Wayfarer's Rest

Some assorted ramblings and occasional thoughts from Talib al-Habib. Updated randomly and irregularly (if at all). Talib takes no responsiblity for anything that he may write, as responsiblity implies capacity, and capacity implies a sound mind...

Friday, October 06, 2006

No of rakats in tarawih


The hoary old chestnut of how many rakats in tarawih. I was (yet again) witness to a (mainly civilised) debate about this last night.

I'm going to approach the topic from a slightly different perspective - that of linguistics. Any understanding of shari`a (lit: fiqh ash-shari`a) has to minimally be in keeping with the basic principles of Arabic grammar. For example, if one said, 'muslims have prayers during the day,' it would be understood that this meant more than 1 prayer, as the word used was in the plural.

To wit:

1. The prayer in question is called salat al-tarawih.
2. Tarawih is the (broken) plural of the singluar tarwiha.
3. tarwiha is the verbal noun (masdar) of the verb ra-ha on the scale of taf`il (the second derived verb form pattern).
4. The verb scale ta`fil gives the meaning of 'to effect or cause [the meaning of the root word].'
5. The root in this case is ra-ha, which means, 'to be at rest.'
6. Thus tarwiha means, 'to cause a rest' or 'to have a rest.'
7. The plural in Arabic is numbered as three or more - unlike English which does not have a dual case.
8. Thus tarawih means, 'three or more periods of rest.'
9. And salat al-tarawih means, 'the prayer in which three or more periods of rest are taken.'
10. A rest is taken between each set of 4 rakats by agreement.
11. Mathematically, therefore, in order for the prayer to be validly called, 'salat al-tarawih,' it is necessary to take at least 3 rest periods between sets of four rakats.
12. The minimum number of rakats in tarawih - linguistically - thus has to be sixteen [4 rakats - rest 1 - 4 rakats - rest 2 - 4 rakats - rest 3 - 4 rakats]
13. It is therefore impossible for the prayer to be called 'salat al-tarawih' and consist of 8 rakats.

Allah knows best.
Ramadan Mubarak


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ramadhan Mubarak to you too. Interesting post. Do you know where the 8 rakaat idea came from?

12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ramadan Kareem. Interesting, because in the maliki school salat al-tarawih is a nafl salat, and is praiseworthy to pray at home (as long as there is a jama'a in the masjid going on). more interesting is the fact that praying only 2 rakats at home is still considered valid.

8:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

very interesting and beneficial post. in the school of Imam Malik, salat al-tarawih is amongst the nafl salats, and is praiseworthy to pray at home (it being nafl, as long as there is a jama'a going on in the masjid). furthermore, praying only 2 rakats is considered acceptable.

8:13 PM  
Blogger talib said...

as salam alaykum

jazakallah for your comments. I know even less about the details of the Maliki school than I do of the Hanafi madhab! However, the practice of my Maliki friends is either 20 or 36 rakats of tarawih.

I believe there is effective scholarly consensus on 20 rakats according to ibn Qudama and al-Kasani. Perhaps the difference that you refer to relates to the differing usul of the two schools in question. For Hanafi's tarawih is sunna al-mu'akkada; whilst I believe that for Malikis it is mandub (recommended).

I will try to find out from my teachers, insha-allah. jazakallah for bringing it to my attention!

was salam

1:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Salam alaikum alaikum Brother if the above comment is true...

Then what about the hadith which was narrated by aisha R.A.A. in Shahihul buhari in

032:230:Narrated by Abu Salama bin Abdur Rahman

That he asked 'Aisha'(R.A.A)"How was the prayer of allah's Apostle in Ramdan?"she replied,"he did not pray more than eleven rakat in ramadan or in any other month.
He used to pray four Rakat...let alone their beauty and length...let alone their beauty and length... and then he would pray three Rakat(witr)."She added "I asked 'O Allah's Apostle!Do you sleep before praying the witr?'He replied,'O'Aisha! My eyes sleep but my heart does not sleep."

7:41 AM  
Anonymous Nadeem said...

The hadith referenced above from Sahih al-Bukhari is obviously talking about Tahajjud, not Taraaweeh, which are two different prayers. The scholars have dealt with the proofs of this extensively, but simply: (1) Imam Bukhari (r) includes this hadith first in the chapter of tahajjud, and (2) logically, if she were referring to the rak'aat of Taraaweeh (which only occurs in Ramadhaan), why would she mention "in Ramadhaan or in any other month"? This is obviously because the prayer being asked about was the tahajjud prayer and the Prophet's (sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) practice vis-a-vis tahajjud in Ramadhaan.
wallaahu a'lam... was-salaam,

3:34 AM  
Anonymous adeel said...

cant the rest be taken between 2 rakats? this way 8 rakats also becomes valid according to ur argument.

my question is why rest only after four rakats? why not eight or two or twelve or any other number of rakats?

is there any proof taht the rest must be taken only after 4 but not 2 or 8?

11:33 AM  

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