Taraweeh and Qiyam while in Makkah & Madina

Read how to perform these
prayers during your trip.

The Importance of Taraweeh

Tarawih Prayers are those prayed during after Isha during Ramadan. They are considered a type of Qiyam al-Layl (optional night prayer) and because of this is an emphasized Sunnah. (Bukhari 1129) and (Muslim 761) narrate from ‘Aisha that the God’s Messenger prayed one Ramadan night in the mosque, and people followed him in prayer. The next night he prayed and more people came. On the third or fourth night people congregated anticipating God’s Messenger to come out to them, yet he didn’t. The next morning he said to them: “I observed what you did, yet nothing kept me from coming out to you except that I feared it would be made obligatory for you.”

Commenting on this, scholars stated this shows that praying night prayers after Isha in congregation is prescribed in the Prophet’s Sunnah.

During the caliphate of Abu Bakr, people would congregate at different times of the night to pray together in the Prophet’s mosque. During Umar’s caliphate, the number of people increased to the point that there were competing congregations. Seeing this, he made an executive decision to end the competing congregations and organize people behind one Imam, appointing Tamim al-Dari and Ubayy b. K’ab alternate in leading them in prayer. (Bukhari 2010) It was called “Tarawih,” a word that means to relax, because they would pray 2 to 4 units of prayer then rest for a while. While the Prophet prayed not more than 13 units of optional night prayer in any given night, Aisha said “Don’t ask about how long and how perfect they were.” Understanding that the permission to pray at night was unrestricted and not limited to a specific number, some of the Salaf would pray an unlimited number of units in Ramadan nights. Others, such as Umar b. AbdulAziz and Imam Malik, would pray 36 units. The other three schools of Islamic law recommended 20 units of prayer for Tarawih, basing this off of what Umar organized the people to do during his caliphate.

The Virtue of Praying Tarawih

Bukhari (???) and Muslim (???) narrated from Abu Hurayrah: God’s Messenger said “Whoever prays during the night in Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from God will have his past sins forgiven.” In another hadith, Tirmidhi (806) narrates from Abu Dharr: God’s Messenger said: “Whoever stands with the Imam until he finishes, it is equivalent to spending the whole night in prayer.”

Because of the importance of night prayers, and specifically those performed in Ramadan, its extremely important to prayer at least some prayers every night of Ramadan, and if you can pray with the Imam until he is finished. “God has designated, in every night of Ramadan, those who will be freed from the Hellfire” (Musnad Ahmed)

Try to be one of those people in Ramadan.

How is Taraweeh prayed in Makka and Medina

The sunnah of praying at night established by the Prophet and then organized by Umar has continued from their time until today in Makkah and Medina. Mosques around the world gather for prayer behind their local imams as well.

Its important to take into consideration how the prayers are organized In Makkah and Medina when going there during Ramadan. When in Makkah, its important to remember that Tawaf does not stop during Taraweeh. If you arrive and want to start your Umra, you can reasonably make Tawaf, stop and pray some or all of Taraweeh, then complete your Umra.

Keep in mind that prayer times change slightly during Ramadan in Makkah and Medina. Outside of Ramadan, Isha is fixed at 90 minutes after the Adhan of Maghrib. In Ramadan, the Adhan of Isha is 2 hours after the Adhan of Maghrib. This gives everyone breaking their fast time to do so, wash up, make Wudu, and arrive to the mosque for prayer. In the first 20 days of Ramadan, if you are in your hotel and unable to make it to the Mosque for Maghrib, as long as you arrive 45-60 minutes before Isha, you’ll be able to find a spot inside the mosque to pray. In the last ten nights, you’ll have to break fast inside the Mosque in order to keep a comfortable spot to pray in for Tarawih. That means in the last ten nights, you’ll have leave away from your hotel for at least 3-4 hours before returning in the evening. This means you’ll use the restrooms and wudu areas at the Masjids, which are extremely convenient and well-kept.

What is “Qiyam al-Layl”?
Qiyam al-Layl, as mentioned previously, is simply the optional prayers said after Isha. During Ramadan, people pray Tarawih – a type of Qiyam al-Layl. The phrase “Qiyam al-Layl” or simply “Qiyam” is also used for another prayer gathering in the last ten nights of Ramadan. After praying Tarawih, the Imam will not pray Witr and then come back in the third part of the night to pray extra prayers, and then finish with Witr before Fajr. They are prayed just like Tarawih, in units of two with rests in between each prayer. The Imam will typically recite slower in these prayers, and generally will recite selections from the Quran instead of recites its chapters chronologically, which is typical in Tarawih.

These prayers have the same reward as Tarawih, and are great if you can join the congregation and pray them. If, while you are traveling, you have to choose between which to pray, then its better to get rest immediately after Isha and then join the congregation in the mosque for Qiyam, as the time in which these prayers are prayed is considered more virtuous.

How to prepare for Taraweeh
While going for Umra and staying in Makka and Medina is one of the highpoints of our year if not our life, traveling internationally can be very daunting. Couple with that the added pressure of religious services and hotel accomodations, and it can be recipe for stress and health issues. This is why its so important to not only know how and why things are done in Makka and Medina, but to prepare mentally, physically, and spiritually for this trip. In addition to the logistic advice given above, be sure to check out our article on “Making the most of your umrah trip.”