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Old 05-02-2008, 11:37 AM
Ayman bin khaled Ayman bin khaled is offline
Multaqa Fiqh Q&A
Join Date: Jun 2007
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Default Taraweeh (11 0r 13 0r More)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

و عليكم السلام و رحمة الله و بركاته

This topic has been stretched more than it is needed so i will, inshallah write now a proper response to clarify this confusion resulting from shaikh Al-Albani ( may Allah forgive him) book " Salatu al-taraweeh ".

You aught to know my beloved brother and my respectable sister - May Allah have His Mercy on you- that:

Imam Ibn al-Qaiym ( Rahimu Allah ) said in Zaad Al-Ma'aad: " anticipate then conclude and believe". therefore concluding then reading will make you fall into the trap of explianing everything you read in the context of what you have alreday concluded. So think and becareful. Ibrahim Al-Taimi said: " If you follow every scholar mistake then you are ruined, so be careful.

Before I start, I want to clarify the following points:

1. Shaikh Al-Albani ( rahimu Allah) had his own Ijtehad on this matter YET he was mistaken.

2. This mistake does not undeestimate his rank as a shaikh and he will always have the respect in our hearts as a one revived the Sunnah.

3. Sh. Al-Albani opinion about Night prayer is odd and opposes what the whole Ummah agreed on in general and scholars who are more knowledgable than him in the field of Hadeeth and Fiqh like Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik, Imam Shafi'e, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, Ibn Taymmya, Ibn Al-Qaiym, Al-Shawkani, Ibn hajar, Al-Nawawi and many others ( rahimahum Allah).


I will list the main argument of shaikah Al-Albani then reply to it then follow it with supportive Hadeeths:

1. The main core argument on which shaikh al-albani (rahimu Allah) based that Taraweeh or Night prayer must not exceed 13 Raka'a is because:

a. He argues: It is a night prayer that always been performed by the Prophet (Sallah Allahu Alihi Wa Sallam) therefore it became a regular Sunnah.

b. This regular Sunnah was prayed not more than 13 Raka'a therefore it takes as similar rulings to Sunan Rawatib ( Sunan before and after Fard Prayers) which are prayed in speccific Numbers that no one can exceed.

This argument is refuted by the fact that such prayer is not linked to any prayer. So, it is seprate prayer that performed at specific time i.e. night. In addition, the shaikh argument is too weak because:

A. The Hadeeths in which the Prophet ( Salla Allahu Alihi Wa Sallam) encouraging night prayer always mentioned night prayer virtue in general without mentioning a set of Number.

B. The Hadeeths in which the prophet (Salla Allahu Alihi Wa Sallam) replying to inquiries about Night prayer is left either unlimited ( as soon will be proven) or left it to the choice of the person ( as soon will be proven).

Based on the above, If Night prayers has a specific set of Numbers as the shaikh argued then the Prophet would not advise us to pray as much as we want at night.

That's said, we realize that we are surrounded by three facts concluded from authentic Hadeeths:

1) Actions of the Prophet: praying 11 or 13

2. Advices said by the Prophet about the virtue of Night prayer

3) Advices given by the Prophet to pray as much as we wish.

Pouring the above into one argument will make us realize that: Night prayer set of Number is open matter since the Prophet himself said pray as much as you wish. So, saying No, we are obligated to pray only 13 or any other specific number is an obvious contradiction to what the Prophet (Salla allahu Alihi wa sallam) said.


Hadeeths that support the above argument:

1. Abdullah Bin Umar ( Radi Allahu Anhu) related: A man asked the Prophet (Sallah Allahu Alihi Wa Sallam) about Night Prayers. He replied: " Night prayer are two by two, and when you are afraid that dawn is approching then pray one Raka'a to make what you have prayed odd" [ Malik's Muwatta: Hadeeth 267]

This hadeeth proves the generality of night prayer as a prayer with no limitation because at the time the Prophet ( Sallah Alahu Alihi Wa Sallam) was asked he had not mention numbers at all. It is established in Usool that delaying a needed information or clarification at time of inquiry is not accepted. So, if the number is needed then it would be mentioned especially noting that the question the man asked is general so he was asking about all information he can get about Night prayer.

