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When Do I Pray Witr?

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Qibla.com

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

I had a concern in regards to the witr and tahajjud prayers. I know that that the witr prayer is supposed to be the last prayer before fajr, but what should I do if I was planning to wake up for tahajjud and did not pray witr after ishaa, yet ended up waking up after fajr came in, hence missing tahajjud and the witr. Do I have to make up the witr, if so when should I make it up? If I am not sure whether I will get up for tahajjud…should I still pray the witr after ishaa just in case I don’t wake up? If I do wake up for tahajjud even after I already prayed witr does it count, or does the tahajjud become invalid. What is one to do in this case?

Answer:
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Walaikum assalam,

In the Name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

In Imam Fakhr al-Dïn al-Zayla`ï(Allah have mercy on him) wrote in his Tabyïn al-Haqà’iq Sharh Kanz al-Daqà’iq:[1]

“It is recommended to delay the witr prayer until the end of the night if one is sure of waking up, in order for it to be the last of his night prayers, because the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Make the witr prayer the last of your night prayers.” (Related by Bukhari, Muslim, & others). If one is not sure of waking up at night, one should perform the witr prayer before sleeping, because of the hadith narrated by Jabir (Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever fears not waking up at the end of the night should pray witr before sleeping. And whoever is confident about waking up at the end of the night should pray witr then…” (Related by Muslim and others) [Tabyïn al-Haqà’iq, 1: 84]

Sayyidi Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) said in hisRadd al-Muhtar:

“If one prayed witr before sleeping and then wakes up… it is not disliked to pray. Rather, it is recommended to pray. However, witr is not repeated.” [Radd al-Muhtar: 1: 369]

Therefore, if one invariably gets up for tahajjud (the night vigil), then it is best to pray witr then. Otherwise, one should pray witr before sleeping, because it is a sin to delay a necessary prayer past its prescribed time.

This is why Abu Hurayra relates, “My beloved one [=the Prophet] counseled me not to sleep except having prayed witr.”[2]

And Allah knows best.

Wassalam,
Faraz Rabbani.

[1] Imam al-Zayla`i’sT abyïn al-Haqà’iq is one of the relied-upon commentaries in the Hanafi school. It is particularly important for the strength of its presentation of the legal reasoning behind the rulings, as well as their proofs. Note, though, that its author is Imam Fakhr al-Din `Uthman ibn Ali al-Zayla`i (d. 743 AH), not Imam Jamal al-Din Abd Allah ibn Yusuf al-Zayla`i(d. 762 AH), author of the masterly Nasb al-Rayain which he gave a detailed analysis and exposition for the proofs of the Hanafi school. The latter was a student of the former, though.

[2] Note: The scholars mention that some of the Companions, due to their extreme poverty, sometimes got so weak that they couldn’t be sure about waking up for the night prayer. In fact, Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) would sometimes faint on the road because of his extreme hunger, because he was busy learning and memorizing the words of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace).

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