Taraweeh 8 or 20 Raka’at? The Truth in the Light of Ahadith.

 

by Sheikh Mohammad Ibrahim Memon Madani

Taraweeh (تراويح) is an Arabic Word referring to extra prayers given by Muslims at night in the Islamic month of Ramadhan.  This prayer is performed only during Ramadhan of the Islamic Calendar after salah of Isha. Muslims believe it is customary to attempt a khatm (complete recitation) of the Qur’an in Ramadhan by reciting about one part (juz) per night in Taraweeh. If someone does not know how to read Qur’an or cannot read it very well, they may recite Surahs that they know. The Sunni Muslims believe taraweeh is a Sunnah salat.

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

Every year, during the month of Ramadan, questions arise about the number of raka’at in Salat Al-Taraweeh. Over the years, I have received many requests to clarify this issue in writing. InshaAllah, this essay will clarify all the prevailing confusion amongst the people regarding the number of raka’at in Taraweeh prayer. The intent herein is to provide you proof on the matter in light of the Ahadith of Prophet (PBUH) and the practice of Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum).

I have tried to keep it brief for the sake of readability. Certainly, there are more details in the books of Hadith. Therefore, I have provided references for whoever wishes to investigate the matter further. May Allah (swt) unite all of us on the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam and the examples set forth by his Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum)

What Does Taraweeh Mean?

First, we need to understand the meaning of the Arabic word Taraweeh. The word Taraweeh is the plural of the word Tarweeha which literally means ‘to rest’. In the context of Salat Al-Taraweeh, it means to rest between every four raka’at. (Lisan Al-Arab)

Looking at this meaning we can understand that if we perform eight raka’at followed by Witr, we get only two rest periods (Tarweehatain). One rest period we get after the first four raka’at and the second after the next four raka’at. This prayer according to the above definition cannot be called Taraweeh because we must have more than two rest periods for it to be called Taraweeh (according to the Arabic language less than three is not plural). It should also be noted that Salat Al-Taraweeh is not the same as Salat Al-Layl. The latter term is used for the Tahajjud prayer.

How Did Salat Al-Taraweeh Begin?

Once, in the holy month of Ramadhan, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) came out of his home and led Salat Al-Taraweeh. The Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) who were present at the time, prayed behind him in congregation. The second and the third nights, a larger number of Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) came and performed Salat Al-Taraweeh behind the Prophet (PBUH). On the fourth night, an even larger number of Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) showed up in the Masjid expecting to pray this new salat behind the Prophet (PBUH). But, he did not come out to lead Salat Al-Taraweeh that night. The Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhumm) waited all night. When the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) finally emerged for the Fajr prayer he told them:

“I knew you were waiting for me, but I did not come out to lead Salah last night because I was afraid it might become an obligation (Fard) on the Ummah which they might find difficult to fulfil.” (Bukhari, h872; Muslim, h1271; Abu Dawood, h1166)

In other words, if it were made obligatory like the rest of the five daily prayers, we would have to perform it even if we were traveling or ill. Since then, the Sahabah (radiyallahu anhum) started to perform Salat Al-Taraweeh in small congregations in the Masjid or in their homes.

How Many Raka’at Did the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) Perform on Those Three Nights?

The great muhaddith, Hafiz Ibn Hajar (Rahmatullahi Alayhi), who is well-known for his interpretation of Sahih Al-Bukhari has reported in his book Al-Talkhees Al-Habeer on the authority of ‘Aisha (Radiyallahu Anha) that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) performed twenty raka’at Taraweeh on those three nights (Al-Talkhees Al-Habeer, p540).

Imam Ibn Hibban (Rahmatullahi Alayhi), on the other hand, has reported a Hadith in which it is asserted that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) performed eight raka’at of Taraweeh on those three nights. However, this Hadith is extremely weak because one of the people in the chain of narrators is a person named Isa Ibn Jaariyah. Imam Nasa`i (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) and Imam Abu Dawood (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) have strongly questioned the authenticity of this narrator. Consequently, both of these Imams of Hadith concluded that Ahadith narrated by Isa Ibn Jaariyah must never be accepted.

However, even if the Hadith narrated by Isa Ibn Jaariyah was not weak, it would still not be adopted because it goes against a clearly established practice and consensus of Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum). As a rule of Islamic jurisprudence, any Hadith that goes against the clearly established practices and consensus of Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) will not be adopted for practice.

قال ابوداؤد: اذا تنازع الخبران عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم ينظر بما اخذ به اصحابه (ابوداؤد ص263)

قال مالك اذا جاء عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم حديثان مختلفان و بلغنا ان ابابكر و عمر عملا باحد الحديثين و تركا الآخر كان ذلك دليلا ان الحق فيما عملا به (التعليق الممجد ص34)

Imam Abu Dawood (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) asserts that if there were two apparently contradictory ahadith, we would adopt the one that is confirmed by the established practices of Sahabah (R A). (Abu Dawood, p263)

Imam Malik (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) says that if we come across two seemingly contradictory Ahadith and if we know that Abu Bakr (Radiyallahu Anhu) and ‘Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu) practiced one of them and left the other, then this would be proof enough for us for its authenticity. (Al-Ta’leeq Al-Mumajjad, p43)

Nonetheless, keep in mind that the above two Ahadith narrated by ‘Aisha (Radiyallahu Anha) and Ibn Jaariyah are related only to those three particular nights.

How Many Raka’at Did the Prophet (PBUH) Perform for Salat Al-Taraweeh in the Remainder of the Nights?

عن ابن عباس رضي الله عنه أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم كان يصلي في رمضان عشرين ركعة والوتر (مصنف ابن أبى شيبة صـ394/2 باب كم يصلي في رمضان من ركعة و منتخب مسند عبد بن حميد ح653 و المعجم الأوسط ح802)

عن ابن عباس رضي الله عنه أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم كان يصلي في شهر رمضان في غير جماعة عشرين ركعة والوتر (سنن البيهقي ح12102)

Ibn Abbas (Radiyallahu Anhu) narrated that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) used to pray twenty raka’at followed by Witr in the month of Ramadan. Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaibah, v2, p394; Muntakhab Musnad ‘Abd bin Humaid, h653; Al-Mua’jam Al-Ausat, h802).

Ibn Abbas (Radiyallahu Anhu) narrated that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) used to pray twenty raka’at by himself followed by Witr (every night) in the month of Ramadan. (Sunan Al-Baihaqi, h12102)

These ahadith very clearly prove that even though the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) did not continue to perform Salat Al-Taraweeh with the congregation because of the fear that it might become Fardon the Ummah. He regularly performed twenty raka’at of Salat Al-Taraweeh every night during the month of Ramadan. Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) also followed this practice in small congregations until the reign of ‘Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu).

Consensus of the Sahaba upon 20 Rakats during the Era of Sayyiduna Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu).

During his reign, ‘Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu) once went to the masjid in the month of Ramadan and noticed that people were performing Salat (Al-Taraweeh) in small congregations. He said to the Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhu), “Now that we do not have the fear that Salat Al-Taraweeh will become Fard on us, we can start performing it in congregation.” He then asked Ubaiy Ibn Ka’ab (Radiyallahu Anhu) to lead Salat Al-Taraweeh – twenty raka’at followed by three raka’at Witr (Sahih Bukhari).

Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) welcomed Hadhrat Umar’s (Radiyallahu Anhu) direction and none of them objected to this move. From then on they used to perform twenty-three raka’at Salat Al-Taraweeh; including the Witr every night in congregation during the month of Ramadhan. All of the Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) including ‘Uthman (Radiyallahu Anhu), ‘Ali (Radiyallahu Anhu), and even Ummahatul Mu’mineen ‘Aisha (Radiyallahu Anha), Umm Salmah (Radiyallahu Anha), and Safiyyah (Radiyallahu Anha) agreed with ‘Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu). All of them used to perform these twenty three raka’at every night during the month of Ramadhan in the masjid of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). This clearly proves that indeed this is the sunnah of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam); otherwise, Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) would have never agreed to it.

