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Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Witr Salah -most important daily prayer.

Which prayer is witr?

How is it prayed?

How many Rakaats?

Why we should pray Witr.

The reason why Imam Bukhari (ra) places the Book of Witr in his Saheeh after the Books of Jummah and Eid  but before other prayers because it is also an important prayer other than the five Fard prayers.

Witr Salah is the most important daily prayer other than the five daily prayers. Some ullama consider Witr Salah to be wajib but others call it an emphasized Sunnah, but they all consider it to be obligatory. It is performed after Isha Salah and although it seems very simple, it is very complicated and detailed in its components and structure. The ullama mention 20 major issues (masail) where there are points of difference. Hence, the Book of Witr is very complicated.

Witr is sometimes pronounced watr, as in Surah al Fajr:
Sunnah indicates

Witr prayer is one of the greatest acts of worship that would draw one closer to Allah SWT.

When: The Beginning Of Its Time Or Later Part Of The Night?

The Sunnah indicates that if a person thinks he will be able to get up at the end of the night, it is better to delay it, because prayer at the end of the night is better and is witnessed (by the angels). But whoever fears that he would not be able to get up at the end of the night, he should pray Witr before he goes to sleep, because of the hadith of Jabber (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

    “Whoever fears that he will not get up at the end of the night, let him pray Witr at the beginning of the night, but whoever thinks that he will be able to get up at the end of the night, let him pray Witr at the end of the night, for prayer at the end of the night is witnessed (by the angels) and that is better.” [By: Muslim, 755].

........ How many Rakaats?

Imam Abu Hanifa (ra) says that the witr Salah consists of three rakaats with only one salaam, whereas the other Imam’s (ra) i.e. Imam Shafie (ra), Imam Ahmed (ra), Imam Malik (ra) say that the witr Salah is between 1 to 7 rakaats.

Generally, they perform the witr by reading 2 rakaats with one salaam and then read another Rakat separately with one salaam.


However, it should be borne in mind that the most preferable/ desirable view according to Imam Malik (ra) is that witr consists of 3 rakaats and the 1 Rakat practice is not acted upon by him or his followers.

(Muwatta Malik p110)


The four Imam’s have their own proofs from hadith.
Witr prayer is one of the greatest acts of worship that would draw one closer to Allah SWT. It is the most highly regarded Sunnah [Sunnah Mu’akadah] and was enjoined by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in more than one hadith.

Some of the scholars view since it is one of the Sunnah Mu’akadah the Muslim should observe regularly and not to neglect it whether traveling or not, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to do.

Abu Sa’id (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

    “Perform Witr before morning comes.” [Muslim (754)]

‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

    “O people of the Qur’an, pray Witr, for Allah is one and loves that which is odd-numbered.”

Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) reported:

    ”The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was on a journey, atop his mount, whichever direction it was facing, gesturing the motions of the night prayer, except the obligatory prayer, and he prayed Witr atop his mount.” [Al-Bukhari (1000) and Muslim (700)]

Ibn Qudaamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

    Witr is not obligatory. This is the view of Malik and Al-Shafie.
Abu Hanifa said: it is obligatory. Then he said: Ahmad said: Whoever omits to pray Witr deliberately is a bad man, whose testimony should not be accepted. He wanted to emphasize that it is confirmed because of the hadith which say that it is enjoined and encouraged.

Note that there are several understandings derived from the hadiths that describe the method of the witr prayer by various scholars of the Islamic sciences.

The Hanafi understanding regarding the method of performing the witr in three rakaats with two sittings and one salaam is the preferred way to perform the witr prayer. This method of witr has been adopted from the practice of the Prophet (pbuh) found in various authentic hadiths. 

Witr in 3 Rakaats

Aisha (ra) states, "... (after Tahajjud prayers), the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) would perform the prayer (witr) in three rakaats." (Bukhari)

Abdullah ibn Abbas (ra) narrates, "... and thereafter he (pbuh) would perform the witr three rakaats." (Muslim)

Witr in 3 Rakaats with Only One Salaam

Sa’eed Ibn Zubair (ra) reports, "The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) would recite in the witr prayer 'Sabbihis ma rabbikal Alaa' and in the second rak’ah 'Qul yaa ayah al Kafirun' and in the third rak’ah 'Qul hu WA Allahu Ahad' and he would not make salaam except at the end of them (three rakaats)" (Nasa’i)


Zurarah Ibn Auwfa (ra) narrates from SA’d Ibn Hisham (ra) that Aisha (ra) informed him that the Prophet (pbuh) would not make salaam after two rakaats of the witr prayer." Bukhari & Muslim. .)

Sa’d Ibn Hisham (ra) narrates from Aisha (ra), "When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) would have performed Isha, he would enter the house and there after perform two rakaats and another two after them that were longer than the previous. There after, the Prophet (pbuh) would offer the witr prayer in three rakaats with no separation in the three rakaats." (Musnad Ahmed)

Anas Ibn Malik (ra) performed the witr prayer in three rakaats and only made salaam at the completion of the three rakaats. He than declared, "I learnt this from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh)". (Tahawi, Ilaa Al Sunan)

Anas Ibn Malik (ra) said, "O Abu Muhammad, take from me (the understanding of the deen), for indeed I have taken from the Prophet (pbuh) and the Prophet (pbuh) has taken from Allah. You will never find anyone more reliable than me". The narrator mentions, "After saying this, Anas (ra) performed six rakaats making the salaam at the end of every two rakaats. Thereafter he performed the witr prayer in three rakaats making salaam at the end of the three rakaats". (Ruyani, Ibn Asakir, Ilaa Al Sunan, and Kanz Al Ummal - This hadith reaches the status of Marfoo)

Miswar Ibn Makhramah (ra) says, "We were with Abu Bakr (ra) one evening when Omar (ra) exclaimed, "I have not performed the witr prayer". He stood up and we assembled in the lines of prayer behind him. He led the witr prayer for us in three rakaats and he did not make salaam in between them (the three rakaats) apart from the very last rak’ah". (Tahawi)

Abdullah Ibn Masood (ra) says, "The witr prayer is three rakaats like the witr of the day; Maghrib prayer". (Tahawi)

Abu Zinad (ra) narrates from the seven personalities; Sa’eed ibn Al Musayyib, Urwah Ibn Al Zubair, Qasim Ibn Muhammad, Abu Bakr Ibn Abd Al Rahman, Kharijah Ibn Zaid, Ubaid Allah Ibn Abdullah, and Suleiman Ibn Yasar (may Allah be pleased with all of them) amongst many leaders of jurisprudence, righteousness, and rectification. When ever this group would have a difference amongst them, in a matter, they would take the opinion of the majority and the most upright. From amongst that which I had carefully preserved from all of them, according to this description, was that the witr prayer is three rakaats and one is not to make salaam except at the end of the three rakaats. (Tahawi)

Umar Ibn Abd Al Aziz (ra) had established the witr prayer in Madinah according to the opinion of the learned jurists as three rakah’s, with no salaam except at the completion of the three rak’ah. (Tahawi, Aathaar Al Sunan)

Ubayy Ibn Ka`b said: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to recite in Witr Sabbih isma ra bika al-‘alaa (“Glorify the name of your Lord, the Most High” – Surah Al-Alaa, 87), Qul yaa ayyuha’l-kaafirun (“Say: O Disbeliever…” – Surah al-Kafirun, 109) and Qul Huwa Allahu Ahad (“Say: He is Allah, the One” – Surah Al-Ikhlas, 112).

 “O people of the Qur’an, pray Witr, for Allah is one and loves that which is odd-numbered.”


"When my heart became constricted and my paths became narrow - I took my hope in Your pardon and forgiveness as an opening and an escape - My sins seemed very great to me but when I compared them to Your forgiveness My Lord, I found Your forgiveness to be greater" - Imam Shafi' (ra).

May Allah make our efforts sincere and keep us all on the straight path...........

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