All Praise is due to Allâh, we praise Him, we seek His Help and we seek His Forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allâh from the evil of our own souls and from our bad actions. Whomsoever Allâh guides, none can misguide him; and whomsoever Allâh allows to go astray, none can guide him. And I bear witness that there is nothing worthy of worship except Allâh, the Unique, without any partners, and I bear witness that Muhammad ( sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam) is his Servant and Messenger.
To stand in prayer during the nights of Ramadhân is referred to as Salât at-Tarâwîh (the Night Prayer). Linguistically, scholars have mentioned its meaning to be linked to the relaxing and enjoyable nature of this prayer, where traditionally the Muslims would pray in congregation with their Imâm for a certain portion of the night to listen to as much of the Qurân as possible, hoping for divine guidance and mercy therein, as Allâh azza wa jall says:
|So when the Qurân is recited, listen to it carefully, and be silent that you may receive mercy. (al-Arâf, 204)|
Others also mentioned that one can feel at ease ( istirâhah) from the fact that inshaAllâh the Tarâwîh prayers will lead to the forgiveness of ones previous sins as narrated in the Sahîh of Imâm al-Bukhâri ( rahimahullâh) that the Prophet ( sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam) said, Whoever stands the night (in prayer) of Ramadhân with Faith in Allâh and hope for the reward from Him, his previous sins will be forgiven. Therefore it is only obvious that we should naturally take immense care over such a great opportunity.
What follows are a few points related to the praying of the Tarâwîh prayers in order that everyone can enjoy their ibâdah based upon knowledge and certainty.
1. There are no fixed number of rakaât (units) of prayer during the Tarâwîh prayers, and therefore the ruling is open and accommodating of ones needs. So whoever likes to do so can pray twenty rakaât, or ten, or eight, not including the odd number of rakaât performed for the Witr prayer. All this is permissible, narrated from the Salaf and the Imâms of the four schools as well as other major scholars in the Islâmic history.
What is preferred though is to stick to what the Prophet ( sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam) used to always do, which is to pray eight rakaât, giving the taslîm (saying salâm i.e. finishing from the prayer) after every two rakaât. He would also pray three rakaât of the Witr prayer, and all of this would be performed full of attentiveness and humility, recited in a tartîl fashion (slow and methodically with a beautiful voice) and lengthening the units appropriately.
2. If one has some excuse that prevents them from joining the congregation with the Imâm for a few nights or a particular portion of a night (of praying with them), they will be rewarded for the amount they have prayed with the congregation. It is also possible for you to make up what you have missed individually later on in any part of the night, but one must still try as much as possible to not leave the congregation before the Imâm does, except for a legitimate excuse so that you can obtain the full reward of praying the entire night.
3. At certain occasions it is possible you may come to the mosque late and the congregation have already started the Tarâwîh prayers. It is permissible for you to pray your Ishâ prayers behind the Imâm according to many of the ulemâ, and this is the most correct opinion inshaAllâh, even with the fact that your intention will be different to the intention of the Imâm leading the congregation. No doubt though, one should not make a habit of this and try to get to the mosque early and in good time to take as much advantage as possible of the blessings available at these honoured times.
4. Regarding the popular duâ of khatam al-Qurân (the completion of the Qurân), there are no authentic narrations which make this to be within the prayer, rather it is known that the narrations concerning this from some of the Sahâbah and Imâm Ahmed ibn Hanbal ( rahimahullâh) refer to a duâ outside of the prayer. This has been mentioned by many of the contemporary scholars including Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd ( hafidhahullâh).
5. The Qunût (the Duâ in the last rakaah) is permissible in the last unit of the Witr prayer whether in the month of Ramadhân or outside of Ramadhân, and it is permissible to make this duâ before the rukû or after the rukû as has been narrated from the Imâms. Also, one does not have to persist in making the qunût all the time especially as many of the Fuqahâ considered the duâ of Qunût to only be valid during the last half of the month of Ramadhân.
It is appropriate to mention here a few points about this duâ due to the many mistakes people make in it, and what is authentically related about it. 
The Duâ of al-Qunût
(a) It is totally against the Sunnah to sing this duâ as we find many Imâms doing these days. Others utilise methods such as to vocalize the supplications in a chanting form, or exaggerating in making it rhyme, sometimes using different voices, crying, screaming etc. Many forget that although all the above might sound sincere and emotional, duâ is an act of worship which must be performed like any other act of ibâdah i.e. as narrated by the Prophet ( sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam) and his blessed companions ( radhy Allâhu anhum), and many of the previous and contemporary scholars have rebuked such innovations in this duâ as a serious mistake.
