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IRSYAD AL-FATWA RAMADHAN EDITION SERIES 90: THE RULING OF PRAYING TARAWIH ALONE

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Question:

Assalamu‘alaikum SS Datuk Mufti. What is the ruling for someone to perform the tarawih prayer alone?

 

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam wbt,

Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

Tarawih prayer is an encouraged sunnah prayer. There are great rewards for anyone who performs the tarawih prayer as narrated by Abu Hurairah RA, where he said, the Prophet PBUH said:

‎مَنْ قَامَ رَمَضَانَ إِيمَانًا وَاحْتِسَابًا غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ

“Whoever prays during the night in Ramadan out of sincere faith and seeking its reward from Allah, will have all of his previous sins forgiven.”

Sahih al-Bukhari (37)

The above hadith is clear in stating that qiyam in Ramadhan includes tarawih prayer, reciting the Quran, dhikr (remembrance of Allah SWT) and supplication (du’a) and other types of worship on the night of Ramadhan, if it is done due to sincere belief of obeying the sanctioning of Allah SWT and to seek the rewards from Allah SWT, surely, he will be forgiven for all his previous sins.

Imam al-Nawawi Rahimahullah in Syarah Al-Nawawi ‘Ala Muslim (6/377) states: “Qiyam in Ramadhan is tarawih prayer.

The sanctioning of tarawih prayer is stated in a hadith from Umm al-Mukminin Aisyah R.Anha, where she said:

 ‎أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم صَلَّى ذَاتَ لَيْلَةٍ فِي الْمَسْجِدِ فَصَلَّى بِصَلاَتِهِ نَاسٌ، ثُمَّ صَلَّى مِنَ الْقَابِلَةِ فَكَثُرَ النَّاسُ، ثُمَّ اجْتَمَعُوا مِنَ اللَّيْلَةِ الثَّالِثَةِ أَوِ الرَّابِعَةِ، فَلَمْ يَخْرُجْ إِلَيْهِمْ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم، فَلَمَّا أَصْبَحَ قَالَ ‏ "‏ قَدْ رَأَيْتُ الَّذِي صَنَعْتُمْ وَلَمْ يَمْنَعْنِي مِنَ الْخُرُوجِ إِلَيْكُمْ إِلاَّ أَنِّي خَشِيتُ أَنْ تُفْرَضَ عَلَيْكُمْ ‏"‏، وَذَلِكَ فِي رَمَضَانَ

“One night, Allah's Messenger () offered the prayer in the Mosque and the people followed him. The next night he also offered the prayer and too many people gathered. On the third and the fourth nights more people gathered, but Allah's Messenger () did not come out to them. In the morning he said, "I saw what you were doing and nothing but the fear that it (i.e. the prayer) might be enjoined on you, stopped me from coming to you." And that happened in the month of Ramadan.”

Sahih al-Bukhari (1129)

In the above hadith, on the first night of Ramadhan, the Prophet PBUH went to the mosque at night and perform the tarawih prayer. Then the people came and follow him in congregation. The same happened on the second night, the only difference was the number of people increased. On the following night, the Prophet PBUH did not went to the mosque while others are waiting for him. As soon as the Subuh prayer came, the Prophet PBUH addresses why he did not go to the mosque as stated in the above hadith.

Syeikh Syams al-Haq al-‘Azhim Abadi Rahimahullah commented on the above hadith stating: “The Prophet PBUH feared that the tarawih prayer will be made into an obligation. The reason is, qiyam in Ramadhan may be made into an obligation if it is performed continuously in congregation.” See ‘Aun Al-Ma’bud Syarah Sunan Abi Daud (4/180).

