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How Do We Determine the Number of Prayer Units for Tarāwīḥ?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Mathabah.org
Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Badat

How many rakā’at are to be prayed in Tarāwīḥ? How many rakā’at did Prophet Muḥammad (peace and blessings upon him) pray?


Assalamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh

Thank you for your question.

This is a matter that is extensively discussed with varying opinions based on interpretation of source texts. Respecting all intellectual discussions on the matter, our perspective is as follows:

Since there is no authentic ḥadīth available that reports the exact number of rakā’at observed by the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) in the tarāwīḥ prayer, one must examine the actions of his loyal Ṣaḥābah (Companions – may Allāh be pleased with them) in order to obtain the correct guidance. The Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) himself has stated,

“Hold fast to my way and the way of the rightly guided Companions, hold very firm to it” (Musnad Aḥmad and Ibn Mājah)

The Ṣaḥābah (may Allāh be pleased with them) observed twenty rakā’at for the tarāwīḥ prayer. The Ṣaḥābah were of the consensus that tarāwīḥ should be no less than twenty rakā’at. ‘Alī ibn Sulṭān Al Qārī has written, “Hāfidh Ibn Ḥajar said, “The Ṣaḥābah developed a consensus on tarāwīḥ being twenty rakā’at” (Mirqāt Al Mafātīḥ)

Abū Bakr ibn Mas’ūd Al Kāsānī has written,

“`Omar (may Allāh be pleased with him) gathered the Companions of Allāh’s Messenger during the month of Ramadhān behind Obay ibn Kā’ab (may Allāh be pleased with him), who lead them every night for twenty rakā’āt and nobody objected to this practice. Therefore this will be considered a consensus on their behalf on this issue!” (Badāi’ Al Sanāi’)

The four jurists, Abū Ḥanīfah, Mālik, Shafi’ī and Aḥmad (may Allāh’s mercy be upon them), who are regarded as academic giants are unanimous that the tarāwīḥ is twenty rakā’at.

The Ummah’s practice for generations over the last 1400 years has also been of twenty rakā’at.

The blessed month of Ramadhān is also an occasion to increase worship.

We pray Allāh bless the entire Ummah.

And Allah Knows Best

This answer was collected from Mathabah.org. It’s an Islamic educational institute based in Canada. The questions are generally answered by Sheikh Yusuf Badat and Sheikh Omar Subedar.

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