A reader emailed in asking us:
Why do we have Taraweeh prayers during Ramadan?The extra prayer mentioned in the Holy Quran is the Tahajjud prayer. This is chapter 17 verse 79. It is not obligatory. It is said in early hours before the Fajr, or the early morning prayer. Taraweeh is not mentioned in the Quran.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (s) said Taraweeh in congregation for 3 days one Ramadaan but then, fearing it may be made compulsory, he stopped. However, he and others said Taraweeh individually, not in congregation. There the matters rested until the time of Hazrat Umar (r). He came into the mosque one day during Ramadaan and found people engaged in frivolous talk. He was annoyed that people were neglecting the remembrance of Allah during the Holy Month and he instituted congregational Taraweeh prayers during Ramadaan. Interestingly, Hazrat Usman (r) who followed Hazrat Umar (r) as the leader or khalifa of Muslims, did not himself say Taraweeh although he made arrangements for others to be able to do so. Some Sunni Muslims disagree with saying this prayer during Ramadaan.
From among the Shia community the “Twelvers” regard it as a “bad innovation” in religion. They say it is the Tahajjud prayer that should be said. However, Zaydis, another group within the Shias, regard it as sunnah of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s)
In the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement there are people who do both i.e. some say Taraweeh others don’t. Our elders however, insisted on Tahajjud. As I said it is not compulsory but if someone can manage it then there is no harm in it and it should not be made a great issue.