Are Tahajjud and Tarawih Different Prayers?

Question: Are Tahajjud and Tarawih different prayers? Does the name Tarawih come in the Hadith?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

The Difference between the Tahajjud and Tarawih Prayers

During the time of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace), there was no difference between the number of units of prayer (rak’ats) in Tahajjud prayer and that of Tarawih prayer. The only difference between the two was the time and the method. Tarawih would be prayed at the beginning of the night in the congregation; whereas Tahajjud would be prayed at the end of the night individually [Kashmiri, al-‘Arf al-Shadhi sharh Sunan al-Tirmidhi].

However, it has been established that some amongst the Tabi’in would combine Tahajjud and Tarawih into one prayer in Ramadhan [Kashmiri, al-‘Arf al-Shadhi sharh Sunan al-Tirmidhi].

The Name Tarawih

Tarawih was originally referred to as ‘Qiyam al-Lail fi Ramadhan’ – Standing the nights of Ramadhan. Thereafter, each four rak’ahs was named a Tarwiha (sing: of tarawih) due to the rest at the end of each four rak’ahs.

The Length of the Tarawih Prayer

As for the narration of Ibn Majah, where the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) led the Tarawih prayer till they feared to miss the pre-dawn meal – this can be explained by the narration of Imam Malik in his Muwatta, which is as follows:

‘Abdullah bin Abi Bakr narrates saying, “I heard my father (namely Abu Bakr al-Siddiq) saying, ‘We would leave (after prayers) in Ramadhan and hurry our servants to ready the food, out of fear of Fajr time entering” [Imam Malik, Muwatta].

It can be understood from this narration that though the Tarawih prayer was long, they would leave after having prayed the Witr prayer.

The Time of ‘Umar

Though it was not done by the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace), ‘Umar (may Allah bless him) gathered all the people behind one Imam for Tarawih 20 Rak’ahs followed by three rak’ahs of Witr prayer. This decision of ‘Umar was accepted by all the Sahaba present, as none of them objected. It was also accepted by the Great Imams to come. None of the Four Schools deemed Tarawih to be less than twenty rak’ahs [Kashmiri, al-‘Arf al-Shadhi sharh Sunan al-Tirmidhi].

Zaid bin Ruman (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “The people would stand in prayer in the time of ‘Umar (may Allah bless him), in Ramadhan, praying twenty-three rak’ahs i.e. twenty rak’ahs of Tarawih and three of Witr” [Imam Malik, al-Muwatta].

Shutair bin Shakl (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates, “That he (i.e. ‘Umar) would lead them in Ramadhan with twenty rak’ahs and three for Witr prayer” [Baihaqi, Sunan al-Baihaqi].

Hope this helps
Allahu A’alam

[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch