The Islamic Fasting Month of Ramadan is a blessed month in which
Muslims are generally exhorted to come up with as many optional
activities as is possible for great rewards are awarded for deeds
performed during this holy month. It is in appreciation of this that
the Prophet (peace be upon him) traditionalized for the Muslim Ummah a
voluntary prayer to be performed during the nights of this holy month.
This voluntary prayer is known as "Tarawih" or "Qiyaam".
virtue of this prayer can be noted from the following saying of the
Prophet (peace be upon him): “Anybody who performs Tarawih prayer
during the month of Ramadan with deep sense of belief and scrutiny will
have his previous sins forgiven” (Reported by Imam Bukhari).
Indeed, the Prophet (peace be upon him) manifested the importance of
this prayer by personally leading its initial congregations although he
did not insist on its performance for fear it was made obligatory on
the Ummah. The mother of the faithful Aisha (may Allah be pleased with
her) says: “Many people performed Tarawih with the Prophet
be upon him) in the first night and many more in the second night. In
the third night, even a larger congregation attended the Mosque to
perform the prayer with the Prophet (peace be upon him) but he did not
go out for them. In the next morning the Prophet (peace be upon him)
told them that I saw your assembly but nothing prohibited me from
coming out to you except the fear that it be made obligatory upon you”
(Reported by Imam At-Tirmidhi).
After the death of the Prophet (peace be upon him) there was no longer
any fear of this prayer being made obligatory and it was Caliph Umar
who during his reign reactivated the performance of this prayer in
congregation. Since then, the Ummah has practiced this prayer in
congregation but it is permissible for someone to perform it on
individual basis, although much preference is given to performing it
with the congregation as can be noted from the following saying of the
Prophet (peace be upon him):“Whoever prays Tarawih with the
congregation till the Imam leaves will be rewarded as if he prayed the
whole night” (Reported by Imams Ahmad and Tirmidhi).
prayer is performed in rakaats (units) of two each except the last
rakaat which is always prayed oddly as one. It is confirmed that the
Prophet (peace be upon him) used to perform eleven rakaats when praying