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MONTHLY    *    Vol 14-12 No:168    *   DECEMBER 2000 / RAMADAN 1421H


Dispute on the number of Rakahs in Tarawih Parayer
She wants to fast but she does not cover her face or hair
She reached the age of puberty but she did not fast Ramadan
She has not yet made up the fasts that she missed
She did not fast because of shyness
Delaying ghusl for janaabah (impurity following sexual activity) until after dawn has broken in Ramadan
Effect of medicines and medical treatments on fasting

Dispute on the number of Rakahs in Tarawih Parayer

Q. I have observed Imams in different mosques performing 8 or 20 rakaths only during Tarawih Prayers. But at the same I understand that there is no obligation on a person to perform 8 or 20 rakahs of prayers only. Thus please clarify and advise me as to how many rakahs we should perform and please provide Hadith reference for the same.?

Mohd. Ajmal, Abu Dhabi

Q. Why are you not denying about 20 rakahs which are performed by the Tablighi? The 20 rakah are performed in the period of Umar bin Kathab (raz) on his order, he ordered to pray night prayer.

(Maswood Ahmed Ismail,

Q. Khalifa Omar started the practice of Jamat in Tarwih. Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) came to the mosque for Tarawih Jamat for three days only. Then people prayed their individual Tarawih without Jamat in the prophet's lifetime and in Khalifa AbuBakr's time. If I pray my own Tarawih, is it wrong?

(Mohammad Usman ; Bhatkal)

A. There has always been an intense debate between Hanafis and Ahle Hadiths about the number of Rakahs of Tarawih. I think that the debate is undesirable. It may be a matter of preference but not of right and wrong. Both the groups have valid arguments in their favour. Following is the detail of basis of differences in practice.

There is no difference among Ulema of different groups that Taravih in Ramadan is in place of Tahajjud. The Prophet (Pbuh) did not strictly fix the number of Rak’ats in Tahajjud. “Narrated Ibne Abbas that the Prophet (Pbuh) instructed us to perform the Salat of Night (Tahajjud) and said: Offer the Night Prayer even if it is one Rak’ah” (Tabrani)

“...the Prophet (Pbuh) offered two Rak’ahs consisting of lengthy Qiyams (standing), Ruku’s and Sajdas. Then he repeated it (2 Rak’ahs) thrice to make it six Rak’ats. Then he offered three Wit’rs”. (Muslim)

“Reported Masrooq that he asked Ayesha about the Prophet’s Night Prayer and she said: Seven, nine and eleven Rak’ats before the Sunnahs of Faj’r” (Bukhari)

(Seven in the above means six for Tahajjud plus one Vit’r, Nine means 6+3 and eleven means 8+3)

“Narrated Ayesha that the Prophet (Pbuh), in Ramadhan or otherwise, (usually) did not offer more than 11 Rak’ats in Tahajjud. First he offered 4 Rak’ats and what to say of their magnificence and extent. Then he again offered 4 Rak’ats and do not ask of their magnificence and extent. Then he offered 3 Vit’rs”. (Bukhari, Muslim)

“Narrated Ayesha that the Prophet (pbuh) (some times) offered at night 13 Rak’ats. (Out of them) 5 were Vit’r”. (Bukhari, Muslim)

“...the Prophet (Pbuh) (sometimes) offered 11 Rak’ats including 1 Vit’r”. (Bukhari, Muslim)

Now, coming to Taravih, we find a variation in practice there too.

“Reported Abuzar that we fasted with the Prophet (Pbuh) but he did not stand (at night for Taravih) with us during the month till he led us in Taravih in the 23rd night. Then he skipped the 24th and led us (in Taravih) on 25th. Then skipping the 26th he called his kin and his wives and the people and stood with them (for Taravih)”. (Abu Dawood, Tirmizi, Nisai)

“Narrated Zaid Bin Thabit that (after leading 3 nights in Taravih), the Prophet (Pbuh) said: I have noted that your routine (of Tarawih) is continuing. I feared lest it be made obligatory upon you (so I did not come out to mosque). Thus you offer it at your homes”. (Bukhari, Muslim)

(There is a narration in lesser authentic collections of Ibne Khazeema and Ibne Haban that the Prophet (Pbuh) offered 8 rak’ats of Tarawih when he led people in the mosque)

“Narrated Ibne Abbas that in Ramadan the Prophet (Pbuh) offered 20 rak’ats of Tarawih without Jama’at”. (Baihaqi)

(There are reports in lesser authentic collections about the Sahaba and Tabi’een offering 16, 24, 28, 34, 36 and 40 rak’ats of Tarawih).

