Letters to the Editor

Q: My question is this: How many Rak’ats did Prophet Muhammad (saws) offer in Taraweeh during Ramadan? Because there are many Hadith which says that Prophet (saws) offered only eight Rak’ats in Taraweeh, but I have not gone through any Hadith which supports 20 Rak’ats of Taraweeh as being offered by the Imams in the Holy Mosques of Makkah and Madinah during Ramadan. Can you please reply to this query with authentic Hadith?

Sara Iqbal,
On Email

YMD

Do you know how a Saheeh hadith is defined? How will you recognize a Hadith as Sahih or not, if given one? Finally, if you think that this magazine gives you false Ahadith, or misguides you in Fiqh matters, then you shouldn’t be reading it.

However, below we will demonstrate that those who have provoked you to ask this question and to make such statements, are the ones who are bent on misguiding you. They are trying to misguide you as much as misguided they themselves are.

Religion demands highest order of honesty and accuracy. You state that you have not gone through any hadith which supports 20 rak`ah of Taraweeh. The statement and tone are that of a research scholar. But you are not a research scholar. Both, the statement as well as the tone, are not justified. You should never make such statements in such tones because Islam demands highest level of honesty and accuracy as a prerequisite for guidance. You should say that such and such a person is saying to you such and such things. His, or her, name is so and so, and he, or she, belongs to such and such a group, so that if the statement is true, he or she gets the credit, but if false, he or she is exposed to the public, in which case the public is saved from his or her mischief, and you get the reward for exposing him or her. But, if you conceal their identity, then, you are equal with them in crime.

At all events, nobody will be able to find a Hadith supporting 20 Rak`ah of Taraweeh, because it does not exist. Nor will anyone find a Hadith in favor of eight Rak`ah, because it does not exist. Above all, no one will ever discover any Hadith about the Prophet’s Taraweeh prayers because it does not exist. The Prophet never did the Taraweeh prayer as we do today, even once in his life-time. (An offside narrative says he did 20 Rak`ah of Taraweeh, but it is untrustworthy, if not a fabrication).

So, banking on your low knowledge-score, some people have given you the impression that the Prophet did Taraweeh for three nights, doing eight Rak`ah during Ramadan. Wrong, because the Ahadith of reference are mentioning the Prophet’s Qiyam al-Layl, which he offered after midnight, that is, the Tahajjud prayers, and not Taraweeh prayers, which are traditionally offered after `Isha prayers.

But more. They did not give you the whole Hadith because of a problem they run into, viz. three Rak`ah of Witr. These misguided and misguiding people, oppose a Hadith of Bukhari by doing one Rak`ah of Witr, while the Hadith of `A’isha (ra) in Bukhari says that the Prophet used to offer three Rak`ah of Witr.

The Hadith of Bukhari we are referring to says that someone asked `A’isha (ra) about the Prophet’s practice concerning Qiyam al-Layl during Ramadan. `Aisha replied in words, “The Prophet neither increased nor decreased upon eleven Raka`ah, neither in Ramadan nor at any other time. He would do four Rak`ah – and ask not about their beauty and their length. Then he would offer another four Rak`ah – and ask not about their beauty and their length. Then he would offer three (Rak`ah).” (7/ 3)

If those who were working on you did not quote the whole hadith, it was either because they themselves did not know the Hadith, (and were simply blabbering out without first-hand knowledge) or did not want to admit that the Prophet sometimes did Witr as the Hanafiyyah do, that is, three Rak`ah. They also did not want you to know that the Prophet did four Rak`ah, twice, while they themselves oppose him and always do two’s – not doing four, at least at sometimes (although two’s are perfectly alright, but are they for those who harp on Sunnah?) Finally, they did not want to tell you that the practice that `A’isha (ra) was describing was that of Tahajjud and not Taraweeh. Bukhari himself gave the chapter-heading: ‘Qiyam al-Layl of the Prophet …’

The Prophet did not pray the Taraweeh, as the Ummah does today, even once during his entire life.

Thus, you can see how they fooled you. One of the scholars of old-times has rightly remarked that people never lie anywhere, as much as they do in Hadith.

The above is only one case of exposure. In actual fact, most of that this group spreads as Hadith, or Prophet’s Sunnah, such as about Surah al-Fatihah in the Salah, or place of folding of hands during Qiyam, etc., are false, misquoted or misinterpreted to misguide the people.