It is narrated in Kanz Al-‘Ummal, a well-known book of Hadith:

Ubay bin Ka’ab (Radiyallahu Anhu) narrated that Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu) ordered him to lead Salat (Al-Taraweeh) during the nights of Ramadhan; so, I led people (Sahabah and Tabi’een) in praying twenty raka’at. (Kanz Al-‘Ummal, v2, p284)

عن السائب بن يزيد قال كنا نقوم في زمن عمر بن الخطاب بعشرين ركعة والوتر (سنن البيهقي ص296/1) (قال النووي إسناده صحيح شرح المهذب ص32/4 وصححه السبكي و السيوطيوعلي القاري)

عن السائب بن يزيد قال كانوا يقومون على عهد عمر بن الخطاب في شهر رمضان بعشرين ركعة وفي عهد عثمان (سنن البيهقي ص496/2)

Al-Saaib bin Yazeed (Radiyallahu Anhu) narrated that we used to offer twenty raka’at followed by Witr in the reign of ‘Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu). (Sunan Al-Baihaqi, v1, p296) Imam Nawawi (Rahmatullah ‘Alay) has confirmed the authenticity of this hadith in his book “Sharh Al-Muhazzab, v4, p32”, as well as Imam Subki in his Sahih)

Al-Saaib bin Yazeed (Radiyallahu Anhu) narrated that we used to offer twenty raka’at followed by Witr in the reign of ‘Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu) and ‘Uthman (Radiyallahu Anhu)(Sunan Al-Baihaqi, v2, p496)

Is it even remotely imaginable that all of the Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) including ‘Uthman (Radiyallahu Anhu), ‘Ali (Radiyallahu Anhu), and even Ummahatul Mu’mineen ‘Aisha (Radiyallahu Anha), Umm Salmah (Radiyallahu Anha), and Safiyyah (Radiyallahu Anha) could have all together agreed to perform a bid‘ah? Na‘uzu Billah! If they did not object to ‘Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu); how are we to object now, 1400 years later and on what grounds?

A great number of Islamic scholars have confirmed the Sahabah’s (Radiyallahu Anhum) consensus of Salat Al-Taraweeh being twenty raka’at. The following are a few examples of their writings:

قال ابن تيمية: فانه قد ثبت ان ابي بن كعب كان يقوم بالناس بعشرين ركعة في رمضان و يوتر بثلاث (فتاوى ابن تيميه ص191/1)

Imam Ibn Taimiyah (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) reported that it has been confirmed that Ubai bin Ka’ab (Radiyallahu Anhu) used to lead people in offering twenty raka’at of Salat (Al-Taraweeh) followed by three raka’at Witr in the month of Ramadan. (Fataawa Ibn Taimiyah, v1, p191)

In the famous book of Hanbali Fiqh, Raudh Al-Riyadh, it has been mentioned that:

والتراويح سنة مؤكدة عشرون ركعة بما روى ابوبكر عبد العزيز الشافعي عن ابن عباس أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم كان يصلي في شهر رمضان عشرين ركعة(روض الرياض)

قال الغزالي: التراويح و هي عشرون ركعة و كيفيتها مشهورة وهي سنة مؤكدة (احياء العلوم ص208/1)

Salat Al-Taraweeh is Sunnah Muakkadah and consists of twenty raka’at; based on the hadith narrated by Abdullah Ibn Abbas (Radiyallahu Anhu) that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) used to offer twenty raka’at during the month of Ramadhan. (Raudh Al-Riyadh)

Imam Ghazali (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) has also confirmed that Salat Al-Taraweeh is Sunnah Muakkadah and consists of twenty raka’at and the method of offering (this Salat) is well known. (IhyaAl-Uloomv1, p208)

The Importance of Following Khulfaa Al-Rashideen

The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) on many occasions has reminded us to follow the Khulafa Al-Rashideen (Radiyallahu Anhum). He stated with great advice and warning to the Ummah that:

