Did the Prophet perform tarawih prayer as eight rak’ahs?

The Answer

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Numbers such as eight, ten, sixteen, twenty, thirty-six, thirty-eight and forty are mentioned about the number of the rak’ahs of tarawih prayer. (Ayni, Umdah, XI, 126-127)

Acting upon the narration that the Prophet performed twenty-three rak’ahs including witr prayer (Ibn Abu Shayba, II, 164; Bayhaqi, II, 496) and the practice of the Companions, the majority of Hanafi, Shafii and Hanbali scholars adopt the view that tarawih prayer consists of twenty rak’ahs.

Acting upon the hadiths that the Messenger of Allah did not perform more than eleven rak’ahs including witr as nafilah prayers, scholars like Ibnul-Humam and Suyuti state that tarawih prayer consists of eight rak’ahs; Ibnul-Humam holds the view that the twelve rak’ahs performed after the eight rak’ahs are mustahab. (Fatḥul-Qadir, I, 468)

It is reported that Imam Malik defends that tarawih prayer consists of thirty-six rak’ahs but he also has a view that it consists of twenty rak’ahs. (Ibn Rushd, II, 309-310)

Among those narrations, the narration that it consists of twenty rak’ahs got stronger and a tradition based on it developed in the Islamic community. It is necessary to state the effect of the practice during the caliphate of Hz. Umar regarding the issue. Since the Companions did not oppose it, it is even stated that ijma of the Companions occurred that tarawih prayer consisted of twenty rak’ahs (Qasani, I, 288) or that an acceptance close to ijma occurred (Ibn Qudama, I, 799).

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