Monthly Archives: April 2013
Praying at Night in Ramadaan (Taraweeh)
Volume 3, Book 32, Number 226:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
I heard Allah’s Apostle saying regarding Ramadan, “Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.”
Volume 3, Book 32, Number 227:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah’s Apostle said, “Whoever prayed at night the whole month of Ramadan out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.” Ibn Shihab (a sub-narrator) said, “Allah’s Apostle died and the people continued observing that (i.e. Nawafil offered individually, not in congregation), and it remained as it was during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr and in the early days of ‘Umar’s Caliphate.” ‘Abdur Rahman bin ‘Abdul Qari said, “I went out in the company of ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab one night in Ramadan to the mosque and found the people praying in different groups. A man praying alone or a man praying with a little group behind him. So, ‘Umar said, ‘In my opinion I would better collect these (people) under the leadership of one Qari (Reciter) (i.e. let them pray in congregation!)’. So, he made up his mind to congregate them behind Ubai bin Ka’b. Then on another night I went again in his company and the people were praying behind their reciter. On that, ‘Umar remarked, ‘What an excellent Bid’a (i.e. innovation in religion) this is; but the prayer which they do not perform, but sleep at its time is better than the one they are offering.’ He meant the prayer in the last part of the night. (In those days) people used to pray in the early part of the night.”
Volume 3, Book 32, Number 228:
(the wife of the Prophet) Allah’s Apostle used to pray (at night) in Ramadan.
Volume 3, Book 32, Number 229:
That he was informed by ‘Aisha, “Allah’s Apostle went out in the middle of the night and prayed in the mosque and some men prayed behind him. In the morning, the people spoke about it and then a large number of them gathered and prayed behind him (on the second night). In the next morning the people again talked about it and on the third night the mosque was full with a large number of people. Allah’s Apostle came out and the people prayed behind him. On the fourth night the Mosque was overwhelmed with people and could not accommodate them, but the Prophet came out (only) for the morning prayer. When the morning prayer was finished he recited Tashah-hud and (addressing the people) said, “Amma ba’du, your presence was not hidden from me but I was afraid lest the night prayer (Qiyam) should be enjoined on you and you might not be able to carry it on.” So, Allah’s Apostle died and the situation remained like that (i.e. people prayed individually). “
Volume 3, Book 32, Number 230:
Narrated Abu Salama bin ‘Abdur Rahman:
that he asked ‘Aisha “How was the prayer of Allah’s Apostle in Ramadan?” She replied, “He did not pray more than eleven Rakat in Ramadan or in any other month. He used to pray four Rakat —- let alone their beauty and length—-and then he would pray four —-let alone their beauty and length —-and then he would pray three Rakat (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.”
Volume 3, Book 32, Number 231:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, “Whoever fasted the month of Ramadan out of sincere Faith (i.e. belief) and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his past sins will be forgiven, and whoever stood for the prayers in the night of Qadr out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven .”
Volume 3, Book 32, Number 232:
Narrated Ibn ‘Umar:
Some men amongst the companions of the Prophet were shown in their dreams that the night of Qadr was in the last seven nights of Ramadan. Allah’s Apostle said, “It seems that all your dreams agree that (the Night of Qadr) is in the last seven nights, and whoever wants to search for it (i.e. the Night of Qadr) should search in the last seven (nights of Ramadan).”
Volume 3, Book 32, Number 233:
Narrated Abu Salama:
I asked Abu Sa’id, and he was a friend of mine, (about the Night of Qadr) and he said, “We practiced Itikaf (seclusion in the mosque) in the middle third of the month of Ramadan with the Prophet . In the morning of the 20th of Ramadan, the Prophet came and addressed us and said, ‘I was informed of (the date of the Night of Qadr) but I was caused to forget it; so search for it in the odd nights of the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan. (In the dream) I saw myself prostrating in mud and water (as a sign). So, whoever was in l’tikaf with me should return to it with me (for another 10-day’s period)’, and we returned. At that time there was no sign of clouds in the sky but suddenly a cloud came and it rained till rain-water started leaking through the roof of the mosque which was made of date-palm leaf stalks. Then the prayer was established and I saw Allah’s Apostle prostrating in mud and water and I saw the traces of mud on his forehead.”
Volume 3, Book 32, Number 234:
Allah’s Apostle said, “Search for the Night of Qadr in the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan.”
Volume 3, Book 32, Number 235:
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
Allah’s Apostle used to practice Itikaf (in the mosque) in the middle third of Ramadan and after passing the twenty nights he used to go back to his house on the 21st, and the people who were in Itikaf with him also used to go back to their houses. Once in Ramadan, in which he practiced Itikaf, he established the night prayers at the night in which he used to return home, and then he addressed the people and ordered them whatever Allah wished him to order and said, “I used to practice Itikaf for these ten days (i.e. the middle 113rd but now I intend to stay in Itikaf for the last ten days (of the month); so whoever was in Itikaf with me should stay at his place of seclusion. I have verily been shown (the date of) this Night (of Qadr) but I have forgotten it. So search for it in the odd nights of the last ten days (of this month). I also saw myself (in the dream) prostrating in mud and water.” On the night of the 21st, the sky was covered with clouds and it rained, and the rain-water started leaking through the roof of the mosque at the praying place of the Prophet . I saw with my own eyes the Prophet at the completion of the morning prayer leaving with his face covered with mud and water.
Volume 3, Book 32, Number 236:
The Prophet said, “Look for (the Night of Qadr).”
Volume 3, Book 32, Number 237:
Allah’s Apostle used to practice Itikaf in the last ten nights of Ramadan and used to say, “Look for the Night of Qadr in the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan ,”
Volume 3, Book 32, Number 238:
Narrated Ibn Abbas:
The Prophet said, “Look for the Night of Qadr in the last ten nights of Ramadan ,’ on the night when nine or seven or five nights remain out of the last ten nights of Ramadan (i.e. 21, 23, 25, respectively).”
Volume 3, Book 32, Number 239:
Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:
Allah’s Apostle said, “The Night of Qadr is in the last ten nights of the month (Ramadan), either on the first nine or in the last (remaining) seven nights (of Ramadan).” Ibn ‘Abbas added, “Search for it on the twenty-fourth (of Ramadan).”
Volume 3, Book 32, Number 240:
Narrated ‘Ubada bin As-Samit:
The Prophet came out to inform us about the Night of Qadr but two Muslims were quarreling with each other. So, the Prophet said, “I came out to inform you about the Night of Qadr but such-and-such persons were quarreling, so the news about it had been taken away; yet that might be for your own good, so search for it on the 29th, 27th and 25th (of Ramadan).
Volume 3, Book 32, Number 241:
With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Prophet used to tighten his waist belt (i.e. work hard) and used to pray all the night, and used to keep his family awake for the prayers.
Concerning the Number of Rak’aat of the Taraaweeh Prayer (Q&A) – Imaam Muhammad bin Saalih Al-‘Uthaimeen
Concerning the Number of Rak’aat of the Taraaweeh Prayer (Q&A)
Imaam Muhammad bin Saalih Al-‘Uthaimeen
From the recently released Al-Ibaanah Book publication “Lessons on Fasting, Taraaweeh & Zakaat + 48 Questions & Answers on Fasting”
Question: Is there a specific number (of rak’aat) for the Night Prayer or not?
Answer: There is no specific number (of rak’aat) that one is obligated to abide by when performing the Night Prayer. So if a person spends the whole night in prayer, there is no harm in this. And if he prays twenty rak’aat or fifty rak’aat, there is nothing wrong with this either. However, the best number (of rak’aat) to pray is that which the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used to do, which was either eleven or thirteen rak’aat. This is because when the Mother of the Believers, ‘Aa’ishah, was asked about how the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) would pray in Ramadaan, she replied:
“He would not exceed eleven rak’aat whether in Ramadaan or out of it.” 
However, these rak’aat must be done in the prescribed manner. One must prolong his recitation, bowing, prostrating, standing after bowing, and sitting between prostrations in it. This is contrary to what the people do today – they pray in a rush and prevent the followers from doing what they are required to do in prayer.
An Imaam is a position of leadership. And when someone is a leader, he must do what is best and most fitting (for the people). As for an Imaam not having any concern except to leave early, this is wrong. Rather, a person should do what the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used to do, such as prolonging his standing, bowing, prostrating and sitting in accordance to what is mentioned in the texts. He should also lengthen his supplication, recitation of the Qur’aan, glorification of Allaah and so on.
