Assalamualaikum ustaz. I once prayed in a surau where right after the Isya’ prayer the imam straight away performs the tarawih prayer without giving the chance for the makmum to perform sunnah ba’diyah prayer. Is this the prioritized way?
Waalaikumussalam wrt, wbt.,
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
The tarawih prayer is an encouraged worship for Muslims to enliven the nights in the month of Ramadhan. This is in accordance with a general hadith:
مَنْ قَامَ رَمَضَانَ إِيمَانًا وَاحْتِسَابًا غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ
“Whoever stood for the prayers in the night of Ramadhan out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven."
Sahih al-Bukhari (2009) and Sahih Muslim (1816)
Imam al-Nawawi said what is meant by enlivening the night of Ramadhan with prayers are by performing the tarawih prayers. Scholars agreed that it is sunnah but differ which is prioritized; whether for it to be performed in congregation at the mosque or at home. Imam al-Syafi’e, Abu Hanifah, Imam Ahmad and some scholars of madhhab Maliki stated that it is sunnah for it to be performed in congregation at the mosque. (Refer Al-Minhaj Syarh Sohih Muslim, 15/42)
In short, tarawih prayer is among the encouraged worships exclusive for the month of Ramadhan other than other worships such as reciting the Quran, dhikr, donating to charities and others.
Sunnah rawatib prayer is the sunnah prayer which accompanies the obligatory prayer. It is divided into sunnah muakkad and ghair muakkad. Sunnah muakkad for sunnah rawatib prayer are the prayers of which the Prophet PBUH never missed regardless when he was residing or travelling. The sunnah muakkad for sunnah rawatib prayer are the two rakaat before the Subuh prayer, two rakaat before Zuhur prayer and two rakaat after Zuhur prayer, two rakaat after the maghrib prayer and two rakaat after Isya’ prayer. While for sunnah rawatib prayer which are ghair muakkad, there are twelve rakaat which are two rakaat before and after Zuhur, four rakaat before Asar, two rakaat before Maghrib and two rakaat before Isya’. The sum of all of them are 24 rakaat.
This is according to a hadith narrated by Ummul Mukminin Saidatina Aisyah RA, where the Prophet PBUH said:
مَنْ ثَابَرَ عَلَى ثِنْتَيْ عَشْرَةَ رَكْعَةً مِنْ السُّنَّةِ بَنَى اللَّهُ لَهُ بَيْتًا فِي الْجَنَّةِ أَرْبَعِ رَكَعَاتٍ قَبْلَ الظُّهْرِ وَرَكْعَتَيْنِ بَعْدَهَا وَرَكْعَتَيْنِ بَعْدَ الْمَغْرِبِ وَرَكْعَتَيْنِ بَعْدَ الْعِشَاءِ وَرَكْعَتَيْنِ قَبْلَ الْفَجْرِ
"Whoever is regular with twelve Rak'ah of Sunnah (prayer), Allah will build a house for him in Paradise: Four Rak'ah before Zuhr, two Rak'ah after it, two Rak'ah after Maghrib, two Rak'ah after Isha, and two Rak'ah before Fajr."
Sunan al-Tirmizi (414)
There is a great advantage for those who always perform these prayers for he will accompany the Prophet PBUH in paradise. This is based on the question asked by Rabi’ah bin Ka’ab al-Aslami to the Prophet PBUH. He wanted to accompany the Prophet PBUH in paradise and asked the Prophet PBUH how he could achieve this. The Prophet PBUH replied:
فَأَعِنِّى عَلَى نَفْسِكَ بِكَثْرَةِ السُّجُودِ
“Then help me to achieve this for you by devoting yourself often to prostration.”
Sahih Muslim (754)
Coming back to the question presented, the best way is to first perform the ba’diyah Isya’ prayer before performing the tarawih prayer. The reason is the two rakaat following the fardhu prayer is a sunnah prayer that the Prophet PBUH never misses.
Imam al-Nawawi said that the ashab have reached a consensus that sunnah rawatib prayer is prioritized for it is a prayer that is always performed unlike the tarawih prayer. This is the sahih opinion. (Refer Al-Majmu’ Syarh Al-Muhazzab, 4/5)
Moreover, jurists from other madhhabs such as madhhab Hanbali stated that the time for tarawih prayer is after the sunnah prayer after the Isya’ prayer. Al-Buhuti said:
“The time for tarawih prayer is after the obligatory Isya’ prayer and after performing the sunnah ba’diyah after Isya’.” (Refer Kassyaf Al-Qina’ ‘an Al-Iqna’, 3/269)
To conclude, before performing the sunnah tarawih prayer, it is best if a person first performs the sunnah ba’diyah prayer, then perform the tarawih prayer. Our suggestion for the imam and bilal on duty to give time for the congregation to perform the sunnah ba’diyah prayer first after the Isya’ prayer. Don’t be hasty and leave a great sunnah. For the congregation who missed the opportunity to perform the sunnah ba’diyah prayer after Isya’, then don’t despair for the time of sunnah ba’diyah prayer will end when the time for the obligatory ends. This means that the sunnah ba’diyah Isya’ prayer can still be performed after the sunnah tarawih prayer.
May Allah SWT give us all the correct understanding in religion and grant us the strength to always perform the sunnah prayers. Wallahua’lam.