1- it was narrated that abu hurayrah said that the prophet, , used to encourage performing qiyaam (voluntary night prayer) in ramadhaan without firmly enjoining it. then, he says: "whoever performs qiyaam in (the nights of) ramadhaan out of sincere faith and hoping to attain the reward of allaah, his past sins will be forgiven." the prophet, , died leaving the situation as such –i.e. taraaweeh (voluntary night prayer) was performed individually not in congregation. it continued this way during the caliphate of abu bakr and at the beginning of the caliphate of ‘umar .
it was narrated that ‘amr ibn murrah al-juhani said that a man from the qudhaa‘ah came to the prophet, , and said, “‘o messenger of allaah! if i testify that there is none worthy of worship except allaah and that you are muhammad the messenger of allaah, perform the five (obligatory) prayers, fast the month (of ramadhaan), observe qiyaam in ramadhaan and pay zakaah (obligatory charity)?’ so, the prophet said: ‘whoever dies on that will be one of the affirmers of truth and the martyrs.’"
determining the night of al-qadr:
2- the best night in ramadhaan is the night of al-qadr for the prophet, , said: "whoever establishes qiyaam in the night of al-qadr –and manages to reach it – out of sincere faith and hoping to attain the reward of allaah, his past sins will be forgiven."
3- most probably, it is the night of the twenty-seventh day. the majority of hadeeths (narrations) support this view. zirr ibn hubaysh said: ubayy ibn ka‘b was told: ‘abdullaah ibn mas‘ood said, "he who stands (for the night prayer) throughout the year will hit upon the night of al-qadr! whereupon, ubayy said,
"may allaah have mercy upon him; he said these words with the intention that people might not rely only on one night. i swear by allaah, besides whom there is none worthy of worship but him, that the night of al-qadr is in ramadhaan (he swore without reservation). by allaah, i know the night; it is the night on which the messenger of allaah commanded us to perform qiyaam. it is that which precedes the morning of the twenty-seventh day and its indication is that the sun rises bright on that day white and without rays."
this was also reported to have been said by the prophet, . [muslim and others]
permissibility of praying qiyaam in congregation:
4- performing qiyaam in congregation is permissible in ramadhaan. rather, it is better than performing it individually for the prophet, , performed it himself and explained its virtue in the narration of abu tharr in which he says,
"we fasted ramadhaan with the prophet and he did not lead us in qiyaam at all. when seven nights remained, he led us in qiyaam until a third of the night had passed. when six nights remained, he did not lead us in qiyaam. when five nights remained, he led us in qiyaam until half of the night had passed. i (abu tharr) said, ‘o messenger of allaah, i wish you had continued until the end of the night.’ so, he said: ‘whoever prays with the imaam till the imaam leaves will be rewarded as if he performed qiyaam all night.’ when four nights remained, he did not lead us in qiyaam. when three nights remained, he gathered his family, wives and people and led us in qiyaam till we were afraid to miss suhoor (pre-dawn meal). then, he did not lead us in qiyaam for the rest of the month." [authentic ] [at-tirmithi, an-nasaa’i, abu daawood and ibn maajah]
the reason why the prophet, , did not continue to pray it in congregation:
5-the prophet, , did not lead them in qiyaam the rest of the month out of fear that night prayers in ramadhaan might become obligatory for them so they might not be able to perform it as mentioned by ’aa’ishah in the two saheehs. after the death of the prophet, , this fear no longer existed, as allaah the almighty had made the sharee‘ah (islamic legislation) complete. hence, abandoning congregation in the qiyaam (voluntary night prayer) of ramadhaan no longer applied and the previous ruling, which is the permissibility of congregation, remained. that is why it was revived by ‘umar as mentioned in the authentic narrations of al-bukhaari and others.
permissibility of congregation for women:
6- it is permissible for women to attend it as mentioned in the above narration of abu tharr . rather, it is permissible for them to have a different imaam other than that of men. it was proved that when ‘umar gathered people for qiyaam, he appointed ubayy ibn ka‘b an imaam for men and sulaymaan ibn abu hathmah an imaam for women. it was narrated that ‘arfajah ath-thaqafi, may allaahbe pleased with him, said, "‘ali ibn abi taalib used to command people to perform qiyaam in ramadhaan and appoint an imaam for men and another for women. i (‘arfajah) was the imaam of women." this applies if the mosque is vast so that neither of them would distract the other.
(to be continued)