Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Assalamualaikum. As a Hanafi I am looking for the clear evidence why we pray witr with 3 rakats with 1 tasleem and sit down 2 times? Living in the middle east many mention that I should not sit twice and should not make it like maghrib.
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
According to the Hanafi school, the Witr prayer is three units (rak`ats) with one set of salams at the end.
It is akin to the Maghrib prayer in form, yet with three additions in the third and final rak`at: (a) recitation of three verses, or the extent of three verses, (b) a takbir, and (c) a supplication (qunut). [see: Details Regarding Witr, Confirmed Sunna, and Non-Confirmed Sunna Prayers]
The Traditions about the Witr Prayer
Below are some of the rigorously authenticated (sahih) hadiths from the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) on his Witr prayer, and some of what can be said about it.
Abu Salamah asked `A’isha, “How was the prayer of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) during Ramadan?” She said, “The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) used not to pray more in Ramadan, nor in any other month, than eleven rak`ats, praying four- do not ask about their beauty and their length. Then praying four- do not ask about their beauty and their length. And then he would pray three.” `A’isha said, “I asked, ‘Messenger of Allah, do you sleep before the Witr?’ and he answered, “`A’isha my eyes sleep but my heart does not sleep.” [Bukhari]
The son of `Abdullah ibn `Abbas narrated a longer hadith from his father, `Abdullah ibn `Abbas, describing the night prayer of the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). He concludes saying, “Then he did that three times, six rak`ats [in all], in all of that using the toothstick and performing wudu and reciting these verses. Then he performed Witr with three.” [Muslim]
`Abdullah ibn Mas`ud said, ” The Witr is three like the witr of the daytime, the prayer of Maghrib.” [Tahawi, Sharh Ma`ani al-Athar]
Ubayy ibn Ka`b said, “The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) used to perform Witr with ‘Glorify the Name of your Lord, the Most High…’, ‘Say: O unbelievers!…’, and ‘Say: He is Allah, One!’” [Abu Dawud, Ahmad, and others]
Further, Hasan al-Basri is reported to have said that there was a general consensus amongst the early Muslims (salaf) that the Witr is three rak`ats.
And Allah alone gives success.
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani