Taraweeh A Bid’ah?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم       


In the Name of Allah The most Gracious The Most Merciful



There are people who try to justify that there is such a thing as bid’ah hasanah and take the example of taraweeh. Taraweeh was known to be an act of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). So this negates their claims. The action was stoppped by the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) because he did not wnat people to think that the act was obligatory. Taraweeh was revived after the death of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) by Umar (رضي الله عنه).  

The Proof for this is the hadith:  ‘A’isha reported that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) prayed one night in the mosque and people also prayed along with him. He then prayed on the following night and there were many persons. Then on the third or fourth night (many people) gathered there, but the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) did not come out to them (for leading the Tarawih prayer). When it was morning he said: I saw what you were doing, but I desisted to come to you (and lead the prayer) for I feared that this prayer might become obligatory for you. (He the narrator) said: It was the month of Ramadan. (Bukhari and Muslim)

The proof of the revival is in the narration: ‘Abdur Rahman bin ‘Abdul Qari said, “I went out in the company of ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab one night in Ramadan to the mosque and found the people praying in different groups. A man praying alone or a man praying with a little group behind him. So, ‘Umar said, ‘In my opinion I would better collect these (people) under the leadership of one Qari (Reciter) (i.e. let them pray in congregation!)’. So, he made up his mind to congregate them behind Ubai bin Ka’b. Then on another night I went again in his company and the people were praying behind their reciter. On that, ‘Umar remarked, ‘What an excellent Bid’a (i.e. innovation in religion) this is; but the prayer which they do not perform, but sleep at its time is better than the one they are offering.’ He meant the prayer in the last part of the night. (In those days) people used to pray in the early part of the night.” (Bukhari)

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said, when refuting the view of those who quoted ‘Umar’s words “What a good innovation this is” as meaning that innovation (bid’ah) is permissible: With regard to qiyaam in Ramadaan, the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) introduced this to his ummah, and he led them in prayer for a number of nights, because at his time they used to pray in congregation and individually. But he did not persist in leading them in one congregation, lest that be made obligatory for them. When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) died, sharee’ah was established (and would not change after that).

When ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) became caliph, he united them behind one imam, Ubayy ibn Ka’b, who united the people in one congregation on the orders of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with him). ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) was one of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs, of whom the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “I urge you to adhere to my Sunnah and the way of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs after me; cling tightly to it.” So what he did was Sunnah but he said, “What a good innovation this is,” because it was an innovation in the linguistic sense, as they were doing something that they had not done during the life of the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله عليه وسلم), i.e., gathering to do this, but it is Sunnah in the shar’i sense.”  Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 22/234, 235

Asad ibn ‘Amr ibn Abi Yoosuf said: I asked Abu Haneefah about Taraweeh and what ‘Umar did. He said: Taraweeh is a confirmed Sunnah, and ‘Umar did not base his decision on speculation and he was not introducing bid’ah (an innovation). He did not enjoin it except because of what he knew from the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله عليه وسلم). ‘Umar introduced this and gathered the people behind Ubayy ibn Ka’b and he offered this prayer in congregation, at the time when the Sahaabah, the Muhaajireen and Ansaar  were still alive, and no one among them objected to that, rather they helped him and agreed with him, and also enjoined it.

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