As Ramadan 2023 is fast approaching, more and more people are trying to increase their religiosity through various sunnahs on top of their daily obligations. One of the most important sunnah that function as a complimentary pair to fasting is Taraweeh. Here are all you need to know about Taraweeh prayers!
What are Taraweeh Prayers?
They are nightly prayers offered especially during the month of Ramadan between Isha and Fajr, followed and completed with Witr prayers.
Abu Huraira (rali) narrated that the Prophet (SAW) said, “Whoever stands in Ramadan with Imaan and hope of reward, all his past sins will be forgiven.” – [Sahh-al-Muslim]
Everything You Should Know About Salat-Al-Taraweeh
Taraweeh prayers are offered in salahs of 2 rakahs each, followed by 3 rakahs of Witr. This is the sunnah of the prophet, that the prayers must be offered in even-numbered salahs and ended with an odd-numbered witr salah.
There is much debate about whether Taraweeh prayers must consist of 8 or 20 rakahs. According to the sunnah of the prophet, it is 8 rakahs, followed by 3 rakahs of witr, as shown by the following hadeeth.
Abu Salama bin 'Abdur Rahman narrated that he asked 'Aisha (rali) "How was the prayer of Allah's Apostle in Ramadan?" She replied, "He did not pray more than eleven Rakat in Ramadan or in any other month.” – [Sahih-al-Bukhari]
Many argue that 20 or more rakahs of Taraweeh were common during the times of the caliphates and even that Prophet Muhammad prayed more. Some such hadiths are questionable, although quite a few are authentic.
The way that the prophet prayed is clear with no doubt, as the above hadith stated. But he did not place any restrictions on the number himself. The more you pray, the longer your prayer is, the better. Therefore, do as you wish, but do not go against the congregation if you choose to pray with them.
Following the sunnah of the prophet is better, but if your local congregation prays more rakahs, it’s best to follow them till the end, as the following hadith states.
The Messenger of Allah (sal) said: “Whoever stands with the imam until he finishes (the prayer), the reward of qiyaam al-layl will be recorded for him.” – [al-Tirmidhi]
Laylatul-Qadr is the night in which the Qur’an was first sent down. It is the most important night of Ramadan, as the bounties of Allah are said to increase exponentially. All Muslims must seek this night, stand in prayer, read the Qu’ran, do istighfar, make lots of dua and spend our time devoted to Allah.
Abu Huraira (rali) narrated that the Prophet (sal) said, "Whoever fasted the month of Ramadan out of sincere Faith (i.e. belief) and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his past sins will be forgiven, and whoever stood for the prayers in the night of Qadr out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven ." – [Sahih-al-Bukhari]
A misconception that many make about this holy night is that it falls on the 27th night of Ramadan. This is something that was created by the people and has gained popularity due to convenience. The truth is that no one knows but Allah. We only know that it falls on the odd-numbered days of the last ten days of the month.
Ibn Abbas (rali) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (sal) said, "Look for the Night of Qadr in the last ten nights of Ramadan: on the night when nine or seven or five nights remain out of the last ten nights of Ramadan (i.e. 21, 23, 25, respectively)." – [Sahih-al-Bukhari]
Where to Pray Taraweeh Prayers in Ramadan
If there are any local mosques in the area, chances are they will be conducting Taraweeh prayers. Check them out and find out the prayer timings so you can set time aside for it. If there are no mosques in the locality, try finding if any other Muslim organizations are organizing Taraweeh prayers close to home.
If there are no options where you can pray Taraweeh in a congregation near your house, then you may pray at home. In fact, the messenger of Allah (sal) even avoided going to the mosque for Taraweeh prayers every night for fear that it would become compulsory.
When his companions came to him in the morning and asked him why he did not join them the previous night, he, Prophet Muhammad (sal) said: "I have seen what you did, nothing had prevented me from coming out to you except that I feared that it may become obligatory upon you."
You do not have to memorize lengthy parts of the Qur’an (although if you have, that would be better). You can recite whatever you know, as long as you have the right intention. You could make Taraweeh prayers at home a family affair, where all of you gather and one person leads. Or you could pray individually.
Organizing Taraweeh Prayers in Your Home
If you are unable to find a place close enough to home where you can pray Taraweeh prayers in congregation, then you could consider organizing nightly prayers at your own house. Of course, this would only be plausible if you have a few Muslim neighbors who are willing to participate.
If you have a moderate-sized hall or living room in your house, you can segregate the area using curtains. You would have to find someone to lead the prayers, any local imam or haafil (someone who has memorized the Qur’an) would do the job. You can even get young boys who are in the process of memorizing the Qur’an to do it. Or, if the gathering is only open to women, then the prayers could even be led by one of them. She would stand in the middle of the row, together with the rest of them.
Opening your home to others so they can pray Taraweeh prayers in Ramadan and pleasing Allah will mean that you will also get rewarded for everyone who comes and stands with you in prayer.