Salatul Witr – According to the sunnah
According to this Hadith the Prophet ( صلى الله عليه وسلم ) said:
لا توتروا بثلاث تشبهوا المغرب
“Do not pray Witr with three rak’ahs that resemble Maghrib.”
The hadeeth narrated by al-Haakim (1/304), al-Bayhaqi (3/31) and al-Daaraqutni (p. 172), and which was classed as saheeh by al-Haakim according to the conditions of al-Bukhaari and Muslim.
What he (صلى الله عليه وسلم ) meant, as the scholars have explained, was that we should not sit to recite the first Tashahhud in a manner that resembles Maghrib.
See Fath al-Baari by Ibn Hajar, 4/301.
al-Haafiz said: Its isnaad is saheeh according to the conditions of al-Bukhaari and Muslim. See also ‘Awn al-Ma’bood , commentary on hadeeth no. 1423; Salaat al-Taraaweeh by al-Albaani, p. 97.
Raising the hands for Takbeer before reciting Du’aa’ al-Qunoot makes no difference in fact, because there are four places in which the hands should be raised during prayer:
1 – When saying Takbeer al-ihraam (takbeer for starting the prayer)
2 – When bowing in rukoo’
3 – When standing up from rukoo’
4 – When standing up after the first tashahhud
It is not prescribed for the worshipper to raise his hands at any point other than these four.
See Fataawa Arkaan al-Islam by Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him), p. 312
there is a narration reported in daraqutni where the prophet supposed to have said “pray witr like maghrib” after that narration imam daraqutni said that ” its is narrated via Aamaash who is daief”…… so according to the collector the narration is weak and cannot be acted upon, while there is authentic narration prohibiting it….
What is the best way of offering Witr prayer?.
Praise be to Allaah.
Witr prayer is one of the greatest acts of worship that draw one closer to Allaah. Some of the scholars – the Hanafis – even thought that it is one of the obligatory prayers, but the correct view is that it is one of the confirmed Sunnahs (Sunnah mu’akkadah) which the Muslim should observe regularly and not neglect.
Imam Ahmad (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
من ترك الوتر فهو رجل سوء لا ينبغي أن تقبل له شهادة
Whoever neglects Witr is a bad man whose testimony should not be accepted. This indicates that Witr prayer is something that is confirmed.
We may sum up the manner of offering Witr prayer as follows:
It starts when a person has prayed ‘Isha’, even if it is joined to Maghrib at the time of Maghrib, and lasts until dawn begins, because the Prophet ( صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ) said:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ أَمَدَّكُمْ بِصَلاةٍ وهي الْوِتْرُ جَعَلَهُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ فِيمَا بَيْنَ صَلاةِ الْعِشَاءِ
إِلَى أَنْ يَطْلُعَ الْفَجْرُ
“Allaah has prescribed for you a prayer (by which He may increase your reward), which is Witr; Allaah has enjoined it for you during the time between ‘Isha’ prayer until dawn begins.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 425; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.
Is it better to offer this prayer at the beginning of its time or to delay it?
The Sunnah indicates that if a person thinks he will be able to get up at the end of the night, it is better to delay it, because prayer at the end of the night is better and is witnessed (by the angels).
But whoever fears that he will not get up at the end of the night should pray Witr before he goes to sleep, because of the hadeeth of Jaabir (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said: The Messenger of Allaah ( صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ) said:
مَنْ خَافَ أَنْ لا يَقُومَ مِنْ آخِرِ اللَّيْلِ فَلْيُوتِرْ أَوَّلَهُ وَمَنْ طَمِعَ أَنْ يَقُومَ آخِرَهُ فَلْيُوتِرْ آخِرَ اللَّيْلِ فَإِنَّ صَلاةَ آخِرِ اللَّيْلِ مَشْهُودَةٌ وَذَلِكَ أَفْضَلُ
“Whoever fears that he will not get up at the end of the night, let him pray Witr at the beginning of the night, but whoever thinks that he will be able to get up at the end of the night, let him pray Witr at the end of the night, for prayer at the end of the night is witnessed (by the angels) and that is better.” Narrated by Muslim, 755.
Al-Nawawi said: This is the correct view. Other ahaadeeth which speak of this topic in general terms are to be interpreted in the light of this sound, specific and clear report, such as the hadeeth,
أوصاني خليلي أن لا أنام إلا على وتر
“My close friend advised me not to sleep without having prayed Witr .” This is to be understood as referring to one who is not sure that he will be able to wake up (to pray Witr at the end of the night). Sharh Muslim, 3/277.
