaf between the twenty rakaats of Taraweeh- one after every four rakaats. In this way, four extra rakaats done for each Tawaaf will be an amount of 16 rakaats. Therefore, the people in Madina performed twenty rakaats of Taraweeh and added these sixteen rakaats – which amounted to a total of thirty six rakaats. This was the practice of the Muslims of Madina- who were from among the Tabi’een period. Imam Malik (AR) met them with this practice and adopted it, seeing that it was not against the teachings of the Prophet (SAS)). However, while this occurred, the scholars of Madinah always understood and accepted that Taraweeh Salaah comprised of twenty rakaats and there was no difference of opinion regarding this. As mentioned before, the well established opinion of Imam Malik is that Taraweeh is of twenty rakaats. (Al Fiqh Ala Mazahib Al Arba’a vol.1 pgs. 341,342)

3) The verdict of Imam Shafi (AR) and the followers of his mazhab is that Taraweeh Salaah consists of twenty rakaats. The famous work of the Mazhab of Imam Shafi states, ‘and from the well established and fixed Sunnah is establishing Ramadhan (with prayer), and it is twenty rakaats’ (Al Majmoo Sharh Al Muhazzab vol.5 pg.38). Further in the book, the proofs and evidences for twenty rakaats are mentioned which are the same as have been mentioned before.

4) The verdict of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (RA) and the followers of his mazhab is that Taraweeh consists of twenty rakaats. Ibn Qudama has mentioned this in his ‘Al Mughni’ and has supported it with evidences that have been mentioned before. He says, ‘for us (Hanbali followers), the proof is that Umar (RA) gathered the people under Ubai bin Kaab (RA) who used to perform twenty rakaats’. Imam Malik has narrated from Yazeed bin Ruman who said, ‘The Muslims used to establish during the time of Umar (RA) in Ramadhan twenty three rakaats’. Ali (RA) also (in his rule) ordered a person (as the Imam) to lead the people in Ramadhan with twenty rakaats. After narrating these, Ibn Qudama writes, ‘This is like Ijma’. (Al Mughni vol.2 pg.167; Al Fiqh Al Islami wa Adilatihi vol.2 pg. 1089)

After explaining the Imams’ verdicts regarding twenty rakaats as Taraweeh Salaah, the great scholar of Hadith and Fiqh, Allama Zafar Uthmani (AR) writes, ‘There is no doubt that all the Imams are unanimous upon the establishment of twenty rakaats Taraweeh, except that Imam Malik (AR) had increased sixteen other rakaats upon it (the explanation of this has been mentioned before). However, none from among them has decreased anything from the twenty rakaats. As such, whoever says that the Sunnah (of Taraweeh) is eleven rakaats and the remaining amount is commendable then this is refuted on account of the Ijma of those before. (Ilaa’us Sunan vol7 pg.80).

It is to be noted that twenty rakaats in the Taraweeh Salaah became established even while many of the great Sahabahs were still alive. The most knowledgeable from among the Sahabahs like Aisha (RA), Abu Huraira (RA), Abdullah bin Mas’ood (RA), Mu’az bin Jabal (RA), Abu Moosa Al Ash’ari (RA), Ali (RA), Uthman (RA), Anas bin Malik(RA), and others all accepted the twenty rakaats as Taraweeh and no one from amongst them opposed it.

It is a point to note that those who say that Taraweeh consists of eleven rakaats (that is, eight and three witr) hold on to the tradition of Aisha (RA). However, Aisha (RA) herself did not hold on to that narration to prove that Taraweeh was eight rakaats. Instead, she endorsed and accepted the action of Umar (RA) and did not oppose it or even spoke against it.

It is sad to know that the greatest of the Sahabahs including Aisha (RA), and the other blessed wives of the Prophet (SAS) all accepted and endorsed the action of Umar (RA) and the establishment of twenty rakaats as Taraweeh Salaah, but some ignorant ones of the latter times have seen it fit to criticize and condemn this practice which has gained wide acceptance from among the Sahabahs, Tabi’een and At ba’u Tabi’een.

And Allah knows best,

Mufti Waseem Khan


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