Question # 81: Can Salah al Taraweeh be prayed alone and/or in Jamaah? Are you women allowed to pray Taraweeh in the masjid?
bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: Praying Taraweeh in the congregation and in the mosque is always better than praying at home or individually. This is indicated by the Sunnah and the actions of the Sahabah (رضي الله عنه). The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whoever prays qiyam – i.e., Taraweeh – with the imam until he finishes, it will be recorded as if he spent the whole night in prayer.” As for women praying Taraweeh in the masjid, her prayer at home is described as being better for her than her prayer in the mosque, but Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) gives her the freedom of choice of praying at home if she wishes, or she may go out to pray in the mosque.
PRAYING TARAWEEH IN THE CONGREGATION
Praying Taraweeh in congregation in the mosque is better than praying at home. This is indicated by the Sunnah and the actions of the Sahabah (رضي الله عنه).
- Abd-Allah ibn Yousuf narrated, saying that Malik informed us, on the authority of Ibn Shihab, on the authority of `Urwah ibn al-Zubair, on the authority of `A’ishah, the Mother of the Believers (رضي الله عنه), that Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) prayed one night in the masjid, and people prayed with him. Then, he prayed the next night, and there were a lot of people. Then, they gathered on the third or fourth night, but Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) did not come out to them. When morning arrived, he said: “I saw what you did, and nothing prevented me from coming out to you, except that I feared it would be made obligatory on you.” And that was during Ramadan. (Al-Bukhari)
- Abdurahman ibn Abdulqari reports: “One night during Ramadan, I went with ‘Umar to the mosque, and the people were praying in different groups. Some were praying by themselves, and others were praying in small groups. ‘Umar said: ‘I think it would be better if l gathered them under one imam.’ Then he did so and appointed Ubayy ibn Ka’b as the leader of the prayer. Then I went out with him on another night and all the people were praying behind one imam, and ‘Umar said: ‘What a good innovation (bid’ah) this is,’ but it is better to sleep and delay it until the latter portion of the night.” The people (however) prayed it at the beginning of the night. (This is related by al-Bukhari, Ibn Khuzaimah, alBaihaqi, and others)
According to the above hadith # 1 and other authentically narrated ahadith which pertain to the same subject, [the following elements are deduced]:
- The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) justified his command to stay and perform Taraweeh at home by saying: “I thought that this prayer might become obligatory on you.” So, it is not because this prayer should not be performed in the masjid, but because of the possibility that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) might have made it obligatory on all Muslims that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) — out of his mercy for his Ummah – preferred to pray it at home.
- Other narrations of this hadith show that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) stayed home after the third or the fourth night. If it was not allowed to perform it in the masjid, he should have prevented them from following him on the first night.
- None of the eminent companions of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) understood that it was prohibited or even undesirable to perform this prayer in the masjid. That is why during the lifetime of Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه), they continued to perform this prayer in the masjid in small groups or congregations, provided that the legislation had been completed and perfected upon the death of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), and it was impossible to oblige the Muslims to do anything that had not been made obligatory during the lifetime of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) himself.
- Some of them followed him (صلى الله عليه و سلم) in his night prayer at times other than Ramadan, and he did not prevent them from doing so. For example, according to Al-Bukhari: Sulaiman ibn Harith narrated, saying that Shu`bah narrated, on the authority of Al-`Amash, on the authority of Abi Wa’il, on the authority of Abdallah (رضي الله عنه), who said: “I prayed with the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) one night, and he remained standing until I almost did something bad.” We asked: “And what did you almost do?” He replied: “I almost sat down and left the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم).”
- [As for hadith # 2,] What Umar ibn Al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه) meant by saying, “What a good innovation!” is the linguistic meaning of bida’h, not the religious one.
- None of the Eminent Companions (رضي الله عنه) rejected what Umar ibn Al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه). And it is well known that the unanimity of the Companions is one of the major sources of Islamic legislation.
- That is why people throughout Islamic history, from the time of Umar ibn Al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه) until now, hold Taraweeh in congregation in the masajid, and no rejection of that has been reported by any of our prominent scholars. (Fatwa of Dr. Main Khalid Al-Qudah, Member of the Fatwa Committee of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America)
[Let’s analyze the opinions of the Four Madhahib,] if a particular man performs the Taraweeh in his home, it is an emulation of the Sunnah for him to pray together with others in his household, and if he performs them alone, he will miss out on the reward for following the Sunnah with respect to performing them in community. This ruling is agreed upon by the Shafi’is and the Hanbalis; however, according to the Malikis, praying the Taraweeh communally is simply recommended, while according to the Hanafis, praying them in a group is a collective Sunnah-based practice for residents of a given neighborhood. Hence, if some of the residents perform the Taraweeh in a group, others in the neighborhood will be exempted from this responsibility. (‘Islamic Jurisprudence According to the Four Sunni Schools’ by ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Jaziri)
Last but not least, At-Tirmidhi narrated that Abu Dharr (رضي الله عنه) said: The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whoever prays qiyam – i.e., Taraweeh – with the imam until he finishes, it will be recorded as if he spent the whole night in prayer.” (Classed as sahih by al-Albani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi)
WOMEN ATTENDING TARAWEEH PRAYERS
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to shorten his prayer if he heard a child crying; because he understood the concern the child’s mother would be feeling. In an authentic hadith, it was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin Abi Qatadah, from his father that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “I stand in prayer, then I hear a child crying, so I make my prayer brief because I do not want to cause hardship for his mother” (Sunan an-Nasa’I, Graded Sahih).
Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) showed great mercy to women by sparing them the obligation to offer the five compulsory prayers in congregation in the mosque… The woman’s heavy burden of household chores and attending to the needs of her husband and children do not permit her to leave the house… [Hence,] her prayer at home is described as being better for her than her prayer in the mosque, but Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) gives her the freedom of choice: she may pray at home if she wishes, or she may go out to pray in the mosque. If she asks her husband for permission to go out to the mosque, he is not allowed to stop her, as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) stated in a number of ahadith (‘The Ideal Muslimah’ by Dr. Muhammad Ali al-Hashimi)
Narrated Ibn `Umar: The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “Do not prevent your women from visiting the mosque, but their houses are better for them (for praying).” (Sunan Abi Dawud, Graded Sahih by Al-Albani)
Salim narrated it from his father (‘Abdullah b. Umar) that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: When women ask permission for going to the mosque, do not prevent them. (Sahih Muslim)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.