Taraweeh 8 or 20?


There is a growing misconception among present-day Muslims (especially the younger generation) that the Tarâwih Salâh which is performed during the month of Ramadhân constitutes eight rakâts only. This is however incorrect because:

1. It is in conflict with the Sunnah

2. It is in conflict with the Ijmâh [consensus] of the Sahâbah (R.A.)

3. It is in conflict with the Ijmâh (consensus) of the four madhâhib.


Although many, Ulema (eg. Hafiz Ibn Taymiyyah, Allâmah Subki and Qâdi Shawkâni) are of the opinion that Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam never fixed the exact number of rakâts for the Tarawih salâh, we are convinced that the Sunnah is twenty rakâts because the twenty rakât Tarâwih was introduced by Hadrat Umar R.A. and Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallarn had commanded us to follow the Khulafa-e-Râshdîn (especially Hadrat Abu Bakr and Hadrat Umar R.A.). Rasulullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam said: “Hold firmly on to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the Khulafa-e-Râshidîn.” “Follow the two after me (i.e. Hadrat Abû Bakr and Hadrat Umar.

Allâmah Badrud-Dîn Aini, writes that we understand from the above Hadîth that those who follow Hadrat Abû Bakr and Hadrat Umar R.A. will be rewarded and those who do not follow them will be punished.


The twenty rakât Tarâwih that was introduced by Hadrat Umar R.A. was unanimously accepted by all the Sahâbah R.A. without any objection. In other words, they had ijma [consensus] in this regard. Many âyât of the Qur’ân and ahâdith of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam denote the Shari authority (hujjiyyah) of Ijmâ’. Among those are:

“And whoever opposes the Rasul after the guidance (of Allah) has been manifested unto him, and follows other than the believers way. We appoint for him that unto which he himself has turned, and we expose him unto Jahannam – a hopeless journey’s end.” “My Ummah will never unite upon bâtil (falsehood., deception).

In addition to the above, it should also be borne in mind that consensus of the Sahabah R.A. represents the highest and most authoritative form of ijmâ’.


While Imam Hanifah, Imam Shâfi’i and Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal R.A. agree that the Tarâwih Salâh comprises of twenty rakâts, there are two narrations from Imam Mâlik According to one narration he too agrees that the Tarâwih Salâh comprises of twenty rakâts. Ibn Qâsim has however narrated from Imam Mâlik, that he preferred thirty-six rakâts and three rakâts witr thereafter. (Most Mâliki textbooks however mention the twenty rakât narration only).

This however does not mean that Imam Mâlik rejected the ijmâ’ of the Sahâbah R.A. The standard practice n Madinah at that time was thirty-six rakâts and the reason for performing thirty-six rakâts was that the people of Makkah would perform tawâf after every four rakâts of Tarâwih. Because tawâf can only be performed in Makkah, the people of Madinah would perform an additional four rakâts nafl salâh after every four rakâts of Tarâwih.

Considering the above and the fact that these additional sixteen rakâts (4×4) were regarded as nafl (and not Sunnah mu’akkadah as in Tarâwih) and were performed individually. we may conclude that Imarn Mâlik and the other Fuqahâ of Madinah also agreed that the actual Tarâwih comprises of twenty rakâts only.


According to Sheikh Atiyyah Muhammad Sâlim, from the fourth Hijri century, only twenty rakâts Tarâwih were performed in Madinah. Thereafter in the 8th century when Imam Zain-ud-Dîn AI-Irâqi was appointed the Imam of Masjid-un-Nabawi the people would return to the Masjid later during the night to perform the additional sixteen rakâts. The famous historian As-Sa’ûd writes that this practice continued until the late ninth and early tenth Hijri century.


It is not permissible to oppose the consensus of the four madhâhib. This is understood from the fact that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam had commended us to follow the Sawâd-al-A’zam (vast majority). Since all the other true madhâhib do not any longer exist, these four madhâhib represent the Sawâd-al-A’zam.


Many Ulema (eg. Abu Ja’far Tahâwl, Abu Eesa Tirmizi, Ibn Rushd Qurtabi, Ibn Qudâmah Maqdisi, etc.) have discussed the divergent opinions of the Fuqahâ [jurists] in various topics. None of them have ever mentioned a single Faqîh [jurist] who held the opinion that the Tarâwih salâh had eight rakâts only.


Imam Bukhari R.A., has recorded a narration from Hadrat Â’isha R.A.. in which she says:

“Rasulullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam would never read more than eleven rakâts – neither in Ramadhân nor in any other month. He would perform four rakâts and do not ask of their beauty and length. He would thereafter perform another four rakâts and do not ask of their beauty and length. He would thereafter perform three rakâts.” Hadrat Â’isha R.A. says that she (once) asked Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam whether he slept before performing the witr salâh. Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam replied: “O Â’isha! My eyes sleep but not my heart.”

This Hadîth is often cited in substantiation of the claim that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam performed only eight rakâts in the Tarâwih Salâh. It is however incorrect to make such a deduction from this Hadîth because this Hadîth is discussing the Tahajjud Salâh and ‘h Salâh and not the Tarâwih The words “nor in any other month” are a clear indication that this Hadîth is not regarding the Tarâwîh Salâh. (Tarâwih is not Performed in any other month besides Ramadhân.)

There is a Hadith in which Hadrat Â’isha R.A. narrates that during the last ten days of Ramadhân. Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam would stay awake throughout the night and he would exert himself in ibâdah. It is possible that upon hearing this narration from Hadrat Â’isha R.A. some people would think that compared to the rest of the Year, Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam read more rakâts of Tahajjud Salâh in Ramadhân. In order to dispel such doubts, Hadrat Â’isha R.A. explained that Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam’s Tahajjud Salâh always comprised of eleven lengthy Rakâts irrespective of whether it was Ramadhân or any other month.

Imam Bukhâri R.A., has quoted the above mentioned Hadith of H@rat A’isha R.A. in the following chapters of his Al-Jâmi As-Sahîh:

The chapter regarding Nabî’s (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) salâh during the nights of Ramadhân and other months.
The chapter regarding the virtue of salâh during Ramadhân.
The chapter that Nabi’s Sallallahu alaihi wasallam eyes would sleep but not his heart.
The chapter on Witr salâh.

Imam Bukhari’s R.A. not including this Hadith in the chapter on Tarâwih indicates that he too understood that this Hadith discussed the Tahajjud salâh and not the Tarâwih Salâh. In fact, none of the Muhaddithîn [scholars of Hadîth] have included this Hadith in the chapter on Tarâwih. Imam Muhammad Al-Marwazi R.A. has in his book “Qiyâm-ul-Layl” dedicated a separate chapter to discuss the number of rakâts of the Tarâwlh salâh. Despite quoting a number of Ahâdith in this chapter, he has not in the slightest manner indicated to this Hadîth of Hadrat Â’isha R.A.


Proponents of the eight rakât Tarâwih reject the above explanation saying that Tahajjud and Tarâwih is the same salâh. This claim Is also incorrect because there is a vast difference between the two. Among the various differences between the Tahajjud and Tarâwih salâh is:

Tahajjud was introduced in Makkah and Tarzâwih in Madinah,

Tarâwih is performed immediately after the Esha salâh whilst Tahajjud is performed much later at night (in the last third of the night).

NOTE: Neither Imam Bukhâri and Imam Marwazi nor any other Muhaddith regarded Tahajjud and Tarâwih as the same!


There is a Hadith that is attributed to Hadrat Jâbir R.A. in which he narrates that once during the month of Ramadan Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam led them in eight rakâts (of Tarâwih) and thereafter the Witr salâh. The following night they gathered in the Masjid hoping that Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam would once again lead them in salâh as he had done the previous night. They however continued waiting for Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam till the morning. In the morning Rasulullah Sallallahu wlaihi wasallam explained to them the reason for not joining them. He said that he had feared that Witr would be made compulsory, upon them.

