Answered by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam
Question: Due to the long fasts this Ramadhan, I get extremely tired and drained by Maghrib. I would like to know if it is sinful or disliked for me to pray Tarawih at home? Would praying in congregation with my family make a difference?
Answer: In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
There are three different aspects to your question. The legal ruling (hukm shar’i) of:
1) The actual performance of Tarawih prayers,
2) Performing them in congregation,
3) Performing them in the Mosque congregation.
All three aspects have been answered by the renowned classical Hanafi jurists, Imam Haskafi and Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on them) in their respective works: Durr al-Mukhtar and Radd al-Muhtar.
Imam Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him) states:
“The Tarawih prayers are an emphasized Sunna, due to the continued practice of the rightly guided Caliphs, for both men and women… It is a communal Sunna (sunna ala ‘l-kifaya), however, [for men] to perform them in congregation according to the sounder opinion. As such, if the [entire] community of the Mosque abandoned the congregation, they would all be sinful, unless if only some members of the community abandoned it [in which case no one will be sinful]. And any prayer for which congregation is prescribed; it is more virtuous to perform that prayer in the Mosque.”
Imam Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) elaborates on the above by saying that Tarawih itself is an [emphasized] individual Sunna (Sunna ala ‘l-ayn), and as such, it is disliked [and blameworthy] for a person to abandon Tarawih prayers altogether [and sinful with persistence]. As for performing them in congregation, it is a communal Sunna, that is, if they are not performed in congregation at all in the Mosque, then the entire community would be at blame and, with persistence, would be sinful. However, if some members of the community performed them in congregation in the Mosque, and a person in the community performed them in his home, he would have left a more virtuous deed. Even if he performed them in congregation in his home, he would have missed the merit of doing so in the Mosque. (See: Radd al-Muhtar ala ‘l-Durr al-Mukhtar, 2/45)
In light of the above, to summarize, performing Tarawih itself is an emphasized Sunna. Hence, it is blameworthy and disliked to abandon them, and sinful if done so with persistence.
As for performing Tarawih prayers in congregation in the Mosque, it is a communal Sunna for men. As such, if one offers Eisha Salat in congregation and then performs Tarawih on his own at home, he would miss out on the immense rewards for praying in congregation in the Mosque but it will not be sinful, blameworthy or disliked even with persistence.
Likewise, if some people perform them in congregation at home, they would gain the reward for praying in congregation but would miss out on the extra rewards for praying in the Mosque.
One of the proofs for this is what Imam Abu Ja’far al-Tahawi (Allah have mercy on him) relates in his Sharh Ma’ani al-Athar that some of the Companions, such as Abd Allah ibn Umar, and their students (Allah be pleased with them) would perform their Tarawih prayers at home.
Mujahid relates that a man asked Abdullah ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him), “Shall I perform [Tarawih] behind the Imam in Ramadhan.” He replied, “Do you recite the Qur’an [by memory]?” He said, “Yes.” So he said, “Perform them in your home.” (Sharh Ma’ani al-Athar, 1/351-352)
Ubayd Allah ibn Umar says, “I saw al-Qasim, Salim and Nafi’ all returning from the Mosque [after Eisha], and they would not pray with the Imam.” (ibid)
In conclusion, a male should make every effort to perform Tarawih prayers in congregation in the Mosque, preferably following a complete recitation of the Qur’an (khatm), due to the immense reward that is multiplied many times over in the holy month of Ramadan. However, if someone chooses to perform them at home, either in congregation or alone, they must not be rebuked or looked down upon since they are merely leaving out a more virtuous deed. If one finds it difficult to pray in the Mosque, there is no sin or blame in praying at home.
And Allah knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam