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It is an accepted fact among the authentic scholars of Islam that for centuries, tarâwîh salât was and is an additional salâh (prayer) in the month of Ramadân. Only the Shî’as reject tarâwîh. The Ahle Hadîth sect (or Salafis) also reject the fact that there is an additional prayer in Ramadân. Their belief is that tahajjud salât which is performed during the latter portion of the night was brought forward in Ramadân. Thus there is no addition in Ramadân.
(The Ahle Hadith are a sect that do not ascribe to any mazhab nor do they follow any particular Imam. They claim to derive their rules directly from the hadith. Another name used for this sect is Ghair Muqallideen. The Salafis also hold similar beliefs. The term Ahle Hadith used in this book refers in general to all those who hold such beliefs)
The Ahle Hadith hold the same belief as the Shî’a regarding tarâwîh. (It is interesting to not that Mia Nazir Husain Delhwi, the firts notable scholar of the Ahle Hadith sect remarked to Moulana Thanaullah Amritsari that the Ahle Hadith are small Shias due to the disrespect created by not adopting the taqlid of the Imaams. See Tarikh Ahle Hadith by Moulana Muhammad Ibrahim) According to them, Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) began performing his tahajjud earlier in Ramadân. This was then termed tarâwîh. According to this belief, there was no increase in the salât of Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) during Ramadân.
Salât is the highest form of physical worship in Islam. When the month of Ramadân arrives, the common masses begin increasing their salât by performing extra nawâfil (optional prayers). Can it then be possible for Rasûlullâh (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) that he encouraged excess worship in this month while he himself did not increase his nightly worship? If he merely transferred his tahajjud salât to an earlier time, then it implies that there was no increase in his salât. So why did he ask his followers to perform an additional prayer in Ramadân?
There is a narration that indicates an increase in his salât during the holy month. Hadrat Abu Hurairah (Radiallâhu anhu) reports that Rasûlullâh (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) said:
"Whoever stood in Ramadân (in worship) with Imân and to seek reward, all his past sins are forgiven."(Sahih Muslim vol.1 pg.259)
This hadith indicates that Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) encouraged the people to stand and worship Allâh during the month of Ramadân i.e. by performing salât, but did he himself add anything to his salâh?
Is it suitable for the lofty status of this messenger that he encourages people to perform salât in such a holy month while he himself does not do so? Any person that studies the life history of Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam), knows that there was no contradiction between his speech and his action. He practically demonstrated all that he spoke of. Even people that are generally far from Dîn, perform some extra worship during Ramadân. Thus it is impossible for him to have omitted extra salât in Ramadân. He most certainly performed an additional salâh but was not strict in enforcing it.
Accordingly, the beliefs of the Ahle Hadith and Shias are similar on this issue; the only difference being that the Shia have not claimed the eight raka!ât of tahajjud being brought forward while the Ahle Hadith have done so. The Shî’as openly and directly claim that there is no extra salât in Ramadân and Rasûlullâh (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) did not add any salâh in the blessed nights of Ramadân.
With regards to the number of raka´ât of tarâwîh, for the past twelve centuries, the entire ummah without any exception has been performing twenty raka´ât of tarâwîh. This has been the practice of Muslims from the time of Rasûlullâh (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam), the Sahâbah (Radiallâhu anhum), the Tabi’een and the Ulama (Rahimahumullâh) until two centuries ago, when a newly-born sect called the Ahle Hadîth introduced the theory that tarâwîh is only eight raka´ât. Till today, tarâwîh in both the Haramain (Makkah and Madînah) is twenty raka´ât and thousands of Muslims observe it there in the month of Ramadân.
If we assume that eight raka´ât of tarâwîh is correct, then it means that the entire Ummah was deviated for all these centuries by performing twenty raka´ât without any Shar´î proof. Nonetheless, it can be conclusively proven that no musjid from the time of Nabî (Sallallâhu alaihi wasallam) till two centuries ago had the practice of eight raka´ât. Had eight raka´ât been the mazhab of anyone, a scholar like Imâm Tirmizi would have mentioned it in his Jâmi, but none of the Sihâh Sittah (six canonical works of hadîth) mention anyone’s practice to be of eight raka´ât in any musjid.
In this brief treatise, an effort has been made to prove that tarâwîh salât is an additional salât in Ramadân and that it is indeed twenty raka´ât. It is hoped that this treatise will remove all doubts and clarify the mas’alah for both students and the masses alike. May Allâh accept this humble effort and guide the ignorant. Âmîn.