If it argued that he has not asked about the number and the question seemed to be in regards the description, then we reply saying: If this is true then the prophet would not have mentioned the Witr issue and only answered how the night prayer should be prayed. In addition, it is noted that it is the Manhaj of the Prophet (Salla Allahu Alihi wa sallam) to answer with additional information if it is needed or considered beneficial. Therefore, if the number was needed he would have mentioned it. that is why we find him mentioning theWitr prayer only as additional information although the man did not ask about it.

2. A'mro Bin A'bsa reported: I asked the Prophet: what is the best time of the night? He [ the prophet- replied: " the last part of the night. PRAY AS MUCH AS YOU WISH because Salah at that time is witnessed and written ( by angles) and do so until you pray Subh ( Fajir)...." [ Sahih Ibn Khuzaima:260 and Mustadrak: 584]

This Hadeeth is too obvious to be explained and is clearly proves that the Prophet NEVER wished to limit night prayer to the set of numbers of raka'aat he prays. Thus, he said it clearly: Pray as much as you wish. So, limiting night prayer to 11 or 13 is an obvious contradiction to the conformed Sunnah.


Hadeeths that Prove that the Prophet ( Salla Allahu Alihi Wa Sallam) prayed more than what Aisha ( radi Allahu Anha) reported:

Ibn Abbas reported: "Once I passed the night in the house of my aunt Maimuna ( radi Allahu A'nha). Allah's Messenger ( Salla Allahu Alihi Wa sallam) offered the I'shaa prayer and then came to the house and offered Four Raka'aat and slept. Later on, he woke up and stood for the prayer and I stood on his left side. He drew me to his right side and prayed [ two by two until he prayed Eight Raka'aat] then he prayed Five raka'aat and then Two raka'aat. He then slept till I heard his breath sound. Afterwards, he went out for Fajir Prayer. [ Sahih Bukhari: 117] [ what between the brackets is documented in Sunan Abi dawd: 1358].

The above authentic Hadeeth proves that the Prophet prayed 17 Raka'at as night prayer, which is backed up by the statement of Al-Hafith Al-Munthiri who said: " it is reported that most of what the Prophet (Salla Allahu Alihi Wa Sallam) offered as night prayer is Seventeen rakaat" [ Al-Talkhees: 2/14].

Yet, this Number seems to be more based on the following hadeeths. There is an addition, which is mentioned in Fathu Al-Bari that Ibn Abbas said: " He prayed Isha'aa prayer then offered Four Rakaat until everyone left the Masjid then he left" [ Al-Fath: 2/484].

Based on the above, the total Number of what the Prophet prayed is:

4 after Ishaa at the masjid + 4 at Maimuna house + 8 after he woke up from sleep + 5 after the 8 raka'aat + 2 rakaat. = 21 Rakaat of night prayer.

It might be argued that these Raka'aat includes: 2 Rakaat of Sunnah before Fajir and two Rakaat of Sunnah after Ishaaa!!

To assume the correctness of such argument, hypothetically, that would decresae the nighht prayer set of Rak'aat Number to 17 which still refute the argument of the shaikh ( ghafara Allahu Lah). In spite of this, the last two Rakaat offered after Witr is not the Sunnah before Fajir which is based on an authentic Hadeeth that shaikh Al-Albani himseld acknowledged.

Narrated by Anas Bin Malik: Once, the Prophet (Salla Allahu Alihi Wa Sallam) was offering night prayer - during Ramdan- at his Hujra. So some companions joined him and started praying with him. As a result, the prophet (sallah Allahu Alihi Üa Sallam) shortened the lentgh of the Salah then entered his house and prayed long Salah then he came out and led his companion in a Salah but short one. Then he entered his house again and prayed long salah Then he went out and prayed with his companion short one then he went back to his house and prayed long salah. He kept doing so many times until fajir came they asked him: we came and you did such and such. He replied: I did so for you" [ Musnad Ahmad: 13236]

This is a Saheeh hadeeth that its Isnaad is on the condition of Imam Muslim ( Rahmahu Allah) as Shuab al-ranouti commented.

