Ramazan and the night prayers
Posted on August 2nd, 2011

I. Ahmad, Dalupotha, Negombo

Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) said: The best month for fasting next after Ramadhan is Muharram, and the best prayer next after the prescribed prayers is prayer at night. (Muslim). The Prophet also observed the fast during the greater part of Sha’ban (Muslim).

Ibn Umar relates that Holy prophet (PBUH) said: Night prayer is a succession of two raka’as at a time, and when you perceive the approach of dawn add a single raka’as to make an odd number. (Bukhari and Muslim).

Jabir relates that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was asked: Which prayer is best? He answered: The one in which the worshipper makes a long stand. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) once said: Every night there is a brief space of time during which whatever of good pertaining to this life or the next a Muslim supplicates for, it is granted him. (Muslim).

Ayesha relates that the Holy Prophet, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, never offered more than eleven raka’as at night during Ramadhan or at any other time. A raka’a constitutes a standing position, bowing position and two prostrations of the prayer.  He would offer four raka’as long and perfect, and then four of the same type and then three (vitr). I asked him: Messenger of Allah, do you sleep before offering vitr? He answered: Ayesha, my eyes sleep but my heart does not. (Bukhari and Muslim).

`The Tahajjud prayers described above is a voluntary prayer comprising of two to eight raka’as, offered, in succession of twos or fours, from midnight till dawn manifests itself. It is concluded by three raka’as of vitr. It may be offered individually or in congregation. A true Muslim attaches great importance to this prayer. The Taraveeh prayer is actually an extension of the Tahajjud prayers offered by the Holy Prophet (PBUH). It was introduced by Hazarat Umar as a congregational or individual prayer for the month of Ramadhan. The Taraveeh prayer is offered after two voluntary raka’as of the Isha prayers (the last of the five compulsory prayers). It comprises eight raka’as again offered in succession of twos or fours and concluded with the vitr prayers in congregation.

The Taraveeh prayers were essentially introduced to prevent the habit, still prevalent among some Muslims, to retire to bed immediately after a hearty meal (Iftar) and the offering of the Maghrib and Isha prayers. An opportunity is frequently taken of completing the entire Quran, from beginning to end, in phased stages, during Ramadhan through Taraveeh prayers led by a Hafizul-ul-Quran (an individual who has committed the Quran to memory). It goes without saying that the Tahajjud prayers are preferred to the Taraveeh prayers. A Muslim is required to carry out all his normal function during the month of Ramadhan e.g. if he is a businessman, he may still carry out his business duties while fasting during the daytime.

However, in some Muslim countries, Ramadhan is an official month of holy days. Muslims in such countries, engage themselves in heavy meals in the evening in an attempt to make up for what they have lost. They then sleep the night through and miss out the pre-dawn meal. These practices are not what sIslam recommends but what some Muslims have devised for themselves. the emphasis is on prayers; not on sleep.

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