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WITR - PRAYING AT NIGHT*


 

A proportion of investigators (verifiers- ahlu-t tahqiiq) have stated that witr is the name given to one rakah which is separated from these proceeding it, or the name given to prayer of an odd number of rak'ahs; that is five, seven, or nine rak'ahs offered one after the other. And Witr constitutes the conclusion of the prayers at night.

The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, performed the Prayer at Night according to two general methods:

(a) combining salat-ut tahajjud with salaatu-l witr, and
(b) offering salaatu-i witr only, salaatu-i witr performed without Tahajjud

The methods of offering Salaat ul Witr separate from Salaat-ut Tahajjud are:

 1. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, performed nine rak'ahs for Salaatu-l Witr. He madeTashahhud, for the first time at the end of the eighth rak'ah, and after saying the Tashahhud, he stood up and performed the ninth rak'ah. After he had said the Second Tashahhud, he gave salaam.

 2, The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, performed seven rak'ahs for Salaatu-l Witr. He made Tashahhud for the first time at the end of the sixth rak'ah, and after saying Tashahhud, he stood up and performed the seventh rak'ah. After the Second Tashahhud, he gave salaam.

3, The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, performed seven rak'ahs for Salaatu-l Witr. He made Tashahhud only at the end of the seventh rak'ah, and straightaway gave salaam.

4. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, performed five rak'ahs for Salaatu-l Witr. He made Tashahhud only at the end of the fifth rak'ah, and straightaway gave salaam.

 5. It is reported that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, performed three rak'ahs for Salaatu-l Witr. He gave salaam at the end of the second rak'ah. After doing that he performed one further rak'ah. It is this method which was selected by Imam Malik, may Allah have mercy on him.

 6. It is also reported that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, performed three rak'ahs for Salatal Witr. He said Tashahhud in the second rak'ah. After that he stood up and then performed a third rak'ah as far as Tahshahud and immediately gave salaam. This method was chosen by Imam Abu Hanifah,may Allah have mercy on him.

Neither of these two methods (i.e. 5 and 6) has a strong authority. According to the tahqiq of this, he really performed for the Salaatu-i Witr three rak'ahs saying Tashahhud* at the end of the third rak'ah only and then only gave salaam. (Adduced from the other methods).

 7. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, performed one rak'ah only for Salaatu-i Witr. It is this method which was chosen by Imam Ash-Shafi' and Abu Sulayman. Resulting from this we are able to state that Salaatu-l Witr consists of one, three, five, seven and nine rak'ahs. The Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him, said,

"Whoso wish let him Witr with five, and whoso wish let him Witr with three, and whoso wish let him Witr with one rak'ah : man shaa'a awtira bikhamsin, wa man shaa'a awtira bithalaalhin, wa man shaa'a awtira biwaahidatin". (Ahmad, al Bukhari and Muslim: Bulughu-l Maram, 74).

Witr with eleven rak'ahs, which became the way with the Shafi'iyyah, is not to be found in Bukhari and Mitslim, only in the Sunan of Al Baihaqi in Mustadraku-l Hakim and the Musnad of Muhammad bn Nasr. The relevant hadith states

"Witr with five, or seven, or nine, or with eleven rak'ahs : awtirou bikhamsin, aw sab'in, aw lis'irbi'ihdaa'ashratarak'atan". (Tuhfatu-t Tullaab, compilation of Imam Zakaria al Ansari, 80).

All its components were believable to Baihaqi. Al Haakim said, "This hadith is sahih; all its components meet the conditions of Al Bukhari and Muslim." An Nawawi stated, "in order to perform Salaatu-i Witr with eleven rak'ahs, it is possible by performing pairs of rak'ahs and the eleventh rak'ah separately on its own. It is also possible all at one go, saying Tashahhud at the end of the tenth and eleventh rak'ahs or only at the eleventh rak'ah." The second of the two methods explained here is sounder and free from ambiguities. There is a hadith reported by Muhammad bin Nasr stating that Salaatu-l Witr is thirteen rak'ahs. At Tirmidhi also reports this number.

However Ishaq ibn lbrahim states that this transmission is that the Prophet prayed thirteen rak'ahs at night including Witr. The conclusion of all this is that Prayer at Night is performed by offering Salaatu-t Tahajjud first of all, and then concluded with Salaatu-l Witr. It is possible also to perform Salaatu-i Witr only without first performing Salaatu-t Tahajjud, even though Salaatu-i Witr is stated to be the conclusion of Prayer at Night. And when a person has performed Salaatu-l Witr, then the opportunity for that night for him to perform Salaatu-t Tahajjud is lost. This is the conclusion (tahqiq) of a proportion of ulama.

However there are others who state that it is possible to perform Salaatu-t Tahajjud without performing Salaatu-i Witr again.

Witr of Three rak'ahs

It has been explained that performing Salaatul Witr of three rak'ahs has two methods : that is the 'method of Imam Malik' (see 5 above) and the 'method of lmam Abu Hanifah' (see 6).

It is necessary to stress here that there is a further way of performing Salaatu-Witr of three rak'ahs, that is to perform the three rak'ahs in one go with only one Tashahhud. This method was followed by lbn 'Abbas and by the majority of the principals of hadiith and ahlu-t tahqiq (verifiers or investigators).

Subsequently it ought to be conveyed that there is a disagreement whether Witr of three rak'ahs was authentically performed by the Prophet,peace and blessings be upon him. This is because there is a hadith of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, which was reported by Ad Daraqutni:

"Do not Witr with three, making it resemble maghrib : laa toutirou bithalaathin lushabbihou bi-l maghrib" (Ad Daraqutni, AI Muntaqa 1 :529).

Because of this hadith, a contradiction arises in this question. In order to lose the contradiction, it is necessary to collate the hadiths which prevent the performing of three rak'ahs of Salaatu-i Witr with the hadiths of Witr of three rak'ahs by way of establishing that the Witr of three rak'ahs which is not allowed is that which resembles Salaatu-l Maghrib : two Tashahhuds, one salaam. In order that it should not resemble Maghrib, it is necessary for us to perform it with one Tashahhud only, that is at the end of the third rak'ah.

If we perform Witr of three rak'ahs, we should recite in the first rak'ah Suratu- A'laa, in the second rak'ah Suratu-l Kaafiroon, and in the third rak'ah Suratu-Ikhlaas,

Witr with Qunut

 A hadith which is sahih, which is not contradicted, cannot be obtained that indicates that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, performed Qunut during Witr, whether during the month of Ramadan or during either months.

That said, a proportion of Sahabas (such as lbn Mas'oud, Abu Mousa, ibn 'Abbas, Al Bara', Anas), and a proportion of the Tab'een (such as Al Hasan al Basri and ,Umar bin 'Abdul 'Aziz) preferred that one should recite qunut in the Salaatu-l Witr, with the words taught by the Prophet to his grandson Al Hasan, throughout the year.

This way is held by Abu Hanifah, Ath Thawri, and lbnu-l Mubaarak on the basis of a hadith which is reported by Ahmad and the ahlu-s Sunnah from Al Hasan bin 'Ali. Ash Shafi'i was of the opinion that qunut with Witr was only to be recited during the latter half of the month of Ramadan, on the basis of a hadith of Abu Da'oud from 'Umar, that he ('Umar) gathered the people together during the month of Ramadan with Ubayy bin Ka'b as the imam. He (Ubayy) prayed twenty rak'ahs. He did not recite qunut except during the latter half of the month.

It is reported by Muhammad bin Nasr that on an occasion when Sa'id bin Jubayr was asked about the beginning of Witr with qunut, he replied, "During the time when 'Umar despatched a pair of armies and was taken in by the enemy's trap, 'Umar recited qunut during the later half of the month of Ramadan." The qunut of Witr may be offered before ruku' after having completed the qir'ah (recitation of ayats from the Qur'an), or after ruku'.