انه من يعش منكم بعدي فسيرى اختلافا كثيرا فعليكم بسنتي وسنة الخلفاء الراشدين المهدين تمسكوا بها وعضوا عليها بالنواجذ (ابوداؤد ح3991 ، ترمذي ح2676 ، ابن ماجه ح42 ، مسند احمد ح16521 ، دارمي ح95)

عن عبد الله بن عمروبن العاص قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ان بني اسرائيل تفرقت على ثنتين و سبعين ملة و تفترق امتي على ثلاث و سبعين ملة كلهم في النار الا ملة واحدة قالوا ومن هي يارسول الله قال : ما انا عليه واصحابي (الترمذي ح2641)

عن حذيفة قال كنا جلوسا عند النبي الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فقال: اني لا ادري ما بقائي فيكم فاقتدوا بالذين من بعدي واشار الى ابي بكر و عمر (ترمذي ح3663 ، ابن ماجه ح94)

“Whoever will live after me will see a lot of differences of opinions, so people should hold strongly to my sunnah and the sunnah of Khulafa Al-Rashideen who are on the straight path.” Then, he emphasised it again by repeating himself, “Hold strongly to it. Don’t let it go.” (Abu Dawood, h3991; Tirmidhi, h2676; Ibn Majah, h42; Musnad Ahmad, h16521; and Daarami, h95)

Abdullah bin A’mr bin A’as (Radiyallahu Anhu) narrated that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, “Bani Isra`il were divided into 72 sects and my Ummah will be divided into 73; all of them would belong to the hell-fire except one.” The Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) asked him, “Which one, O Prophet of Allah?” He responded, “The one who would follow me and my Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum).” (Tirmidhi, h2641)

Huzaifa (Radiyallahu Anhu) narrated that we were once sitting with the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). He said, “I don’t know how long would I be with you. After me, follow those who survive me.” And he pointed towards Abu Bakr (Radiyallahu Anhu) and ‘Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu). (Tirmidhi, h3663; Ibn Majah, h94)

Notice that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) has very clearly told us to hold strongly to the ways of Khulafa Al-Rashideen (Radiyallahu Anhum) when there is a difference of opinion in the matters of Deen. Following his Sunnah and that of Khulafa Al-Rashideen (Radiyallahu Anhum) was also made the sign of the one sect which would continue to be on the right path.

As for Salat Al-Taraweeh, we know now for sure that three of the four Khulafa Al-Rashideen – ‘Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu), ‘Uthman (Radiyallahu Anhu), and ‘Ali (Radiyallahu Anhu) performed twenty raka’at with the congregation in the masjid of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and in the presence of all of the other Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhu). We, therefore, no longer need any other proof in the matter.

Consensus of the Four Great Imams of Fiqh

This is the reason that all four Imams; Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Shaf‘i, Imam Malik, and Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) have asserted that Salat Al-Taraweeh consists of twenty raka’at. In fact, Imam Malik (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) insisted on thirty-six raka’at. He suggested to the people of Madinah to pray four extra raka’at individually during each Tarweeha (i.e. during the rest period between each of the four raka’at) to make up for the Tawaaf that people of Makkah used to perform during this rest periods. (Al-‘Urf Al-Shadhi, v1, p229)

It is also reported in Tirmidhi, one of the six most authentic books of Hadith, that Imam Shaf‘i had always seen people in Makkah performing twenty raka’at in Salat Al-Taraweeh. From the time of ‘Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu) to this day, people have always prayed twenty raka’at in Taraweeh both in the Harams of Makkah and Madinah.