This Hadîth is however extremely, weak and can never form the basis for any Shar’i ruling. The person claiming that he is narrating this Hadîth from Hadrat Jâbir R.A.. is Eesa bin Jâriyah. He is an extremely unreliable narrator. Imam Nasa’i and Imam Abû Dawûd R.A. have both called him “Munkar-ul-Hadîth” – one whose narrations are Munkar. A munkar narration is the narration of an untrustworthy narrator that contradicts the narration of a group of trustworthy narrators. Imam Nasa’i R.A. has also called him “Matrûk”. Matrûk literally means left alone but in this context it means that Eesa bin Jâriyah is an unreliable narrator. The Muhaddithîn normally use the word Matrûk (and many other words) to show the unreliability of a narrator.

Muhammad bin Humaid Ar-Râzi, another narrator in this Hadith’s chain of transmisson [sanad] is also very weak. Some Muhaddithîn (eg. Imam Abu Zur’ah) have declared him a liar.


Imam Mâlik R.A. has recorded a narration from Hadrat Sâ’ib bin Yazid R.A. that Hadrat Umar R.A. had commanded Hadrat Ubay bin Ka’b and Hadrat Tamim Dâri R.A. to lead the people in eleven rakâts of salâh (eight rakâts Tarâwih and three rakâts Witr).

It is often claimed on the basis of this narration that Hadrat Umar R.A. had commanded the performance of only eight rakâts Tarâwih and not twenty.

However, a thorough study of the chains of transmission (asânid) of this narration reveals that three people have narrated from Hadrat SS’lb bin Yazld R.A. They are:

i) Hârith bin Abdir Rahmân

ii) Yazld bin Khusayfah

iii) Muhammed bin Yusuf

Hârith bin Abdir Rahmân and Yazid bin Khusayfah have narrated twenty rakâts from Hadrat Sâ’ib R.A. Yazid bin Khusayfah also has three students namely Ibn Abi Dhib, Muhammed bin Ja’far and Imam Mâlik. All three have narrated twenty rakâts from Yazid.

Muhanimed bin Yusuf also has three students. They are:

Imam Mâlik
Ibn Ishâq
Da’ud bin Qays

While Imam Mâlik narrates eleven rakâts from Muhammed bin Yusuf, Ibn Ishâq narrates thirteen rakâts and Da’ud bin Qays narrates twenty one rakâts.

When a Hadith is transmitted in different manners so that the contents of each transmission differ and it is not possible to give preference to any particular transmission, the Muhaddithîn call it Mudtarib. The Mudtarib Hadith is regarded as unsound and insufficient evidence for the deduction of any Shar’î ruling. Muhammed bin Yusuf’s narration is an ideal example of a Mudtarib Hadith.

On the contrary, the narrations of Harith bin Abdir Rahmân and Yazîd bin Khusayfah are authentic and supported by many other narrations in the books of Hadîth.


Some of Ibn Taymiyya’s writings imply that he was of the opinion that eight rakâts, twenty rakâts, thirty rakâts, thirty-six and forty rakâts are all sunnah. It is clear from the preceding discussion that we do not agree with him. Nevertheless, he also explains that the more virtuous (and preferred) practice differs according to the condition of the Muslims. If the Muslims are able to perform eight very lengthy rakâts as was the practice of Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam, the performance of eight rakâts would be better. However, if they are unable to perform such lengthy rakâts it would be better for them to perform twenty rakâts.

NOTE: The length of Rasulullah’s Sallallahu alaihi wasallam salâh (that he performed at night) may be estimated from the following:

He would perform salâh until his feet would swell.

He would continue performing salâh until half the night had passed.

He sometimes continued performing salâh until the Sehri time had almost expired.

Hadrat Abu Dharr R.A. narrates that one night he performed salâh with Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam. He says: “I stood in salâh with him (i.e. Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) until I began resting my head on the wall due to the length of his salâh.

