Salat ul Witr

25 04 2009

The reason why Imam Bukhari (رحمة الله عليه) places the Book of Witr in his Saheeh after the Books of Jumu’ah and Eidain but before other prayers because it is also an important prayer other than the five Fardh prayers.

Witr salah is the most important daily prayer other than the five daily prayers. Some ulema consider Witr salah to be wajib but others call it an emphasised sunnah, but they all consider it to be obligatory. It is performed after Esha salah and although it seems very simple, it is very complicated and detailed in its components and structure. The ulema 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:

وَالْوَتْ وَالشَّفْعِ

And by the even and the odd [89:3]

Both are correct according to different qiraat. Both words mean something which is single, or odd. Shafaa means even. Allah has also been described as Witr i.e. one. He has also been described as loving that which is Witr, and so has the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). In salah, everything is either one or even e.g. tasbeeh in rukuh is 3, 5, 7 etc and never an even number.

Maghrib and Witr salah are both three rakaats and both are significant. Maghrib ends prayers of the day and Witr ends prayers of the night.

Chapter 1 – Chapter of that which has been said about Witr.

In this chapter Imam Bukhari (رحمة الله عليه) wishes to explain some of the things that have been narrated from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) with regard to Witr. Some ulema including Imam Abu Hanifah (رحمة الله عليه) say that Witr is wajib (obligatory). Other ulema say it is sunnah including Imam Abu Yusuf (رحمة الله عليه), Imam Muhammad (رحمة الله عليه), Imam Malik (رحمة الله عليه) and Imam Shafi (رحمة الله عليه), and the majority of the ulema. A point that should be understood here is that it is very easy for common people to misunderstand and misinterpret the verdicts of the ulema. A common phrase we often hear is “It’s just sunnah”. By uttering such phrases we belittle the importance and significance of many sunnah, whether the sunnah is related to the prayers or the habits of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). The ulema are very careful before calling something fardh, wajib or sunnah. One of the reasons why the ulema call something makruh is because although the evidence is available to call the thing haraam, there may be circumstantial evidence or a mitigating factor for which they fear calling it haraam. This is one of the usuls (principles) of fiqh.

There is a famous story of Imam Abu Yusuf (رحمة الله عليه) who in Kufa was regarded as a faqih. Someone asked Imam Abu Hanifah (رحمة الله عليه) about the status of Witr. Imam Abu Hanifah (رحمة الله عليه) replied that it is wajib. Imam Abu Yusuf (رحمة الله عليه) said to Imam Abu Hanifah (رحمة الله عليه) that you have committed kufar (Imam Abu Yusuf was not a student of Imam Abu Hanifah at this time). Imam Abu Yusuf’s reasoning was that there are five daily prayers which have been made Fardh by Allah. Imam Abu Hanifah (رحمة الله عليه) replied that listen very carefully. Your takfir does not concern me as I am aware of the difference between Fardh and wajib. He continued that the difference between the Fardh and wajib is like the difference between the heavens and the earth. Imam Abu Hanifah (رحمة الله عليه) had said it is Wajib not Fardh. He then went on to explain to Imam Abu Yusuf (رحمة الله عليه). According to this narration, Imam Abu Yusuf became a student of Imam Abu Hanifah from this moment onwards.

Imam Abu Hanifah (رحمة الله عليه) says Witr salah is wajib. Imam Abu Yusuf (رحمة الله عليه) and Imam Muhammad (رحمة الله عليه) and other ulema say it is sunnah.

However, Imam Malik (رحمة الله عليه) and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (رحمة الله عليه) say if someone misses Witr salah his testimony cannot be accepted in an Islamic court. This shows the importance stressed by the scholars to Witr.

Imam Malik (رحمة الله عليه), Imam Shafi (رحمة الله عليه) and Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal (رحمة الله عليه) say time for Witr is between Esha and break of dawn. But if someone hasn’t prayed by break of dawn, he can still pray all the way till Fajr (even though the time has finished). You cannot pray qadha of Witr but according to these ulema you can pray qadha Witr.

The points above are some of the reasons why despite calling the salah a sunnah, these ulema consider it to be obligatory and hence should not be missed. All of the ulema agree that Witr is the most important salah apart from Fardh including the two sunnah of Fajr.

One of the reasons why Imam Abu Hanifah (رحمة الله عليه) called it wajib is because of certain hadeeth including a hadeeth in Saheeh Muslim from Abu Sa’id al Khudri.

Abu Sa’id (al Khudri) reported Allah’s Apostle صلى الله عليه وسلم) as saying: Observe Witr prayer before it is morning. Abu Sa’id reported that they (the Prophet’s Companions) asked the Apostle of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) about Witr (prayer). (In reply to their inquiry) he said: Observe Witr prayer before it is morning.

And another narration in the Sunan of Abu Dawud:

Narrated Kharijah ibn Hudhafah al-Adawi:
The Apostle of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) came out to us and said: Allah the Exalted has given you an extra prayer which is better for you then the red camels (i.e. high breed camels). This is the witr which Allah has appointed for you between the night prayer and the daybreak.
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) nor the sahabah ever missed Witr salah.

