The Time of the Night Prayer:
[ Taken from pages 16,17, 20 & 21 of the book The Night Prayer in Ramadhan - by Shaik Nasiruddin Albanee ]
The time for the Night Prayer is from the time after the 'Ishaa Prayer up until the time for Fajr.
This is based on the Prophet's saying:” Verily, Allah has added a prayer for you, and it is Witr.(note 31)
So pray it between the 'Ishaa Prayer up to the Fajr Prayer."
Praying in the last part of the night is better for anyone that has the ability to do it, based on the Prophet's saying:
"Whoever fears that he will not be able to get up for the Night Prayer in the last part of the night, then let him pray in the first part of it. And whoever desires to pray in the last part of it, then let him perform the Witr in the last part of the night, for indeed praying in the last part of the night is witnessed (by the angels), and that is better."
If someone is faced with the choice of praying the first part of the night along with the congregation and praying the last part of the night alone, then praying with the congregation is better. This since it will be recorded for him as having prayed the entire night.
The Night of Al-Qadar and Its Fixed Time:
The best night in Ramadan is the Night of Al-Qadr, based on the Prophet's saying:
"Whoever performs the night prayer on the Night of Al-Qadr [and is then granted
it] with firm faith and hoping to be rewarded, his past sins will be forgiven."
It is on the twenty-seventh night of Ramadan according to the strongest opinion.
A majority of the ahaadeeth comply with this, including the hadeeth of Zurr bin Hubaysh who said: "I heard Ubay bin Ka'ab (radyAllaahu 'anhu) say when it was said to him that 'Abdullaah bin Mas'ood (radyAllaahu 'anhu) said "Whoever performs the night prayer (every night) throughout the year will achieve the Night of Al-Qadr." He (Ubay binKa'ab) said: "May Allaah have mercy on him, his intention was that the people not (grow lazy) and depend solely (on just one night). By the One of whom there is no deity worthy of worship beside Him, it is indeed in Ramadaan. And by Allaah I know on which night it is. It is on the night that Allaah's Messenger (sallAllaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) commanded us to perform the Night Prayer. It is on the twenty-seventh night. Its sign is that the sun rises on its following morning bright withno rays."In one report this is raised to being a saying of the Prophet (sallAllaahu 'alayhi wasallam).
The Legality of Performing the Night Prayer in Congregation:
Performing the Night Prayer in congregation is legislated in the Religion.
In fact this is better than praying it individually due to the Prophet's establishing it himself and due to his explaining its virtue in his saying, as is found in the hadeeth of Abu Dharr(radyAllaahu 'anhu) who said:"We fasted Ramadaan with Allaah's Messenger, but he did not lead us in(congregation) in the Night Prayer during any month until there only remained seven days, so then he lead us in Night Prayer until a third of the night had passed away. When the sixth night came, he did not lead us in the Night Prayer. Then when the fifth night (i.e. 25thnight) came, he lead us in prayer until half the night had passed. So I said: 'O Messenger of Allah! Can we finish the rest of the night praying?' So he said:’ Indeed when a man prays with the Imaam until he finishes, it is recorded for him that he prayed the entire night.' Then on the fourth night, he didn't establish the night prayer (in congregation). On the third night (i.e. the 27thnight), he (sallAllaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) gathered his family, his wives and the people and lead us in the night prayer until we feared that we would miss the falaah (success)." I said: "What is the falaah?" He (Abu Dharr) said: "The Suhoor (pre-dawn meal). Then he did not lead us in the night prayer for the rest of the month."
The Reason why the Prophet did not continue performing the Night Prayer in Congregation:
The Prophet (sallAllaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) only discontinued establishing Taraweeh in Congregation for the remainder of the month out of fear that the Night Prayer would be made obligatory upon them in the month of Ramadan, and thus they would not be able to do it. This is stated in the hadeeth of 'Aa'ishah which is found in the two Saheehs and other collections. But this fear came to an end with his (sallAllaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) death, after Allah had completed the Laws of Islam. And because of this, the effect caused by this fear, which was abandoning performing the Night Prayer in congregation during Ramadan, also came to an end. And its former ruling remained, which is the legality of praying it in congregation. This is why 'Umar (radyAllaahu 'anhu) revived it later, as is reported in Saheeh Al-Bukhari and other collections
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