Tarawih is a special Salat observed voluntarily, according to Sunnah, only in the month of Ramadan.
It contains many genuflexions (raka‘at) ranging from six to twenty depending on the choice of its observers. Despite its significant role in Ramadan, Tarawih was not observed congregationally at the inception of Islam. When Prophet Muhammad (SAW) first introduced it as an attribute of Ramadan in Madinah, he started observing it for the first few days, every evening, after Salatul ‘Isha’i.
But some of his companions soon joined him to observe it congregationally. However, when the Prophet observed that Tarawih, a supererogatory Salat, was gradually being turned into another obligatory, congregational Salat, he stopped observing it in the Mosque to avoid turning it into another Salat of obligatory status.
At that point, his companions wanted to know his reason for stopping the observance of Tarawih in the Mosque and he told them that he did not want it to be misconceived for another obligatory Salat. Thus, the congregational observance of Tarawih came to an end.
Thence, it became a Salat for individuals mostly in their private homes.

However, shortly after the demise of Abubakr Siddiq, the first Khalif, Umar Bn Khattab who became the second Caliph walked into the Mosque one evening and met a crowd of Muslims observing Tarawih.

Each of them was reciting the verses of the Qur’an aloud to the disturbance of others. Umar then asked all of them to stop reciting those verses and asked them about the Salat they were observing. When they told them it was Tarawih, he ordered them to queue up as a norm for observing congregational Salat according to Sunnah.

He then asked for the most knowledgeable person among them and told him to lead the rest in observing Tarawih congregationally while he watched with delightful admiration.

After the completion of the Salat, Umar said satisfactorily that “I have established a beautiful tradition”. From thence, congregational observance of Tarawih became a tradition that is today enthusiastically observed throughout the world by Muslims in the month of Ramadan.

Tarawih is one of the two spiritual attributes preceding daily Ramadan fasting. The second is Sahur. But the latter is weightier than the former because of its entailed statutory status. Please read about Sahur tomorrow in sha’Allah. Ramadan Karim!


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