Regarding the issue of performing tarawih prayer alone, is it permissible? The following we include the opinions of scholars regarding this issue:

Al-Syeikh al-Buhuti Rahimahullah in his book Daqaiq Uli Al-Nuha (1/2245) said: “It is prioritized to perform the tarawih in a mosque compared to others, for the Prophet PBUH performed it in congregation for three consecutive days.” Narrated by Aisyah R.Anha, the Prophet PBUH said:

مَنْ قَامَ مَعَ الإِمَامِ حَتَّى يَنْصَرِفَ حُسِبَ لَهُ قِيَامُ لَيْلَةٍ

“If a man prays with the Imam until he leaves, that will be continued for him as if he spent the whole night in prayer.”

Sunan Ibn Majah (1327)

Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal Rahimahullah also holds the same opinion according to the above hadith. Imam Ahmad was once asked: “Which do you prefer, a man praying with others (in congregation) in Ramadhan or a man praying alone?” Thus, Imam Ahmad answered: “I like a man praying in congregation and prayed together with the imam until the end of witir.” The Prophet PBUH said: If a man prays with the Imam until he leaves, that will be continued for him as if he spent the whole night in prayer.” Imam Ahmad then further adds: “He should perform the qiyam in congregation and pray witir together with the imam until everything is complete.” Abu Daud said: “I observe Imam Ahmad Rahimahullah, he would perform his witir in Ramadhan together with the imam except on nights that I did not attend the congregation.” See Tuhfah Al-Ahwaazi, Al-Mubarakfuri (3/448).

Imam al-NAwawi Rahimahullah in Syarah Al-Nawawi ‘Ala Muslim (6/377), discusses this issue stating: The scholars agreed that tarawih prayer is sunnah. Though they have differing opinions regarding which is prioritized; performing tarawih alone or in congregation in a mosque. Imam al-Nawawi divided the opinions as the following:

First opinion: Imam al-Syafi’e and most of Syafi’eyyah scholars, Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Ahmad, and some Malikiyyah scholars hold the opinion that it is prioritized to perform tarawih prayer in congregation as has been practised by Umar al-Khattab and the companions of the prophet PBUH R.Anhum. And their tradition continues (performing tarawih in congregation) to showcase the eminence of Islam, the same the Eid prayer.

Second opinion: Imam Malik, Abu Yusuf and some Syafi’eyyah scholars hold the opinion that it is prioritized to pray alone in one’s house. This is in accordance with the hadith of the Prophet PBUH:

فَإِنَّ أَفْضَلَ صَلاَةِ الْمَرْءِ فِي بَيْتِهِ، إِلاَّ الصَّلاَةَ الْمَكْتُوبَةَ

“For the best prayer of a person is that which he prays in his house except the compulsory prayers.”

Sahih al-Bukhari (7290)

Nonetheless, in Al-Majmu’, Imam al-Nawawi said: Tarawih prayer is sunnah according to the majority of the scholars. It is permissible to be performed alone or in congregation. However, which is prioritized among the two? There are two sound and strong opinion from the agreed consensus of Syafie’yyah scholars stating that performing tarawih prayer in a congregation is prioritized. Refer Al-Majmu’ Syarah Al-Muhazzab, Al-Nawawi (3/526).

Conclusion

After analysing the above scholars’ opinions, in our opinion performing the tarawih prayer alone is permissible but the prioritized and best way is to perform it in congregation. We would suggest the readers to read the following murajjihat (dispositions):

  • For those who attend the Isyak congregational prayers, it is prioritized for them to stay and continue with the congregation tarawih prayer.
  • Congregational tarawih prayer is a symbol of eminence of Islam, thus, it is similar to performing Eid prayer in congregation.
  • Whoever feels that his quality of tarawih prayer is better if he prays alone, then it is permissible for him to do so. If not, then congregational prayer is prioritized.
  • Performing congregational prayer will strengthen the bonds of brotherhood and understanding in society. Good relationship is built through praying together, conversing and exchanging news and thoughts together.
  • The commandment from Saidina Umar al-Khattab to his companions is enough to show that it is better compared to praying alone.

Lastly, we pray to Allah SWT to be bless with determination in worship and understanding in religion. Ameen.


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