Question: If a person prays behind an Imaam that performs more than eleven rak’aat, should he follow the Imaam or separate from him after he completes eleven rak’aat?
Answer: The Sunnah is to follow the Imaam since if he leaves before the Imaam finishes praying, he will not achieve the reward of having prayed the entire night. The Messenger of Allaah said:
“Whoever prays with the Imaam until he finishes, it is recorded for him that he prayed the entire night.” 
The Prophet said this in order to encourage us to strive to remain with the Imaam until he finishes.
The Companions even followed their Imaam at a time when he went beyond the prescribed limit for a particular prayer. And that was when ‘Uthmaan bin ‘Affaan finished praying four rak’aat at Minaa during Hajj in spite of the fact that the Prophet, Abu Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthmaan (himself) – during the first part of his Khilaafah until eight years had passed – used to pray just two rak’aat.
So he prayed four rak’aat and the Companions criticized him for this even though they had followed him and prayed four rak’aat along with him.
Therefore, if this was the guidance of the Companions – which was striving to follow the Imaam until he finished – then what is wrong with some people who when they see the Imaam going beyond the number of rak’aat that the Prophet used to pray at night, i.e. eleven, they get up to leave in the middle of prayer? And we have even witnessed some people in Al-Masjid-ul-Haraam leaving before the Imaam finishes with the excuse that only eleven rak’aat are legislated in the Religion!
Question: What is the ruling on the Taraaweeh Prayer and what is the Sunnah with regard to its number of rak’aat?
Answer: The Taraaweeh Prayer is a Sunnah (recommended act) that the Messenger of Allaah prescribed for his ummah. He (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) led his Companions in prayer three nights then left it off for fear that it would be made obligatory on them. So the Muslims remained in this state (of not praying in congregation) afterward during the rule of Abu Bakr and the start of ‘Umar’s Khilaafah. After this, the Commander of the Believers, ‘Umar, gathered them under Tameem Ad-Daaree and Ubay bin Ka’ab. So thereafter they began to pray (Taraaweeh) in congregation up until this time of ours, all praise be to Allaah. It is recommended to do it in Ramadaan.
As for the number of rak’aat to be prayed in it, then it is either eleven or thirteen. This is the Sunnah with regard to the Night Prayer. However, if one goes beyond this number, there is no harm or wrong in this since there were numerous accounts reported on the Salaf (Predecessors) stating that they would vary in the number of rak’aat – either going over or below this number. And they would not rebuke one another for this. So whoever exceeds the prescribed number should not be rebuked. And whoever limits his prayer to the number mentioned in the texts, this is better.
The Sunnah indicates that there is no harm in exceeding the prescribed number since it has been reported in (Saheeh) Al-Bukhaaree and other Collections from the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Umar t that a man once asked the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) about the Night Prayer, so he responded:
“It is two (rak’aat) by two (rak’aat). Then if one of you fears that the morning (will come upon him), he should pray one (rak’ah), thus making odd (witr) what he prayed.” 
The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) did not define a specific number to which one can restrict his prayer. Regardless, what is important with regard to the Taraaweeh Prayer is that one must be submissive, attentive and at ease when bowing, prostrating and getting up from these two positions. And he should not do as some people do by rushing through the prayer in a hurried manner, which prevents those praying (behind him) from doing the recommended acts, not to mention the obligatory acts in prayer, simply because he desires to be the first one out of the masjid so that the large gatherings of people could notice him. This contradicts what is legislated in the Religion.
What is obligatory upon the Imaam is that he fears Allaah with regard to those praying behind him and not prolong the prayer to the point that it burdens his followers and is not in accordance with the Sunnah. He must also not shorten the prayer to the point that those behind him are not able to do what they are obligated or recommended to do while in prayer.
This is why some scholars have stated: “It is disliked for the Imaam to rush through the prayer in such a manner that prevents the one following from doing what is prescribed (in the prayer).”
So if this is the case, then what about those who rush through the prayer in such a manner that prevents the one following from doing what is obligatory (in the prayer)?! This type of rushing is prohibited for the Imaam. We ask Allaah to keep us and our brothers firm and safe.
Question: What is the ruling on combining all of the Taraaweeh Prayer or some of it with the Witr in one tasleem?
Answer: Doing such an act invalidates the prayer since the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“The Night Prayer is two (units) by two (units).”
