The last ten nights of Ramadan

Last 10 days (ribbon)

In al-Sahihayn, it is reported from the hadith of ‘Aisha (RA) that when the last ten days of Ramadan came, the Prophet ﷺ would stay up at night, wake his family and gird his loins. [al-Bukhari, 1920; Muslim, 1174] Muslim added: he strove hard and girded his loins.

Her phrase “girded his loins” is a metaphor for his preparing himself to worship and strive hard in worship, more than usual. It has the meaning of “rolling up one’s sleeves” to worship (i.e. getting ready to make a great deal of effort).

It was also said that it was a metaphor for keeping away from women and abstaining from sexual relations.

The phrase “stay up at night” means that he would stay awake, spending the night in prayer, etc. It was reported in another hadith that ‘Aisha (RA) said: “I never saw the Prophet ﷺ recite the entire Quran in one night, or spend a whole night in prayer until the morning, or fast an entire month, except in Ramadan.” [Sunan al-Nasa’i, 1641] The words “stay up at night” may mean that he spent most of the night in worship, or that he did not stay up for the entire night, but he did that at the times of ‘Isha and Suhur, and other times, in which case it would mean that he stayed up for most of the night.

The phrase “and wake his family” means that he would wake his wives to pray qiyam. It is known that he ﷺ used to wake his wives all year round, but he used to wake them to spend part of the night in qiyam. In Sahih al-Bukhari it is reported that the Prophet ﷺ woke up one night and said, “Subhan Allah! What tribulations have come down tonight! What treasure has come down tonight! Who will wake up the dwellers of the apartments? There may be women who are clothed in this world and naked in the Hereafter.” [al-Bukhari, 1074] It was also reported [in Sahih al-Bukhari] that he ﷺ used to wake ‘Aisha when he wanted to pray Witr. [al-Bukhari, 952] But when he woke his wives during the last ten nights of Ramadan, this was more persistent than at other times of the year.

The fact that he ﷺ did this indicates the importance he attached to worshipping his Lord and making the most of this special time.

The Muslim should follow the example of the Prophet ﷺ for he is the best example, and he should strive hard in worshipping Allah. He should not waste the hours of these days and nights. For we do not know, perhaps this time will never come again, for the spoiler of pleasures, i.e., death, which must come to all men, may come and snatch him and his life will end; then he will feel regret at the time when regret will be of no avail.

Perform eleven Rakat of Tarawih prayer in Ramadan

Eleven rakat in taraweeh

Abu Salama bin ‘Abdur Rahman narrated that he asked ‘Aisha, “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. He used to pray four Rakat — let alone their beauty and length — and then he would pray four — let alone their beauty and length — and then he would pray three Rakat (Witr).” She added, “I asked, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Do you sleep before praying the Witr’ He replied, ‘O ‘Aisha! My eyes sleep but my heart does not sleep.”

(Sahih Bukhari, Book 3, Vol. 32, Hadith 230)

The excellence of the optional (Tarawih) prayer during Ramadan

BUKHARI 31.1.1

Commentary:

This Hadith highlights the following points:

1. Qiyam in the month of Ramadan is a much-stressed act and has great importance from the viewpoint of reward and award.

2. The sins which are pardoned through it are minor sins because major sins are not forgiven unless one makes sincere repentance and compensates those whom he has wronged.

3. That Qiyam during the month of Ramadan was the practice of the Prophet ﷺ. During the course of a Ramadan, he made Qiyam for three nights consecutively, that is, he performed this Nafl Salat in congregation with his Companions. On the fourth night, when his Companions gathered for this purpose he said to them, “I am afraid it will be made obligatory for you.” So, in spite of their desire to join him in this prayer, he did not lead the Salat that night. How many Rak`ah did he perform in congregation in these three nights is a pertinent question here. According to Ahadith their total comes to eleven; eight Rak`ah and three Witr. Thus the Masnun number of Rak`ah of Qiyam Ramadan is eleven.

4. This Nafl Salat has been interpreted in Ahadith as Qiyam Ramadan. Later on they were named Tarawih. Tarawih is the plural of Tarwihah. Since the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ and the successors to the Companions used to make a lengthy Qiyam in them and they would take rest after performing every four Rak`ah. This is how these came to be named Tarawih (Rest prayer). (Four Rak`ah are called Tarwihah).

5. Tarawih are in fact Tahajjud prayers. For the sake of convenience and benefit of the maximum number of people, it is performed in the month of Ramadan soon after `Isha’ prayer, along with the latter, which is the early time for Tahajjud prayers.

6. That the Tarawih were performed in congregation is established from the conduct of the Prophet ﷺ. He led this Salat on 23rd, 25th and 27th of Ramadan. During his caliphate, `Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) started it again and ordered Ubayy bin K`ab and Tamim Ad-Dari to perform them in congregation. He enjoined them to perform eight Rak`ah Tarawih and three Rak`ah Witr. This practice has been going on ever since.

7. Some people say that performing Tarawih in congregation is a Bid`ah (innovation in religion) because it was introduced in the reign of `Umar (May Allah be pleased with him). But this is not correct because it is established that the Prophet ﷺ did not continue it out of fear that it will be made obligatory; otherwise he would have carried on with it. When the fear that this practice be made obligatory was over, `Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) gave it the form of a Nafl prayer and revived the mode of performing it collectively, and thus fulfilled the desire of the Prophet ﷺ. In spite of all these facts, it is still permissible for one to perform Tarawih individually in the late hours of the night. Since ordinary people are not capable of performing it individually, the step taken by `Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) is perfectly correct. If this had not been done, the majority of the people will have remained deprived of the blessings and reward of Qiyam-ul-Lail, which would have been a great deprivation indeed.

8. Twenty Rak`ah Tarawih is not confirmed from any authentic Hadith, nor its ascription to `Umar i(May Allah be pleased with him)is proved from any reliable Muttasil (connected) Hadith. A claim has been made in a Munqati` (disconnected) narration that in the days of `Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) people used to perform twenty, thirty-six and forty Rak`ah of Tarawih out of which one can at best infer the justification for more than eight Rak`ah Nafl prayer. Even then the Masnun Tarawih will be eight Rak`ah only, and more or less than that will be Ghair-Masnun.

9. In Tarawih, that is Qiyam Ramadan, lengthy Qiyam is Masnun, but it must be borne in mind that the Qur’an must be recited according to the principles of `Ilm-ut-Tajwid  with clear and distinct voice at a slow pace. Many of the Qurra recite so fast that it is hard for one to understand, let alone concentrate on what is being recited. Such recitation is a means of retribution rather than reward. A new system is now in vogue: According to this fashion, the whole Qur’an is finished within a few days and eight to ten parts of it are recited daily in Tarawih. There are hundreds of thousands people in the audience. After listening the Qur’an for a few days, these people console themselves that they have heard the entire Qur’an in Tarawih and are now free to pay full attention to their business to make the best of the `Eid season. They do not care to know whether the Qari is reciting the Qur’an or something else.

(Sahih Bukhari, Book 31, Hadith 1)

(Riyad Us-Saliheen, Chapter 213, No. 1187-1188)