Voluntary Prayers, Taraweeh and Witr – صَلَاةُ اَلتَّطَوُّعِ وَالْوِتْرِ وَالتَّرَاوِيحِ
آكَدُ صَلَاةِ تَطَوُّعٍ: كُسُوفٌ فَاسْتِسْقَاءٌ فتراويحُ
فَوِتْرٌ: وَوَقْتُهُ مِنْ صَلَاةِ اَلْعِشَاءِ إِلَى اَلْفَجْرِ, وَأَقَلُّهُ رَكْعَةٌ, وَأَكْثَرُهُ إِحْدَى عَشْرَةَ: مَثْنًى مَثْنًى, وَيُوتِرُ بِوَاحِدَةٍ, وَأَدْنَى اَلْكَمَالِ ثَلَاثٌ
The most recommended of voluntary prayers is the salah of Khusuf – Eclipse prayer as the Prophet did and commanded for it to be done.
Proof: Narrated Abu Masud: The Prophet ﷺ said,
الشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُ لاَ يَنْكَسِفَانِ لِمَوْتِ أَحَدٍ وَلاَ لِحَيَاتِهِ، وَلَكِنَّهُمَا آيَتَانِ مِنْ آيَاتِ اللَّهِ، فَإِذَا رَأَيْتُمُوهُمَا فَصَلُّوا
“the sun and the moon do not eclipse because of the death or life of someone, but they are two signs amongst the Signs of Allah. So, if you see them, offer the Prayer (of eclipse). [Sahih al-Bukhari]
The next most recommended voluntary prayer is Isitisqah – Prayer for Provision/Rain is sought followed by Taraweeh and then Witr.
Why is Witr placed after Taraweeh? The Hanabilah say that that which is done in congregation is better than that which is done individually.
The Witr is not obligatory but rather it is a stressed Sunnah. Imam Ahmed writes about a person who leaves of the Witr as someone who is a person of evil and whose testimony and ability to witness is to be rejected. Only the 5 daily prayers are considered Fardh Ain. All the other prayers like Eid etc are not considered fardh by the madhab even though some of them like janazah might fall under Fardh Kifayah.
Proof: Narrated Abu Hurairah: A Bedouin came to the Prophet ﷺ and said, “Tell me of such a deed as will make me enter Paradise, if I do it.” The Prophet ﷺ said,
تَعْبُدُ اللَّهَ لاَ تُشْرِكُ بِهِ شَيْئًا، وَتُقِيمُ الصَّلاَةَ الْمَكْتُوبَةَ، وَتُؤَدِّي الزَّكَاةَ الْمَفْرُوضَةَ، وَتَصُومُ رَمَضَانَ
“Worship Allah, and worship none along with Him, offer the (five) prescribed compulsory prayers perfectly, pay the compulsory Zakat, and fast the month of Ramadan.”
The Bedouin said, “By Him, in Whose Hands my life is, I will not do more than this.” When he (the Bedouin) left, the Prophet ﷺ said,
مَنْ سَرَّهُ أَنْ يَنْظُرَ إِلَى رَجُلٍ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْجَنَّةِ فَلْيَنْظُرْ إِلَى هَذَا
“Whoever likes to see a man of Paradise, then he may look at this man.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
The time of Witr is from the prayer of Isha till the time of Fajr. Even if the time of Isha hasn’t entered and if the person has combined his salah (for a permissible reason), then Witr can be prayed. Any witr prayed after that time period is considered qada’.
The minimum rakats for Witr is 1 and the maximum is 11. This is not regarding the maximum of the night prayer for that can be unlimited. Here it refers to the Witr.
The Witr can be prayed in pairs of two, two till the end where the last one is a single rakah. A person can pray all 11 rakats together also as per the madhab. The person prays 10 rakats in one go, sits for the tashahhud and then stands up for the last rakah. For 7 and 5 and 3 rakats a person should pray all of them together. al-Iqna and al-Ghayyah mention that it is permissible to perform the Witr making it resemble Maghrib just like the Hanafi madhab. It is not a recommended method, but it is allowed.
The minimum of the complete witr is to pray 3 rakats. Pray 2 rakats, do tasleem and then pray the last rakah.
بِسَلَامَيْنِ, وَيَقْنُتُ بَعْدَ اَلرُّكُوعِ نَدْبًا,
فَيَقُولُ: اَللَّهُمَّ اِهْدِنِي فِيمَنْ هَدَيْت َ وَعَافِنِي فِيمَنْ عَافَيْتَ, وَتَوَلَّنِي فِيمَنْ تَوَلَّيْتَ, وَبَارِكْ لِي فِيمَا أَعْطَيْتَ, وَقِنِي شَرَّ مَا قَضَيْتَ, إِنَّكَ تَقْضِي وَلَا يُقْضَى عَلَيْكَ, إِنَّهُ لَا يَذِلّ ُ مَنْ وَالَيْتَ, وَلَا يَعِزُّ مَنْ عَادَيْتَ, تَبَارَكْتَ رَبَّنَا وَتَعَالَيْتَ, اَللَّهُمَّ إِنَّا نَعُوذُ بِرِضَاكَ مِنْ سُخْطِكَ, وَبِعَفْوِك مِنْ عُقُوبَتِكَ, وَبِكَ مِنْكَ لَا نُحْصِي ثَنَاءً عَلَيْكَ أَنْتَ كَمَا أَثْنَيْتَ عَلَى نَفْسِكَ
It is recommended to make the dua of qunut after the rukuh. It is permissible to make the qunut before the rukuh also as per the Hanabilah. In al-Muntaha al-Iradat they state that it is permissible to recite the qunut after the Surah and before going into rukuh, just like the Hanafi madhab.
For the dua, the person raises the hands at the level of the chest and pointing towards the sky. Imam Ahmad رحمه الله narrates that Abdullah Ibn Masud used to make dua where his palm used to point towards the sky and the hands were at the level of the chest. This applies to both the Imam and the congregation.
The Dua to be recited:
اَللَّهُمَّ اِهْدِنِي فِيمَنْ هَدَيْت َ وَعَافِنِي فِيمَنْ عَافَيْتَ, وَتَوَلَّنِي فِيمَنْ تَوَلَّيْتَ, وَبَارِكْ لِي فِيمَا أَعْطَيْتَ, وَقِنِي شَرَّ مَا قَضَيْتَ, إِنَّكَ تَقْضِي وَلَا يُقْضَى عَلَيْكَ, إِنَّهُ لَا يَذِلّ ُ مَنْ وَالَيْتَ, وَلَا يَعِزُّ مَنْ عَادَيْتَ, تَبَارَكْتَ رَبَّنَا وَتَعَالَيْتَ, اَللَّهُمَّ إِنَّا نَعُوذُ بِرِضَاكَ مِنْ سُخْطِكَ, وَبِعَفْوِك مِنْ عُقُوبَتِكَ, وَبِكَ مِنْكَ لَا نُحْصِي ثَنَاءً عَلَيْكَ أَنْتَ كَمَا أَثْنَيْتَ عَلَى نَفْسِكَ
ثُمَّ يُصَلِّي عَلَى اَلنَّبِيِّ
وَيُؤَمِّنُ مَأْمُومٌ, وَيَجْمَعُ إِمَامٌ اَلضَّمِير
وَيَمْسَحُ اَلدَّاعِي وَجْهَهُ بِيَدَيْهِ مُطْلَقًا
Then the person sends salam upon the Prophet ﷺ according to any wording and the one behind the Imam says Ameen. When the Imam is reciting he needs to keep in mind that he is reciting the dua not just for himself but for the congregation also so the wordings will change accordingly.
The one making dua wipes his face absolutely. Whether a person is in salah or not, or wherever, a person should wipe the face after making dua as per the madhab.
وَالتَّرَاوِيحُ عِشْرُونَ رَكْعَةً بِرَمَضَانَ تُسَنُّ, وَالْوِتْرُ مَعَهَا جَمَاعَةً, وَوَقْتُهَا بَيْنَ سُنَّةِ عِشَاءٍ وَوِتْرٍ.
Taraweeh is specific to Ramadan and it is 20 rakats. The 4 madhaib have agreed that the taraweeh is 20 rakats. Some scholars, like an opinion in the Maliki madhab recommend even more than 20 and as per the Hanabila more than 20 is also permissible. The issue arises in praying less than 20. As per the madhab, praying less than 20 means that the Sunnah of taraweeh hasn’t been completed. This 20 is without the Witr. A person is rewarded for praying no doubt, but the Sunnah hasn’t been achieved. If there is a hardship in being able to pray the 20, then 11 would suffice.
The second position in the madhab which is held by Sheikhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah رحمه الله and Imam Ibn al-Qayyim رحمه الله consider less than 20 rakats as a valid taraweeh.
