Taraweeh in Lockdown

Kid praying


Praying taraweeh in Lockdown

As Ramadan approaches and there is currently no end in sight for the lockdown it is worth just reminding ourselves about the blessed Ramadan sunnah of taraweeh.  Even if the lockdown does end, social distancing rules will no doubt apply,

Many of us only ever pray taraweeh in the masjid and behind an imam. For many, taraweeh is as much of a social occasion as it is a religious occasion.

This reminder will hopefully encourage you to be brave to pray taraweeh at home with (or without) your family and not miss out on the spirit and reward which is found in the taraweeh prayers in this holy month.

Taraweeh is a prayer specific to Ramadan and is prayed after Isha and before tahajjud (prayed after sleep). It is 20 rakaat (see discussion below) and is prayed in 2 sets of 2 rakaat with a short break after 4 rakaat (or 2 sets).

So far so good. As mentioned, many of us are used to praying taraweeh in the masjid and it is worth a reminder how we pray it ourselves.

Taraweeh is prayed as 2 rakaat with the intention of “sunnah of taraweeh”.

  1. You make the opening takbeer and the initial supplication praising Allah (thana).
  2. After which you recite surah al-Fatiha.
  3. After the recitation of al-Fatiha you then recite whatever amount you can.
    • We are used to the Imam at this stage reciting 1-2 pages from the Quran, but what we have to remember is that we can read anything from the Quran which is easy for us.
    • It is worth noting that the sunnah is 20 rakaat and so if you are in it for the long haul and not used to praying other than the fardh prayers throughout the year, you may want to make each recitation short and take longer breaks at the 4 rakaat (2 set) interval.
    • During that time you can have some water, do some dhikr and then, when rested continue.

The purpose of taraweeh during Ramadan is to continue to build on your connection to Allah and increase in your Taqwa.

The best way of doing this is by following the sunnah which is to pray 20 rakaat albeit short, but if you can’t then any number is possible so long as they are in units of 2 i.e. 2 or 4 or 6 up to 20.

There is no evidence to suggest that the Prophet (SAW) recited one whole Quran during the taraweeh prayers, although he did recite the Quran in full during the month.

Can I hold the Quran while reciting?

According to the evidence brought forward by Imam Abu-Hanifa (Hanafi Madhab) the answer is NO and your prayer will be invalidated. Please see a lengthy discussion on the evidence here from SeekersGuidance.

According to the evidence brought forward by the Shafi Madhab the answer is YES and the prayer is fine. Please see the discussion of the evidences here  from IslamQA

Can I pray alone?

Yes, it is permissible to pray alone in your home, but praying it in a congregation at home would gain the reward of praying in congregation, even if it is just you and your wife.  Note that you can’t follow someone who is not present i.e. following an imam on TV or on the radio.

Do I call the adhan for taraweeh?

You would call the adhan at home for Isha prayer and then call the Iqama before the fardh prayer. After praying the fardh you pray the sunnah after isha (2 rakaat) before praying the taraweeh. None of these require an adhan nor do they require an iqama.


Taraweeh is a highly emphasised recommended prayer (sunnah). It is called taraweeh because after they used to pray four units they would rest for a short while. It is 20 rakaat by what is related on the authority of ibn ‘Abbas that:

the Prophet (saw) used to pray 20 rakaat in the month of Ramadan.

It is prayed in units of two (in congregation as well as the witr prayer) in the mosque in the beginning of the night (after the isha prayer) and better to pray it after its sunnah (in Ramadan) due to the hadeeth which was reported by A’ishah (ra) who mentioned that:

the Prophet (saw) prayed it for some nights and they prayed it with him, then he would not come out and prayed it in his house for the rest of the month, and he (saw) said: “I feared that it would become obligatory upon you and you would be unable to perform it.”

Why do people say that there are only 8 rakaat for taraweeh?

This is based on another hadith of A’ishah (ra) when she said that the Prophet (saw) did not pray more than eleven rakaat in Ramadan or in any other month i.e. 8 rakaat and 3 rakaat for witr.

This hadith refers to the Prophet (saw)’s practice of praying the tahajjud prayer. Put simply, would it be conceivable that the Prophet would pray 8 rakaat the whole year i.e. he would not increase the number of prayers in Ramadan? Or is the argument that he didn’t pray tahajjud in Ramadan and therefore prayed 8 rakaat of taraweeh in its place? This cannot stand because it would mean that the Prophet (saw) was going from something more meritorious (tahajjud) to something less meritorious (taraweeh).

There are numerous textually based evidences to show that the Prophet (saw) did not pray 8 rakaat for taraweeh, but, it is worth emphasising that this is a sunnah and if one can only manage 8 rakaat or even 2 rakaat it is better than none, but of course to pray 20 is most meritorious.

This is a very simplified article for the purposes of brevity.  If you have specific questions please contact us on info@lote-tree.org

Allah knows Best.

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