During Ramadan, many Muslims get involved in a special prayer, known as Tarāweeh after their fifth daily prayer. But what exactly is Tarāweeh and what makes it so important during the holy month? Let’s take a look at it in more detail.
But first, let’s start off with the history.
Tarāweeh was first prayed by the Prophet (PBUH) during the last year of his life. On the first night, only some believers joined him in prayer. However, the number of people who prayed Tarāweeh rose day after day until the fourth night when a huge crowd gathered in the masjid to wait for the Prophet (PBUH) and pray Tarāweeh as one group.
It is narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) did not appear in the masjid. Instead, he prayed Tarāweeh on his own and said, “Nothing prevented me from coming out to you except the fact that I feared that it would be made obligatory for you.”
But since Umar al Khattab’s time, most Muslims pray Tarāweeh in congregation. The sense of solemnity in praying Tarāweeh made it a very special communication tool between Muslims and Allah, especially during Ramadan.
And today, we are experiencing the same level of peace and tranquillity, thanks to old practices that made Islamic prayers a more personalised experience.
What exactly is Tarāweeh?
Technically, Tarāweeh is a series of Sunnah prayers that are commonly prayed during Ramadan nights, specifically the night following Ishā’ Salāh. There are two main classifications of Tarāweeh: Nafl or Sunnah mu’akkadah.
Many of us also associate Tarāweeh with rest and relaxation because it is typically prayed right after waking up in the late night (or early morning, depending on how you look at it!) but before the break of dawn.
What is the most ideal time to pray Tarāweeh?
Historically, the best time to pray has always been noted after periods of rest, especially after long prayers. Many historical praying practices during the period of Ramadan went like this:
- Recite the Eshā’ prayer.
- Rest or sleep.
- Pray the Tarāweeh prayer, along with the witr during the final 3rd of the night.
“I have no option but to pray Tarāweeh at home – Is that okay?”
It’s always comforting to know that we can pray Tarāweeh in either a masjid or right at the comforts of our home, just like the Prophet (PBUH) did on the fourth night.
As most of us choose not to leave the house late at night, you can also form small prayer groups at home and make special memories with your family members. It’s an opportunity to bond and grow together in faith and we won’t say no to that!
“What about if we’re just a group of women?”
If it’s just a group of sisters praying together only, you would stand side by side whilst one leads the prayer.
“Can A Child Lead?”
It is found in the Prophetic narrations that once a community was praying behind a seven-year-old child. So from this, it’s been noted that if the child is of high knowledge and understanding and has the most knowledge of the Qur’an of the family or group of people, then this is permissible and also a great way of encouraging the child to feel empowered by their faith too!
“Okay, so how should I pray Tarāweeh?”
- “Prayers at night are to be offered two by two (two rak’āt at a time). If any of you fears that the time of dawn is approaching, then let him pray one rak’ah as Witr.”(10) — [Abdullāh ibn Umar’s]
- “The Prophet (PBUH) would pray 20 Rak’āt and then witr in the month of Ramadan.”(11) [Abdullāh ibn Abbās]
Variations in the narrations of the life of the Prophet (PBUH) greatly affect the Tarāweeh prayer. While some versions suggest that 8 rak’āt is enough to complete Tarāweeh, others recommend completing all 20 rak’āt.
So just like performing any other rituals and praying practices, there are no hard rules when it comes to praying Tarāweeh. It mainly depends on three factors:
- Your eagerness
- Your physical and mental state
- Your beliefs
Either way, Tarāweeh bears similarity with a regular Salāh since it is prayed by dividing two rak’āt into sets.
Just remember, at the end of the day, the goal behind Tarāweeh is to find meaning behind your prayer so you can draw a step closer to Allah.
“Can I hold the Qur’an during my Tarāweeh and recite the Qur’an looking in the book?”
There is a difference of opinion on this.
Some scholars will allow the recitation whilst holding the Qur’an and an example of this is the scholars of the Shafi’ee fiqh would permit the use of a mushaf. However, some scholars of the Hanafi fiqh discourage or prohibit the use of a mushaf during the Taraweeh prayer.
What are the rewards of this particular prayer?
“Whoever draws nearer (to Allāh) by performing any of the (optional) good deeds in (this month) shall receive the same reward as performing an obligatory deed at any other time, and whoever discharges an obligatory deed in (this month) shall receive the reward of performing seventy obligations at any other time”(5) [Prophet Muhammad PBUH]
Ramadan gives us the gift of hope, faith, and love. It gives us the opportunity to pray sincerely and develop a strong relationship with Allah, and we can do that by performing short prayers in the form of Tarāweeh.
It is not a compulsory prayer, although the sunnah was a minimum of eight rak’ahs so depending on your concentration level and your eagerness to pray, the overall amount of rak’ahs is up to you.
But our advice is don’t get into the eight or 20 arguments. Every prayer is heard and rewarded by Allah, especially the ones that are not compulsory in the time of Ramadan.
Finally, “Can I Rest In Between Each Two Rak’ah Prayers?”
Yes. It’s an important thing to note is that you can rest in between your prayers, especially after two rak’ahs of two. This way, you can give your all in every prayer you perform. As long as you pray with the right intention in your heart, you can be sure that Allah will not let any of your prayers go unnoticed.
Ramadan or not, it’s always our hearts and spirits that matters, not the length of your Tarāweeh prayer. Just have a sincere intention, put the effort in and have that desire to make this Ramadan the best one when it comes to your personal Tarāweeh prayers.
May God make us successful, answer all our prayers and bless all abundantly.