AN ACADEMIC REPLY TO THE IMAM OF

AHLE-HADITH MASJID IN LENASIA - TRANSVAAL

ON 8-RAKA'AAT OF TARAWEEH SALAAH

 

All praise is due to Allah, the Exalted, and peace and blessings of Allah be upon His Beloved Messenger Muhammad, his family and all his companions.

 

This is an open letter to the Imam of Ahle-Hadith Masjid in Lenasia, Transvaal who wants to challenge the 'correctness' of the 8-raka'aat Taraweeh Salaah read by the Ahle-Hadith and some Modernist group of Muslims during the month of Ramadaan.

 

Assalaamu Alaikum! Dear Imam Sahib,

I recently did received a JUMBO size poster from you which is printed in India, a kind of poster of which I have already seen quite a few. The size of the posters printed is just to impress Sunni Muslims that the Ahle-Hadith group of Muslims are correct in reading the 8-raka’aat of Taraweeh Salaah, but the educational content and arguments in these JUMBO posters are illogical and totally misleading.  It also reveals the superficial kind of knowledge of the Ahadeeth the Ahle-Hadith group of Muslims possess.

 

On what grounds do you want to challenge the so-called 'validity' of the 8-raka'aat Taraweeh Salaah?  If you are truly an Ahle-Hadith scholar, you should really be basing your facts entirely on the authentic Ahadeeth of Rasoolullah (SALLALLAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM).  Why do you quote - completely out of context purposely - and use the Hanafee scholars in your JUMBO poster to support your erroneous deed of performing 8-raka'aat Taraweeh Salaah?  You have quoted only a few Ahadeeth in your JUMBO poster, why is this so? Surely these are not the only Ahadeeth relating to the salaah read by Rasoolullah (SALLALLAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM) during the month of Ramadaan. Are you afraid that by quoting the many other Ahadeeth it would have become clear how contrary your acts are to the Ahadeeth of Rasoolullah (SALLALLAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM)? Inspite of these contrary acts you still call yourself an Ahle Hadith?  What right have you to such a noble title?

 

Let me remind you of a few noteworthy facts from authentic Ahadeeth relating to salaah read by Rasoolullah (SALLALLAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM) during Ramadaan.  Since you claim to be an Ahle Hadith, I will base my arguments entirely on a few authentic Ahadeeth and prove to you and your followers how far-fetched you and your group are from practising the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SALLALLAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM).

 

HADITH NO 1:

 

Narrated Urwah (Radiyallahu Anhu) that he was informed by Hazrath A’ishah (Radiyallahu Anha):   'The Messenger of Allah (SALLALLAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM) went out (of his house) in the middle of the night and prayed in the Masjid and some men prayed behind him (in congregation). In the morning the people spoke about it and then a large number of them gathered and prayed behind him (on the second night). On the next morning the people again talked about it and on the third night the Masjid was full with a large number of people. On the fourth night the Masjid was overwhelmed with people and could not accommodate them, but the Messenger of Allah (SALLALLAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM) came out (only) for the morning prayer (Salaatul Fajr).  When the morning prayer was finished, he recited the Tashahhud and (addressing the people) said:

"Your presence was not hidden from me but I was afraid lest the night prayer (qiyaam) should be enjoined (made Fard) upon you and you might not be able to carry it on."  So, the Messenger of Allah (SALLALLAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM) died and the situation remained like that i.e. the people prayed the night prayer individually.'

 

HADITH NO 2:

 

Narrated Abu Salamah bin Abdur Rahman (Radiyallahu Anhu) that he asked Hazrath A’ishah (Radiyallahu Anha):

'How was the prayer of the Messenger of Allah (SALLALLAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM) in Ramadaan?'  She replied: 'He did not pray more than eleven raka'aat in Ramadaan or in any other month.  He used to pray 4 raka'aat - let alone their beauty and length; and then he would pray 4 raka'aat - let alone their beauty and length; and then he would pray 3 raka'aat (Witr).'  She added:  'I asked: 0 Messenger of Allah (SALLALLAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM)!  Do you sleep before praying the Witr?'  He replied:  '0 A’ishah! My eyes sleep but my heart does not sleep.'

 

The above-mentioned Ahadeeth is quoted from Sahih Al-Bukhari translation of Dr. Muhsin Khan VOL III page 128 (1986 edition) from the Book of Taraweeh Prayers under the chapter: The superiority of praying at night in Ramadaan.  These Ahadeeth are also contained in Sahih Muslim, Mu’atta, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawood and Nisai.