Observe the words of this hadeeth:

1. First prayed with his companions short ones

2. Prayed alone at his house long ones

3. came out and prayed with his companions again short ones

4. Entered His house and prayed long ones

5. Did the above many times

If we to assume he prayed 2 rakaa at each time then that would result: 8 Rak'aat.

Then Anas bin Malik ( radi allahu A'nh) said: He did that many times so if we to assume the minmum then let;s say he did it 3 times then that would make 8+8+8= 24 Rakaa't.

On other point, it shows how the Salah of the Prophet differed from how he prayed it while he is alone and how he prayed it when he is leading others.


Supportive Evidences prove praying more than 13 by Salaf:

Yazeed bin Rouman reported: Poeple used to pray 23 raka'aa during Ramdan, as a night prayer. [ Malik's Muwatta]

Yahya bin Sa'ed reported: "Umar bin l-Khattab ordered a man to lead ( Taraweeh) with 20 rakaa. [ Sunan Al-Bayaqi]

Abdulaziz bin rafie reported: " Ubai Bin Ka'b used to lead people at taraweeh with 20 Raka'a then pray 3 raka'a as witr" [Sunan Al-Bayhaqi]

The above are authentic Mursal athaar that supports that praying 20 existed at time of Umar bin alkhattab. In addition, there are more supportive evidences:

Nafi' Bin Umar reported: "Ibn Abi malika used to pray with us 20 Raka'a at time he leads us during Ramadn. [Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaiba]

A'taa reported: "I witnessed people praying 23 Rakaa including witr" [ Musanaf Ibn Abi shaiba]

Abu Al-Khusaib reported: " Swaid bin Ghaflah used to lead us during Ramadn. He would pray 5 Taraweeh; 20 Rakaa'a in total. [ Sunan Aal-Bayhaqi]


Description of the Prophet (Sallah Allahu Alihi Wa Sallam) at Night prayer:

It was mostly performed between 11-13 Rakaa and they are too lentghy ones.

The Sunnah here is not just the number but most important is the lentgh of the Salah which is , as proven, are too long more than normal that even the companions thought of as too difficult.

The lentgh of Salah is based from a dorective Quranic Aya that advises the Prophet to offer prayers during most of the night. So, the concern here is about the lentgh rather than the numberof Raka'aat.

In conclusion,

It has been proven that the Prophet prayed more than 11 which is the number Aisha (radi Allahu Anha) said that the Prophet never exceeded. as a matter of fact she is the one who reported that he prayed 13 Raka'aa as well. Scholars said: " She narrated what she witnessed and others reported what they witnessed".

In addition, we have clearly found that the Prophet has prayed more than 13 Rakaa as above authentic Hadeeths shows. in addition to all other supportive evidences we transmitted. I would have mentioned the scholars statements by it is enough to know that all our great scholars understood Night prayer as unlimited and this is the sound understanding of the Salaf and Khlalaf ( Rahimuhum Allah) like: Four Imams, Ibn Hajar, Alhaithami, alnawawi, Ibn taymyya, Ibn Al-Qaiym, Almunthiri, al-Iraqi, Al-Qadi Iy'aad, Ibn Abdul Bir, and many many others.

It is true that the most prayed by the Prophet (Sallah Allahu A'lih wa Sallam) was 11 - 13 but that was for a reason: the lentghy prayer he offers that almost ends by dawn time. Thus, advocating the Sunnah as numbers is wrong since the sunnah is the description of it as well.

It is an open matter, whoever wished to pray 13 as most of the time the prophet prayed then he touched the Sunnah. And, whoever wish to pray more then he touched the sunnah as well since he followed his advice when he said pray as much as you wish.

Thus, It is wise not to deny on others and if the comapnions, our preceeded scolars have not disputed about it then would not be fair enough that we do the same and we claimk to follow thier steps.

Jazakom Allah kheir.

Wallahu A'lam

Written Today: 3rd of May 2008

By Ayman Bin Khaled
Seeking Knowledge & Learning Fiqh Is Only Praised When It Is For The Purpose Of Acting Upon It, Not For The Sake Of Discussions & Arguments

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