Qunoot in Witr prayer

Du’a’ al-Qunoot is recited in the last rak’ah of Witr prayer, after bowing, but if one recites it before bowing it doesn’t matter. But reciting it after bowing is better. 

Shaykh al-Islam [Ibn Taymiyah] said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (23/100): 

With regard to qunoot: there are two extreme views and one middle (or moderate) view. Some say that qunoot should only be recited before bowing and some say that it should only be recited after bowing. The fuqaha’ among the scholars of hadeeth, such as Ahmad and others, say that both are allowed, because both are mentioned in the saheeh Sunnah, but they preferred reciting qunoot after bowing because this is mentioned more often.  

Raising the hands is mentioned in a saheeh report from  ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him), as was narrated by al-Bayhaqi in a report which he classed as saheeh (2/210). 

The worshipper should raise his hands to chest height and no more, because this du’aa’ is not a du’aa’ of supplication in which a person needs to raise his hands high. Rather it is a du’aa’ of hope in which a person holds out his palms towards heaven… The apparent meaning of the scholar’s words is that the worshipper should hold his hands close together like a beggar who asks someone else to give him something. 

It is better not to recite qunoot in witr all the time, rather it should be done sometimes, because there is no evidence that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did it all the time. But he taught al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him) a du’aa’ to recite in qunoot al-witr, as will be quoted below. 

Secondly: 

The du’aa’ of qunoot was narrated by Abu Dawood (1425), al-Tirmidhi (464), and al-Nasaa’i (1746) from al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) taught me some words to say in qunoot al-witr: 

“Allaahumma ihdini feeman hadayta wa ‘aafini feeman ‘aafayta wa tawallani feeman tawallayta wa baarik li feema a’tayta, wa qini sharra ma qadayta , fa innaka taqdi wa la yuqda ‘alayk, wa innahu laa yadhillu man waalayta wa laa ya’izzu man ‘aadayta, tabaarakta Rabbana wa ta’aalayta la manja minka illa ilayk

(O Allaah, guide me among those whom You have guided, pardon me among those whom You have pardoned, turn to me in friendship among those on whom You have turned in friendship, and bless me in what You have bestowed, and save me from the evil of what You have decreed. For verily You decree and none can influence You; and he is not humiliated whom You have befriended, nor is he honoured who is Your enemy. Blessed are You, O Lord, and Exalted. There is no place of safety from You except with You).” 

The last phrase – Laa manja minka illa ilayka (There is no place of safety from You except with You) – was narrated by Ibn Mandah in al-Tawheed and classed as hasan by al-Albaani. 

See Irwa’ al-Ghaleel, hadeeth no. 426, 429. 

Then he should send blessings upon the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). See al-Sharh al-Mumti’ by Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (4/14-52). 

Thirdly: 

It is mustahabb to say after the tasleem: Subhaan al-Malik al-Quddoos three times, elongating the vowels the third time, as narrated by al-Nasaa’i (1699) and classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan al-Nasaa’i. 

Al-Daaraqutni added the word: Rabb al-Malaa’ikah wa’l-Rooh (Lord of the angels and the Spirit), with a saheeh isnaad. See Zaad al-Ma’aad by Ibn al-Qayyim, 1/337.

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4 responses

30 06 2014
ABDULKADIR

I want to increase my knowledge in all aspects of the Deen

15 03 2017
Uzair

I want to ask about? What is the method to pray Dua -e- qunoot either leave the hand or like in the form of dua or just like fold our hands when we r reciting surah fatiha…and is this hadees about maghrib k farzon se witr ki namaz ko mukhtalif parho is a t true hadees??

15 03 2017
fathimaonline

Raising the hands is mentioned in a saheeh report from  ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him), as was narrated by al-Bayhaqi in a report which he classed as saheeh (2/210). 

The worshipper should raise his hands to chest height and no more, because this du’aa’ is not a du’aa’ of supplication in which a person needs to raise his hands high. Rather it is a du’aa’ of hope in which a person holds out his palms towards heaven… The apparent meaning of the scholar’s words is that the worshipper should hold his hands close together like a beggar who asks someone else to give him something. 

15 03 2017
fathimaonline

If a person prays three rak’ahs of Witr this may be done in two ways, both of which are prescribed in sharee’ah: 

1 – To pray them one after another, with one tashahhud, because of the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) who said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used not to say the tasleem in the (first) two rakahs of Witr. According to another version: “He used to pray Witr with three rak’ahs and he did not sit except in the last of them.” Narrated by al-Nasaa’i, 3/234; al-Bayhaqi, 3/31. al-Nawawi said in al-Majmoo’ (4/7): it was narrated by al-Nasaa’i with a hasan isnaad, and by al-Bayhaqi with a saheeh isnaad. 

2 – Saying the tasleem after two rak’ahs, then praying one rak’ah on its own, because of the report narrated from Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him), that he used to separate the two rak’ahs from the single rak’ah with a tasleem, and he said that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to do that. Narrated by Ibn Hibbaan (2435); Ibn Hajar said in al-Fath (2/482): its isnaad is qawiy (strong). 

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