How the Witr prayer is performed?

Details of the Question
This Ramadan I prayed a Witr prayer on the last 10 nights behind a Hanafi Imam from Syria who lead us in the Witr prayer. He performed the Witr prayer without any tashahhud break. In other words we prayed three rakah of Witr prayer without any break and sat only once for tashaduud. I approached him and enquired to which he answered this is one way of RasulAllah, (PBUH) and is the way Shafii practice it.
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

This information is not correct. According to the Shafii Sect the Witr Prayer is not performed in that way, either. After the two rak'ats (parts) one rak'at is performed. However, though it is a sin, not sitting in the first Tashahhud does not annul the prayer.

According to the Shafii Sect:

The Witr Prayer is the most muakkad (strong) and most important of the sunnats (practices of The Prophet) added to the obligatory prayers. It is performed after the fard (obligatory part) of the Night Prayer. The least of it is one rak'at, the most is eleven.

As a virtue, the least of it is three rak'ats. The most virtuous form of performing it is making salam (ending by saying assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullah) every two rak'ats and performing the remaining one rak'at at the end with a separate word of intention.

When the Witr Prayer is performed as three rak'ats, it is sunnat to recite the surah of “Sabbihisma rabbika'l ala” in the first rak'at after Fatiha Surah, to recite “Kafirun” Surah in the second rak'at, and in the last rak'at to recite the surahs of “Ikhlas, Falaq and Nas”. It is also sunnat to recite the mentioned surahs in the last three rakats when it is performed as 5 or more rak'ats.

The Witr Prayer is performed individually rather than in congregation as is the case for the other sunnats added to obligatory prayers. However, from the 16th night of Ramadan onwards till the last night, it is sunnat to recite the prayers of Qunut in the state of 'itidal' after standing up after the ruku of the last rak'at.

It is also sunnat to recite this before that prayer:

“Allahumma inna nasta'inuka wa nastaghfiruka, wa nu'minu bika, wa natawwakkalu alayika, wa nusni alayikal khaira, wa nashkuruka wa la nakforuka wa nakhla'u wa natruku manyafjoruk. Allahumma iyyaka na'budu wa laka nusalli wa nasjudu wa ilayika nasa wa nahfidu, wa narju Rahmataka wa nakhsha 'adhzabaka; inna adhabaka bi al-kuffari mulhiq.”

The translation of it is as follows:

“O Allah! We seek Your assistance and ask for Your guidance, and we beseech Your forgiveness and return to You in repentance. We cherish faith in You and place our trust in You. We attribute all goodness to You. We are grateful to You and refuse to be ungrateful to You. We abandon and forsake all those who reject You. O Allah, You alone we worship, unto You alone we pray; unto You alone we prostrate, and for You alone we strive. Unto You alone we flee for refuge. We cherish hope in Your mercy and we fear Your retribution. Verily, Your punishment is bound to catch up with those who reject the truth.”

The Prayer of Qunut recited in the Shafii Sect:

“Allahumm-ahdina fiman hadait, wa 'afina fiman 'aafait, wa tawallana fiman tawwallait, wa barik lana fima a'atait, wa qina sharra ma qadaiyta, fainnaka taqdina wa la yuqdha 'alaika, wa innahu la yadhillu man walaiyt, wa la yai'izzu man 'aadait, tabarakta Rabbana wa ta'aalaita. Falakal hamdu ala ma kadayta. Nastagfiruka wa natuwbu ilayka. Wa sallallahu ala sayyiddina Muhammedin wa ala alihi wa sahbihi wa sallam."

This is translated as follows:

“O Allah! Guide me with those whom You have guided, and strengthen me with those whom You have given strength, take me to Your care with those whom You have taken to Your care, Bless me in what You have given me, Protect me from the evil You have Ordained. Surely You command and are not commanded, and non whom You have committed to Your care shall be humiliated and non whom You have taken as an enemy shall taste glory. You are Blessed, our Lord, and Exalted...”

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