Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
What is the validity of witr in congregration outside ramadan according to the Hanafi school? A respected sheikh came over to my local mosque recently and was leading witr (in congregration outside ramadan). Should I have prayed behind him? I am wondering if maybe he was a Shafii, Maliki, or Hanbali and that’s why he lead witr. Is such a prayer valid in the other schools? How could such a respected sheikh make a mistake (not to mention other scholars were present at the gathering, probably even Muftis). Secondly, if the prayer is not valid, what should I have done if I didn’t know the answer and so many scholars were around me saying it’s ok to do it?
Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,
I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits.
He may well have been following a valid position in another school. However, in the Hanafi school, witr is only permitted in congregation without dislike in Ramadan itself. Outside Ramadan, it is valid but disliked to perform in congregation. [ Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah; Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
It would have been best to discretely leave the congregation. If this would have looked improper, then what a number of my Hanafi teachers say is that it would have been permitted to pray with them, because acting in ways that create division, disunity, or discord without good Shariah reason is improper.
And Allah alone gives success.