So if he combines all of the rak’aat under one tasleem it will not be two by two. And by doing this he will have opposed the command of Allaah’s Messenger (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) when he said:
“Whoever does a deed that is not in accordance with our Command (i.e. Sunnah), it is rejected.” 
Imaam Ahmad, may Allaah have mercy on him, stated: “Whoever rises for the third rak’ah in the Night Prayer (i.e. without making tasleem), it is as if he has risen up to make a third rak’ah when praying Fajr.”
Meaning: If he continues to stand up after he remembers, his prayer becomes invalidated, as in the case of the Fajr Prayer. So based on this, if he gets up for the third rak’ah during the Night Prayer out of forgetfulness and then remembers, he should go back (to the sitting position) and make tashahhud. Then he should make the two prostrations of forgetfulness after the tasleem. If he does not do this, his prayer is invalid.
There is an issue I would like to discuss here, which is the understanding that some people derive from the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah when she was asked about how the Prophet would perform the Night Prayer during Ramadaan. She replied:
“He would not exceed eleven rak’aat (for the Night Prayer) whether in Ramadaan or out of it. He would pray four rak’aat, but do not ask about how fine or long they were. Then he would pray another four rak’aat, but do not ask about how fine or long they were. Then he would pray three rak’aat.”
Some people think that based on this, he (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) would pray the first four rak’aat with one tasleem, the second set of four rak’aat with one tasleem and the last three rak’aat with one tasleem.
However, even though this hadeeth may imply this meaning, it is also possible that it means that he (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) prayed four rak’aat with two tasleems then sat to rest and regain his energy. Then he prayed four more rak’aat in a similar manner (i.e. with two tasleems). This possible meaning, i.e. that he prayed two rak’aat by two rak’aat, seems more correct. However, he (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) would sit after the first four rak’aat to rest and recoup his energy. And likewise with the second set of four rak’aat, he (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) would pray them two by two, then sit (again).
What supports this conclusion is the Prophet’s (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) saying: “The Night Prayer is two by two.”
Therefore this conclusion combines both his (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) action as well as his (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) statement. Even though we can derive from the wording that the hadeeth possibly means he would pray these four rak’aat with one tasleem, it is outweighed by the hadeeth we mentioned above, which is that the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “The Night Prayer is two by two.”
If a person wishes to make Witr with three rak’aat, there are two ways of accomplishing this:
1. The first is that he makes the tasleem after the first two rak’aat then prays the third.
2. The second is that he prays all three together with just one tashahhud and one tasleem.
 Reported by Al-Bukhaaree (no. 1147) and Muslim (no. 1670)
 Reported by Abu Dawood (no. 1375) and At-Tirmidhee (no. 1806) and authenticated by Al-Albaanee.
 Reported by Al-Bukhaaree (no. 990) and Muslim (no. 1695)
 Reported by Muslim (no. 4514)
Published on: September 22, 2006
Concerning the Number of Rak’ahs in Taraaweeh
[ In the Name of Allaah, the All-Merciful… After mentioning the Sunnah of praying 11 and 13 rak’ahs for Taraaweeh, and that it is best, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih Al-‘Uthaymeen then said: ]
However, if the people of the masjid prefer that he (the imaam) shortens the length of the recitation and the length of the bowings and prostrations, and increases the number of rak’ahs, saying: “Verily this is easier on us,” then there is no harm if he agrees with them, due to the generality of the statement of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam):
“Make things easy and do not make things difficult.” 
And also due to the generality of his statement (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam):
“When one of you leads the people (in prayer), then let him shorten (the length of the prayer).” 
So long as we do not fall into anything prohibited, then bringing ease to those under our authority is better and takes precedence. The imaam is the one responsible for the masjid, having been put in authority over the praying people, thus he is called the “imaam.” The imaam is the one who has authority over them in affairs related to the prayer, for example he orders them to establish their rows and straighten them. So if the imaam is requested to be easy on them by increasing the number (of rak’ahs) while shortening the bowings, prostrations, and recitations, then there is no harm in that.
With this we must say that it is not befitting for us that we be excessive or neglectful, as some of the people commit ghuluw (excessiveness) when they stick to the Sunnah of the number (of rak’ahs), saying, “It is not permissible to increase upon the number that comes in the Sunnah,” and they speak in the sternest way against someone who increases upon that (by praying more than 11 or 13 rak’ahs), saying that he is sinful and disobedient. And there is no doubt that this is a mistake. How could he be sinful or disobedient when the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) was asked about the night prayer, and he said:
“(It is) two (rak’ahs) by two (rak’ahs).” 
