Question # 210: On a slightly different topic but related to taraweeh, is it sunnah to pause after every four raka’at? I understand taraweeh to mean rests, however if one prays 8 Raka’at without pauses, is this still following the Sunnah? I would like to know if the imams are also following the Sunnah when they give lectures during these resting intervals. Jazakum Allahu khayran

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).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: According to fuqaha (jurist), the short breaks for rest after every four raka’hs of Taraweeh is mustahabb (recommended) on account of the practice of the scholars / Muslims of Makkah and Madinah. In fact, the literal meaning of the Arabic term taraweeh is derived from the root word rauh or raha which basically means to take a rest. However, this break is not mandatory and there is no harm in leaving it. As for giving talks between rak’ahs of Taraweeh, it is only permissible if it is meant to alert, warn, order or prohibit the Muslims in the congregation about something incidental. As for making it structured and customary by giving talk between every four rak’ahs on a regular basis, this is not from the Prophet’s guidance. However, if there is a need for such talk, then it can be given after the taraweeh. On the other hand, if there is a need to impact Islamic knowledge and it is only time, when Muslims are available in greater groups, this type of short talks between taraweeh has been made permissible, keep in view the Darurah (necessity). 

Long Answer: Shaykh ‘Abd-Allah Abaabateen said, as is narrated in al-Durar al-Saniyyah: “…The qiyam of Ramadan is called Taraweeh because [Sahabah, Taabi’een and imams of Islam] used to have a rest (yastareehoona) after every four rak’ahs because they used to make the prayers lengthy…” Hence, taraweeh prayer is regarded as a kind of Qiyam al-layl and it is called Taraweeh because people take brief breaks between rak’ahs. (Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid) The literal meaning of the Arabic term taraweeh is derived from the root word rauh or raha which basically means to take a rest.

Praying taraweeh without short breaks after four rak’ahs

The Fuqaha (Jurist experts) have mentioned that the short break after every four raka’hs of Taraweeh is in order to take a short rest. In this regard, the great 10th Century Hanafi jurist, Shaikh Ibraheem Al Halbi wrote, ‘As for the ‘rest’ during the Taraweeh Salah, it is that a person sits between every four raka’hs for the duration of four raka’hs of Taraweeh Salah. In a similar manner, he will sit between the last four raka’hs of Taraweeh and the Witr Salah. What is required of the rest (or break) is not that of literally sitting. But it means to wait until the other four raka’hs begin. During the break, a person has the choice of sitting quietly or …even recite Quran. He can also perform nafl (optional raka’hs) if he wishes (on an individual basis). This waiting (rest/break) is Mustahabb on account of the practice of the Scholars/Muslims of Makkah and Madinah. The practice of the people of Makkah was that they would perform Tawaaf after every four raka’hs and to perform the two raka’hs of the Tawaaf. The practice of the people of Madinah was that they used to perform four raka’hs of nafl (optional) salah during the break. It therefore becomes evident from the Scholars/Muslims during the Tabi’een and the At’baa ut Tabi’een period that they used to have a break between the four raka’hs of Taraweeh Salah.’ (Ghunyah Al Mutamalli Fi Sharh Munyah Al Musalli Known as Al Sharh Al Kabeer, Suhail Academy Lahore Pakistan)

“Some linguists stated that Taraweeh is the plural of Tarweehah, which in origin is a name given for the practice of sitting. Then it was used to refer to the sitting that takes place every four units of prayer during the nights of Ramadan so that people could rest, or because they used to rest after every two units of prayer. It was stated in al Misbaah: The term: ‘arihna bis-salaah’ (lit. soothe us by the prayer) means to establish the prayer. Thus praying achieves a sense of raahah (repose/tranquility). Thus the word Taraweeh has been derived from that word. It (i.e. Taraweeh) is prayed in the month of Ramadan. It was stated in Al Furoo’: ‘One (can) rest between every four unit of prayer according to the agreement of the scholars, and supplicate therein. This was done by the pious predecessors. However, there is no harm in leaving that.” (Haashiyah ar-Rawdh al Murbi’ Sharh Zaad al Mustaqni by Ibn Qaasim al Hanbali; The Fiqh of Taraweeh translated by Alomgir Ali)

According to Dr. Zakir Naik “…few generations after the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), the people when they used to [perform] Qiyam al-layl in the Ramadan…after four raka’hs they used to rest. So the word taraweeh from that onwards got stuck to Qiyam al-layl in Ramadan… And this [practice] continued because one used to pray for long hours… but at the time of Prophet the word taraweeh was never used. Even the sahabah never used this word. It came later on… [So,] if a person when he [recites] for longer time during the Qiyam al-layl [or taraweeh] in Ramadan, if he wants he can rest [and] it is not forbidden to rest. A person is tired he can rest but it is not compulsory that he has to rest either.” (Question & Answer)

Giving talks between Rak’ahs of Taraweeh

Shaikh al-Albani was asked: “Is it allowed for the Imam of a mosque or a daa’ee, who leads the people in the mosque for Taraweeh … between the rak’ahs there’s a break in which he reminds them of certain issues, for example, about performing the prayer well and following the Prophet, and alerts them to certain innovations or acts of shirk, yes, alerts them?”

Shaikh Al-Albani replied: “The answer is that it is [both] permissible and not permissible: if he is alerting or warning them, ordering or prohibiting them about something incidental then it is a must. As for making it something structured and customary, [where] between every four rak’ahs, for example, or more or less than that, the Imam gives a lecture, then this is in opposition to the Sunnah.

If it is about something unexpected then it is waajib to alert them about it, as for taking that to be something structured, then the Taraweeh prayer is an unmixed act of worship in which the Muslim turns to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) with all his limbs, core, mind and heart, this is the goal of the qiyam in Ramadan. As for having sittings between two or four rak’ahs as something structured, then that was not from the Prophet’s guidance.” (Translation from the works of Shaikh al-Albaani; shaikhalbaani.wordpress.com)

Shaykh Saalih Ibn al-Uthaymeen was asked: “What is the ruling on an Imam (who) always gives a talk in the middle of Salatul-Taraweeh?

Shaykh Saalih Ibn al-Uthaymeen replied: “If he notices after standing from the second tasleem that the rows have become uneven, or there’s separation, or within them, there is a gap, let him say: ‘Istaaw and Taraasuuw’. As for giving a talk then No! This is not from the manhaj of the salaf. However, if there is a need for it then let him do it after the taraweeh.

If he intends by it worship then it is an innovation! A sign of intention in worship is by him doing it every night… If you are from those who loves giving talks… you are from those who exhaust people… [one should] act in accordance to that which makes it easy for them…” (DaarutTawheed.com)

(The above answer has been reviewed by Dr. Main Khalid Al-Qudah, Member of the Fatwa Committee of Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America)

On the other hand, if there is a need to impact Islamic knowledge and it is only time, when Muslims are available in greater groups, this type of short talks between taraweeh has been made permissible, keep in view the Darurah (necessity). (Discussed and agreed with local masjid imam)

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.

Wassalaam