“Reported Abu Hurairah that the people continued offering Tarawih at homes and in the mosque individually after the Prophet’s demise. The practice continued during the reign of Abu Bak’r and in earlier days of Umar. Then Umar established the practice of Tarawih with Jama’at”. (Abu Dawood)

“Narrated Abdul-Rahman Bin Abdul Qari that on one night of Ramadan I came to the mosque with Umar and saw the people observing their individual Tarawih Salah. Some were performing with a small Jama’at also. Umar said: I think it would be better if I collect them behind one Imam. Then he collected them behind Ubai Bin Ka’ab. Afterwards, I came to the mosque with Umar one night and saw that the people were behind their Imam in Tarawih. Umar commented: This new practice is nice”. (Bukhari)

Now on the basis of some of the Hadiths quoted above Ahle Hadiths insist that Tarawih is not more than 8 wak’ats. Hanafis and Shafais recommend 20 as after Hazrat Umar’s fixation of 20 rak’ats with Jama’at, no Sahabi is reported to have objected to it and the practice continued in the times of Hazrat Usman, Hazrat Ali and later. They argue that though Hazrat Abbas’ narration of 20 rak’ats is technically weak but it is supported by the practice of Sahaba afterwards. Imam Ahmad Bin Hambal did not fix any number for Tarawih. He says there are different traditions in this regard. Imam Malik himself observed 11 rak’ats but he did not insist on it. He is reported to have said that In Madinah, up to 39 and Makkah, 23 rak’ats (including 3 wit’rs) were offered and all were correct in his eyes.

About Jama’at, according to Hanafi Fiq’h, it is Sunnat-e-Kafaya i.e. if some people offer it by Jama’at then the Jama’at does not remain compulsory for all. Shafai and Hambali Fiq’h declare the Jama’at an obligatory Sunnah for all and Malikis consider the Jama’at as Mustahab i.e. better but not an obligatory Sunnah.


Tarawih is Sunnat-e-Mu’akkidah (Sunnah that has been asserted). We see that the Prophet (Pbuh) advised the people to offer their individual Tarawih at homes as he did not want to continue leading them in Jama’at of Tarawih. The three nights he came out to offer it with Jama’at were not even consecutive nights. Sahaba continued offering individual Tarawih during the Caliphate of Hazrat Abu Bak’r and early days of Hazrat Umar’s reign and Hazrat Umar’s reported words at the time of starting the practice of Jama’at are enough proof for the Jama’at of Tarawih being Mustahab. It may be noted that Hazrat Umar himself was not a part of Jama’at of Tarawih, when he praised the practice. He came to the mosque when the Salah was in progress under the Imamate of Ubai Bin Ka’ab. Had he been a regular observer of Jama’at of Taravih, he himself would have been the Imam instead of Ubai Bin Ka’ab as he was Ameer-ul-Momineen. I think Imam Malik’s opinion in this respect is more balanced.

Regarding rak’ats, through the usual practice of the Prophet (Pbuh) seems to be of 8, there is no hard and fast fixation. Whoever observes his individual Tarawih, may offer from 8 to 40 rak’ats but it would be better that if one offers it with Jama’at, then he sticks to one routine of a particular mosque so that he is able to complete a Quran behind an Imam.

Though the numbers of rak’ats were flexible between 8 and 20 and the Jama’at was not obligatory, Hazrat Umar’s decision was a very wise one. A huge majority of the Muslims is not Hafiz and it was easier for all to observe the Sunnah of completing a Quran in Ramadan behind an Imam. The holy Prophet (Pbuh) himself had come out for Jama’at thrice, so Jama’at was a Sunnah though not an obligatory Sunnah. I think, to complete a Quran in an 8 rak’ats routine makes the Qiyams (standing) more tiring and a 40 rak’ats routine would have increased the number of ruku’s and Sajdas to make it tiring in other respect. Hazrat Umar’s selection of 20 rak’ats is a good balance between the two.


She wants to fast but she does not cover her face or hair

Q.1. I am currently fasting and would like to know wether my fast is still valid if I do not wear the proper Hijaab. When I go out to work I leave my head, neck and hands uncovered but everytihng else covered.

A: We advise you to adhere to complete hijaab in front of non-mahram men so that your fast will be accepted and its reward multiplied, and so that the same will apply to your prayer and the rest of your good deeds. If a Muslim woman fasts but does not wear hijaab, her fast is still valid, but she is sinning by neglecting hijaab. Being uncovered does not affect the validity of one’s fast, but the one who displays her beauty and adornments (tabarruj) is threatened with punishment from Allah for going against His commandment. We advise you to obey the commands of Allah (interpretation of the meanings):

“ draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies....” [al-Ahzaab 33:59]

“...and not to show off their adornment...” [al-Noor 24:31]

“...and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)....” [al-Noor 24:31]


She reached the age of puberty but she did not fast Ramadan

Q.2. I am a sixteen year old girl. My periods started when I was thirteen, but in that year I did not fast Ramadan completely. I only fasted seven days, and my parents did not make me fast, because they thought that I was not accountable (to do so). Should I fast the days that I missed, or what should I do?