And he did not limit it to any set number. And it is well known that a person who asks about the night prayer does not know the number (of its rak’ahs), since the one who does not know how to pray the night prayer would more rightfully not know the number (of its rak’ahs). Furthermore, he (the questioner) was not from the servants of the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam), so we can not say that he knew about the affairs within his house.
So since the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) told him about the manner that the night prayer is to be prayed, and he did not limit it to any set number, then it is known that there is leeway in the affair, and that a man may even pray 100 rak’ahs and then perform Witr with one rak’ah.
As for his statement (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam):
“Pray as you have seen me praying.” 
Then this hadeeth is not unrestricted, even with those people (who say that 11 or 13 is the limit). Thus, they themselves do not say that it is obligatory on the people to perform Witr by praying five rak’ahs sometimes, seven rak’ahs other times, and sometimes nine. So if we understood this hadeeth in a general, unrestricted way, then we would have to say that it is obligatory to perform Witr by praying exactly five rak’ahs sometimes, seven other times, and sometimes nine. Rather, the meaning is, “Pray in the manner as you have seen me praying.” As for the number of rak’ahs, then no (this is not understood from the hadeeth), except that which is limited by a text.
Anyway, a man must not be harsh on the people in an affair that has some leeway. We have even seen some of the brothers who are harsh about this declaring some imaams to be innovators, those who increase upon 11 (rak’ahs), and they leave the masjid, thus losing the reward that the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) spoke of:
“Whoever stands (in prayer) with the imaam until he leaves, then it will be written for him that he stood a (complete) night (in prayer).” 
And perhaps they may sit out after having prayed ten rak’ahs, thus causing a gap in the row by sitting there. And perhaps they may even speak (while sitting out) sometimes, thus disturbing those who are praying. All of these (scenarios) are wrong. We have no doubt that they intend good, and that they were mujtahids (seeking to arrive at what is correct), however not every mujtahid is correct.
Another group of people take the opposite stance. They speak very harshly and sternly against those who restrict themselves to 11 rak’ahs, saying, “You have gone against ijmaa’ (scholarly concensus) and verily Allaah has said:
“And whoever contradicts the Messenger after the guidance has been made clear to him, and he follows a way other than the way of the believers, then We will turn him to that which he has turned himself to, and cause him to enter Jahannam, what an evil abode!” 
“All of those before you did not know anything other than 23 rak’ahs!” And they speak very harshly against them. This is also wrong…rticle was taken from BAKKAHnet (www.bakkah.net)
 Al-Bukhaaree (69) and Muslim (4503)
 Al-Bukhaaree (703) and Muslim (1046)
 Al-Bukhaaree (473) and Muslim (1746)
 Al-Bukhaaree (631)
 Sunan An-Nasaa’ee (1605) and Sunan At-Tirmithee (806); Al-Albaanee called it saheeh.
 the meaning of Soorah An-Nisaa’ (4):115
 As-Sharh Al-Mumti’, 4/52-54
TEST YOUR UNDERSTANDING
Does the hadeeth, “Pray as you have seen me praying,” indicate that it is not permissible to pray more than 13 rak’ahs for Taraaweeh since the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) never did so? Why or why not?
Does a person get the reward mentioned in the hadeeth, “Whoever stands (in prayer) with the imaam until he leaves, then it will be written for him that he stood a (complete) night (in prayer),” if he only prays some of the Taraaweeh Prayer with the imaam? Why or why not?
[ In the Name of Allaah, the All-Merciful… Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih Al-‘Uthaymeen also said, after affirming that the Sunnah is to pray 11 rak’ahs in another place in the same book: ]
So then what if someone says, “You have established that 11 rak’ahs (is the Sunnah), so then what do you say if we pray behind an imaam who prays 23 or more, should we remain seated and not pray with him when he stands for the sixth tasleem (after 10 rak’ahs), or is it better to finish with him?”
The answer: It is best to complete (the prayer) with him, and the evidence for this is from two angles:
The first one is the statement of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) about the night prayers of Ramadhaan:
“Verily whoever stands (in prayer) with the imaam until he leaves, then it will be written for him that he stood a (complete) night (in prayer).” 
