الحمد لله رب العالمين، والصلاة والسلام على أشرف الأنبياء والمرسلين، نبينا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين أما بعد
Shaikh al-Fawzaan (hafidhahullaah) mentioned: “The Taraweeh prayer is from the exclusive characteristics of the month of Ramadhaan, and it is an emphasized Sunnah, rather it is the most emphasized of the Sunan, and the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) carried it out along with his companions during the nights of Ramadhaan, he would pray, and they would pray behind him.”
The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said regarding standing in the prayer in the nights of Ramadhaan:
مَنْ قَامَ رَمَضَانَ إِيمَانًا وَاحْتِسَابًا غَفَرَ اللهُ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ
((Whoever stands [in prayer] in Ramadhaan out of true faith and seeking reward, then his previous sins will be forgiven for him.))
Shaikh Al-Albaanee (rahimahullaah) said: “This encouragement and its like is an illustration of the virtue of these acts of worship, in that if there are sins upon a person, then they are forgiven for him due to these acts of worship. Yet if there is no sin upon a person; then this virtue manifests in an elevation of the ranks; as is the case in the right of the Prophets – who are free of sin. And Allaah Knows best.”
Al-Haafidh Ibn Rajab (rahimahullaah) said: “Know that the believer – there comes together two jihaads for his soul in the month of Ramadhaan, a jihad by day upon fasting, and a jihad by night upon standing (in prayer). So whoever gathers between these two jihaads, and sees to the fulfillment of their rights and is patient upon them, then he will receive his reward without measure.”
The Importance of Praying the Taraweeh Prayer With Humility and Attentiveness and Not to Rush Through it
Shaikh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez bin Baaz (rahimahullaah) said “From the affairs, the rulings of which are not hidden from some of the people is: not having tranquility in the prayer, whether it is obligatory or supererogatory. Yet the authentic ahaadeeth illustrate from the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) that being tranquil is a pillar from the pillars of the prayer, it is not correct without it, and it is tranquility in the prayer and humility and attentiveness in it and not to rush – such that the whole spine (and limbs) should come to rest in its place. Many of the people pray the Taraweeh prayer in Ramadhaan with a prayer that he does not comprehend, nor is he tranquil in it, rather he pecks in regard to it by pecking motion. This prayer on this basis is invalid, and its adherent is sinful – not rewarded.”
Shaikh ‘Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah) mentioned:”What is important in regard to the Taraweeh prayer is to have attentiveness and humility and calmness in the bowing and the prostration and upon rising up from them, and that one should not do as is done by some of the people by way of swift hastiness that prevents those who are praying from carrying out what is prescribed in the Sunnah, rather it may prevent them from carrying out that which is obligatory. This is in opposition to what is legislated.”
The Initial Time at Which the Taraweeh Prayer can be prayed
Shaikh ul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) said: “So the Imaams would not pray it (Taraweeh) except after the ‘Ishaa prayer during the era of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and the era of his rightly guided Caliphs, and upon that are the Imaams of the Muslims.”
Praying the Taraweeh Prayer Aloud
Imaam an-Nawawee (rahimahullaah) stated: “The Muslims unanimously agree upon the desirability of reciting aloud in the (prayers of) the morning and Al-Jumu’ah and the two ‘Eids and the first two (rak’ahs) of Maghrib and ‘Ishaa and in the Taraweeh prayer and the Witr at its conclusion.”
Shaikh ‘Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah) explained further: “Reciting aloud in the prayers which have recitation read aloud is not by way of obligation, rather it is by way of preference. So if a person were to read quietly in that which has been legislated to be read aloud, then his prayer is not invalid, because the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said:
لا صَلاةَ لِمَنْ لَمْ يَقْرَأْ بأمِّ القرآنِ
((There is no prayer for the one who does not recite Umm Al-Qur’aan [Al-Faatihah].))
He did not restrict this recitation on account of its being a loud one or a quiet one, so if a person recites what is obligated in regard to its recitation whether quietly or aloud; then he has come with the obligation, however that which is better is to recite aloud in what has had aloud recitation established for it from what is known; such as the Fajr prayer and the Jumu’ah prayer.”
The Number of Rak’ahs to be Prayed for the Taraweeh Prayer Each Night
From some of the authentic proofs for the number of rak’ahs to be prayed, there is the hadeeth of ‘Aaishah (radhiyallaahu ‘anhaa) who said:
مَا كَانَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَزِيدُ فِي رَمَضَانَ وَلاَ فِي غَيْرِهِ عَلَى إِحْدَى عَشْرَةَ رَكْعَةً
((The Messenger of Allaah [sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam] would not exceed over eleven rak’ahs in Ramadhaan or in other than it.))
From Jaabir bin ‘Abdillaah (radhiyallaahu ‘anhumaa) who said:
صَلَّى بِنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِي شَهْرِ رَمَضَانَ ثَمَانِ رَكَعَاتٍ وَأَوْتَر
((The Messenger of Allaah [sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam] prayed with us in the month of Ramadhaan with eight rak’ahs and observed the witr.))
When ‘Umar bin al-Khattaab revived the Sunnah of praying the Taraweeh prayer in congregation and gathered the people behind a single Imaam, Saa’ib bin Yazeed (radhiyallaahu ‘anhu) explained:
أَمَرَ عُمَرُ بْنُ الْخَطَّابِ أُبَيَّ بْنَ كَعْبٍ وَتَمِيمًا الدَّارِيَّ أَنْ يَقُومَا لِلنَّاسِ بِإِحْدَى عَشْرَةَ رَكْعَةً
“‘Umar bin al-Khattaab ordered Ubay bin Ka’b and Tameem ad-Daaree to stand (to lead) for the people with eleven rak’ahs.”
Then with regard to the difference of opinion over the number of rak’ahs which are to be prayed for the Taraweeh prayer and the night prayer in general; Shaikh Muhammad Naasir ud Deen Al-Albaanee (rahimahullaah) summed up the issue after citing the hadeeth:
فإنه من يعِشْ منكم بعدي فسيرى اختلافًا كثيرًا، فعليكم بسنتي وسنةِ الخلفاءِ المهديّين الراشدين تمسّكوا بها، وعَضّوا عليها بالنواجذِ، وإياكم ومحدثاتِ الأمورِ فإنَّ كلَّ محدثةٍ بدعةٌ، وكلَّ بدعةٍ ضلالةٌ
((For indeed; those of you who live [long] after me will see a great deal of differing. So upon you is my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs. Hold onto it; and bite onto it with your molar teeth. And beware of newly invented matters, for every newly invented matter is an innovation and every innovation is a misguidance.))
“From that which is known is that the scholars have differed in many issues of jurisprudence, and from them is that which we are engaged in by way of the number of rak’ahs for the Taraweeh prayer, their difference regarding it having already reached eight statements:
The first: 41
The second: 36
The third: 34
The fourth: 28
The fifth: 24
The sixth: 20
The seventh: 16
The eighth: 11
Therefore since the aforementioned hadeeth has indeed made clear for us the way out of every difference that the Ummah may fall into; and this issue is from that which they have come to differ in, the recourse is obligatory upon us to the way out – and it is holding firmly to his Sunnah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), and here it is not except eleven rak’ahs. Therefore it is necessary to take it and to leave off that which opposes it, especially since the Sunnah of the rightly guided Caliphs conformed with it.”
Shaikh ‘Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah) said regarding the Taraweeh prayer: “It is a Sunnah established by the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), as for its amount, then eleven rak’ahs, and if one prays it as thirteen rak’ahs then there is no harm.”
Therefore praying eleven rak’ahs in the Taraweeh prayer as well as in the night prayer in general is without doubt established in the authentic Sunnah.
Shaikh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez bin Baaz (rahimahullaah) said: “Whoever observes his Sunnah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), then he will know that the best in all of this is the prayer of eleven rak’ahs or thirteen rak’ahs in Ramadhaan and other than it, due to that corresponding to the action of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) in most of his circumstances.”
The Understanding of Praying the Night Prayer as Two by Two
On the authority of ‘Abdullaah bin ‘Umar (radhiyallaahu ‘anhumaa) who said that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said:
صَلاَةُ اللَّيْلِ مَثْنَى مَثْنَى
((The night prayer is two by two))
Shaikh ‘Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah) said: “Meaning two (rak’ahs) then two (rak’ahs), so one should not pray four (rak’ahs) together, one should only pray two then two, due to that which is established in the Saheeh of Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim from the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallaahu ‘anhumaa) that a man asked the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam): ‘how to offer the night prayer?’ So he said:
مثنى مثنى، فإذا خشي أحدكم الصبح صلى واحدة فأوترت له ما قد صلى
((Two by two, so if one of you is afraid of [the approach of] the morning, he should pray one [rak’ah], that will be a witr for him for that which he has prayed.))”
As for the mention of “four” that occurs in some ahaadeeth, such as the hadeeth of ‘Aaishah (radhiyallaahu ‘anhaa) who said:
مَا كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَزِيدُ فِي رَمَضَانَ وَلاَ فِي غَيْرِهِ عَلَى إِحْدَى عَشْرَةَ رَكْعَةً، يُصَلِّي أَرْبَعًا فَلاَ تَسَلْ عَنْ حُسْنِهِنَّ وَطُولِهِنَّ، ثُمَّ يُصَلِّي أَرْبَعًا فَلاَ تَسَلْ عَنْ حُسْنِهِنَّ وَطُولِهِنَّ، ثُمَّ يُصَلِّي ثَلاَثًا
((The Messenger of Allaah [sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam] would not exceed over eleven rak’ahs in Ramadhaan or in other than it, he would pray four, do not ask concerning their beauty and their length. Then he would pray four, do not ask concerning their beauty and their length, then he would pray three.))
Shaikh ‘Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah) said regarding this: “These four which he would pray firstly, then secondly, he would make the salaam in them after the two rak’ahs, as has come in that regard in explanation from her (radhiyallaahu ‘anhaa) when she said:
كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يُصَلِّي في الليل إِحْدَى عَشْرَةَ رَكْعَةً، يُسَلِّمُ بَيْنَ كُلِّ رَكْعَتَيْنِ
((The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) would pray eleven rak’ahs in the night, he would make the tasleem between every two rak’ahs.))
With it we know that the one who states that these eleven consist of four of them together with a single salaam and another four with a single salaam is not correct, and perhaps he has not come across the hadeeth in which she makes clear that he would make the salaam after every two rak’ahs.
So supposing that ‘Aaishah did not elaborate, then the statement of the Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam):
صَلاَةُ اللَّيْلِ مَثْنَى مَثْنَى
((The night prayer is two by two))
Judges over these ‘four’ in that he would make the salaam in them after every two rak’ahs, because the action of the Messenger that is general is explained by his statement that is detailed.”
Therefore as Shaikh bin Baaz mentioned: “It is legislated for the believing male and female in the night prayer to adhere with that which the Sunnah has made clear, and to be cautious of what opposes that, and it is not hidden as to what is in the tasleem after every two (rak’ahs) by way of ease and facilitation upon the congregation, as well as an absence of hardship upon them together with compliance to the Sunnah.”
Point of benefit: Ibn Qudaamah (rahimahullaah) said regarding the night prayer being two rak’ahs that it is: “Further away from forgetfulness, and more resemblant to the night prayer and with the voluntary prayers of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). For indeed what is correct in regard to his voluntary prayers is two rak’ahs.”
As for the other forms of praying the night prayer and the witr prayer that have been established in the Sunnah; then for a more detailed description of these refer to Shaikh Al-Albaanee’s discussion in his book: Salaat at-Taraweeh p.99-107.
