Some Common Doubts and Misconceptions Affiliated with the Tarāwīḥ Prayer

Doubt/Misconception 05: Tarāwīḥ, Qiyām al-Layl, and Tahajjud Are All Different Prayers

The differentiation between these prayers did not occur except when people differentiated between them in two affairs:

1. The times they are performed: People call the prayer performed at the first part of the night in Ramaḍān “tarāwīḥ”, while they call the prayers performed at the latter part of the night “qiyām al-layl” and “tahajjud”. As for these two, then although they are both performed in the latter part of the night, they say: “Qiyām al-layl is the prayer performed before going to sleep, while tahajjud is the prayer performed after waking up from sleep.”

2. Their description: People call the prayer that is shorter in rukū’, sujūd, and recitation, “tarāwīḥ”, while they called the longer prayer “qiyām al-layl” and “tahajjud”.

Consequently, when they differentiated between these prayers, they identified each one of them with a different name; however, they—in reality—are one and the same, since they are all performed at night. Therefore, whoever performs tarāwīḥ with the congregation, then he has performed qiyām al-layl and tahajjud.

As for the differentiation itself, then it is baseless. There is nothing in the Qurʾān or the authentic Sunnah to support it.

Questioned about the difference between tarāwīḥ and qiyām al-layl, Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn (رحمه الله) said:

There is really no difference between them. Tarāwīḥ is from qiyām al-layl; therefore, we consider the Muslims to be performing qiyām al-layl from the very first night of Ramaḍān.

Consequently, his (ﷺ) statement: “Whoever performs [supererogatory] prayers at night during the month of Ramaḍān, with faith and in the hope of receiving Allāh’s reward, will have whatever he has done [from sins] forgiven [i.e. he will have his past sins forgiven]” includes tarāwīḥ, since it is unequivocally performed at night.

However, the prayer that is lengthy in rukū’, sujūd, and recitation is commonly know as qiyām al-layl, while the prayer that is shorter is known as tarāwīḥ.

This understanding [i.e that the longer night prayer is commonly called qiyām al-layl, while the shorter night prayer is commonly called tarāwīḥ] is conventional; it’s not judicial [i.e. it wasn’t derived from the Book and the Sunnah]. The judicial understanding of qiyām al-layl and tarāwīḥ is that they are one and the same as they are both performed at night.

● [Fatāwá Nūr ʿAlá al-Darb, 2/8]

Elaborating on this very issue, Shaykh MuḥaShaykh Muḥammad Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Albānīmmad Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Albānī (رحمه الله) said:

The qiyām al-layl prayer is the tarāwīḥ prayer. It is currently called the tarāwīḥ prayer, but in the past, the tarāwīḥ prayer was known as the qiyām al-layl prayer, as he (ﷺ) said: “Whoever performs the qiyām al-layl prayer [i.e. the tarāwīḥ prayer] during the month of Ramaḍān, with faith and in the hope of receiving Allāh’s reward, will have whatever he has done [from sins] forgiven [i.e. he will have his past sins forgiven.]”

● [Silsilat al-Hudā Wa-al-Nūr, 538]

Questioned about the difference between tarāwīḥ, qiyām al-layl, and tahajjud, Shaykh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Bāz (رحمه الله) said:

The night prayer is called qiyām al-layl or tahajjud, as Allāh said:

وَمِنَ اللَّيْلِ فَتَهَجَّدْ بِهِ نَافِلَةً لَّكَ

“And in some parts of the night, offer the tahajjud prayer, reciting it [i.e. the Qur’an]” [Sūrah al-Isrā’, 17:79].

And He said:

يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُزَّمِّلُ ﴿١﴾ قُمِ اللَّيْلَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا

“O you who wraps himself [in clothing], arise [to pray] the night, except for a little” [Sūrah al-Muzzammil, 73:1-2].

He also said about His pious slaves:

إِنَّ الْمُتَّقِينَ فِي جَنَّاتٍ وَعُيُونٍ ﴿١٥﴾ آخِذِينَ مَا آتَاهُمْ رَبُّهُمْ ۚإِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا قَبْلَ ذَٰلِكَ مُحْسِنِينَ ﴿١٦﴾ كَانُوا قَلِيلًا مِّنَ اللَّيْلِ مَا يَهْجَعُونَ

“Verily, the pious will be in the midst of gardens and springs [in Paradise], enjoying the things which their Lord has given them. Verily, they were before this good-doers.

They used to sleep a little at night” [Sūrah al-Dhāriyāt, 51:15-17].

As for the prayer that is short and is performed in the first part of the night in Ramaḍān, then the scholars call it tarāwīḥ. It can also be called tahajjud or qiyām al-layl. This isn’t a problem.

● [الفرق بين صلاة التراويح والقيام والتهجد]