So whoever remained seated and waited for the imaam to reach the Witr Prayer, then he has not prayed with the imaam until he has left, since he has left off a portion of his prayer.
The second angle of proof is the generality of the statement of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam):
“Verily the imaam has only been appointed to be followed.” 
This includes every action the imaam does, so long as it is not a forbidden one, and increasing upon 11 (rak’ahs) is not forbidden, so then we follow the imaam. However, if the increase is forbidden, like if the imaam prays five rak’ahs for Thuhr Prayer, then we do not follow him.
Furthermore, we must know that the unity of the Ummah is something sought after with the highest priority from the Islaamic Sharee’ah, since Allaah has said:
“And this is your Ummah, a single Ummah.” 
And differing between members of the Ummah is something to be rejected, as Allaah the Most High has said:
“And do not be like those who split up and differed after the clear proofs came to them.” 
And Allaah the Most High has said:
“Allaah has legislated as part of the Religion that which he enjoined upon Nooh, that which We sent down to you, and what he enjoined upon Ibraaheem, Moosaa, and ‘Eesaa: That you establish the Religion and do not be divided over it.” 
And He, the Most High, has said:
“Verily those who split up their Religion and became sects, then you have absolutely nothing to do with them. Rather your affair is solely with Allaah, and He will inform them of what they used to do.” 
And the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) used to say when lining the people up for prayer:
“Do not differ, or your hearts will differ.” 
And when ‘Uthmaan (may Allaah be pleased with him) prayed the prayers that have four rak’ahs during Hajj in Minaa, he did not shorten them after eight years of his khilaafah had passed. The people detested this, saying, “The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) shortened (his prayer), and so did Aboo Bakr and ‘Umar, as you did in the beginning of your khilaafah.” However, he (may Allaah be pleased with him) changed his position, and those Companions that spoke against this action of his still prayed four rak’ahs behind him, while detesting it. This was while this increase was inseparable from the prayer, and it was an evil thing to them, however they still followed the imaam, preferring unity.
So what do you think about when the increase is separate, not directly connected to the prayer, and when a person does it intentionally it does not nullify the prayer? And he (the one who does not pray more than 11 or 13 rak’ahs with the imaam) says, “We are people who stick to the Sunnah and follow the narrations from the Companions,” with this contradiction of his in this issue.
So I say: Surely any person that says he follows the Sunnah and the guidance of the Salaf, it is not for him to abandon the imaam when he prays 23 (rak’ahs) and say, “I will follow the Sunnah and pray 11 rak’ahs,” since you have been ordered to follow your imaam, and you have been prohibited from contradicting (him). Furthermore, you have not been prohibited from increasing upon 11 rak’ahs.
So then it is binding upon the students of knowledge specifically, and upon all people in general, to be vigilant in preserving unity whenever it is possible, since the only hope for the people of disobedience and the criminals is that the people of goodness differ. This is because they have no weapon more effective than differing, and verily Moosaa said to the magicians:
“Woe to you, do not invent lies against Allaah, lest he wipe you out with a (single) punishment, for those who lie will suffer loss. Then they differed over their affair between themselves.” 
Once they differed, they failed and lost their strength.
So this differing that we find with some of our brothers who are (overly) stern in following the Sunnah in this issue and others, I view it as a contradiction to the Sunnah and to the goals of the Sharee’ah, like the unifying of the positions and the unity of the people, since this, and for Allaah is the praise, is not something that is haraam nor is it a munkar, rather it is something that is based upon ijtihaad. So as for us bringing about division and causing the hearts to have animosity, hatred, and mockery for the one who opposes our position, while it is permissible and not in opposition to the Sunnah, then it is obligatory on every man to protect and guard over the unity of the ranks whenever possible. 
 Al-Bukhaaree (732) and Muslim (920)
 the meaning of Soorah Al-Ambiyaa’ (21):92
 the meaning of Soorah Aali ‘Imraan (3):105
 the meaning of Soorah Ash-Shooraa (42):13
 the meaning of Soorah Al-An’aam (6):159
 Muslim (971)
 the meaning of Soorah Taa-Haa (20):61-62
 Ash-Sharh Al-Mumti’, 4/61-63
TEST YOUR UNDERSTANDING
What are some Verses from the Qur’aan that show the importance of the unity of the Muslims?