Delaying the Taraweeh Prayer until the Last Part of the Night
Q: Is it permissible for me to delay the Taraweeh prayer until the last part of the night?
A: Shaikh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez bin Baaz (rahimahullaah) said: “Yes there is no objection with that, if this is facilitated then it is better in the last part of the night, however the Muslims pray it in the first part of the night because it is easier for them to actively attend.”
Shaikh Al-Albaanee (rahimahullaah) said: “Even though for the delay there is an exclusive virtue, yet the congregation is better, due to the establishment of it by the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) during those nights in which he observed them along with the people in the Masjid.”
Praying the Taraweeh Prayer Alone – and its Ruling if it is Prayed After the Ishaa Prayer When it is Combined with Maghrib due to a Legislated Excuse that Allows for Combining.
Q: Is it permissible for a man to pray the Taraweeh prayer alone if he has missed it with the congregation?
A: The permanent committee of scholars said: “That is legislated for the individual.”
As for praying the Taraweeh prayer after the ‘Ishaa prayer if it is combined with the Maghrib – at the time of Maghrib due to a valid reason; then the permanent committee of scholars stated: “There is no objection with praying the Taraweeh prayer after the ‘Ishaa prayer if it is combined with the Maghrib prayer due to a legislated excuse that allows for combining – due to the absence of anything preventing that.”
There is No Specific Amount of Recitation Which is to be Read Each Night – But Completing the Recitation of the Qur’aan in the Month is Better
Imaam Ash-Shawkaanee (rahimahullaah) mentioned: “As for the amount of recitation in each rak’ah, then no evidence has come in regard to it.”
Shaikh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez bin Baaz (rahimahullaah) said regarding whether it is better for the Imaam to complete the recitation of the Qur’aan in the Taraweeh prayer: “The issue in this regard is extensive; and I do not know of a proof upon it being better to complete the recitation, except that some of the people of knowledge said that it is recommended to hear the whole of the Qur’aan so that the congregation attain hearing the whole of the Qur’aan, however this is not a clear proof. So if he (the Imaam) completes it with them without difficulty and makes them to hear all of the Qur’aan then this is better.”
Praying the Taraweeh Prayer Whilst Reading From the Mus-haf for the One Who is Leading
Imaam Al-Bukhaaree reported in his Saheeh a narration in ta’leeq (suspended) form that ‘Aaishah would be led in prayer by her (freed) slave while he would read from the Mus-haf.
Ayoob mentioned: “Ibn Sireen would pray, and the Mus-haf would be beside him, so if he hesitated; he would look at it.”
Imaam Maalik (rahimahullaah) said: “There is no harm if the Imaam should lead the people (whilst reciting) from the Mus-haf in Ramadhaan in the supererogatory prayer.” Ibn Al-Qaasim said: “and he disliked that in regard the obligatory prayer.”
Ishaaq bin Ibraheem bin Haani asked Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal concerning a man who leads whilst reciting from the Mus-haf in the month of Ramadhaan, so he said: “There is no objection with it, ‘Aaishah used to command a freed slave of hers to lead her in the month of Ramadhaan from the Mus-haf, and a number of companions of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and Al-Hasan and Muhammad bin Sireen and ‘Ataa used to hold that there was no objection with it.”
He said likewise: “Abu ‘Abdillaah (Imaam Ahmad) commanded me to lead the people (in prayer) from the Mus-haf, so I did that.”
An-Nawawee (rahimahullaah) said: “If one were to recite the Qur’aan from the Mus-haf, it would not nullify his prayer, whether he has memorized it or not. Rather that is obligatory upon him if he has not memorized Al-Faatihah, and if he were to turn the pages sometimes in his prayer then it does not nullify (his prayer).”
