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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Salat ut Taraweeh - 8 or 20 rakahs?

Some people are of the view that only 8 rakahs should be performed because of a hadith in Sahih Bukhari which states thus, Abu Salamah says, “I asked Aisha (RA) as to how the Prophet (S) performed his prayers during Ramadan.” She replied, “The Prophet (SAW) would not perform more than 11 rakah be it in Ramadan or other than Ramadan. He would perform 4 rakah not to mention their beauty nor their length. Then he would perform another 4, do not ask about their beauty or their length, then he would perform 3 (witr). I said, “O Prophet of Allah, do you sleep before performing witr?” He replied, “O Aisha, my eyes sleep, my heart doesn’t.”(the hadith states that he would not pray more than 11 raka’aks in Ramadan or other then Ramadan, are there any Taraweeh other than Ramadhan? No!)
The above hadith is their proof in saying that Taraweeh is only 8 raka’ah. We ask: Which salah does the above hadith refer to. Does it refer to Taraweeh or is it related to Tahajjud? If they say it refers to Taraweeh they have no proof for that whereas its reference to Tahjjud is a very evident matter in the eyes of those who are most familiar with hadith.

The commentator of Sahih Bukhari, Sheik Shamsud Deen Kirmani, affirms, “In the hadith the Tahajjud prayer is meant. Abu Salmah’s question and Hadhrat Aisha’s answer concerned the Tahajjud.” He adds further, “ if the Tahajjud prayer is not meant, then this tradition will be at variance with the tradition that states that he Holy prophet (saw) lead twenty rakahs each for two nights, and in the case of such clash the traditions of 20 raka’ahs which is affirmative (muthbit) shall have precendence over the negartive (naafi).” (Fataawaa Rahimiyya vol.i p.275)

Hazrat Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (ra) writes in fatwa:
“ Tahajjud salaah and Taraweeh salah are both different, they have different orders and different explanation. In the early days of islam Tahajjud was fardh on all Muslims. After a period of one year this farziyyat was abolished and it remained nafl during Ramadan as well as the other months.” Almighty Allah says, “O you wrapped in garments stand (to pray) all night expect a little.” (Muzzammil:1-2)

Abu Dawood relates from Aisha (RA), “The first verses of surah Muzammil were revealed and the Sahabah performed prolonged Tahajjud until there feet were swollen. The last verses were kept above the sky for twelve months then they were revealed and Tahajjud became nafl.”

The hadith above proves that Tahajjud was already being performed before Hijrah (because surah Muzzamil is a Makki surah, among the very first surahs revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (S) and that all the Sahabah performed it during Ramadan as well as the other months. Taraweeh did not exist at that time.

Then, after Hijrah, when the fasting of Ramadan became compulsory came the order of Taraweeh. The Holy Prophet (S) preached thus, “Allah has said its fasting to be fardh and its Qiyam to be nafl.” (Bayhaqi)

This is when Taraweeh came into existence. It would be very wrong to assume that Tahajjud is meant here by Qiyam because Tahajjud already existed. So there is no need to mention it again. If Tahajjud was intended here than the phrase would be, “Tahajjud still remains nafl as it was before.”

Furthermore in Ibn Majah’s narration it is said, “Allah has made its fasting compulsory and on you and I have prescribed its Qiyam for you.” This proves that the Prophet Muhammad (S) himself prescribed Taraweeh (by order of Allah). Whereas Tahajjud had already been made nafl by Allah’s order in the final verses of surah Muzzammil.

The conclusion is that Tahajjud and Taraweeh are both different. Tahajjud was ordered directly by Allah (swt) in the Holy Quran. Whereas Taraweeh came into existence by order of the Prophet Muhammad (S).

The only proof to suggest that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) performed 20 rak'ahs has been reported on the authority of Abdullah ibn Abbas (RA):
"Verily, the Holy Prophet (S) in the month of Ramadan, used to perform 20 rak'ahs and the witr (afterwards) without congregation." (This narration has been collected by Bayhaqi in al-Sunan al-Kubra (2/496), Ibn Abi Shaiba in al-Musannaf (2/394), Ibn Adi in al-Kamil (1/2), Tabarani in al-Kabeer(3/148), Ibn Manda in al-Muntakhab min al-fawaid (2/268), Baghawi in Majmu as-Sahaba, Musnad Abd ibn Humaid and others)

This narration has been shown to have a weak (da'eefisnad by the verifying scholars like al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (See Ibn Hajar's Talkhis ul-habir fi takhreej ahadith al-Rafi'i al-kabir (1/119) and Al-Matalib al-'Aliyya (1/146, no. 534) or Zaylai's Nasb ur-Rayah (2/153)), Hafiz al-Zayla'i and others, due to the presence of the narrator: Abu Shaiba (He passed away in the year 235 AH. His Musannaf has been printed in some 15 volumes) Ibrahim ibn Uthman. He was the grandfather of the Imam of Hadith: Abu Bakr ibn Abi Shaiba, as well as being a Qadi; but as for his status as a reporter of Hadith, he has been declared to be discarded (matrook) by Hafiz Ibn Hajar in Taqreeb ul-Tahdhhib (1/39, no. 241) and al-Bayhaqi has declared him to be weak in al-Sunan al-Kubra (2/496).

