Is Salatul Taraweeh 8 or 20 rak’ats in Ramadan?

The following treatise by Dr. Abul Hasan Hussain Ahmed is probably the most in-depth research and defence in English of the major proofs to establish the view that in the time of the Companions (Sahaba) they prayed 20 rak’ats of Salatul Taraweeh in congregation.  Hence, this is what they would have received from the practice of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) who lead Salatul Taraweeh in congregation for only a few nights in his time and then used to pray them on an individual basis.

The position for a minimum of 20 rak’ats is that which is also the most famous position emanating from the major Mujtahid Imams from the pious predecessors (Salaf-us-Salihin), like Abu Hanifa (d. 150 AH), Malik ibn Anas (d. 179 AH), al-Shafi’i (d. 204 AH) and Ahmed ibn Hanbal (d. 241 AH).

In the Muwatta of Imam Malik (trans. A. Bewley) it has mentioned the following:

1 Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab from ‘Urwa ibn az-Zubayr from ‘A’isha, the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, prayed in the mosque one night and people prayed behind him. Then he prayed the next night and there were more people. Then they gathered on the third or fourth night and the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, did not come out to them. In the morning, he said, “I saw what you were doing and the only thing that prevented me from coming out to you was that I feared that it would become obligatory (fard) for you.” This happened in Ramadan. [In Sahih Muslim also]

2 Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab from Abu Salama ibn ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn ‘Awf from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to exhort people to spend the night in prayer in Ramadan but never ordered it definitely. He used to say, “Whoever stands in prayer in the night during Ramadan with belief and expecting the reward will be forgiven all his previous wrong actions.”[These words are given in the banner above in Arabic)

Ibn Shihab said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, died while that was still the custom, and it continued to be the custom in the khalifate of Abu Bakr and at the beginning of the khalifate of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab.” [see Sahih al-Bukhari 1905] 

Yahya related to me from Malik that Yazid ibn Ruman said, “The people used to pray twenty-three rak’as at night during Ramadan in the time of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab.”

In this age of technology, it has become easy to claim something and cut and paste a barrage of references by most “researchers”, but how many people have the time, stamina and resources to check each and every reference that a party echoes forth as proof and contention for its arguments?!

The principle objective of this treatise will be to examine and defend the authenticity of the major narration for 20 rak’ats of Taraweeh in the time of the Amir al-Mu’minin, the second Caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab (radhiallahu ‘anhu), which has come via the route of the trustworthy narrator, Yazid ibn Abdullah ibn Khusayfa from the Sahabi, Saa’ib ibn Yazid (ra). In doing so, the alternate narration from the trustworthy narrator known as Muhammad ibn Yusuf from his uncle, the same noble Sahabi, Saa’ib ibn Yazid, apparently mentioning 8 rak’ats of Taraweeh in the time of Umar ibn a Khattab (ra) will be shown to have a Shadh (aberrant) wording. Supporting narrations for 20 rak’ats in the time of Umar ibn al Khattab (ra) will also be mentioned.

In the latter part of this treatise, an examination and demonstration of why the variant narration for 8 rak’ats of Taraweeh as attributed back to the noble Sahabi, Jabir ibn Abdullah is also weak will be demonstrated, as well as an explanation of how the Ulama (scholars) understood A’isha’s (ra) narrations on 8 rak’ats.

Let us now move onto observe the claims made by some and how they are answerable without bias and distortion.  Please note the password to view the PDF below.

Title: Answering The Claims That There Are No Authentic Narrations For 20 Rak’ats Taraweeh
Author: Shaykh Dr. Abul Hasan Hussain Ahmed
Date: 1 Ramadan 1430AH / 22 August 2009

Download link:


 Password: taraweeh


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