In my nearby masjid they used to pray 20 rakats for taraweeh in ramadan.

But one of my friend said that it is bid'ah, the actual no.of rakats for taraweeh prayer is 8.

So my question is, what authentic sources prove that 20 Rak'at taraweeh is Bid'ah and that the actual number is 8?

  • 1
    IIRC, The 20 rakaat prayer was first established by Umar al-Khattab RA. It's noted in hadiths as he was one of the Prophet's closest companions and jurists, and thus used as a source of fiqh. But it is true that the Prophet did 8 rakaat. Also, IIRC, the Prophet did not pray in congregation, but it's argued that he did so to not make it seem mandatory.
    – Muz
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 7:20

5 Answers 5


While there are clear evidences that the prophet himself prayed 11 raka'at (e.g 8 raka'at tarawih and 3 raka'at witr) for the night prayer, there is a difference of opinion regarding whether this mandates a set limit to the tarawih prayer. The two camps can be summarized thus:

  • Any even number of raka'at is permissible: This is based on the general meaning of the hadith "Prayers at night are two by two" which doesn't specify any upper (or lower) limit. Proponents of this camp often cite ijma, and according to Ibn Qudamah in Al-Mughni, this is the view favored by the four Imams.
  • Anything other than eight raka'at is bid'ah: Even without direct evidence that the prophet commanded eight raka'at for his followers, the general meaning of the hadith "Pray as you have seen me praying" can be used. The prophet himself clearly and regularly prayed eight raka'at, ergo anything else is bid'ah.

For further details, you can also refer to the following fatwa by Shaykh al-Munajjid: "Numbers of rak’ahs in Taraaweeh prayer"

  • but "many of the sunni masjids had 20 rakats of taraveeh - why?" may I include this in my question now? Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 6:09
  • @Muslim- you could if you want to. I am not sure why that is. You could even mention that the Imam at Mecca performs 20.
    – Noah
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 9:58
  • 2
    @muslim That would be better branched off as a new question (linked to this one); no real reason to expand the scope of the current question, especially after it's already been answered.
    – goldPseudo
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 13:55
  • I asked a new question regarding this. Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 6:09

According to a Hadith from Sahih al-Bukhari, Tarawih prayer is eight rakats. The Prophet (pbuh) led the Taraweeh Prayer for eight rakats. The Taraweeh Prayer is a sunnah al-muakkada. The shortest is two rakats and the longest is twenty rakats. However, during the time of Umar b. Abdulaziz, the people of Medina observed the Taraweeh Prayer for thirty-six rakats. (Fathu’l Bari, v.4, p.220)

The number of rakats of the Taraweeh Prayer is based on the practice of Umar (may Allah be pleased with him). Umar led the Taraweeh Prayer in Masjid an-Nabawi for twenty rakats in the final times of his caliphate. After the period of Four Caliphs, no one objected to observing the Taraweeh prayer for twenty rakats. Scholars depend acted upon this hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) regarding this issue:

“ After me, follow my sunnah and the sunnah of the caliphs in the right path” (Tirmidhi, Ilm, 16; Ibn Hanbal, IV, 126).

Furthermore, it is reported that Abdullah b. Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) observed the Taraweeh Prayer for twenty rakats and afterwards he observed three rakats of Witr prayer in the month of Ramadan. When Imam Abu Hanifa was asked about Umar’s application as regards to this issue, he answered:

Taraweeh Prayer is a sunnah al-muakkada with no doubt. Umar’s observing this prayer in community and for twenty rakats is not a personal preference and not an innovation, either. He did so depending on a juridical principle that he knew and on a will of Muhammad (pbuh). (at-Tahtawi, Hashiya, 334).

Performing it twenty-rakat is the better one. In the present time, some people insist that tarawih prayer is eight rakats basing their claim on a hadith reported by Hazrat Aisha. Nevertheless, Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) related that our Prophet performed twenty rakats of tarawih prayer and witr prayer (a necessary prayer performed between night prayer and dawn prayer) in congregation during the month of Ramadan. Moreover, concerning the issue, the companions of our prophet had unity of action. After all, the tarawih prayer is twenty rakats according to the Hanafi, Shafi'i and Hanbali, madhhabs (schools of law). In the Maliki school, there are two opinions about it: one is twenty rakats and the other is thirty-six rakats. However, the twenty-rakat view is more common. For this reason, the ones who are too old and sick should at least perform eight rakats if they can afford it, and yet Muslim people who are robust enough must perform the twenty-rakat prayer.

  • Its nicer and detailed. Commented Jan 4, 2014 at 5:49

Assalam u Alaekum Wa Rehmatullah,

When Umar Bin Khattab established 20 Rakaat prayers for taraveh except 3 Rakaat Witar. At that time there were millions of Sahaba there who knew that and no one objected so this made an "ijmaa" and infact, this is the Sunnah of Sahaba as Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:

Stick to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of rightly guided Caliphs.

This is the Sunnah of Umar bin Khattab (R.a.) who was without discussion a rightly guided caliph. The Sahaba had no objection on it at that time. That is why it is being followed in Makkaah, Madinah and most mosques.

Hope it helps.


Those are false statements and it can't be proved by any single Sahih Hadith which quotes Prophet(SAWW) offered 8 rakat of Taraweeh prayer nor any evidence which mentions Taraweeh prayer and the number 8.

Hazrat Umer(RA) knows better than us that what is bid'ah and what is not. 20 rakats of Taraweeh was prayed in the same manner by both Usman(RA) and then by Hazrat Ali(RA). Currently, even after centuries, same is the case in both Kabah and Masjide Nabawi.

  • Dear user, loving Umar Bin Khattab is the part of Religion with no doubt. But being logical with love is effective. See my answer islam.stackexchange.com/a/10555/3958 Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 14:51
  • @YousufMemon but our logic is not good than Omar and osman (RA)..
    – smali
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 9:33

51 page explanation of Taraweeh by Shaykh bin Baz


Some people falsely assume that more than 8 rakah is a bidah but the Prophet sws said in a hadith pray 2 by 2 or pray in pairs....he never specified a limit, so this tells us that we can pray 20 rakah for taraweeh or less or more. Reason why he (sws) only prayed 8, 10 or some reports 12 is because they were lengthy rakah's. Also reports of him praying 8 or 10 or 12 is not a contradiction but rather a proof that one can pray more than 8...proper explanation with evidence is in the link posted.

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