The number of rak’ahs:
The minimum number of rak’ahs for Witr is one rak’ah, because the Prophet ( صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ) said:
الْوِتْرُ رَكْعَةٌ مِنْ آخِرِ اللَّيْلِ
“Witr is one rak’ah at the end of the night.” Narrated by Muslim, 752.
And he ( صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ) said:
صَلاةُ اللَّيْلِ مَثْنَى مَثْنَى فَإِذَا خَشِيَ أَحَدُكُمْ الصُّبْحَ صَلَّى رَكْعَةً وَاحِدَةً تُوتِرُ لَهُ مَا قَدْ صَلَّى
“The night prayers are two (rak’ahs) by two, but if one of you fears that dawn is about to break, let him pray one rak’ah to make what he has prayed odd-numbered.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 911; Muslim, 749.
If a person limits himself to praying one rak’ah, then he has performed the Sunnah. But Witr may also be three or five or seven or nine.
If a person prays three rak’ahs of Witr this may be done in two ways, both of which are prescribed in sharee’ah:
1 – To pray them one after another, with one tashahhud , because of the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) who said:
كان النبي صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ لا يسلّم في ركعتي الوتر
The Prophet ( صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ) used not to say the tasleem in the (first) two rakahs of Witr.
According to another version:
كان يوتر بثلاث لا يقعد إلا في آخرهن
“He used to pray Witr with three rak’ahs and he did not sit except in the last of them.” Narrated by al-Nasaa’i, 3/234; al-Bayhaqi, 3/31. al-Nawawi said in al-Majmoo’ (4/7): it was narrated by al-Nasaa’i with a hasan isnaad, and by al-Bayhaqi with a saheeh isnaad.
2 – Saying the tasleem after two rak’ahs, then praying one rak’ah on its own, because of the report narrated from Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him), that he used to separate the two rak’ahs from the single rak’ah with a tasleem, and he said that the Prophet ( صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ) used to do that. Narrated by Ibn Hibbaan (2435); Ibn Hajar said in al-Fath (2/482): its isnaad is qawiy (strong).
But if he prays Witr with five or seven rak’ahs , then they should be continuous, and he should only recite one tashahhud in the last of them and say the tasleem, because of the report narrated by ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) who said:
كان رسول الله صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يصلي من الليل ثلاث عشرة ركعة يوتر
من ذلك بخمس لا يجلس في شيء إلا في آخرها
The Messenger of Allaah ( صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ) used to pray thirteen rak’ahs at night, praying five rak’ahs of Witr, in which he would not sit except in the last rak’ah. Narrated by Muslim, 737.
And it was narrated that Umm Salamah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said:
كان النبي صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يوتر بخمس وبسبع ولا يفصل بينهن بسلام ولا كلام
The Prophet ( صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ) used to pray Witr with five or seven (rak’ahs) and he did not separate between them with any salaam or words. Narrated by Ahmad, 6/290; al-Nasaa’i, 1714. al-Nawawi said: Its isnaad is jayyid. Al-Fath al-Rabbaani, 2/297. and it was classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Nasaa’i.
If he prays Witr with nine rak’ahs , then they should be continuous and he should sit to recite the tashahhud in the eighth rak’ah, then stand up and not say the tasleem, then he should recite the tashahhud in the ninth rak’ah and then say the tasleem.
It was narrated in Muslim (746) from ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) that the Prophet ( صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ) used to pray nine rak’ahs in which he did not sit except in the eighth, when he would remember Allaah, praise Him and call upon Him, then he would get up and not say the tasleem, and he would stand up and pray the ninth (rak’ah), then he would sit and remember Allaah and praise Him and call upon Him, then he would say a tasleem that we could hear.
If he prayed Witr with eleven rak’ahs , he would say the tasleem after each two rak’ahs, then pray one rak’ah at the end.
The less perfect way of praying Witr and what is to be recited therein:
The less perfect way in Witr is to pray two rak’ahs and say the tasleem, then to pray one rak’ah and say the tasleem.
It is permissible to say one tasleem, but one should say one tashahhud not two , as stated above.
In the first rak’ah one should recite Sabbih isma rabbika al-‘a’la (“Glorify the name of your Lord, the Most High” – Soorat al-A’la 87).
In the second one should recite Soorat al-Kaafiroon (109), and in the third Soorat al-Ikhlaas (112).