When one offers qunut before ruku', one should make takbir when raising one's hands. Similarly one should takbir after having completed qunut some ulema prefer one to raise hands. when offering qunut. Another proportion disagrees with this. This is the stronger.

As far as wiping the face with the hands after Qunut is concerned, this was never done by the Salaf (forebears in the faith-the generations of the Sahabas, Tabeen, and Taba' tabeen).

Recitations after Witr

 The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, used to say (after the salaam of Salaatu-Witr) three times

 "Glorify the King the Holy One" (Subhaana-al- Maliki-l Quddous).

After the third time, he continued with

" . . . the Sustainer of the Malaa'ikah ('Angel') and the Spirit" ( ... Rabbi-l Malaa'ikati wa-rRouh).'

After that he would recite

"0 Allah, I take refuge in Thy Pleasure (ridaa) from Thy Displeasure (sakhat) and in Thy Dispensation (mu'aafaah) from Thy Punishment ('uqoubah), and I take refuge with Thee from Thee. I cannot enumerate praises on Thee as Thou extolest Thyself : Allaahumma, innii a'oudhu biridaa'aka min sakhalika, wa bimu'aafaatika min 'uqoubalika, wa a'oudhu bika minka, laa uhsiy thanaa'an 'alayka kamaa athnayia anta 'ala nafsika".

 Concerning the "making up" of Witr

 The generality of 'ulama consider that the making up" (qadaa') of Witr is required by the Shari'ah, on the basis of a hadith reported by Al Bayhaqi and Al Haakim from Abi Hurayrah that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said

"if one of you enters upon morning and he has not performed Witr, than he should perform Witr : idhaa asbaha ahadukum wa lam youtir, falyoutir". (Fiqhu-s Sunnah, compiled by Sayyid Saabiq, ii:36).

It is reported by Abi Da'oud from Abi Sa'id al Khudri, that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said

"Whoever oversleeps his Witr or forgets it, he should pray it when he recollects it : man naama'an witrihi aw nasiyahu, falyusallihi idhaa dhakarahu". (Fiqhu-s Sunnah, ii:36).

The excellence of Witr

The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

1. "People of the Qur'an, make Witr for Allah is Witr. He loves the Witr3 : Yaa ahlu-l qur'aani, awtirou, fa'inna-Llaaha witrun yuhibbul- witra". (Abu Da'oud from Jabir, in At Targhib wa-t Tarhib, compiled by Imam al Mundziri, i:371).

2. "The Witr is a truth,,so whoever does not make Witr is not of us : al witru haqqun, faman lam youtir falaysa minnaa". (Ahmad from Buraidah, in At Targhib, i:372)

The Excellence of Prayer at Night

 The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

 "The most excellent fast after Ramadan is Allah's month of Muharram, and the most excellent salaah after the compulsory is the Prayer at Night : afdalu-s silyami ba'da Ramadaana shahru-Llaahi-l haraamu, wa afdalu-s salaati ba'da-1 fariidati salaatu-l layl." (Muslim from Abu Hurayrah, in At Targhib, i:387).numbers-Ed.

* Witr means an 'odd number'. Allah is One, and loves the odd numbers

Tashahhud: the saying of "Ashhadu an laa ilaaha Ilia-Llaah, wa-shhadu anna Muhammadan RasouluLlaah : I testify that there is no divinity but Allah, and I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah".

As this testimony is an essential part of the recitation normally made at the end of each pair of rak'ahs, the whole recitation has come to be identified by this term. It is also called the Tahiyyal from the opening words :"At tahiyyatu-t mubaarakatu-s salaawatu-t tayyibatu liliaah . . ."-Ed

Qunut: A particular du'a included in the salaah, usually while standing from rising from ruku' in the last rak'ah of the prayer. It is commonly offered during Salaatu-i Fajr

Tabieen:The generation following that of the Sahabas.

Haqq:Truth, or a 'right'-haqq can mean either, and more.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------*Translated from the Indonesian and adapted from "Pedoman Shalat", written by Sheikh Muhammad Hasbi As Siddiqi, Jakarta.

 

The Muslim
December 1973-January 1974















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