Witr: The Odd Prayer

Provided hereunder is a selection of ahadith from the Ma’ariful Hadith by Mawlana Manzoor No ’mani as translated by Muhammad Asif Kidwai under the title Meaning and Message of the Traditions.

1. Kharija bin Huzaifa relates that “one day the Prophet, peace be upon him, came out (of his apartment and, addressing us, said: God has bestowed upon you the gift of another Salah which is better for you than the red

camels (on which you place the highest value). It is Witr. God has placed it for you after the Isha service, till day-break (i.e., it can be offered at any time during it).” – Tirmizi and Abu Dawood

2. It is related by Ibn ‘Umar that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Make Witr your last Salah of the night (i.e., among the Salah of the night it should be the last to be offered).” – Muslim

3. It is related by Jabir that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Whoever is afraid that he may not be able to wake up during the last part of the night should offer Witr at the beginning of it (i.e., with Isha), and whoever is confident that he will get up (for Tahqjjud) during the last part of the night should offer Witr then (i.e,, after Tahqjjud) for the Angels of Mercy are present at that time and it is a time of great superiority.” – Muslim

Commentary

The general command about Witr is what is contained in the two aforementioned Traditions, i.e., it ought be offered after and at the end of all the night prayers including Tahajjud, and, further, that whoever may be sure of waking up in the last hours of the night, should offer it up not at the beginning of the night but towards the end of it, with Tahajjud, and whoever is not so sure, should do so after Isha. [Shortened]

4. Abdullah bin Qubais narrates that “I enquired from ‘A‘ishah how many Rak’ats did the Prophet, peace be upon him, offer in Witr, and she replied: “Four and three, and six and three, and eight and three, and ten and three, but never less than seven and more than thirteen Rak’ats in Witr.” –  Abu Dawood

Commentary

Some Companions used to describe the joint prayers of Tahajjud and Witr as Witr, and such was, also, the case with ‘A‘ishah. In the above tradition she has given the reply to Abdullah bin Qubais’ enquiry on the same principle. What she actually means is that before the three Rak’ats of Witr, the Prophet, sometimes, said only four Ra’kats of Tahajjud, sometimes six, sometimes eight, and sometimes ten. But he never said less than four and more than ten Rak’ats in Tahajjud, and, after these Rak’ats of Tahajjud, he offered up the three Rak’ats of Witr.

5. Abul Aziz bin Jareeb narrates that “(once) I asked ‘A‘ishah what Surahs did the Prophet, peace be upon him, recite in Witr. She replied: He recited Sabbihisma rabhikal a’alaa in the first Rak’at, Qul yaa aiyyuhal kafiraon in the second and Qul huwallahu ahad and Mu’awwazateyn (i.e., Qul a’oodhu bi rabbil falaq, and Qula’oodhu bi rabbin-naas) in the third.” – Tirmizi and Abu Dawood

Commentary

Ubbi bin Ka‘ab and Abdullah bin Abbas have also related that the Prophet used to recite sabbihisma rabbikal a’alaa in the first, Qul ya aiyyuhal kafiroon in the second, and Qul huwallahu ahad in the third Rak’ats of Witr, but they have not mentioned the recital of Mu’awwazateyn in the third Rak’at. It appears from the above narrative that, occasionally, he also recited Mu’awwazateyn, along with Surah Ikhlas, in the third Rak’at.