What are the two hadeeths used by Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen to say that a person should complete the Taraaweeh with his imaam if he prays 23 rak’ahs?
‘Uthmaan (may Allaah be pleased with him) did not shorten his prayers in Minaa while performing Hajj, and the Companions who did not agree with this still prayed behind him. What is the relationship between this and the Taraaweeh Prayer?
The Way to Perform the Night Prayer
Author:Imaam Muhammad Naasir-ud-Deen Al-Albaanee
I spoke in detail about this subject in my book Salaat at-Taraaweeh (pg. 101-115), so I felt that I should abridge that discussion here in order to make it easy for the reader and to remind him:
The First Manner: consists of thirteen rak’aat, which is commenced with two short rak’aat. According to the most correct opinion, these are the two rak’aat of Sunnah prayer offered after ‘Ishaa, or they are two specific rak’aat by which one begins the Night Prayer, as has been stated previously. Then one prays two very long rak’aat (after that). Then two more rak’aat are prayed, and then another two rak’aat are prayed. Then two more rak’aat are prayed and another set of two rak’aat are prayed. Then witr is made with one rak’ah.
The Second Manner: consists of thirteen rak’aat. There are eight rak’aat within them, in which one makes tasleem after every two rak’aat. Then witr is made with five rak’aat and one does not sit nor make the tasleem except in the fifth rak’ah.
The Third Manner: consists of eleven rak’aat, in which one makes tasleem after every two rak’aat and then prays witr at the end with one rak’ah.
The Fourth Manner: consists of eleven rak’aat, in which one prays four rak’aat and makes one tasleem after the four. The he prays another four in a similar manner and ends it with three rak’aat (for witr).
Would the Prophet (saws) remain in the sitting position after every two rak’aat, when praying a unit of four rak’aat or a unit of three rak’aat? We do not find a clear answer for this, but remaining in the sitting position (for tashahhud) while doing a unit of three rak’aat is not legislated (in the Religion)!
The Fifth Manner: consists of eleven rak’aat, in which one prays eight rak’aat and does not sit in any of them except for the eighth rak’ah. While sitting (in the eighth rak’ah), he makes the tashahhud and sends Salaat on the Prophet (saws) and then stands up again without making the tasleem. Then he makes witr with one rak’ah and when finished, he makes the tasleem. This consists of nine rak’aat. Then he prays two rak’aat after that while in the sitting position.
The Sixth Manner: One prays nine rak’aat, in which he does not sit except after the sixth rak’ah. Then he makes the tashahhud and sends Salaat on the Prophet (saws) and then stands again without making the tasleem. Then he makes witr with three rak’aat and when finished, he makes the tasleem, etc. (the rest is the same as the previous manner)
These are the manners in which it is reported that the Prophet (saws) performed the Night Prayer. It is possible to add other types of manners to it, by subtracting what one wishes from each set of rak’aat until he cuts it down to one rak’ah, acting on the previously mentioned hadeeth of Allaah’s Messenger (saws):
“So whoever wishes, then let him pray witr with five rak’aat, and whoever wishes, then let him pray witr with three rak’aat, and whoever wishes, then let him pray witr with one rak’ah.”
So if one wants, he can pray these five rak’aat or three rak’aat with one sitting and one tasleem, as is stated in the Second Manner. And if he wants, he can make tasleem after every two rak’aat, as is stated in the Third Manner, and this is preferred.
As for praying the set of five rak’aat or three rak’aat by sitting after every two rak’aat and not making the tasleem, then we did not find any authentic report that the Prophet (saws) used to do this. The asl (foundation) is that it is permissible, but since the Prophet (saws) forbade us from praying witr with three rak’aat indicating the reason for that by saying:“And do not liken it to the Maghrib prayer.”  So then anyone that prays the witr in three rak’aat must not liken it to the Maghrib prayer. This can be done in two ways:
1. Making the tasleem between the even and odd number rak’ah (i.e. between the second and the third rak’ah). This is what is more strong and preferred.
2. One does not sit between the even and odd number (i.e. he prays three rak’aat straight with one tasleem), and Allaah knows best.
 Reported by At-Tahaawee, Ad-Daraqutnee and others. See At-Taraaweeh (pg. 99 & 110)