Friday, July 20, 2012


Tarawih (Arabic: تراويح‎) refers to extra congregational prayers performed by Muslims at night in the Islamic month of Ramadan. Contrary to popular belief, they are not compulsory. However, many Muslims pray these prayers in the evening during Ramadan. Some scholars maintain that Tarawih is neither Fard or a Sunnah, but is the preponed Tahajjud prayer shifted to post-Isha for the ease of believers.

Tarawih prayers are prayed in pairs of two and can be prayed in at least 20 raka‘āt according to two schools (Hanafis, Shafi'i) of Sunni Islam. Some believe that 8, 12 or 20 can be read. A break is taken after every 4 rak'ah - Imam Malik added 4 raka'h in each break (to account for the time spent in Tawaf, since he was in Madinah) thus taking the total number to 36. Due to varying numbers, the number of prayers performed is broad in scope. This prayer is performed only during Ramadan of the Islamic calendar after Salāt of Isha'a. Muslims believe it is customary to attempt a khatm "complete recitation" of the Qur'an in Ramadan by reciting at least one juz' per night in tarawih. Tarawih prayers are considered optional, not mandatory.

A majority of Sunni Muslims regard the Tarawih prayers as Sunnat al-Mu'akkadah, a salaat that was performed by the Islamic prophet Muhammad(peace be upon him) very consistently. Sunni Muslims believe tarawih is a Sunnah salat and may be performed at home if one is unable to attend a Masjid. According to this tradition,Prophet Muhammad(peace be upon him) initially prayed the tarawih in congregation during Ramadan even though there is no evidence to prove such practice. He prayed in congregation for three consecutive nights but discontinued this practice out of fear that it would be made mandatory, rather than sunnah. During the time when Umar ibn al-Khattab was the Caliph, he reinstated the praying of Tarawih in congregation since the Prophet Muhammad(peace be upon him) had passed and as such there was no longer any misapprehension of it being made mandatory. However, Imam Malik prefers that Tarawih be prayed at home, if one has a strong intention to do so.

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