Lengthening the Tarawih Prayer

Lengthening the Tarawih Prayer

Question :

There is an Imam of a Masjid who leads the people in the Tarawih prayer and he recites an entire page in every Rak'ah, which is approximately equivalent to 15 Verses. However, some of the people say that he prolongs the recitation and some say the opposite. What is the Sunnah in the Tarawih prayer and is there a limit by which lengthening (the recitation) is known from not lengthening it that has been conveyed from the Prophet?


It has been confirmed in the Sahih that the Prophet used to pray 11 Rak'ahs at night during Ramadhan and during other times. However, he would lengthen the recitation and the pillars (i.e., positions of the prayer). This was such that one occasion he recited more than five parts (Ajza') in one Rak'ah with slow rhythmic recitation and contemplation. It has also been confirmed that he used to get up during the middle of the night or a little before it or a little after it and he would continue praying until close to the time of Fajr. And he would pray 13 Rak'ahs in about 5 hours. This necessitates lengthening the recitation and the pillars of the prayer.

It has been confirmed that when 'Umar gathered the Companions for the Tarawih prayer they would pray 20 Rak'ahs and they would recite in the Rak'ah about 30 Verses from the Verses of Al-Baqarah. This is close to four or five pages. Thus, they would pray reciting Surat Al-Baqarah in 8 Rak'ahs, and if they prayed while reciting it in 12 Rak'ahs they considered that he (the Imam) had lightened the prayer. This is the Sunnah concerning the Tarawih prayer. If the Imam lightens (ie., shortens) the Qira'ah, he increases the number of Rak'ahs to 41 Rak'ahs, as some of the Imams have said. If he likes to shorten the number to II or 13, he increases in the recitation and the pillars of the prayer. There is no restricted number for the Tarawih prayer. What is wanted is only that you pray in a time in which you may attain tranquility and concentration. It should be an amount that will not take less than an hour or close to it. Whoever thinks that this is lengthening the prayer, then he has opposed what has been conveyed, and thus he should not be paid any attention.

Ash-Shaykh Ibn Jibreen
Fatawa Islamiyah, Vol. 3 Pages 319-320

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