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Is There a Hadith Where It Says That Madinah Is the Centre of Knowledge

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by DarulIftaBirmingham

Answered by: Maulana Ishaaq Hussain


Is there any hadith Sharif that “Madina is the Markaz (the centre)of religious knowledge”?  If so then most of the so ahl hadith (ghair muqalideen) scholars study there only in the Islamic University of Madina, then why isn’t this sect of people right in its beliefs and they misinterpret hadith related to Taraweeh and all saying that it is sunnah to read rakaat Taraweeh?

Please clarify because a ghair muqallid told me that our Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)said that Madina is the centre of learning and nothing wrong can happen there.

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Answer 1

From the question that you have asked, there are two things that need to be looked at.

  1. Islam and its centre of knowledge.
  2. The issue of the Taraweeh prayer.

Firstly, it must be understood, that the centre of knowledge in Islam has always varied and has never been restricted to one city.

A prime example would be that during the time and also after the demise of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam, people from all places would travel to Madinah Munawwarah to benefit from Rasulullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam himself or to benefit and seek knowledge from the blessed companions Radiallahu Anhum.  

However, as time passed, the blessed companions travelled and settled in different countries so that they may teach others the message of Islam.

For instance, companions such as Abdullah Ibn Masood Radiallahu Anhu, Ali Ibn Abi Talib Radiallahu Anhu and many other companions moved to Kufa, whereas companions such as Abdullah Ibn Abbas Radiallahu Anhu remained in Makkah and companions like Abdullah Ibn Umar Radiallahu Anhu were in Madinah.

In fact, Sayyidna Ali Radiyallahu Anhu established his Khilaafat in the city of Kufah whereas the previous Khulafa had established it in the city of Madinah. As I mentioned above, many companions also made the move to Kufah, hence, people from far and wide would travel to Kufah to benefit from these companions.

People would travel to different locations just to possess knowledge from the blessed companions and from those scholars who came after them

It is narrated in Sahih Bukhari that Sayyidna Jabir Radiallahu Anhu travelled the distance of one month (to Egypt) to go and listen to one Hadeeth from Sayyidna Abdullah Ibn Unais Radiallahu Anhu. (Sahih Bukhari p 17 v.1)    

Secondly, if we look at the lives of the Muhaditheen, we learn what distances they would travel, solely for seeking knowledge.

Imam Bukhari (RA) originally from Bukhara, travelled to places such as Hejaz, Basra, Kufah, Baghdad, Egypt and Syria to gather and learn hadith. (Kashful Baari p 127-128 v.1)

In fact, Imam Bukhari (RA) himself says about Kufah and Baghdad: “ I myself cannot remember the number of times I entered Kufah and Baghdad with the Muhaditheen.” (ibid)

Imam Muslim (RA) also travelled to many places to pursue knowledge. Places such as Afghanistan, Khurasan, Iraq, Egypt and Hejaz. (Darse Muslim p.88 v.1)

These are just some examples of two great Muhaditheen who travelled far and wide to seek knowledge. Can you imagine all the other great scholars of Islam, how far they must have travelled to seek knowledge?

With regards to your first question, I did not manage to come across such a hadeeth which mentions that Madinah will be the centre of Knowledge. If you are aware of its reference then please do email us. However, I did come across a hadeeth that is somewhat similar but it does not mention anything about knowledge.

Sayyidna Abu Hurairah Radiyallahu Anhu narrates that the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam said: “Madinah is the centre of Islam and it is the place of Imaan, it is the place of migration and it is the place where acts that are Halal and Haram are enforced” (Tabraani, At Targeeb Wa Tarheeb p 205 v 2)

Answer 2

Once, in the month of Ramadhan, the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam came out of his home and led Taraweeh Salah.  The Sahaba Ridhwanullahi Ajmaaeen who were present at the time prayed behind him in the congregation.  On the second and third nights, a larger number of Sahaba came and performed the Taraweeh Salah behind the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam. 

On the fourth night, an even larger number of Sahaba turned up at the Masjid expecting to pray this new Salah behind the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam.  But he did not come out to lead Salatul Taraweeh that night.  The Sahaba waited all night.  When the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam finally emerged for Fajr prayer he told them “I knew you were waiting for me but I did not come to lead the Taraweeh Salah last night because I was afraid it might become fardh on the Ummah which they may find difficult to fulfil.”  (Sahih Bukhari p.269 v.1)

Afterwards, the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam performed the Taraweeh Salah at home for the remainder of the Month of Ramadhan.  Saaiduna Ibn Abbas Radiallahu Anhu narrates that the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam used to pray twenty rakaats followed by Witr in the Month of Ramadhan.   (Mussanaf Ibn Abi Shaibah p.394 v.2)

During his reign, Saaiduna Umar Radiallahu Anhu once went to the Masjid in the Month of Ramadhan and noticed that people were performing Taraweeh Salah in small congregations.  He said to the Sahaba, “Now that we do not have the fear that Taraweeh Salah will become fardh on us, we can start performing it in the congregation.”  He then asked Ubay bin Kaab Radiallahu Anhu to lead the Taraweeh Salah – twenty rakaats followed by three rakaats Witr.”   (Sahih Bukhari p.269 v.1)

Furthermore, the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam on many occasions has reminded us to follow the Khulafa Rashideen.  The Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam said “Whoever will live after me will see a lot of differences of opinions, so people should hold strongly to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of Khulafa Rashideen who are on the straight path. Hold strongly to it. Do not let it go.”  (Sunan Ibn Majah p.5 v.1)

Moving on, the whole Ummah agree upon the point that Taraweeh is 20 Rakaats. This is also the consensus of the four imams (RA).

Imam Shafiee Rahmatullahi Alai says : “ And the reading of 20 Rakat Taraweeh is what i found my people in Makkah acting upon” (Sunan Tirmidhi p 166 v 1)

Till this day the people of Makkah pray 20 Rakat of Taraweeh. None of them has prayed 8.

Imam Malik Rahmatullahi Alai’s most noted opinion regarding Taraweeh was that it was 36 Rakaats. (Fath Ul Baari p.181 v.1) but if we look at what the practice of the people of Madinah is, then you will realise that they pray 20 Rakaat Taraweeh. This continues today.

Imam Ahmad (RA) mentions that Taraweeh is Sunnah Muakkadda and it consists of 20 Rakats with ten salaams. (Adyaan Baatilah p.258)

Imam Abu Hanifah (RA) says: “ Taraweeh is twenty Rakaats. All ulama agree on this” (Ibid )

To conclude, Taraweeh from the time of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam has either been 20 Rakat or slightly more taking into consideration Imam Malik’s opinion.  It has never been less than 20. This is what the whole Ummah agrees upon.

Only Allah Knows Best

Written by Maulana Ishaaq Hussain

Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham

This answer was collected from DarulIftaBirmingham.co.uk, which is run under the supervision of Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah from the United Kingdom.

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