 

The following Ahadeeth are contained in the Mu’atta of Imam Malik (Rahmatullahi Alayhi) in chapter 66 Hadith Numbers 245 and 246 under the section: Salaah in Ramadaan:

 

HADITH NO 3:

 

Saa'ib bin Yazeed (Radiyallahu Anhu) reported that Hazrath 'Umar bin al-Khattab (Radiyallahu Anhu) ordered Ubayy bin K'ab (Radiyallahu Anhu) and Tameem al-Daarie (Radiyallahu Anhu) to say eleven raka'aat.  Saa'ib bin Yazeed (Radiyallahu Anhu) said that the Imam used to recite one hundred verses in one rak'ah so that (while standing) we leaned against timber and did not finish until it was nearly morning.

 

HADITH NO 4:

 

Yazeed bin Rumaan (Radiyallahu Anhu) reported that the people used to say twenty three raka'aat in the time of 'Umar (ie. twenty rak'aat Taraweeh Salaah and three rak'aat of Witr).

 

HADITH NO 2 and a few other similar Ahadeeth were quoted in your JUMBO size poster to support your stand of performing the 8-raka'aat Taraweeh Salaah. Let us understand this Hadith with an open mind and a sincere heart of a Mu'min.  Let us not stubbornly follow a few who have clearly misunderstood this Hadith of our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (SALLALLAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM).  Let me point out a few facts pertaining to this Hadith:

 

POINT NO 1:

Hazrath A’ishah (Radiyallahu Anha) is reported as saying that Rasoolullah (SALLALLAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM) used to read eleven (11) raka'aat of salaah in Ramadaan and in months other than Ramadaan.  Also note two other points in connection with this Hadith:

 

- the word TARAWEEH is not even mentioned in this Hadith

- there is no mention in this of the salaah being performed with congregation (jamaa'ah)

 

If this salaah was performed in the months other than Ramadaan as well, then how can this salaah be the Taraweeh Salaah?  Taraweeh Salaah is performed in the month of Ramadaan only.  It is therefore conclusively evident that the salaah referred to in this Hadith is none other than the Tahajjud Salaah and NOT the Taraweeh Salaah.   The reason being that the Tahajjud Salaah is performed every night throughout the year and not only in the month of Ramadaan as the Hadith itself confirms.

 

POINT NO 2:

According to this Hadith, Rasoolullah (SALLALLAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM) read this salaah every night consecutively throughout his life of Prophethood.  Why do you and your group perform this salaah only in the month of Ramadaan?  This practice is contrary to what this Hadith confirms.

 

POINT NO 3:

According to this Hadith, the eleven (11) raka'aat salaah which Rasoolullah (SALLALLAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM) used to read was read by him during the latter half of the night.  Why do you and your group perform this salaah in Ramadaan during the early hours of the night and go to bed so early.  This practice again is contrary to what the Hadith confirms.

 

POINT NO 4:

According to this Hadith, the eleven (11) raka'aat of salaah read by Rasoolullah (SALLALLAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM) was read at his home without congregation and not in the Masjid.  Why do you and your group perform this salaah as Taraweeh in the Masjid and with congregation? These practices are again contrary to what the Hadith confirms.

 

POINT NO 5:

Nowhere in this Hadith, or in all the books of Ahadeeth, is there any mention of the word TARAWEEH.  This terminology is obtained from the Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence).  Why do you and your group read this salaah as TARAWEEH SALAAH?  This is absolutely shocking.  Are you really an Ahle Hadith?

 

POINT NO 6:

According to Hadith No 1 above, Rasoolullah (SALLALLAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM) used to read this salaah for a prolonged length of time.  From other Ahadeeth it is also known that his feet used to swell on account of his prolonged standing in salaah. Why do you and your group complete the Taraweeh Salaah in such a short time? Is this not contrary to the idea conveyed by Hadith No 1 above?

