Q. I have heard and read many hadiths that supports praying Witr prayer during the latter part of the night especially after Tahajud, however during the Month of Ramadaan the Witr is prayed in congregation after Salaatul Taraweeh. I have seen many people leave the masjid after Taraweeh assuming that they are leaving off the Witr to pray after Tahajud. Can you offer some advice as to the importance of praying Witr in congregation during this month or is it still advisable to leave it off till later in the night.
A. Performing Witr in congregation is a specialty of the month of Ramadan, and this is what is more virtuous. From the time of the Sahabahs until today, the Witr Salah has always been performed in congregation during the month of Ramadan. This has been the firm practice of the Sahabahs, the Tabi’een, the at ba’ut Tabieen and all the generations of rightly guided scholars after them. Alhamdulillah, until today it is the well established practice in Holy Kaaba and the Prophet’s mosque.
The great Jurists and Muhaditheen of the early period have unanimously agreed that performing Witr Salah in congregation in Ramadan is more virtuous and more superior than performing it at the latter part of the night (after Tahajjud Salah).
This does not contradict the words or actions of the Prophet (S.A.S) but in reality it is in accordance to what the Prophet (S.A.S) did, as was seen and understood by the Sahabahs (R.A). For indeed, it is morally unacceptable for any Muslim to assume that the Sahabahs would have agreed on any matter that contradicted or opposed the teachings and practices of the Prophet (S.A.S).
The amount of rakaats that the Prophet (S.A.S) performed on the nights were known and witnessed by the Sahabahs. They were there with him in his Salah. They saw what he did and were fully aware of how many rakaats he performed in congregation. It was with this full understanding and knowledge of the practice of the Prophet (S.A.S) that the Sahabahs unanimously held on to the performance of 20 rakaats of taraweeh as well as the Witr Salaah in congregation. If this act of theirs was in opposition to the practice of the Prophet (S.A.S), then they would have been corrected by others who would have reprimanded them for changing the Prophet’s practice. However, no one, not even the wives of the Prophet, his sons-in-law, his grandchildren, daughters, family members or devout followers opposed or spoke against the 20 rakats of taraweeh with Salaah Al Witr in jamaah. It is based on this Ijma of the Sahabahs, it is inferred that 20 rakats of taraweeh Salaah along with the performance of Witr Salaah in jamaah is in accordance to that which was endorsed by the Prophet (S.A.S). It is for this reason; the early jurists of Islam have clearly stated that in the month of Ramadan, it is more virtuous to perform the witr Salah in congregation.
In the regard, the famous book of Fiqh, Nurul Idhaah states, ‘And a person’s witr Salaah in congregation in Ramadan is more virtuous than performing it individually at the latter part of the night, as stated as the preferred verdict of Qazi Khan’. While commenting on the above statement, the great jurist and author of Mariqi’ul Falaah states, ‘the performance of the witr in congregation is virtuous because of the fact that since congregation is allowed for it, it becomes virtuous (to do it in this manner,) and also due to the fact that Umar(R.A) used to have the witr performed in congregation, and in ‘Al Fath’ and in ‘Al Burhan’ (both of which are sound and authentic books of Islamic Jurisprudence), it is evident that the opinion of the grand jurist Qazi Khan is preferred since the Prophet(S.A.S) performed the witr salaah in congregation with the sahabahs, and then he explained his reason for leaving it out since he feared that standing by night in Ramadan may become essential upon them. The righteous Khalifahs also performed witr Salaah in congregation.’(Mariqiul Falaah).
Similarly, the great jurist Allama Khwarzimi (A.R) has written, ‘and in Ramadan, the correct and sound opinion is that witr in congregation is more virtuous because Umar (R.A) used to have the witr performed in congregation.’(Al Kifayah). The recent scholar and jurist expert Mufti Syed Abdur Raheem has also stated, ‘During the time of Umar(R.A), Ubai bin Kaab(R.A) and other sahabahs used to lead 20 rakaats of Taraweeh Salaah. From that time until today, the practice of the (Salafus Saliheen) Pious Predecessors and the latter scholars have always been to perform witr in congregation in the month of Ramadan. Hence, for those who are performing Tahajjud Salaah, it is more virtuous (for them) to perform the witr salaah in congregation.’ (Fatawa Rahimiyyah Vol 4 Pg. 421)
In view of all these quotations and explanations, it becomes evident that in the month of Ramadan, it is more virtuous for one to perform the witr salaah in Jamaat.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan
This answer was collected from DarulUloomTT.net, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Waseem Khan from Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.