Shaikh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez bin Baaz (rahimahullaah) said regarding this issue: “There is no objection with this in that which is more preponderant, there is difference regarding it amongst the people of knowledge, however what is correct is that there is no harm that one recites from the Mus-haf if he has not memorized or that his memorization is weak and that his recitation from the Mus-haf is more beneficial for the people and for himself then there is no objection with that. Al-Bukhaaree mentioned in Ta’leeq form in his Saheeh from ‘Aaishah (radhiyallaahu ‘anhaa) that her freed slave Dhakwaan would pray with her in the night from the Mus-haf. Although the origin is the permissibility of this; nonetheless the report of ‘Aaishah confirms that. As for if the memorization is facilitated then it is worthier.”
Praying the Taraweeh Prayer Behind the Imaam Whilst Following From the Mus-haf
Q: What is the ruling on the one who is praying behind the Imaam holding the Mus-haf in the Taraweeh prayer?
A: Shaikh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez bin Baaz mentioned: “I do not know of a basis for this, and what is indicated is that he should have humility and attentiveness and to be at ease and not take hold of the Mushaf, rather he should place his right hand on his left as is the Sunnah. So that which I see is that abandoning that is the Sunnah, and that one should listen and be silent and not utilize the Mus-haf. So if he has knowledge, he discloses (the correction) to his Imaam, otherwise someone other than him from the people can disclose. Furthermore, if it were destined that the Imaam made an error and he did not disclose (the correction) to him, that doesn’t harm in anything other than Al-Faatihah, it is only harmful in Al-Faatihah specifically, because Al-Faatihah is a pillar which is necessary. As for if he were to leave out some of the verses other than Al-Faatihah, then that does not harm him if there is no one behind him who can notify him.”
The Witr Prayer
The witr prayer is an emphatically recommended Sunnah, its least number of units is one rak’ah due to the saying of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam):
الْوِتْرُ رَكْعَةٌ مِنْ آخِرِ اللَّيْلِ
((Witr is a rak’ah at the end of the night.))
Its maximum number is eleven rak’ahs.
Shaikh ‘Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah) mentioned: “It is permissible to make the Witr as three (rak’ahs) and is permissible as five and permissible as seven, and permissible as nine, so if one observes the witr as three (rak’ahs), then he has two methods – both of them are legislated:
The first method: is that he continues praying the three with a single tashahud (sitting for the declaration of faith).
The second method: is that he makes the tasleem after two rak’ahs, then makes one as an odd number.
The Sunnah has come with all of this, so if one were to do this on an occasion, and the other on an occasion, then it is good.
As for if he were to observe the witr as five (rak’ahs), then he should not make the tashahud except once at its end, and then make the tasleem.
If he were to observe the witr as seven (rak’ahs), then he should likewise not make the tashahud except once at its end, and if he observes a tashahud in the sixth without making tasleem and then prays the seventh and makes the tasleem then there is no harm.
If he were to observe the witr as nine (rak’ahs), then he should make the tashahud twice, once in the eighth, then he should stand up and not make the tasleem, and another in the ninth, he should observe the tashahud and make the tasleem.
If he were to observe the witr as eleven (rak’ahs), then he does not have except one method, he should make the tasleem after every two (rak’ahs) and make one of them as an odd number.
In the first rak’ah he should recite Soorah Al-A’laa completely, and in the second: Soorah Al-Kaafiroon, and in the third: Soorah Al-Ikhlaas, and that is after Soorah Al-Faatihah.
A Short Simple Supplication from the Sunnah to be Said After the Witr Prayer
It is established in the Sunnah that when the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) would complete the witr prayer; he would say a short supplication.
On the authority of ‘Abdur-Rahmaan bin Abza (radhiyallaahu ‘anhu) who said that the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) would say upon giving the tasleem:
سُبحانَ المَلِكِ القُدُّوسِ
((Glorified be The King, The Pure and Perfect))
Three times, he would raise his voice on the third occasion.
Imaam An-Nawawee (rahimahullaah) said: “It is recommended to say after the witr prayer; three times: Glorified be The King, The Pure and Perfect.”