(b) Using supplications that have no basis either because they have been narrated via fabricated chains, or more importantly because their meanings contradict the Islâmic belief, is something which must be avoided. Sometimes, we find some Imâms going to immense measures to memorise such strange duâs and not paying attention to those supplications which have been narrated authentically.
(c) Using the method of sajâah (rhyming prose) in the duâ which is to try and make every line rhyme with the previous one by maintaining the same last letter or word throughout is something which is wrong and must be avoided. Many examples are present these days such as:
| Allâhumma-Arhamnâ fawq al-Ardh, warhamnâ tahta al-Ardh, warhamnâ yawm al-Ardh.
O Allâh, have mercy on us above the Earth, and have mercy upon us underneath the Earth, and have mercy upon us the day the Earth will be taken away.
In all cases, these supplications have been manufactured over hours and hours, instead of relying on that related from the Prophet ( sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam). It is important to note that one will find many authentic supplications from the Prophet ( sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam) that might rhyme, but this is not the same as intentionally making up ones own duâ. The Prophetic duâ have a clear absence of exaggeration, and much more a natural manner to their style.
(d) Elongating the Qunût causing difficulties for those following behind is something which is wrong and blameworthy, causing many to become very tired, and even cause people to become bored and to switch off, leading to people even disliking this beautiful part of the religion, which is obviously an immense danger.
This is why the Prophet ( sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam) said to Muâdh (radhy Allâhu anhu) when he elongated the obligatory prayer whilst he was the Imâm Are you putting the people to trial O Muâdh!?,so what then of people who elongate this kind of duâ for over half an hour!
(e) If one does want to increase upon an authentic duâ, he must:
- only use words which are relevant to the same topic and duâ
- the words are to be generally found in the Qurân and Sunnah
- that the extra is to come AFTER the duâ narrated by Ali (see below) or BEFORE the duâ of Umar narrated by Hasan ibn Ali ( radhy Allâhu anil jamî)
- that any extra words are not taken as legislated themselves and used all the time
- that they are not used to elongate the duâ so as to make things difficult on those following the prayer behind you
(f) The authentic narrations for the Qunût are generally quite short, but one can add to them as he sees fit from what is authentically narrated from the Prophet ( sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam) or his companions, or indeed use verses of supplication from the Book of Allâh. Care should also be taken to turn these supplications into the plural for it is not permissible to make a duâ for yourself only whilst leading a congregation. Some examples are given below of authentic duâ, firstly that narrated by Ali from the Prophet ( sallallâhu alayhi wa sallam) and secondly the duâ of Umar (which have been turned into the plural for congregational use):
| Allâhummah-Ihdinâ fî man hadayt, wa Âfinâ fî man Âfayt, wa tawallanâ fî man tawallayt, wa Bârik lanâ fî mâ Aatayt, wa qinâ sharra mâ qadayt, fa innaka taqdhî wa lâ yoqdhâ alayk, wa inna hu lâ yadhillû man wâlayt, wa lâ yaizzû man Âdayt, tabârakta rabbanâ wa taâlayt.
O Allâh guide us along with those whom You have guided, and pardon us along with those whom You have pardoned, and be our Supporter along with those whom You have supported, and place blessings for us in what You have given us. Protect us from the evil that You have decreed, for verily You decree and none can decree against You. Certainly, whomsoever You support and be an Ally to is never humiliated, and whomsoever takes You as an enemy is never honoured, O our Lord, Blessed and Exalted indeed are You. 
Allâhumma Innâ Naudhubika bi Ridhâka min Sakhatik, wa bi Muâfâtika min Uqûbatik, wa bika mink, Lâ nuhsî thanâan alayk, anta kamâ athnayta alâ nafsik.
O Allâh I seek refuge within Your pleasure from Your displeasure, and within Your pardon from Your punishment, and with You from You (i.e. Your anger), We cannot enumerate your praise, You are as You have praised Yourself.[ 3]
(g) As for the use of verses of Qurân in the duâ, then that is good and recommended. Some excellent examples of that are the following verses:
(Âle-Imrân, 16), (al-Muminûn, 109), (Âle-Imrân, 147), (al-Kahf, 10), (al-Hashr, 10), (al-Mumtahinah, 4-5), (Âle-Imrân, 8), (al-Baqarah, 201), and (al-Baqarah, 286).
1. Taken from the excellent book Duâ al-Qunût of the Shaykh al-Allâmah Bakr Abu Zayd (hafidhahullâh)
2. Hadîth sahîh narrated by all the Imâms of the Sunan on the authority of Ali (radhy Allâhu anhu), and authenticated by al-Albâni in al-Irwâ.
3. This is the duâ of Umar (radhy Allâhu anhu) on the authority of Hasan ibn Ali and it is authentically narrated bby al-Bayhaqi.
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