Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Askimam.org

I heard that the prophet(saw) prayed tarawi but he didn’t want people to make it a habit. If that’s true, then why is it sunnah-mu’aqaddah now to pray 20 taraweeh? sometiems I can’t pray tarawaeeh because it takes 2.5 hours at our mosque. can you give a suggestion? can we pray only 8?


Until approximately two centuries ago there were no two answers to this
question. Every person until this time unanimously agreed that it is TWENTY
Rakaats. Around the twelfth century a group calling itself the Ahle Hadith
emerged and began propagating the fallacy that Taraweeh is only eight
Rakaats. Recently, a small group in our country, in order to cast aside the
following one of the four Madhabs, have begun blindly following the so
called Ahle Hadith. Hence not only do they deprive themselves from the
rewards of the entire twenty Rakaats, they also mislead other simpleminded
people who are unaware of the facts and deprive them as well. At the same
time those of weak Imaan who find the twenty Rakaats difficult due to their
laziness and lack of realisation of the tremendous rewards of Taraweeh, have
found a scapegoat in the baseless propaganda of the Ahle Hadith and its
followers. The reality, however, is that twenty Rakaats of Taraweeh is
Sunnatul Mua’kkadah (a greatly stressed Sunnah, deliberate omission of which
is a sin).

In the time of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) the Taraweeh Salaat
was performed individually and in small groups. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu
Álayhi Wasallam) stressed its performance but did not perform it with the
congregation since he feared that it may then become Fardh (compulsory) upon
the Ummah. In one narration, it is nevertheless mentioned that Rasulullah
(Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) performed twenty Rakaats of Taraweeh and the
Witr in Ramadhaan. (Musannad ibn Abi Shaiba and Bayhaqi). This practice of
performing the Taraweeh individually and in small groups continued in the
time of Sayyidina Abu Bakr (Radhiallaahu Ánhu) and the initial years of the
Khilafa of Sayyidina Úmar (Radhiallaahu Ánhu). Thereafter Hadhrat Úmar
(Radhiallaahu Ánhu) appointed Ubayy ibn Kaáb (Radhiallaahu Ánhu) as the
Imaam and gathered everybody in one Jama’ah behind him for the full twenty
Rakaats of Taraweeh. At that time there were numerous Sahaabah (Radhiallaahu
Ánhum) present. All of them agreed on this decision of Hadhrat Úmar
(Radhiallaahu Ánhu). If this decision was contrary to Deen, the Sahaabah
(Radhiallaahu Ánhu) would have never been tolerated it. Their consensus on
this manner is itself a Shaée proof of twenty Rakaats being Sunnah. A number
of narrations mention the performance of twenty Rakaats by the Sahaaba
(Radhiallaahu Ánhum). Therefore, we find that the four great Imaams of the
four Maddhabs, despite a number of minor differences among them on the
interpretation and application of various aspects, are unanimous that
Taraweeh is twenty Rakaats. This is authentically recorded in their books.

The aspect of Taraweeh is really as clear as daylight. Therefore, one will
find that in the Haramayn of Makkatul Mukarramah and Madinah Munawwarah up
to this day, from the very time of Umar (Radhiallaahu Ánhu), twenty Rakaats
is performed in Jamaa. The Sahaaba (Radhiallaahu Ánhu), the Taabiéen (those
who came after the Sahaaba (Radhiallaahu Ánhum), the Imaams of Fiqh
(jurisprudence) and the entire Ummah, with the exception of the so called
Ahle Hadith of recent times, has been unanimous on twenty Rakaats.

Finally, in one Hadith Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) is reported
to have said, ‘After me there will be much differences. Hence hold on to my
Sunnah and the Sunnah of my rightly guided Khulafaa’. (Mishkãt). Twenty
Rakaats of Taraweeh with Jamaa was the Sunnah of the rightly guided
Khulafaa. In this latter day difference, who will you follow? The Sunnah of
the Khulafaa of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) or the way of those
who contradict them??? You make the decision.

The administration of your masjid should consider the convenience of the
people coming for tarawih. If there is another musjid nearby performing
twenty rakaats taraweeh in a shorter space of time you may go there.

and Allah Ta’ala Knows Best

Mufti Ebrahim Desai

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This answer was collected from Askimam.org, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Ebrahim Desai from South Africa.