The month of Ramadhan is in full glow now days. Muslims fast during the day and pray Taraveeh during night. I met maulana Ishaaq few days ago where he pointed to a fact that Tahajjud prayer is the most important nafil (recommended optional) prayer after five fard (mandatory) prayers. Yet many Muslims miss out on this great opportunity of praying Tahajjud (& I am one of those).
What is Tahajjud:
Tahajjud literally means breaking the sleep, i.e. waking up from sleep and praying at night. Tahajjud is prayed around midnight but can be perfomed earlier or later between Isha & Fajar. It has minimum 2 rakats and maximum reported are 8. This prayer is mentioned right after the fard prayers in Holy Quran in Surah Bani-Israel:
“Establish Salah from the decline of the sun till the darkness of the night (Zuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha) and read at Fajr (dawn); for the reading at Fajr is witnessed (by the angels).” (Surah 17: Verse 78)
“During a part of the night, pray Tahajjud, an additional prayer for you (O Muhammad), very soon your Rabb may exalt you to ‘Maqam-e-Mahmood’ (a station of great glory).” (Surah 17: Verse 79)
- This is the Most Recommended prayer after five fard prayers. There is no ikhtilaaf (difference of opinion) on this in any maslak.
- This prayer is the best way to get closeness to Allah Ta’ala, seek his forgiveness and gain his blessings!
- Rasul Allah said “Tahajjud is the Afzal (greatest) prayer after fard prayers.(translation)
- It was prayed regularly by prophet Muhammad (SAW).
- Best time to pray is after mid night. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said:
“The closest that a slave comes to his Lord is during the middle of the latter portion of the night. If you can be among those who remember Allah the Exalted One at that time, then do so.” (Al-Tirmidhi)
Friends, Ramadhan is the best & easiest time to pray Tahajjud. We wake up for Saher anyway. We can pray it just before eating saher; it literally takes 5 minutes!
Traveeh and Tahajjud are Same:
Tahajjud & Taraveeh are the same prayer, it is also known as Qiyyam ul Layl. Rasool Allah (SAW) regularly prayed 11 rakat (8 nafal + 3 vitar) after midnight. In fact, 3 vitar & 2 Nafal after Isha prayer are actually Tahajjud prayer. People were allowed to pray right after Isha prayer for the convenience as it is hard for many to wake up after midnight. But preferred (afzal) time for Tahajjud is after midnight.
Muhammad (SAW) did not mention any prayer called ‘Taraveeh’, neither did the four Khulafah Rashdeen. All of them prayed Tahajjud Nawafil and it was after midnight.
During one Ramadhan Rasool Allah (SAW) prayed Tahjjud in Jamat after midnight for three nights only and then stopped fearing that it may not become obligatory on all Muslims. So sahaba continued praying it at home or in small groups.
Umar (RA) saw people praying in small groups in Masjid Nabvi. He (RA) did not like the practice of having multiple groups, so He (RA) gathered them in one jamat. Therefore it was Umar’s (RA) ijtihad to practice it in its current form.
Later people increased the number of rakat from 8 to 20 or even beyond up to 36, plus 3 rakat for vitar. It is a Nafal prayer so number is not relevant as such; one can pray as many as comfortably possible.
Currently Taraveeh is prayed at Isha time. Ahle Hadees pray 8 rakat. All four imams (Abu Hanifah, Malik, Shafai, Hanbal) agree on 20 rakat and consider it a Mustahib Sunnat.
The word Taraveeh is plural of Tar-vee-ha which means taking rest. People would pray 4 rakat and then take some rest. Hence this prayer got the name of Salat at Taraveeh.
So in summary, Taraveeh & Tahajjud are the same prayer. It is a Nafal prayer so it could be in any number. Preferred time for it is after midnight but it can be prayed any time after Isha.
Two respected scholars Dr Israr Ahmed and Maulana Ishaq support this view. Links to their speeches below (Urdu).
Maulana Ishaq: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unxipJls_c4