عن السائب بن يزيد قال كانوا يقومون على عهد عمر بن الخطاب في شهر رمضان بعشرين ركعة وفي عهد عثمان )سنن البيهقي ص496/2)
عن أبي عبد الرحمن السلمي أن عليا دعا القراء في رمضان فأمر رجلا أن يصلي بالناس عشرين ركعة وكان علي يوتر بهم (معرفة السنة للبيهقي ح 4396و السنن الكبرى للبيهقي ص496/2(
قال الشافعي هكذا أدركت ببلدنا مكة يصلون عشرين ركعة (ترمذي تحت ح806)
عن أبى الحسناء أن عليا أمر رجلا أن يصلي بهم في رمضان عشرين ركعة (مصنف ابن أبي شيبة ص393 2/ والسنن الكبرى للبيهقي ص (2/496
عن اعمش أن عبد الله بن مسعود كان يصلي عشرين ركعة و يوتر بثلاث (عمدة القاري شرح صحيح البخاري ص 127/1)
عن نافع قال كان ابن أبي مليكة يصلي بنا في رمضان عشرين ركعة (مصنف ابن أبي شيبة ص393/2)
عن ابي الخصيب قال كان سويد بن غفلة يؤمنا في رمضان عشرين ركعة (الكنى للبخاري ص28 ح234)

Al-Saaib bin Yazeed (Radiyallahu Anhu) narrated that we used to offer twenty raka’at followed by Witr in the reign of ‘Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu) and ‘Uthman (Radiyallahu Anhu). (Sunan Al-Baihaqi, v2, p496)

Abi ‘Abdul Rahman Al-Salami (Radiyallahu Anhu) narrated that ‘Ali (Radiyallahu Anhu) called for the Huffaz Al-Qur’an in the month of Ramadhan and asked one of them to lead people in offering twenty raka’at Salat (Al-Taraweeh) while he himself used to lead the Witr prayer. (Ma’rifat Al-Sunnah by Baihaqi, h4396; Sunan Al-Baihaqi, v2, p496)

Imam Shaf‘i (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) said that I have always found people in Makkah offering twenty raka’at. (Tirmidhi, under h806)

Abi Al-Hasana’ narrated that ‘Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu) ordered a person to lead twenty raka’at Salat (Al-Taraweeh) in the month of Ramadan. (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaibah, v2, p393, Sunan Al-Baihaqi, v2, p496)

A‘amash (Radiyallahu Anhu) narrated that Abdullah Bin Mas’ud (Radiyallahu Anhu) used to offer twenty raka’at Salat (Al-Taraweeh) followed by three raka’at of Witr. (Umdat Al-Qari, v1, p127)

Nafi’ (Radiyallahu Anhu) narrated that Ibn Abi Mulaikah (Radiyallahu Anhu) used to lead people in offering twenty raka’at Salat (Al-Taraweeh) in the month of Ramadan. (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaibah, v2, p393)

Abu Al-Khusaib (Radiyallahu Anhu) narrated that Suwaid bin Ghafalah (Radiyallahu Anhu) always led us in offering twenty raka’at Salat (Al-Taraweeh) in the month of Ramadan. (Al-Kuna by Imam Bukhari, h234)

Ata bin Abi Rubah (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) who was a great Tabi’ee living in Makkah Mukkaramah said:

أدركت الناس وهم يصلون ثلاثا و عشرين ركعة بالوتر) مصنف ابن ابي شيبة ص3942/ فتح الباري ص4/219)

I always found people offering twenty-three raka’at including Witr. (Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaibah, v2, p394; Fath Al-Bari, v4, p219)

Then where does the misunderstanding come from?

The confusion about the number of raka’at in the Salat Al-Traweeh resulted from misunderstanding a Hadith reported in Bukhari.

The Hadith reads as follows:

Abu Salamah bin Abdul Rahman (Radiyallahu Anhu) says, “That he asked ‘Aisha (Radiyallahu Anha) how was the prayer of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) during Ramadan?” ‘Aisha (Radiyallahu Anha) replied, “The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) would not perform more than eleven raka’at, whether in the month of Ramadan or any other time of the year. First, he used to perform four raka’at and don’t ask me how long and beautiful they used to be. Then he performed another four raka’at and don’t ask me how very long and very beautiful they were. Then he would perform three raka’at (Salat Al-Witr).”

Some people have wrongfully concluded that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) prayed only eight raka’at in Salat Al-Taraweeh. A correct understanding of this Hadith should clear up all confusion and controversy about this issue.