It is recommended to pray taraweeh in congregation. Some scholars opine it being better prayed at home. They use the hadith where Zaid bin Thabit reported: The Prophet ﷺ said,
صلوا أيها الناس في بيوتكم، فإن الصلاة صلاة المرء في بيته إلا المكتوبة
“O people! perform your (voluntary) Salat (prayers) in your homes because the best Salat of a man is the one he performs at home, except the obligatory Salat.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
The Hanabilah say it is better in the masjid for the sahaba established it in the masjid and if the sahaba do something collectively then that is considered as a Sunnah. This hadith does not cover taraweeh just as it doesn’t cover the salah of Eid.
Its time is between the Sunnah of Isha and Salah of Witr. If a person combines Maghrib and Isha, and then prays taraweeh then that taraweeh valid. Here the combining is questionable ofcourse but the point being taraweeh cannot be prayed before Isha or after Maghrib. Taraweeh is ideally to be prayed after the Sunnah and postponing the Sunnah of Isha is disliked.
رَكْعَتَانِ قَبْلَ اَلظُّهْرِ, وَرَكْعَتَانِ بَعْدَهَا, وَرَكْعَتَانِ بَعْدَ اَلْمَغْرِبِ, وَرَكْعَتَانِ بَعْدَ اَلْعِشَاءِ, وَرَكْعَتَانِ قَبْلَ اَلْفَجْرِ, وَهُمَا آكَدُهَا
The Rawatib are the 10 recommended rakts connected to the 5 daily prayers. Some scholars opine them being 12.
Ibn ‘Umar reported: I performed along with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ two Rak’ah of optional prayers before Zuhr and two after the Zuhr (noon prayer), and two after the Friday prayer, and two after the Maghrib (evening) prayer, and two after the ‘Isha’ (night) prayer.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
From the Rawatib are: 2 rakats before Dhuhr, 2 rakats after Dhuhr, 2 rakats after Maghrib, 2 rakats after Isha and 2 rakats before Fajr. These are the most stressed upon and recommended voluntary rakats of which the best are the 2 rakats before Fajr.
وَتُسَنُّ صَلَاةُ اَللَّيْلِ بِتَأَكُّدٍ, وَهِيَ أَفْضَلُ مِنْ صَلَاةِ اَلنَّهَارِ
The Night prayer is highly recommended. It is better than the day prayer for it requires more effort. The night prayer is more sincere as no one sees you. The night prayer is prayed in units of two and two. A weak hadith states that even the day prayer is in units of two but the fiqh can be taken from it.
It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: “My closest friend advised me to do three things: ‘To pray witr at the beginning of the night, to pray two rak’ahs of Fajr and to fast three days of each month.'” [Sunan an-Nasai]
Witr is ideally kept as the last prayer of the night. Qiyam al-Layl could even be prayed after Isha followed with Witr and then the person can sleep.
Imam Malik رحمه الله narrates in his Muwatta, “Abu Bakr as-Siddiq used to pray witr when he wished to go to bed, and Umar ibn al-Khattab used to pray witr at the end of the night. As for me, I pray witr when I go to bed.”
وَسُجُودُ تِلَاوَةٍ لِقَارِئٍ وَمُسْتَمِع ٍ وَيُكَبِّرُ إِذَا سَجَدَ وَإِذَا رَكَعَ وَيَجْلِسُ وَيُسَلِّمُ, وَكُرِهَ لِإِمَامٍ قِرَاءَتُهَا فِي سِرِّيَّة
وَسُجُودُهُ لَهَا وَعَلَى مَأْمُومٍ مُتَابَعَتُهُ فِي غَيْرِهَا.
Sujud Tilawah is reommended (not obligatory as per the majority) for the Qari and the one listening (not merely hearing). The one listening actively does sujud when the reciter does sujud of tilawah. A person doing their own dhikr etc in the vicnity don’t have to do the prostration. As per the madhab a listener does sujud, only if the person reciting it does sujud.When the person performs the prostration, they should say the takbeer while going down for sujud as well as when standing up from it. Imam Ahmed says that it is Mustahab to raise the hands before going down for the sujud. There is no tashahhud and after this a person does tasleem. Just a single tasleem is also enough.
In the sujud a person can recite “سُبْحَانَ رَبِّيَ الْأَعْلَى” just like the normal salah and recommended to recite it alteast once. Other than this a person can recite the dua narratd on the authority of Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi:
سَجَدَ وَجْهِي لِلَّذِي خَلَقَهُ، وَشَقَّ سَمْعَهُ وَبَصَرَهُ، بِحَوْلِهِ وَقُوَّتِهِ
Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ prostrated himself at night when reciting the Qur’an. He said repeatedly:
سَجَدَ وَجْهِي لِلَّذِي خَلَقَهُ وَشَقَّ سَمْعَهُ وَبَصَرَهُ بِحَوْلِهِ وَقُوَّتِهِ
My face prostrates itself to Him Who created it and brought forth its hearing and seeing by His might and power. [Sunan Abi Dawud]
Some scholars debate the authenticity of these adhkar. Imam Ibn Qudamah رحمه الله states that Sunan and Nawafil do not need Sahih ahadith per say for their action as they are not obligatory in the first place. There is more of a window for them. Many a times weak ahadith are acted upon. Salat at-Tasbeeh is such a matter which Imam Ahmed disliked, but he said that it wasn’t a problem if anyone actually did do it. As long as we have the action of the salaf on the weak reports then we can take upon it.