 

POINT NO 7:

The reading of 8 raka'aat Taraweeh Salaah with congregation in the Masjid for every night consecutively in the month of Ramadaan cannot be found in any of the books of Ahadeeth? This was neither the practice of Rasoolullah (SALLALLAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM) nor did he command it.  Why do you and your group perform the 8 raka'aat Taraweeh Salaah every year during the whole month of Ramadaan?  If you claim to be an Ahle Hadith, then please live your life according to the Ahadeeth. Inspite of being so contrary to the Sunnah of Rasoolullah (SALLALLAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM), you still have the audacity to deceive innocent Muslims by publishing JUMBO size posters and challenge the Ahle Sunnah Wal Jamaa'ah scholars on 8 raka'aat Taraweeh Salaah.  Is this not a great mischief?

 

POINT NO 8:

In the two years of the Khilaafah of Hazrath Abu Bakr (Radiyallahu Anhu), there is no mention in any of the books of Ahadeeth or Islamic History that Hazrath Abu Bakr (Radiyallahu Anhu) performed 8 raka'aat Taraweeh Salaah with congregation.  If Hadith No 2 above really referred to the Taraweeh Salaah and if this was the Sunnah of Rasoolullah (SALLALLAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM), Hazrath Abu Bakr (Radiyallahu Anhu) would have definitely continued to uphold and command this sunnah.  This fact also proves that the 8 raka'aat of salaah mentioned in Hadith No 2 refers to the Tahajjud Salaah.  You and your group have completely misunderstood this Hadith.   Please read all Ahadeeth intelligently and not merely on a literal basis like the Modernist Parwezis.

 

POINT NO 9:

During the two years of the Khilaafah of Hazrath Abu Bakr (Radiyallahu Anhu), there is no mention in the books of Ahadeeth of Hazrath A’ishah (Radiyallahu Anha) commanding her father Hazrath Abu Bakr (Radiyallahu Anhu) to establish the 8 raka'aat Taraweeh Salaah in Ramadaan. This itself is a great proof that the Hadith No 2 above does not refer to the Taraweeh Salaah but refers to the Tahajjud Salaah.  Hazrath A’ishah (Radiyallahu Anha) must have witnessed at least 50 Ramadaan after Rasoolullah's (SALLALLAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM) death.  You don't have to be a genius to discover this.  If Hazrath A’ishah (Radiyallahu Anha), a highly educated and illustrious scholar and wife of the Prophet (SALLALLAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM), did not command the Ashaab-e-Rasool to perform the 8 raka'aat Taraweeh Salaah in Ramadaan with congregation, then why do you command Muslims to perform the 8 raka'aat Taraweeh Salaah in Ramadaan?  Do you regard yourself superior in knowledge to Hazrath A’ishah (Radiyallahu Anha) in matters of religion?  Astaghfirullah!  Are you really an Ahle-Hadith?  Please reconsider your claim.

 

HADITH NO 3 and HADITH NO 4, which appears consecutively one after another in the same Mu’atta, seems to contradict one another. This again proves that the eleven raka'aat of salaah refers to the Tahajjud Salaah and not the Taraweeh Salaah.   Imam Malik (Rahmatullahi Alayhi), being a great Jurist (Faqeeh), could not have compiled contradictory reports in his Mu’atta.

 

From the above points of consideration, it can be easily concluded that you and your Ahle-Hadith group have committed a grave mistake in understanding the Ahadeeth on the salaah read by Rasoolullah (SALLALLAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM) during Ramadaan.  Because your leaders have erred in their interpretation of the Ahadeeth, you are too stubborn to give up and admit their mistakes.  Keep your stubbornness aside and be sincere to Rasoolullah (SALLALLAHU ALAYHI WASALLAM).  By being proud and stubborn and not accepting the Truth (Haqq), Allah puts a veil over your eyes and seals your heart.  This is the Law of Allah as mentioned in the beginning of Surah Al-­Baqarah in the Holy Qur’an.  Once this happens, volumes and volumes of books can be written to show you the Truth but you will not be able to see it.

 

After all that I have mentioned above, I hope that you are now thinking not twice but many times on your 'great JUMBO size' challenge of the Ahle Sunnah Wal Jama'ah scholars on the issue of the 8 raka'aat Taraweeh Salaah.  Could you please reply in detail, point-by-point, answering every single argument discussed in this article before you go on a JUMBO size platform for a JUMBO size challenge.

 

May Allah, the Exalted, guide us all onto the Straight Path.  The Path of those upon whom He has bestowed His Favours, not the path of those upon whom His Wrath descends nor of those who are astray.  Ameen!

 

Wassalaamu Alaikum wa rahmatullah!

 

ABDUL HAQ ABDUL KADIR

Umhlanga Rocks, KZN, South Africa.