The Basics Of Fasting Night Prayer Observing night prayer during the holy month of Ramadan is one of the several acts of worship Muslims are encouraged to do. This is so because of the enormous reward attached to it. Night prayer observed during Ramadan can be Taraweeh, qiyamul layl or tahajjud. If the night prayer is performed immediately after salatul Isha’I, it is called Taraweeh. If it is delayed to midnight, it is called Qiyamul Layl whereas if on the other hand, one goes to sleep after salatul Isha’i and wakes up later in the night to observe it, then it is Tahajjud. If one observes Taraweeh, it is not necessary to observe either Qiyamul- Layl or Tahajud the same night again. Likewise if one observes Qiyamul Layl, it is not necessary to observe Tahajjud the same night again. This is so because they are all the same thing. If one observes Taraweeh, he can still wake up in the night to observe other devotional acts like Zikr, recitation of the Holy Qur’an and supplication to Allah. One pertinent point that must be mentioned is that if it is a matter of choice between praying in jama’ah (congregation) at the beginning of the night (that is observing taraweeh) and praying alone at the end of the night (that is tahajjud), it is preferable to pray with jama’ah at the beginning of the night because it is counted as if one had prayed the whole night through. The prophet (S.A.W) has said completing the taraweeh prayer with the imam is counted as standing the whole night in prayer in the hadith. “Whoever remains with the imam (in prayer) until he completes the prayer will have the night written for him as who performed Qiyam Layl”. If however the ummah decides to observe tahajjud in congregation as it is done in some places especially during the last ten days of Ramadan, then it is better to join the congregation in tahajjud then praying alone at the beginning of the night. There are different views on the exact number of raka’hs to be observed. The opinion that tallies with the way and manner of the prophet’s taraweeh is that the number should not exceed eleven rak’ah (shaf’i and witr inclusive). A’ ishah (R.A) the wife of the prophet (S.A.W) was asked about the number of rak’ahs the prophet (S.A.W) used to observe in his Taraweeh and she said” “The prophet (S.A.W) never performed more than eleven raka’ats in the night (either in Ramadan or in any other month). The Hadith that talked about thirteen rak’ahs included salatul fajr (The two rak’ahs prayer observed at dawn before salatul subh). This information is as contained in saheehul Bukhari on authority of A’ishah (R.A). With regards to recitation from the Qur’an when observing prayer, whether in Ramadan or outside Ramadan, the prophet (S.A.W) never set any limit on the length of recitation. He was however reported to have said “Whoever prays at night and read one hundred ayahs will not be recorded as one of the negligent”. According to another hadith “…..and whoever reads two hundred ayahs, will be recorded as one of the obedient and sincere believers”. This means the longer the recitation, the better and more rewarding. The taraweeh prayer is distinguished for its long length of recitation. It is therefore encouraged that the length of recitation should be reasonably long. If it is decided that the complete Qur’an would be recited during the month, though not necessarily compulsory, it is indeed more rewarding. Regarding the hadith that says “If any of you leads the people in prayer, let him make it short, because among them are the young and the old, the weak, and those who have pressing needs. But if he is praying alone, let him make it as long as he likes”. The explanation is that this hadith is referring to the compulsory five daily prayers. The practice of some of the followers holding the Qur’an in their hands and following the recitation of the Imam should be discouraged. The followers are supposed to listen with rapt attention to the recitation of the Imam. In a situation where the Imam entertains fear of getting hooked in his recitation, there is no blame if he reads directly from the Qur’an just like it is permitted for him to do same in any other prayer that is not an obligatory prayer.