Even specifying a number for the number of dhikr a person does in a day is fine as long as they don’t attribute it to the Prophet ﷺ for this is a voluntary action and a person can do as much as they want.
Other ulema say that even the voluntary acts need to have an authentic proof for them to be implemented and this is the view of Imam Muslim Ibn Hajjaj رحمه الله.
Narrated Rabi’a: Umar bin Al-Khattab recited Surat-an-Nahl on a Friday on the pulpit and when he reached the verse of Sajda he got down from the pulpit and prostrated and the people also prostrated. The next Friday `Umar bin Al-Khattab recited the same Sura and when he reached the verse of Sajda he said, “O people! When we recite the verses of Sajda (during the sermon) whoever prostrates does the right thing, yet it is no sin for the one who does not prostrate.” And `Umar did not prostrate (that day). Added Ibn `Umar “Allah has not made the prostration of recitation compulsory but if we wish we can do it.” [Bukhari]
It is disliked for an Imam to recite an ayah that contains the sujud of tilawah in a silent salah. It is disliked further to recite an ayah of sujud tilawah in a silent prayer for the sujud would be skipped and also because it confuses the congregation regarding if this was a sujud of tilawah or forgetfulness etc.
Sheikh Ibn Badran رحمه الله in the Haashiyah says that if the Imam makes sujud in a silent prayer then it is not obligatory for the congregation to follow him. They remain standing waiting for him to stand up again, for all they know the Imam could have made a mistake. The one behind the Imam should follow the Imam in the loud prayer for the person is now considered as one listening.
وَسُجُودُ شُكْرٍ عِنْدَ تَجَدُّدِ نِعَمٍ, وَانْدِفَاعِ نِقَمٍ, وَتَبْطُلُ بِهِ صَلَاةُ غَيْرِ جَاهِل ٍ وَنَاسٍ, وَهُوَ كَسُجُودِ تِلَاوَةٍ
Sujud Shukr is recommended when blessings are showered upon a person or harm is diverted away from a person. There are many ahadith to back this action like that of Ameerul Mumineen Ali etc.
However it is an invalidator of salah if done during the salah – unless a person is ignorant of the ruling or forgot.
It is like the sujud of tilawah. The rulings of the sujud are the same. Both these prostrations require a person to be in the state of wudhu, facing the qiblah and the awrah being covered etc. This is the position held by majority of the scholars as well as the Hanabilah as they consider both these prostrations to be part of the salah or like it.
Both these prostrations cannot be done in the prohibited times (to be covered). If the salah is prohibited explicitly by the Prophet ﷺ then these prostrations be default take the same ruling.
Other scholars opine that blessings can descend at any time and hence wudhu and facing the qiblah etc is not a requirement for the sajdah. The majority opine otherwise as acts of worship to be accepted have some pre-requisites to them.
وَأَوْقَاتُ اَلنَّهْيِ خَمْسَةٌِ: مِنْ طُلُوعِ فَجْرٍ ثَانٍ إِلَى طُلُوعِ اَلشَّمْسِ, وَمِنْ صَلَاةِ اَلْعَصْرِ إِلَى اَلْغُرُوبِ, وَعِنْدَ طُلُوعِهَا إِلَى اِرْتِفَاعِهَا قَدْرَ رُمْحٍ, وَعِنْدَ قِيَامِهَا حَتَّى تَزُول َ وَعِنْدَ غُرُوبِهَا حَتَّى يَتِمَّ
The prohibited times are 5:
1. From the entering of the time of Fajr (adhan of Fajr) till the sun rises.
This requires focus as this is not the majority position and is held only by the Hanabilah. The Sunnah of Fajr is the only exemption to the rule. Fardh is ofcourse there.
