Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
I know it is sunnah mu’aqidah to pray 20 rakkat of qiyam in ramadan, and it is wrong to leave it. but if one is overwhelmed with school work, is it “wrong” (yaani, makruh tahrimi, etc…) to only pray 8 or 10 rakkat, or whatever one has time for (as long as SOME nawafil is being made). Also, if one has qaada prayers to makeup, should they be going to the masjid to pray taraawih, or should they do the makeup prayers on their own (granted, that they equal the amount of 20 rakats).
The ruling of leaving a confirmed sunna is that it is disliked and blameworthy (though less than prohibitively disliked) if done even once without a reasonable excuse.
As such, one needs to pray one’s confirmed sunna prayers even if one has makeups to do, for fixing past mistakes does not excuse us from fulfilling current duties. Note, however, that praying tarawih in the masjid is recommended, not a confirmed sunna, so if busy, one may pray 20 short rakats and fulfill the sunna.
If one has makeups, one should pray one’s tarawih in a way that does not vitiate one’s ability to do makeups, which would depend on one’s free time and resolve.
The Hanafis are more serious than most about the importance of following the sunna, for Allah commanded us to follow the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). And he said, “None of you (truly) believes until his inclinations correspond to that which I have come with.”