A: Whatever the case, you have to fast once you have reached the age of puberty, which in the case of a girl is when she starts her period, gets pubic hair, experiences erotic dreams or gets pregnant. Having oneÆs periods is one of the signs of puberty, so you have reached puberty and are accountable, so you have to fast in Ramadan. In any case, you have to make up the month that you did not fast; you cannot clear yourself except by making up those fasts and repenting, because you were accountable at the time when you did not fast. Your family made a mistake by being too lenient with you. You are not a little child, and you have to repent from this negligence. And Allah knows best.

(From Fataawa Samaahat al-Shaykh Abd-Allaah ibn Humayd, p. 176. 11185)


She has not yet made up the fasts that she missed

Q.3. I have not yet made up the fasts that I missed in Ramadan when I had my period, and I do not know how many days I missed. What should I do?

A: You have to fast the number of days which you think you most likely missed, and ask Allah to give you help and strength. Allah says:

“No person shall have a burden laid on him greater than he can bear.” [al-Baqarah 2:233]

Try your best to be on the safe side and fast the number of days you think is most likely that you missed. You also have to repent to Allah, and Allah is the Source of strength.

( Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn Baaz)


She did not fast because of shyness

Q.4. When I was younger, thirteen years old, I fasted Ramadan and did not fast for four days because of my period. I did not tell anyone about that because I felt too shy. Now eight years have gone by. What should I do?

A: You made a mistake by not making up those days all this time. This (i.e. menstruation) is something which Allah has decreed for the daughters of Adam and there is no shyness in matters of religion. You have to hasten to make up those four days, then in addition to making them up, you have to offer expiation, which is to feed one poor person for each day, by giving two saa’ of the usual staple of the country to one or more poor persons.

(Fataawa Shaykh Ibn Baaz)


Delaying ghusl for janaabah (impurity following sexual activity) until after dawn has broken in Ramadan

Q.5. Is it permissible to delay ghusl for janaabah until after dawn has broken? Is it permissible for women to delay ghusl following the end of menstruation or post-natal bleeding until after dawn has broken?

A: If a woman sees that she has become taahir (pure) before Fajr, then she has to fast, and it does not matter if she delays ghusl until after dawn has broken. But she should not delay it until the sun is risen.

The same applies in the case of junub (impurity after sexual activity), one should not delay ghusl until after the sun has risen and in the case of men, they should hasten to do ghusl so that they can pray Fajr with the jamath (in the mosque).

(Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn Baaz)


Effect of medicines and medical treatments on fasting

Q.6. Is there any consensus amongst Muslim scholars as to which medicinal preperations are permitted whilst fasting.
More specifically are:

  1. tablets / syrups
  2. inhalers for asthma
  3. suppositories and d)intravenous forms of treatment allowed.
The question of inhalers for asthma is very pertinent to us in the UK, as some 20% of young people now suffer from asthma.
I would appreciate a detailed response with reference to any conference proceedings etc if possible?

A: There follows a list of a number of things used in the medical field, explaining what does and does not break the fast. This is a summary of shar’i research presented to the Islamic Fiqh Council during its regular meetings:

I - The following things do not have any effect on the fast:

  1. Eye drops, ear drops, ear syringing, nose drops and nasal sprays - so long as one avoids swallowing any material that may reach the throat.

  2. Tablets or lozenges that are placed beneath the tongue for the treatment of angina pectoris etc., so long as one avoids swallowing any material that reaches the throat.

  3. Vaginal pessaries, douching, use of a speculum, or internal digital examination.

  4. Introduction of a scope or coil (IUD), etc., into the uterus.

  5. Introduction of a scope or catheter into the urethra (male of female), or injection of dyes for diagnostic imaging, or of medication, or cleaning of the bladder.

  6. Drilling of teeth (prior to filling), extraction or polishing of teeth, using a miswaak or toothbrush, so long as one avoids swallowing any material that reaches the throat.

  7. Rinsing, gargling or applying topical treatment in the mouth, so long as one avoids swallowing any material that reaches the throat.

  8. Injections, whether subcutaneous, intra-muscular or intra-venous - with the exception of those used for purposes of nutrition.

  9. Oxygen.

  10. Anaesthetics, so long as they do not supply nutrition to the patient.

  11. Medicines absorbed through the skin, such as creams, lotions and patches used to administer medication through the skin.

  12. Introduction of a catheter into the veins in order to examine or treat the vessels of the heart or other organs.

  13. Laparoscopy for the purpose of diagnosis or surgical treatment of the abdominal organs.

  14. Biopsies of the liver and other organs, so long as this is not accompanied by the administration of nutrients.

  15. Gastroscopy, so long as this is not accompanied by the administration of nutrients.

  16. Introduction of medicine or instruments into the brain or spinal cord.

  17. Involuntary vomiting (as opposed to self-induced vomiting).

  18. The Muslim doctor should advise his patient to postpone the above-described treatments and procedures until after he has broken his fast, if it is safe to do so and will not cause any harm (even if these procedures will not have any effect on his fast). Majma’ al-Fiqh al-Islami (Islamic Fiqh Council), p. 213.

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