Al-Nasaa’i (1729) narrated that Ubayy ibn Ka’b said: The Messenger of Allaah ( صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ) used to recite in Witr Sabbih isma rabbika al-‘a’la (“Glorify the name of your Lord, the Most High” – Soorat al-A’la 87), Qul yaa ayyuha’l-kaafiroon (“Say: O disbeliever…” – Soorat al-Kaafiroon 109) and Qul Huwa Allaahu ahad (“Say: He is Allaah, the One” – Soorat al-Ikhlaas 112). Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Nasaa’i .
All these ways of offering Witr prayer have been mentioned in the Sunnah. And Allaah knows best.
Teraweeh, Qiyam, Tahajjud… are one and the same salah
Bismillahir rahmanir raheem
As it relates to the night prayers which is the nafl, voluntary Salah prayed after Esha, even though it is the same Salah, it is known mainly with three terminologies, Qiyam (standing), Tahajjud(last third of the night) and Teraweeh (resting after four rakat).
It is highly recommended that we observe it in the last third of the night, when Allah decends to the lowest heaven in a manner that befits Him and asks, who is awake repenting, seeking forgiveness, asking etc.
In Ramadhan the night salah is prayed in the earlier part of the night, it is brought forward and prayed straight after the Esha Salah for the benefit of the general masses as many or most may not be able to pray in the last third of the night. Rasool sallallahu alaihi wa sallam prayed with the Sahabah in Jama’ah for only three nights and stopped, fearing that Allah will make it obligatory for every night of Ramadhan for the Ummah and the Ummah will not be able to handle it. He carried on praying individually in his home.
If one prays the night prayer out of faith and hoping for Allahs reward, all his sins will be forgiven.
The great Scholars; Imam al-Bukhaari (2008) and Imam Muslim (174) collected a hadeeth from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam said: “Whoever spends the nights of Ramadaan in prayer out of faith and in the hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.”
As for the number of Rakat, then Rasool sallallahu alaihi wa sallam prayed eight rakat with three witr (different from Maghrib) in Ramadhan and outside of Ramadhan as reported by his wife and Ummul Mu’mineen, Aisha radhiAllahu anha.
Narrated Abu Salama ibn Abdur Rahman that he asked Aisha (Allah be pleased with her), “How was the prayer of Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) in Ramadan?” She replied, “He did not pray more than eleven raka’at in Ramadan or in any other month. He used to pray four raka’at – let alone their beauty and length – and then he would pray four – let alone their beauty and length – and then he would pray three rak’aat (witr).” She added, “I asked, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Do you sleep before praying the witr?’ He replied, ‘O Aisha, My eyes sleep but my heart does not sleep.'” (Bukhari, 3/230, English edn)
But it is not compulsory for everyone to pray eleven. Even though that was his sallallahu alaihi wa sallams practise. As for saying the Sunnah is to pray 20 rakat (by Hanafis, Hanbalis and Shafi’s) or 36 rakat (by Malikis) then this is not correct as it has not been authentically reported.
So, we are required to follow the Sunnah and as this is a recommended Sunnah, then we have the discression to pray less or more tham 8.
As he sallallahu alaihi wa sallam said to pray the night prayer two by two and pray the witr when we see the dawn approaching.
Also He ( صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ) said:
صَلاةُ اللَّيْلِ مَثْنَى مَثْنَى فَإِذَا خَشِيَ أَحَدُكُمْ الصُّبْحَ صَلَّى رَكْعَةً وَاحِدَةً تُوتِرُ لَهُ مَا قَدْ صَلَّى
“The night prayers are two (rak’ahs) by two, but if one of you fears that dawn is about to break (approach), let him pray one rak’ah to make what he has prayed odd-numbered.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 911; Muslim, 749.
So on this issue there is a flexibility, one can pray more or less than eight rakat, but it is better to adhere to eight, as the best guidance, is the guidance of Rasool sallallahu alaihi wa sallam it is easier on the mind and body. And is a means of unity amongst Muslims to resolve their difference on this particular issue and any other issue. One should also make a note of the number of Rakat their local masjid or the masjid they will be attending are praying and whether they pray three rakat witr different from Maghrib salah.
Whoever prays qiyaam in Ramadaan with the imam until he finishes, it will be recorded for him that he spent the whole night in prayer, because of the report narrated by Abu Dawood (1370) and others from the hadeeth of Abu Dharr (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever prays qiyaam with the imam until he finishes, it will be recorded for him that he spent the whole night in prayer.” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Salaat al-Taraaweeh, p. 15
We should stay for the whole duration of the night prayer, from the beginning to the end, whether the salah is lead by one Imam or five or more Imams. As one will get the whole nights reward of standing in salah from the beginning to the end. But bearing in mind the three rakat witr salah being prayed similar to Maghrib.