Considering the worldly commitments of modern day, Muslims and their physical weakness, it is obvious that none of them can manage such lengthy rakâts. Therefore, even according to Ibn Taymiyya’s opinion, twenty rakâts is best for them.


In view of the preceding discussion we conclude that:

The Sunnah Tariiwih consists of twenty rakâts and not eight.
The performance of only eight rakâts in Tarâwih cannot be established from any sound Shar’î evidence/proof.

Source: Jamiat Ulama SA


Ahsan-ul Fatâwa Mufti Rasheed Ahmed Ludhianwi

Âp Ke-Masâ’il Aur Un Ka Hal Moulana Muhammad Yusuf Ludhranwi

Dars-e-Tinnidhi Mufti Muhammad Taqi Uthmân

Fatâwa Rahimiyya Mufti Abdur Rahim Lajpuri

At Tarâwih Shaikh Atiyva Muhamrnad Sâlim

Is Tarâwih Twenty Rakâts? Published by Madrasah Arabia Islamia


Fatâwa ibn Taymiyya V.2 Pg. 46 Masâbih P.44 Nayl-ul Awtâr V.1 Pg. 46

Abu Da’ud, Tirmizi, Ibn Maj’ah, Ahmed – Mishkat.

Binâyah Sharh Hidâyah.

Dars Imam Tirmizi – quoting Allamah Habib-ur-Rahmân A’zmi, Suyuti, Nawawi and Nawab Sideeq Hasen Khan.

Surah Nisâ Âyah 115.

Sunan Ibn Majah 283 / Tirmizi V.2 Pg.49.

Al-Manâr Ma’Nur-ul-Anwâr Pg. 226.

Âp Ke Masâil Aur Un Ka Hal Pg. 54.


Rakât-e-Tarâwih Pg. 60-61 (Moulana Habib-ur-Rahmân A’zmi) Dars Tirmizi V.2 Pg.653.

At-Tarâwih. Sheikh Atiyya Muhammed Sâlim Pg. 60, 67, 69.

Ibn Mâjah – Mishkât Pg. 30 Al-Aqd-Al-Jayyid Pg. 37.

Bukhâri V.1 Pg. 135, 152, 269, 503.

Ahsan-ul Fatâwa V.530. Fatâwa – Raheemiyya V. 1 Pg. 331 Dars Tirmizi Pg. 663 V.2.

Ahsan-ul- Fatâwa V. 3 Pg. 530.



Ahsan-ul Fatâwa V.532.

Qiyâm-ul Layl Pg. 90.

Fatâwa Rahimiyya V.1 Pg. 335: Although Abu Zur’ah and Ibn Hibbân have commented positively regarding Eesa bin Jâriyah, the Muhaddithîn still declare him unreliable because their principle is that when a narrator is declared reliable by some scholars and unreliable by others, the opinion of those who regard him unreliable will be given preference.

Fatâwa Rahimiyya V.1 Pg. 335

Mu’atta Imam Mâlik Pg. 98.

Âp Ke’ Masâ’il Aur Un Ka Hal V.3 Pg. 39-41.

Dars – Tirmizi V.2 Pg. 654 Footnotes (continued from Pg. 653).


Bukhâri Ma’al Fath V.3 Pg. 12/V. 8 Pg. 449.

Tirmizi (Chapter on the Qiyâm of Ramadhân) V. 1 Pg. 99 Fâruqi Kutub Khana – Pakistan.

Ahmed – Maj’ma’uz Zawâ’id V. 3 Pg. 172.

Dars Tirmizi V.2 Pg. 655.

3 thoughts on “Taraweeh 8 or 20?”

  1. ALLAH IS GREAT. Iam glad to get the best and good information about TARAWEEH. Please you should send us more educative lessons

  2. please send more about RASULULLAH. My simple question is, Can some one pray for his or her late parents in case they are not moslems?

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