Now, one of those mentioned by Michael H. Hart, (a Jew), in his work counting the hundred great men of history, is `Umar ibn al-Khattab. So, who is this `Umar?

He is the one who exiled the remnant Jews from the Arab Peninsula during his reign as the Khalifah. He is the one who sent armies to dismantle the invincible empires of Rome and Persia.

He is the one about whom the Prophet said that: “If there had been a Prophet after me, it would have been `Umar.” He is the one whose opinions coincided four times with the Revelation before it would come. He is the one about whom the Prophet predicted was the doors against trials and tribulations. The door was broken open when he was murdered, and the trials and tribulations began pouring into the House of Islam. Most amazing of all, the Prophet said, as in Mustadrak, “Allah (swt) has placed the truth on Umar’s tongue and heart.”

It is this `Umar – if you knew who `Umar was, and we suspect there are some misguided ones who thinks this contemporary Sheikh or that Sheikh is a worthier person than `Umar – who observed the Companions and others praying in two’s, three’s, or more in the Prophet’s mosque during Ramadan. One such night, as he was passing by, in the company of ibn `Abdul Qari, that he remarked, “How good it would be if these devotees could be brought together under one Imam!”

The news of his remark would have spread. The people would have guessed that `Umar was going to do something about it. They had one year to object, as was their habit when they differed with `Umar, though in rare cases. The next year, during Ramadan, `Umar appointed a major Companion – ‘Ubayy b. Ka`b – as an Imam to lead a congregation, doing 20 Rak`ah, after `Isha prayers. Taraweeh took birth, though without the name Taraweeh assigned to it.

Bukhari himself gives the hint that the Prophet himself never prayed the Taraweeh. (5/141)

The very sensitive major and minor Companions (including the remaining of the `Ashara al-Mubashshrah) never raised a word against `Umar’s action, neither during his life, nor after him; nor anytime, anyone did afterwards, except that during the time of Imam Malik, they used to offer 36 Rak`ah in Masjid al-Nabawi alone. Thus, what is known as Ijma` al-Sahabah (consensus of the Companions) was obtained. Down the line, the four great Imams, did not put forward any other proposal or opinion, except for the Malikiyya who offered 36.

A few generations later, the Salah instituted by `Umar came to be known as Taraweeh, perhaps because of some pause that was made for rest in between the Rak`aat, which pause is referred to as Tarweehah in Arabic.

A few generations later, too, the 20 Rak`ah became Ijma’ al-Ummah (consensus of the Ummah). Rarely has the Ummah been united in Fiqh matters, the way it has been united on 20 Rak`ah as Ramadan Taraweeh. The spiritual force of millions of the earliest adherents of Islam is the power that drives the Ummah today, who offer it with the fervor they do. It is a remarkable example of unity of the Ummah displayed over one whole month. No other community can demonstrate such unity over a spiritually rich mode of devotion, for so long. (Melas are moments of celebration).

It is reported that, (perhaps during his Khilafah), `Ali ibn abi Talib came out in the first night of Ramadan, when the lamps were radiating and Allah’s Book was being recited. He remarked, “May Allah illuminate your grave, O `Umar b. al-Khattab, as you have illuminated the mosques with the Qur’an.”

So, that’s the history behind 20 Rak`ah.

Q: Please give me some information on Fazilat about Ramzan and Roza.

Mehfoozul Hasan,
On Email

YMD

Said the Prophet (saws), “Whoever observed the Ramadan, in Eeman and hoping to win Allah’s approval and be rewarded, Allah will forgive his past sins. Whoever stood up during the night of Qadr, in Eeman and hoping to win Allah’s approval, and be rewarded, will have Allah forgive him his past sins.” (Bukhari and others)

You are advised to reach the mosque early on a Friday during Ramadan and listen to the Khutbah.

Q: Can women do Itikaf in Masjid? Please explain.

Madassar Ahmad Khan,
On Email

YMD

It is not the question of “they can or cannot” but “should they or should they not.”

Women should be strongly forbidden from staying in a mosque at night whether alone or in the company of other males or females, whether Mahram or not.

Women desirous of doing I`tikaf in the mosque may be asked: “Are you more interested in devotions to your Lord, or in doing it in a mosque alone?”

Q: I like my classmate and wish her to be my wife. I like her based on her character and being religious as it has been advised in Islam to choose a spouse. I asked her whether she likes me marry me and she agreed. But we fear her parents may not accept us. Few days before, her parents came to know about us and they stopped sending her to college. What shall we do if her parents do not accept our relationship or being future partners? I read Prophet (saws) said the best thing for couple who like each other is to marry.