To conclude; the month of Ramadhaan is a month of great opportunity which the Muslim seeks to take advantage of its days and nights and seeks to draw closer to his Lord through an array of acts of worship, and from those acts of worship is engaging in worship by standing in the night in prayer. Reciting the Book of Allaah, and it is here that a person can gain strength in establishing the Qur’aan in his heart, and to ponder upon its verses and benefit from its understanding as mentioned by the people of knowledge. Al-‘Allaamah Muhammad Ameen ash-Shanqitee (rahimahullaah) said:
“The Qur’aan does not become firm in the chest, nor is its memorization rendered easy and its understanding facilitated except by standing with it in the depth of the night.”
وصلى الله وسلم على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين
 Majaalis Shahr Ramadhaan al-Mubaarak p.72
 Reported by Al-Bukhaaree (no.37) and Muslim (no.759)
 Saheeh at-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb 1/583
 Bughyatul Insaan fee Wadhaa-if Ramadhaan p.46
 Majmu’ Fataawa 15/18
 Majmu’ Fataawa 14/199 with slight abridgement.
 Majmu’ Fataawa 23/120
 At-Tibyaan fee Adaab Hamalatil Qur’aan p.89
 Reported by Al-Bukhaaree (no.756) and Muslim (no.394)
 Majmu’ Fataawa 13/73
 Reported by Al-Bukhaaree (no.1147) and Muslim (no.738)
 Reported by At-Tabaraani in Mu’jam as-Sagheer (p.108) and Ibn Khuzaimah in his Saheeh (no.1070) and Ibn Hibbaan in his Saheeh (no.2409) and it was declared Hasan (sound) by Shaikh Al-Albaanee in Salaat at-Taraweeh p.18.
 Reported by Maalik in his Muwatta (no.250) with an authentic chain of narration as stated by Shaikh Al-Albaanee in Irwaa al-Ghaleel 2/192.
Point of benefit: Shaikh ‘Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah) mentioned regarding this: “With this we come to know that the action of ‘Umar was nothing but a re-establishment of an affair that was legislated.” (Sharh al-Mumti’ 4/58)
 Reported by Ahmad in his Musnad 4/126-127 and Abu Dawood in his Sunan (no.4607) and reported also by At-Tirmidhee in his Sunan 7/319-320 – all of them from the hadeeth of Al-’Irbaad bin Saariyah (radhiyallaahu ‘anhu). The hadeeth was declared Saheeh (authentic) by Shaikh Al-Albaanee in Saheeh Sunan Abee Dawood (no.4607).
 Shaikh ‘Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah) mentioned: “The Taraweeh prayer is a Sunnah that was established by the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) for his Ummah, since he stood with his companions for three nights, however, he (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) left that for fear that it may become obligatory upon them. So the Muslims remained after that in the era of Abu Bakr (radhiyallaahu ‘anhu) and the initial part of the Caliphate of ‘Umar (radhiyallaahu ‘anhu), then Ameerul Mu’mineen ‘Umar (radhiyallaahu ‘anhu) gathered them behind Tameem Ad-Daaree and Ubayy bin Ka’ab. So they began praying in congregation until this day of ours, and praise is for Allaah.” (Majmu’ Fataawa 14/198) The Shaikh mentioned likewise: “This is befitting – of ‘Umar, and worthy of him (radhiyallaahu ‘anhu), because he was from the staunchest of people in adherence to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam)” (Majmu’ Fataawa 14/197)
 Salaat at-Taraweeh p.86-88
