How many rakaats should be offered in Taraweeh?
Taraweeh is an Arabic word signifies night prayers in the Holy month of Ramadan. The Taraweeh Prayer is an emphasized Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and there is an extraordinary reward for the people who comes to Mosque for it throughout the Ramadan. One can offer Taraweeh in Jamat(assembly) or they may be performed at home but for men it is better to offer them in mosque and perform it according to Imam. Hazrat Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) offered Taraweeh on night in the mosque and the people followed him. Then He prayed the next night and many people came. These people and many other gathered on third and fourth night but the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) did not come. The next morning He said: “I saw what you did, and nothing kept me from coming out to you except the fact that I feared that it would be made obligatory for you.” And that was in Ramadan.
This Hadith show that offering Taraweeh in the group of people is prescribed in the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) but it is reestablished during the Khilafah of Umar (A.S). After the death of Hazrat Abu Bakar, Hazrat Umar took the control of Islamic state and the second Khaleefah. On the 14 Hijra during Ramadan, he was going round the streets of Madinah, he noticed that people performing supererogatory prayers known as Nafl here and there in various places. A bright idea occurred to him. He decided to bring all the Muslims together in congregation and recommended them to recite one thirtieth of the Holy Quran every night. This way, the whole Holy Quran was recited by each and every Muslim at least once in a month of Ramadan.
Once Allah Messenger (PBUH) said: “He who prays during the night in Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven”
How the Taraweeh Prayer should be performed?
The Number of Rakahs:
There are two theories or let’s say opinions as to how many rakahs should be prayed. One opinion says that they should be 8 followed by three rakahs of witr. Following Hadith is the proof of this opinion:
Once it was asked from Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her), “How did the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) pray during Ramadan? She said: “He did not pray more than eleven rakahs in Ramadan. He would pray four then again four and then He would pray three and don’t ask how beautiful and long they were. I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, will you sleep before you pray witr?’ He said: O ‘Aa’ishah, my eyes sleep but my heart does not.’
Some scholars say that rakhas should by two by two not four because it is stated by that Ibn Umar there is a Hadith according to which a man asked the Holy Prophet (PBUH) about prayer at night. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said ‘Pray two Rakat at a time and then two and then two and so on, and if you are afraid of the dawn (the approach of the time of the Fajr prayer) pray one Rakat and that will be the witr for all the Rakat which you have offered.”
So from this Hadith we come to know that there is no defined number of rakat and we find a lot of authentic confirmations or evidences of variant number of Rakaats in taraweeh.