The recommended congregational prayers of the Month of Ramzan, better known as Tarawih, is deemed highly recommended in the Sunnah. In fact, it is labelled as Sunnah Muakkadah i.e. highly recommended to the point of being obligatory, abandoning which is not permissible without a reason.

Does the Tarawih have any legitimacy in the Holy Quran and / or the Sunnah?

Was it prayed at the time of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)?

Reply

The Tarawih finds no mention in the Holy Quran.

A cursory glance at the reports of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) indicates that the Tarawih never received the sanction of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) either. On the contrary, he several criticized it in word and action as some of these reports indicate:

1. Tarawih is innovation

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) declared – O people, the recommended congregational prayers in the nights of the Month of Ramazan is an innovation…surely a little from the Sunnah is better than much from innovation. Beware every innovation is deviation and leads to the Fire.

  • Taqreeb al-Maarif p 347
  • Nahj al-Haqq p 289-290

2. Dispersing the nafilah congregation in Month of Ramazan

Imam Sadiq (a.s.) narrates – The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) used to increase his prayers (nafilah) during the Month of Ramazan. When he (s.a.w.a.) used to pray (obligatory prayers) at early night, he would pray (nafilah) after it. The people would assemble behind him (to pray in congregation). So he would enter (his chamber) and leave them. Then he (s.a.w.a.) would come out and again they would assemble and pray behind him (s.a.w.a.). So he would leave them and he would enter (his chamber) time and again.

  • Al-Kafi v 4 p 155, v 7 p 616
  • Wasail al-Shia v 8 p 22, p 23 (with variation), p 46

Clearly the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) never offered the recommended prayers of the Month of Ramazan in congregation and repeatedly dispersed the congregation whenever he (s.a.w.a.) witnessed it. Hence to brand the Tarawih as Sunnah Muakkadah or any Sunnah for the matter is a lie. In fact it is an innovation which will take its founder along with the practitioners to the Fire.