The Essence of Taraweeh – Part One

The Ibaadat of Taraaweeh Namaaz

One Ibaadat is Namaaz and another, Tilaawat of the Qur’aan. Supplemented to these two is a new Namaaz which has been declared Sunnat. Other forms of Ibaadat could also have been advanced [for engagement in the Blessed Month of Ramadhaan]. Advancing Namaaz over the rest teaches us that it has a special relationship with Ramadhaan which no other Ibaadat enjoys. This Namaaz is called Taraaweeh.

Reading Taraaweeh Namaaz is also extremely necessary because it is proven from documental sources that it is encouraged, decreed, practised, desired, intended and praised from the practice of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) and furthermore from the persistence of the Sahaabah (Radhiyallahu anhum). For this reason the Muhaqqiqeen [Expert Scholars] have written that it is Sunnat-e-Mu-akkadah [a strongly emphasised traditional practice].

Although it is documented that after three nights Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) did not emerge for Taraaweeh saying: “I feared that it would have been made Farz upon you,” we learn from this that had there been no fear of a Farz declaration, he would have resolved to emerge [for Taraaweeh Namaaz]. A resolution is tantamount to an action. Thus, in view of his resolution the emphasis on Taraaweeh is further substantiated, just as it is substantiated by practice. This is one explanation of it being Sunnat-e-Mu-akkadah, and considering its keynote it is a new explanation.

The popular explanation of it [being Sunnat-e-Mu-akkadah] is that there are two types of regular practices; one, actual and the second, in effect. Actual regular practice is the perceivable constancy of an act. Examples are the Sunnats of Zuhr, the Sunnats of Fajr.

Regular practice in effect is when an act is rendered in a manner which shows that its permanency is desired. Accordingly, Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) emerged for two, three nights and thereafter he never. Thereupon he said to the Sahaabah: “I was aware of everyone’s presence. However, I never came lest it becomes Farz on you. In that case, if you do not carry it out, you will become sinful.”

This does not mean that we have leeway, i.e. “It is not Farz, so why must we go through the trouble of staying awake and tiring ourselves?” On the contrary, it means that one will be sinful, albeit not on par to the omission of a Farz.

The Gravity of Omitting Taraaweeh Namaaz

Perhaps someone may say: “Okay, it does not involve a great sin. It is a small sin. If we leave it out there won’t be much sin involved.” Whoever says that, let him firstly accept the following proposal of mine whereby we can understand that he gives no consideration for something small and regards it to be superfluous. Then I will also give Fatwa to him that it is permissible for him to leave it [Taraaweeh Namaaz] out. The proposal is that he should take a small flame and put it in his thatch roof or in his clothing trunk. [This was in those times when homes had thatch roofs and clothing was kept in trunks. The analogy today would be to put a flame on the curtain or in the wardrobe.] Then when someone remonstrates let him say: “It is just a small flame. It is not a torch.”

If he desists from keeping this small flame, in view of the consequence of a small and big flame being the same, [i.e. his whole house burning out] then it will be said to him: “Hazrat! The consequence here [in committing a minor and major sin] is also the same.” And what is that consequence? It is the displeasure of Allah Ta’ala.

In fact, in a way the consequence of abandoning a Sunnat is graver than abandoning a Farz. The reason for this is that although the Honour of Allah Ta’ala is sublime which cannot be attained by even the Ambiya, however, we naturally find the effects of something perceivable greater. Accordingly, don’t you see that you fear the government more than Allah Ta’ala! Why? The reason is that you do not see the chains and shackles of Allah Ta’ala. On the other hand, the cuffs and chains of the government are before your eyes. The prison of Allah Ta’ala (i.e. Jahannam) you do not see; the prisons of the government you do.

Take another example! How much are you attracted to your beautiful wife! You do not have that degree of attraction to Allah Ta’ala. Thus, we learn from this that something absent [i.e. something which is not before our eyes] does not assert that degree of effect which something present does.

Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) has been observed. He was spoken to; he was seen; his company was kept. Although we did not see him, however, when we learn of his appearance, features, habits, eating, ways, manners, acts of Ibaadat and character it leaves a great impression on our minds. It produces the same effect as with seeing him in his practical life.

Allah the Sublime

This is unlike, Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta’ala. Up to this day, no one has seen Him and nor can anyone see Him in this world. There is no form which we can bring to our minds of Him, as we can of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam).

“O One beyond thought, estimate, opinion and imagination!

And beyond everything people have said and what we have heard and read!

The file has been closed and life has come to its conclusion,

with us helpless and perplexed at Your very first attribute.”

He is:

وَرَاءُ الْوَرَاء       ثُمَّ وَرَاءُ الْوَرَاء

“Beyond the beyond and beyond that beyond.”

It has been said:

كُلُّ مَا خَطَرَ بِبَالِكْ فَهُوَ هَالِكْ     وَاَللهُ اَجَلُّ مِنْ ذلِكْ

In other words, the pictures which pass through your mind are transient. Allah Ta’ala is much more splendid than all that.

In short, He is such a Being Who has no figure, no shape, nor has anyone seen Him and nor can anyone see Him in this world.