 The mention of praying thirteen rak’ahs has been reported in some authentic ahaadeeth, and this was prayed by the Prophet (sallallahau ‘alaihi wa sallam) in one of two ways as explained by Shaikh Al-Albaanee:
The first: he would pray thirteen rak’ahs – initiating them with two light rak’ahs, and in its regard are some ahaadeeth : firstly, the hadeeth of Zaid bin Khaalid who said:
لَأَرْمُقَنَّ صَلَاةَ رَسُولِ اللهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ اللَّيْلَةَ، فَصَلَّى رَكْعَتَيْنِ خَفِيفَتَيْنِ، ثُمَّ صَلَّى رَكْعَتَيْنِ طَوِيلَتَيْنِ طَوِيلَتَيْنِ طَوِيلَتَيْنِ، ثُمَّ صَلَّى رَكْعَتَيْنِ، وَهُمَا دُونَ اللَّتَيْنِ قَبْلَهُمَا، ثُمَّ صَلَّى رَكْعَتَيْنِ، وَهُمَا دُونَ اللَّتَيْنِ قَبْلَهُمَا، ثُمَّ صَلَّى رَكْعَتَيْنِ، وَهُمَا دُونَ اللَّتَيْنِ قَبْلَهُمَا، ثُمَّ صَلَّى رَكْعَتَيْنِ وَهُمَا دُونَ اللَّتَيْنِ قَبْلَهُمَا، ثُمَّ أَوْتَرَ فَذَلِكَ ثَلَاثَ عَشْرَةَ رَكْعَةً
“I will gaze at long tonight at the prayer of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). So he prayed two light rak’ahs, then he prayed two long long long rak’ahs, then he prayed two rak’ahs which were shorter than the preceding two rak’ahs, then he prayed two rak’ahs which were shorter than the preceding two, then he prayed two rak’ahs which were shorter than the preceding two, then he prayed two rak’ahs which were shorter than the preceding two, then he observed the witr. So that is thirteen rak’ahs.” (Reported by Muslim no.1801)….
The second: he would pray thirteen rak’ahs, from them being eight rak’ahs which after every two rak’ahs he would make the tasleem, then he would observe the witr prayer with five rak’ahs, not sitting or making tasleem except in the fifth: and in regard to it is the hadeeth of ‘Aaishah (radhiyallaahu ‘anhaa) who said:
كَانَ يَرْقُدُ، فَإِذَا اسْتَيْقَظَ تَسَوَّكَ ثُمَّ تَوَضَّأَ ثُمَّ صَلَّى ثَمَانِ رَكَعَاتٍ يَجْلِسُ فِي كُلِّ رَكْعَتَيْنِ وَيُسَلِّمُ، ثُمَّ يُوتِرُ بِخَمْسِ رَكَعَاتٍ لَا يَجْلِسُ إلَّا فِي الْخَامِسَةِ وَلَا يُسَلِّمُ إلَّا فِي الْخَامِسَةِ فإذا أذن المؤذن قام فصلى ركعتين خفيفتين
“He (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) would lie down to rest, so when he would wake up he would use the miswaak, then perform wudhu, then he would pray eight rak’ahs, he would sit after every two rak’ahs, then make the tasleem. Then he would observe the witr with five rak’ahs, he would not sit except in the fifth and would not make the tasleem except in the fifth. [So when the mu’adhin would make the call to prayer, he would get up and pray two light rak’ahs].” (Reported by Ahmad 6/123,230 and Muslim 2/166 and Abu ‘Awaanah 2/325)”
Shaikh Al-Albaanee went on to explain: “This report of Ahmad is clear that the total number of rak’ahs were thirteen, apart from the two rak’ahs of Fajr, so it is – in its apparent nature – contradictory to the earlier hadeeth of ‘Aaishah with the wording:
مَا كَانَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَزِيدُ فِي رَمَضَانَ وَلاَ فِي غَيْرِهِ عَلَى إِحْدَى عَشْرَةَ رَكْعَةً
((The Messenger of Allaah [sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam] would not exceed over eleven rak’ahs in Ramadhaan or in other than it.)) Its summary is that she meant by this wording that which is other than the two light rak’ahs with which the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) would initiate his night prayer, and I have found that which is like unto textual stipulation in regard to this combination, and it is her other hadeeth in which she mentions these two rak’ahs then eight rak’ahs then the witr.” (Abridged from Salaat at-Taraweeh p.99-103)
 Majmu’ Fataawa 14/187
 Majmu’ Fataawa 15/19
 Reported by Al-Bukhaaree (no.99) and Muslim (no.749)
 As occurs in Sharh al-Mumti’ 4/76
 Al-Bukhaaree (no.990) and Muslim (no.749)
 Reported by Al-Bukhaaree (no.1147) and Muslim (no.738)
 Reported by Muslim (no.736)
 Sharh al-Mumti’ 4/11 Note: there are those from the people of knowledge who hold the permissibility of praying four rak’ahs with a single tasleem based on the hadeeth of ‘Aaishah wherein is a mention of four, however they acknowledge that praying two rak’ahs at a time is better. Imaam an-Nawawee (rahimahullaah) stated regarding this hadeeth: “This is in order to illustrate the permissibility, otherwise what is better is the tasleem after every two rak’ahs, and it is well known from the action of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) as well as his command of praying the night prayer as: two by two.” (Sharh Saheeh Muslim 6/20)
 Majmu’ Fataawa 11/366
 Al-Mughni 1/761
 Fatawa Noor ‘alaa ad-Darb 9/479
 Salaat at-Taraweeh p.18
 Fataawa al-Lajnah ad-Daa-imah 7/201
 Fataawa al-Lajnah ad-Daa-imah 6/80 (second majmu’ah)
 Nayl al-Awtaar 5/182
 Majmu’ Fataawa 11/330
 In the Book of the call to prayer, chapter number 54: the Imaamah of the slave and the freed slave. The hadeeth as mentioned above is in ta’leeq form, where the immediate source of the author or the entire chain of narration is not stated. However, its chain of narration has been ascertained and connected by a number of scholars. Imaam Ahmad mentioned; the freed slave here was ‘Abdullaah bin Abee Mulaikah.
Its chain of narration was connected by Ibn Abee Dawood in Kitaab Al-Masaahif (221) by way of Ayyoob as-Sakhtiyaani from Ibn Abee Mulaikah.
It was likewise connected by Ibn Abee Shaibah (2/217) who said: “Wakee’ narrated to us from Hishaam bin ‘Urwah from Abee Bakr bin Abee Mulaikah…” In this narration is a confirmation that it took place in the month of Ramadhaan, as is found in Taghleeq at-Ta’leeq (2/291)
Additionally it was connected by Ash-Shaafi’ee and ‘Abdur-Razzaaq in Al-Musannaf (2/393-394) from an alternative chain of narration from Ibn Abee Mulaikah (See:Fathul Baaree 2/160. See also: Taghleeq at-Ta’leeq (2/290-291) Al-Haafidh Ibn Hajr mentioned in Taghleeq at-Ta’leeq (2/291): “It is an authentic report.”
 Al-Musannaf ‘Abdur-Razzaaq (no.3931)
 Al-Mudowanah al-Kubraa 1/224
 Masaa-il Al-Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal Riwaayah Ibn Haani (no.485) 1/97
 Masaa-il Al-Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal Riwaayah Ibn Haani (no.487) 1/97
 Al-Majmu’ 4/27
 Majmu’ Fataawa 11/339-340
 Majmu’ Fataawa 11/341
 Reported by Muslim (no.752)
 Sharh al-Mumti’ 4/11-13
 Abridged from Sharh al-Mumti’ 4/14-16
 Reported by Abu Dawood (no.1284) and An-Nasaa-i (1731) and the wording above is that of An-Nasaa-i and Ahmad in his Musnad 24/72 and others. It was declared Saheeh (authentic) by Shaikh Al-Albaanee in Saheeh Sunan An-Nasaa-i (no.1731) and likewise by our Shaikh Muqbil Al-Waadi’ee in Al-Jaami’ as-Saheeh 2/161.
 Al-Majmu’ 4/16
 Adwaa al-Bayaan 8/613