An interesting study prepared and published on this issue by a Shaykh who is said to have memorized the six most authentic collections of Hadith, is available to verify this assertion.
Let us now see what a number of Imams of sacred law have said about the aforementioned narration from Ibn Abbas (RA).
  1. Imam Ahmad al-Tahtawi (He was a leading Egyptian Hanafi scholar who has written a number of well known and regularly used commentaries to classical Hanafi fiqh texts. He passed away in the year 1231/1816 CE. Rahimahullah) has said in Sharh Durr al-Mukhtar (1/466):
"On the authority of Ibn Abbas' statement, 20 rak'ahs of Taraweeh has been estblished from the Holy Prophet's (peace be upon him) practice."
  1. Shaykh Abdal Haqq al-Dehlawi (d. 1052 AH in India) has been quoted by the author of Fatawa Rahimiyya (Mufti Abdur Rahim Lajpuri, 1/280, Maktaba Rahimiyyah, Rander, India) as follows: "Shaykh Abdul Haqq Muhaddith of Delhi writes in his book, Fath-e-Sirr-ul-Mannan:
'The obvious thing is that, according to the holy Companions, the Holy Prophet's (peace be upon him) saying 20 rak'ahs had been established, as is mentioned in Ibn Abbas' tradition, and for this reason Umar (radiallahu anhu) adopted 20 rak'ahs . . .'
He also quoted Shaykh Abdal Haqq as saying from his book: Ma sabata minas Sunnah (P. 223),
'According to our belief, the taraweeh consists of 20 rak'ahs, for Bayhaqi has reported with sound authority that the holy Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) used to perform 20 rak'ahs during Umar's time; moreover, this practice continued during Uthman and Ali's (may Allah be pleased with them) periods also.'"
  1. Shaykh Abdur Rahim continued to say in his Fatawa:
"The fact is that Hadrat Ibn Abbas and Hadrat Umar are both Companions; there is no 'weak' narrator between them, wherefore Ibn Abbas' tradition may be called weak and the Companion's action may be considered to be based on a weak tradition. Their action was based on a sound basis; how can those who follow them be called 'the deluded'? In short, according to the Companion's reckoning, the afore said hadith is not at all weak, though, due to the inclusion later of a weak narrator. Ibrahim ibn Uthman may be according to the latter-day authorities called weak 'by way of narration', but 'intelligibly' it must be authentic because the well-guided Caliphs and other Companion's conformity to and continuance of 20 rak'ahs is the proof of its being reliable.
'The Companions continued conformity to 20 rak'ahs is the context and sign of the soundness of this tradition.'"

In support of what we have mentioned, let us quote to you what a leader of Salafiyyism has mentioned in his book: Criticism of Hadith among Muslims with reference to Sunan Ibn Majah (P. 131, Hasan, Suhaib, Al-Qur'an society, 2nd edn; 1407/1986) :
"Shafi'i also recognizes a weak Hadith as authentic (sahih) if it is found to be accepted by the whole ummah (see al-Sakhawi: Fath al-Mugith). But he does not accept Malik's view of restricting the practise to the people of Madinah. According to the later scholars of the Hanafi school like Ibn al-Humam, a Hadith will be declared Sahih, if it is supported by the practise of the Ummah (see Abdal Rashid Nu'mani: Ma tamusu ilaihe al-Haja, p. 18). Among traditionalists, Tirmidhi often remarks, after quoting a less authentic Hadith:
'It is being practised by the people of learning (Ahl-ul-Ilm).' Suyuti deduces: 'It indicates that the Hadith is supported by the sayings of the people of learning. More than one scholar has said that a Hadith is declared Sahih if supported by the sayings of the people of learning, even if it lacks a proper Isnad (see Suyuti: al-Ta'aqubat, folio 20).'"
In closing this section, consider what Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah) said to his student Imam Abu Yusuf (rahiamhullah). Shaykh Anwar Shah Kashmiri stated in Fayd ul-Bari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari:
"Imam Abu Yusuf (rahimahullah) asked Imam Abu Hanifah (rahimahullah), 'Did Hadrat Umar (radiallahu anhu) have any compact from the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) for 20 rak'ahs of Taraweeh?' The Imam replied, 'Hadrat Umar (radiallahu anhu) was not one to invent on his own; certainly he had some proof for this!'" (This report is also found in Imam al-Shurunbulali's Maraqi ul-Falah, p. 81, and Imam Ibn Nujaim al-Misri's Bahr ur-Ra'iq, 2/66)

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