Salvation—The Requirement and Allah Ta’ala’s Rahmat

A requirement of this was that we would never have attained salvation. The reason for this is that Deen [i.e. learning and practising the Deen of Islam] is obligatory. And that is dependent on Ma’rifat [advanced perception of Allah Ta’ala]. Thus, Ma’rifat is also obligatory, whereas it [complete Ma’rifat] can never be acquired [because Allah Ta’ala is Waraa-ul Waraa]. Thus, we can never ever discharge the Right of Allah Ta’ala.

Subhaanallah! What Mercy! He did not make obligatory upon us Ma’rifat in proportion to His greatness. He made it obligatory in proportion to the perceiver’s [i.e. our] position, to the extent that if four people of different understanding recognise Allah Ta’ala differently—according to their respective understanding—all will attain salvation. [It should be borne in mind that one is Aqeedah and the other is Ma’rifat. Aqeedah is the immutable, inflexible and essential belief every Muslim should hold. Difference in Aqeedah is untenable in the Shariah. Hazrat Moulana Thanwi speaks here of Ma’rifat, not Aqeedah. Ma’rifat is further understanding and perception of the realities of the Shariah in excess to the basic fundamental tenets of Faith. Ma’rifat is commensurate to the mental reach, intelligence and above all, Taqwa of each individual. It, therefore, differs from one individual to another.]

It comes in the Hadeeth that in the Bani Israeel there was a person who would dig up graves and steal the shrouds of the dead. At the time of his death he called his sons and asked: “How was I as your father? What I mean is how did I treat you?”

The sons:   You treated us very well.

Dying Man: In return will you carry out a simple task for me?

Sons:         By all means.

Dying Man: When I die then incinerate my body. Thereafter, keep the ashes until a storm wind blows. Then throw my ashes into the wind. Perhaps in this way I can escape God and His punishment. And if the Lord Most High gets hold of me then He will give me such a severe punishment which perhaps He never gave to anyone else.

Accordingly, when he died, his sons fulfilled the testament. Allah Ta’ala gathered all his particles and blew life into him. When he came alive, Allah Ta’ala questioned him: “What is this you have done?” He answered: “O My Lord! I did it out of fear for You.”

It comes in the Hadeeth فَغُفِرَلَه which means that he was forgiven on account of that.

A question arises here that since he doubted the Power of Allah Ta’ala, then how could he have been a Mu-min? Since he was not a Mu-min, how could he have been forgiven?

The answer can never be that perhaps in the former nations a non-Mu-min would also be forgiven. This possibility is negated by the fact that it is stated in the Nusoos [explicit Qur’aan and Hadeeth texts] that this Ummat [the Ummat of Muhammad Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam] enjoys the most Rahmat [Divine Mercy and Blessings], to the extent that the kuffaar [non-Believers] of this Ummat enjoy more Rahmat than the kuffaar of former times.

They [the kuffaar of this final era] sin, but escape transformation [to pigs and apes] as happened to the Bani Israeel. They are not utterly destroyed with tempests. In the former times, people were flattened with the upturned ground; some were destroyed with a terrible scream of an Angel. Have these [forms of Divine chastisement] descended on this Ummat? In spite of this, there is categorical textual proof (Nass-e-Qat’i) of the kuffaar of this Ummat being excluded from Divine forgiveness. Thus, if the kuffaar of the former times are forgiven, then the kuffaar of this Ummat would surely be forgiven as well, in view of the barkat [blessings] of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) bringing more Rahmat to them. The apodosis is null and void and thus the protasis is also null and void. This answer is, therefore, untenable.

The objection thus remains that due to scepticism in Allah Ta’ala’s omnipotence he [the shroud-thief] was a kaafir. So, how was he forgiven? In short, the objection is strong.

Trying to escape this objection, some have interpreted اِنْ قَدَرَ اللهُ عََلىَّ [if the Lord gets hold of me] to mean اِنْ ضَيَّقَ عَلىَّ [if He clamps down on me].

I say that leaving aside these intricacies the answer is really very simple. It is that his understanding was only that much. And he was obligated [to the Law of Allah Ta’ala] in proportion to his understanding. He understood the Power of Allah to be that much. He did not have the intelligence to understand that the Power of Allah was way beyond that.

Similarly, the narratives of Bedouins in this regard are truly amazing and popular. There is a story of one Bedouin who heard a speaker saying in his lecture: “Allah Ta’ala has no hands, no feet, no eyes, no nose and no limbs. In short, He is pure and free of a physical body.” The Bedouin spoke: “Your Allah is round as a Syrian watermelon and cripple. Our Allah possesses everything.”

In short, every person understands according to his intelligence. And—Allahu Akbar—is there any limit to His Rahmat! Regardless of these axiomatic errors, all are registered as Aarifeen [Recognizers of Allah Ta’ala].

Leave alone others understanding the essence of the Divine Being, even Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said:

لاَ اُحْصِىْ ثَنَاءً عَلَيْكَ

[(O Allah!) I cannot encompass You with praise].

Now who on earth can perceive His essence and reality!

In any case, Allah Ta’ala is:

وَرَاءُ الْوَرَاء     ثُمَّ وَرَاءُ الْوَرَاء

Thus, we cannot think of an external form of the Divine Being as we can of perceivable objects. But, we can think of an external form of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) because, regardless of us not having seen him, every act of his has been portrayed to us. Hence, he is akin to being perceived. And the impressions left by a perceivable entity are greater. Thus, the demand of this is that we should feel ashamed of opposing him.

←Back to Introduction and Contents

Next: The Essence of Taraweeh Part Two→

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *