Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Question: Assalamu alaikum,
Is impromptu taraweeh with short rakahs permissible? For instance on a university campus setting where people may pray Isha together but there is no set taraweeh program.
I pray this finds you in health and good spirits.
Yes, informal congregations for the tarawih prayer are permissible.
The tarawih prayer is an emphasized Prophetic practice (sunna mu’akkada) in the month of Ramadan, for both men and women.
The Sunna is to pray 20 rakats, in sets of two rakats–with a rest (tarawiha) after every four rakats.
It is specifically recommended (mustahabb) for men to perform it in congregation, ideally in the mosque.
Completing recitation of the entire Quran within tarawih prayer during Ramadan is recommended–not emphasized. There is nothing wrong with briefer recitation, especially if there are community considerations.
[ref: Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar; Ibn Nujaym, al-Bahr al-Ra’iq; others]
And Allah is the giver of success and facilitation.