Sunday, June 04, 2006

Number of Rakaats of Witr Salah

Here's the final part of my notes for Lesson 125.
-----------------
باب: مَا جَاءَ فِي الْوِتْر
539. عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ رَضِيَ اللهُ عَنْهُمَا: أَنّ رَجُلًا سَأَلَ رَسُولَ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَنْ صَلاَةِ اللّيْلِ, فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: صَلاَةُ اللّيْلِ مَثْنَى مَثْنَى, فَإِذَا خَشِيَ أَحَدُكُمُ الصّبْحَ صَلّى رَكْعَةً وَاحِدَةً, تُوتِرُ لَهُ ما قَدْ صَلّى


539. Narrated Ibn 'Umar رضى الله عنهما : Once a man asked Allâh's Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم about the night prayer. Allâh's Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم replied, The night prayer is offered as two Rak'ât followed by two Rak'ât and (so on) and if anyone is afraid of the approaching dawn (Fajr prayer) he should pray one Rak'ât and this will be a Witr for all the Rak'ât which he has prayed before.

In this hadeeth the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said that at night you should pray two rakaats followed by two, and when you fear the arrival of dawn you should pray one rakaat. Virtually all the ulema agree that it is better (preferable) to pray salah at night in twos i.e. you should pray two rakaats then say salaam – this is according to all ulema except Imam Malik (رحمة الله عليه) and Imam Abu Hanifah (رحمة الله عليه).

Imam Abu Hanifah (رحمة الله عليه) says that it is preferable to pray 4 rakaats. Imam Shafi (رحمة الله عليه) and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (رحمة الله عليه) are of the opinion that it is permissible to pray 4 rakaats during the day and night but 2 is preferable. Imam Abu Yusuf (رحمة الله عليه) and Imam Muhammad (رحمة الله عليه) say it is preferable to pray 4 during the day and 2 at night. Imam Malik (رحمة الله عليه) says one should pray 2 rakaats during the day and night, but it is not permissible to pray 4 rakaats at night. He is alone in saying that you can only pray 2 rakaats at night.

A question which arises is whether it is permissible to pray just 1 rakaat or is 2 the minimum. Imam Abu Hanifah (رحمة الله عليه), Imam Abu Yusuf (رحمة الله عليه), and Imam Muhammad (رحمة الله عليه) say it is not permissible to pray 1 rakaat. Imam Malik (رحمة الله عليه) says Witr salah is 1 rakaat. Imam Shafi (رحمة الله عليه) and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (رحمة الله عليه) say that for both nafil and Witr salah it is permissible to pray 1 rakaat.

The wording in this hadeeth from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) is that you should pray at night by praying 2 rakaats followed by 2 rakaats etc, and when you fear the onset of dawn you should end your night prayers in an odd manner. Maghrib salah comes at the end of the day and makes the prayer of the day so similarly the night prayers should also end in an odd manner. In is not explained in this hadeeth how one should pray 1 rakaat.

So the next question is whether Witr salah consists of 1 rakaat or 3 rakaats? In the Haramain and in Madinah, 1 rakaat is prayed. In the Hijaz, people predominantly follow the fiqh of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal – it should be noted that all of the scholars have their evidences on which they have based their opinion.

According to the Hanafi fiqh, Witr salah should be 3 rakaats. Imam Hakim (رحمة الله عليه) narrates a hadeeth from Aisha (رضى الله عنها) that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) would pray 3 rakaats and would only say salaam at the end. Someone once said to Hasan al Basri (رحمة الله عليه) that Abdullah ibn Umar (رضى الله عنه) would pray 1 rakaat for Witr salah (after praying 2 rakaats). Hasan al Basri replied that his father who was more learned would pray 3 rakaats. Ali (رضى الله عنه), Anas (رضى الله عنه) and other sahabah would pray 3 rakaats for Witr salah.

Imam Malik (رحمة الله عليه) says in his muwatta that you have to add two rakaats prior to praying the 1 rakaat, so collectively you pray 3 rakaats with salaam in between. Imam Malik (رحمة الله عليه) says something similar but says it is not obligatory. From this hadeeth, it appears that 1 rakaat can be added without saying salaam after two before dawn. All the different methods are permissible.

Imam Shafi (رحمة الله عليه), Imam Malik (رحمة الله عليه) and other scholars say that if the Imam is praying 3 rakaats, you follow the Imam. The majority of the Hanafi scholars say that if an Imam is praying 3 rakaats with 2 salaams, then it is not permissible to pray behind such an Imam for Witr salah. The reason for this is not bigotry but because salah of 1 rakaat is non-existent according to Hanafi fiqh. It came to the attention of Abdullah ibn Masud (رضى الله عنه) that people were praying 1 rakaat and was reported as saying that 1 rakaat has never been sufficient. However, some ulema (a minority) of the Hanafi School of Fiqh say it is permissible to pray behind an Imam when he prays Witr salah of 1 rakaat. Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq said he is more inclined to act on the opinion of the minority.

3 comments:

Shoeb said...

You wrote:

Imam Malik (رحمة الله عليه) says in his muwatta that you have to add two rakaats prior to praying the 1 rakaat, so collectively you pray 3 rakaats with salaam in between. Imam Malik (رحمة الله عليه) says something similar but says it is not obligatory.

You might've meant another imam saying something similar?

Also, jazakAllah khair for these notes, they are very helpful.

Student of Knowledge said...

Jazakumullahu khairan Brother Shoeb for spotting that typo. i should have written "Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (rh) says something similar but it is not obligatory.

Barakallahu fee.

wasalaam.

حسن said...

!!