Narrated `Aisha: Allah’s Messenger ﷺ used to pray two light rak`at before the morning (compulsory) prayer after the day dawned and the Mu’adh-dhin had finished his Adhan. He then would lie on his right side till the Mu’adh-dhin came to pronounce the Iqama. [Bukhari]
Many a times we see that Imam Ahmad رحمه الله weakens a hadith but still acts upon it. He deemed it better to act upon that rather than relying on qiyas. A hadith is weak as per our methodology, it doesn’t necessarily make the hadith a lie or a fabrication. A weak hadith could be valid in terms of practice but the hadith might not meet the complete conditions of authenticity. Likewise Imam at-Tirmidhi weakens ahadith in his Sunan but then writes after them that it goes with the practice of the majority of the Imams. We need to see what the early Imams of Hadith did.
The hadith of reciting “Bismillah” before Wudhu is dhaeef, yet it is acted upon bu the likes of Imam Ahmed and Imam Bukhari. The weakness of a hadith doesn’t mean the weakness of its meaning.
This does not mean that anyone can pick up a weak narration and act according to it. We need to see how the Imams of Hadith have treated it.
As per the madhab, if a person prays the 2 rakats of Sunnah of Fajr at home and then walks to the Masjid, then they do not perform tahiyatul masjid for that is a sunnah and it is the prohibited time.
A second opinion in the madhab states that the prohibited time begins after the salah of Fajr. As per this tahiyatul masjid can be prayed.
Narrated Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri: I heard Allah’s Messenger ﷺ saying,
لاَ صَلاَةَ بَعْدَ الصُّبْحِ حَتَّى تَرْتَفِعَ الشَّمْسُ، وَلاَ صَلاَةَ بَعْدَ الْعَصْرِ حَتَّى تَغِيبَ الشَّمْسُ
“There is no prayer after the morning prayer till the sun rises, and there is no prayer after the `Asr prayer till the sun sets.” [Bukhari]
2. From the prayer of Asr till sunset. The prohibited time for Asr begins after the salah of Asr.
This prohibition stands even if a person has combined their Dhuhr and Asr salah. No Sunnah salah is prayed if the salah of Asr is prayed.
If the congregation has prayed but a person hasn’t prayed, then the time of prohibition hasn’t begun for the newcomer. The newcomer can still pray tahiyatul masjid etc before praying the Asr salah. This could be confusing but these are matters of ta’bbudi to the Prophet ﷺ.
3. From sunrise till the sun reaches the size of a spear in the sky as per our vision above the horizon. This is estimated to be around 10-15 minutes after sunrise on an estimate.
4. When the sun is at its highest (midday) till it passes over the meridian i.e. the time of Dhuhr enters. This is also for a period of 5-10 minutes before the Dhuhr adhan. Better to either sit down or keep standing till the adhan is called.
5. From the time the sun starts to set till it actually sets.
فَيَحْرُمُ اِبْتِدَاءُ نَفْلٍ فِيهَا مُطْلَقًا لَا قَضَاءُ فَرْضٍ, وَفِعْلُ رَكْعَتَيْ طَوَافٍ, وَسُنَّةُ فَجْرٍ أَدَاء ً قَبْلَهَا, وَصَلَاةُ جِنَازَةٍ بَعْدَ فَجْرٍ وَعَصْرٍ.
It is absolutely haram as per the madhab to begin any Nafil salah at these times. If a person has started praying and realizes that it is a prohibited time or that the prohibited time has just entered, then they are to do tasleem immediately terminating the salah and sit down. There is NO salah at these times.
The exceptions to this are:
a. Praying the qadha of a fardh salah for it is a debt on the shoulder of the person.
Qatada reported it on the authority of Anas b. Malik that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
إِذَا رَقَدَ أَحَدُكُمْ عَنِ الصَّلاَةِ أَوْ غَفَلَ عَنْهَا فَلْيُصَلِّهَا إِذَا ذَكَرَهَا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ يَقُولُ أَقِمِ الصَّلاَةَ لِذِكْرِي
When any one of you omits the prayer due to sleep or he forgets it, he should observe it when he remembers it, for Allah has said:” Observe prayer for remembrance of Me.” [Sahih Muslim]
b. The 2 rakats after the tawaf.c. The 2 Sunnah rakats of Fajr.
d. The Salah of Janazah, be it after Asr or Fajr. These are known as the extended times of prohibition. Janazah shouldn’t be prayed in the limited period of time like the time before Maghrib or before zawal.
Other scholars like from the Shafi’i scholars allow praying in these times, prayers like tahiyatul masjid because they have a specific case attached to it. This is against the understanding of the Hanbali madhab and the understanding of the majority of the ulema.
Based on the Hanbali primer, Akhsar Al-Mukhtasarat authored by Ibn Balban al-Hanbali as taught by Sheikh Zahed Fettah حفظه الله