Imran Shaik,
On Email

YMD

Firstly, your Salam to the Prophet (when you write ‘saws’) would be rejected unless you seek forgiveness, for having attributed false words to the Prophet. He has said no such thing as you allege in the last sentence.

As for the parents of the girl in question, if her parents have stopped their daughter from attending college, then, you should seek Allah’s forgiveness for having caused it. They had not sent her to get involved with males. She was to get a degree. And a degree is a must to find a job. And in today’s economy, a job is a must for a girl, unless she is married to a well-educated man. Since you do not appear to be one – guessing from your proficiency in English – the girl’s parents could not have fallen in love with you, as the girl fell in love with you. If you got married to her, she would have to either work for you both, or it would be life-long suffering, with you as a burden on her.

It is advisable that you promise her parents that you will marry none but her, and that they may please wait until you have earned a high degree, perhaps a PhD, and then marry her. Send your college reports to them from time to time.

Q: I have been an on-and-off reader of your magazine, YmD, for years now. The first time I got hands on the Digest was when I was a young boy, about thirteen years old. We had the subscription of your magazine for about 3-4 years. My younger sister has collected most of the old Digests and kept them safe and respectfully. Reading your Digest has had a positive impact on me and my family.

I recently started praying five times a day, and I don’t think that is a big deal: it’s just the basic start for being a good Muslim. I was introspecting about my values in life, not what I want my values to be but what actually they are right now, I noticed that the most powerful of them was chronic laziness, and that it’s something that holds me back. This mental laziness is one of the major problems that prevents me from achieving what I can achieve in life.

I am already working on eliminating it by using positive thinking technique, and making prayer for it, and taking opinion from others. What I actually want to achieve is a state of mind that compels me to do actions that are before me rather than stop me from doing it.

Looking forward for your precious advice.

Farhan Nabi,
On Email

YMD

We are glad that you have already taken up steps to get rid of it.

With regard to the laziness of the mind, if it is at the national (Ummah level), it could be a punishment from Allah, on a people for their consistent rejection of His guidance made available through the Qur’an and the Prophet’s practices. If it is, then, a collective repentance and return to the guidance is required.

But if it is at the individual alone, then it could be because of several reasons and factors. Without a thorough-going discussion with you, we might not be able to suggest a cure. But a general cure, which, although not always easy to apply, works in all cases, in all situations. It is to begin studying the Qur’an seriously in its own language: Arabic. One should make an attempt to learn enough to achieve a rough understanding of the texts. This takes about six months to a year.

If that is impossible, then, rather than a Tafsir work, a comparative translation of the Qur’an should be embarked upon, say four of them. Translations of Yusuf Ali, Abdul Majid Daryabadi, Muhammad Asad, and A. J. Arberry.

Two things are expected to happen: 1. Quickening of the mind and widening of the field of knowledge. These are known qualities obtainable from the Qur’an; and 2. A desire to learn Arabic.

If the second doesn’t happen, then, the first, laziness of the mind, is likely to revert after some time.

If the study is not taken up at all, the person in question could be undergoing punishment from Allah.

Q: If a person do a good and bad things that Hadith may clash, I mean, reading Waqia will save from Azab-e-Qabr, doing bad things lead to Azab-e-Qabr. Then what is the solution for him? Would he get Azab?

Hussain Imam,
On Email

YMD

It’s hard to figure out what exactly you mean.

What we can make out is that you would like to know how punishment in the grave can be avoided. And the answer is that the punishment there – may Allah save me and you from it – will depend on the overall performance during this life. We ought to organize our lives in such a way that good deeds overwhelmingly overweigh the evil ones.

In Islam, there is no single talisman, a Mantra, or lucky charm which will rid us of all sins and lead to Paradise unscathed. Our every minute is accountable and should be spent in seeking Allah’s Rida.

That said, we may warn you that the ignorant leaders of the past and present have invented many talismans, Mantras, lucky charms, Wazaa’if and Awraad – short or long – that promise material success in this life and instant entry into Paradise without having to pass through the various stages that Ahadith have spoken of.

The Qur’an has also not been spared. Many of the statements about the virtues (Fazaai’l) of its chapters are of this kind. There is no Hadith, for instance, which promises that reciting Surah al-Waqi`ah assures avoidance of punishment in the grave.