Consider the following points to properly understand this Hadith:

1. Both ‘Aisha (Radiyallahu Anha) and Salamah bin Abdul Rahman (Radiyallahu Anha) were alive during the reign of ‘Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu), ‘Uthman (Radiyallahu Anhu) and ‘Ali (Radiyallahu Anhu). If ‘Aisha (Radiyallahu Anha) and other Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) knew this Hadith to be about Salat Al-Taraweeh; why did they not correct ‘Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu) about it when he established twenty raka’at in congregation during his reign?

2. All of them continued to perform Salat Al-Taraweeh in this way including ‘Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu), ‘Uthman (Radiyallahu Anhu), ‘Ali (Radiyallahu Anhu) and even ‘Aisha (Radiyallahu Anha). But, there is no recorded protest by ‘Aisha (Radiyallahu Anha) or any other Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) in the books of ahadith or Islamic history about it. Never did she nor any of the other Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) stop people from it or warned them about this being a bid‘ah.

3. Certainly, no Muslim will believe that ‘Aisha (Radiyallahu Anha) and others did not oppose Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu) for the fear of reprisal; nor can we believe that the narrator of the Hadith, ‘Aisha (Radiyallahu Anha), herself and others did not properly understand the meaning of this Hadith. Most certainly ‘Aisha (Radiyallahu Anha) knew that this Hadith did not pertain to Salat Al-Taraweeh. She knew that this Hadith was related to Salat Al-Tahajjud which is also called Salat Al-Lail. This is why she or any of the others did not oppose ‘Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu).

4. In this Hadith, ‘Aisha (Radiyallahu Anha) was talking about a prayer that the Prophet (PBUH) performed throughout the year. Notice her words, “The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) never performed more than eleven raka’at in the month of Ramadhan or any other time of the year.” Everyone knows that Salat Al-Taraweeh is not performed any other time of the year except in Ramadan. What she meant was that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) performed the eight raka’at of Salat Al-Tahajjud followed by three raka’at Witr even in the month of Ramadan in addition to Salat Al-Taraweeh.

5. Here is further proof for the above conclusion. When we look at the complete Hadith, we notice that ‘Aisha (Radiyallahu Anha) explained how the Prophet(Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) used to perform these eleven raka’at. The Hadith says that he used to perform four raka’at, then four raka’at, then three raka’at (the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) used to perform Tahajjud prayer by four raka’at as well) and throughout the year.

Everyone knows that Salat Al-Taraweeh is performed in two and not four raka’at at a time. Often, the proponents of eight raka’at for Taraweeh do not mention the full hadith which then creates confusion and misunderstanding in the minds of common Muslims. If we were to apply this Hadith to Salat Al-Taraweeh, then we would have to perform Salat Al-Taraweeh throughout the year and perform it in four, four, and three raka’at. If we did otherwise, we would be opposing this Hadith that some people use to prove that Salat Al-Taraweeh consists of only eight raka’at.

Conclusion

From looking at the Hadith, the practice of Sahaba, Tabieen, and the consensus of the four great Imams, it should now be very clear that:

– It is the Sunnah of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) to perform twenty raka’at Salah Al-Taraweeh.
– Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) followed this practice throughout their lives in Masjid Al-Nabawi.
– None of the Sahabah (Radiyallahu Anhum) including ‘Aisha (Radiyallahu Anha) opposed ‘Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu) in the establishment of twenty raka’at of Salat Al-Taraweeh in congregation.
– The Hadith in Bukhari narrated by ‘Aisha (Radiyallahu Anha) is about Salat al-Tahajjud and not Salat Al-Taraweeh.
– All four Imams have declared that Salat Al-Taraweeh consists of twenty raka’at.
– Throughout the history, in the Haram of Makkah and Madinah, Taraweeh has never been performed less than twenty raka’at.
– All of the great scholars used to perform twenty raka’at for Salat Al-Taraweeh. The Hadith narrated by Aisha (Radiyallahu Anha) has never been applied to Salat Al-Taraweeh by any of the great scholars in the history of Islam.
– In the history of Islam for 1400 years, there was no disagreement among scholars about the sunniyat of 20 raka’at in Salat Al-Taraweeh.
– The assertion about the eight raka’at has begun by some in the last one hundred years only.