I have a question. I am a tahfiz student and during this RMO, I am appointed as the tarawih imam for my family in Ramadhan. I would like to divide my recitation in each rakaat by reciting for about one page in order to finish it on the last day of Ramadhan. However, my father asked me whether this action is a Sunnah and permissible? Hence, my question is, what is the ruling of dividing the verses of al-Quran in tarawih prayer with the hope of finishing it on the last day of Ramadhan? Hope for an explanation on this matter.
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 family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
We start with the saying of Allah SWT:
شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ
The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion.
Surah al-Baqarah (185)
The month of Ramadhan is the month where Allah revealed the Quran on the night of al-Qadr as guidance and hidayah for all people towards the truth. Inside it are the clear signs on Allah’s guidance and the main determinant between right and wrong. (See al-Tafsir al-Muyassar, pg. 28)
On this holy month, Gabriel AS was sent to the Prophet PBUH to recite al-Quran with him. This is in accordance with a narration from Ibn ‘Abbas R.Anhuma where:
كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَجْوَدَ النَّاسِ، وَكَانَ أَجْوَدُ مَا يَكُونُ فِي رَمَضَانَ حِينَ يَلْقَاهُ جِبْرِيلُ، وَكَانَ يَلْقَاهُ فِي كُلِّ لَيْلَةٍ مِنْ رَمَضَانَ فَيُدَارِسُهُ الْقُرْآنَ، فَلَرَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَجْوَدُ بِالْخَيْرِ مِنَ الرِّيحِ الْمُرْسَلَةِ
Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) was the most generous of all the people, and he used to reach the peak in generosity in the month of Ramadan when Gabriel met him. Gabriel used to meet him every night of Ramadan to teach him the Qur'an. Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) was the most generous person, even more generous than the strong uncontrollable wind (in readiness and haste to do charitable deeds).
Sahih al-Bukhari (3220)
This hadith shows that the Prophet PBUH will recite al-Quran by tadarrus with Gabriel AS during the month of Ramadhan. It is narrated from Abu Hurairah RA that Gabriel AS will come to meet the Prophet PBUH and tadarrus together with him once in a year, but on the year the Prophet PBUH passed away, Gabriel AS has met him and tadarrus with him twice. Narrated by al-Bukhari (4998)
Finishing al-Quran in Tarawih Prayer
Pertaining to this, Sheikh Ahmad al-Barlisi cited from Imam al-Isnawi that:
التَّرَاوِيحُ سُنَّةٌ بِالْإِجْمَاعِ، وَأَفْتَى ابْنُ الصَّلَاحِ وَابْنُ عَبْدِ السَّلَامِ بِأَنَّ خَتْمَ الْقُرْآنِ فِي مَجْمُوعِهَا أَفْضَلُ مِنْ قِرَاءَةِ سُورَةِ الْإِخْلَاصِ ثَلَاثًا فِي كُلِّ رَكْعَةٍ
“Tarawih prayer is Sunnah according to ijma’ al-ulama’ (scholarly consensus). And Ibn al-Solah as well as Ibn Abd al-Salam had issued fatwa that finishing al-Quran for the whole book in tarawih prayer is better than merely reciting surah al-Ikhlas thrice in each rakaat.” (See Hasyiata Qalyubi wa ‘Amirah, 1/248)
Imam Abu Hanifah stated that:
السُّنَّةُ الْخَتْمُ مَرَّةً، فَلا يَتْرُكُ الإِمَامُ الْخَتْمَ لِكَسَلِ الْقَوْمِ، بَلْ يَقْرَأُ فِي كُلِّ رَكْعَةٍ عَشَرَ آيَاتٍ أَوْ نَحْوَهَا، فَيَحْصُلُ بِذَلِكَ الْخَتْمُ لأِنَّ عَدَدَ رَكَعَاتِ التَّرَاوِيحِ فِي شَهْرِ رَمَضَانَ سِتُّمِائَةِ رَكْعَةٍ، أَوْ خَمْسُمِائَةٍ وَثَمَانُونَ، وَآيُ الْقُرْآنِ الْكَرِيمِ سِتُّ آلاَفٍ وَشَيْءٌ.
“It is Sunnah to finish reciting al-Quran once (in the month of Ramadhan). Therefore, for the imam, do not leave this because of people’s laziness (the congregation) of doing so. In fact, he supposedly recites in each rakaat with ten verses or so, so that he will be able to finish al-Quran by that because the number of rakaat for tarawih prayer during Ramadhan is 600 or 580 and the number of verses of al-Quran is six thousand verses.” (See al-Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, 27/147-148)
Besides, there is an opinion which states that an imam should recite 20 to 30 verses for each rakaat. This is in accordance with a narration from Umar RA where he called three imams and asked the first to recite 30 verses in each rakaat, 25 for the second and 20 for the third. Then, Imam al-Kasani commented on this saying:
وَمَا قَالَهُ أَبُو حَنِيفَةَ سُنَّةٌ إذْ السُّنَّةُ أَنْ يُخْتَمَ الْقُرْآنُ مَرَّةً فِي التَّرَاوِيحِ... وَمَا أَمَرَ بِهِ عُمَرُ فَهُوَ مِنْ بَابِ الْفَضِيلَةِ وَهُوَ أَنْ يُخْتَمَ الْقُرْآنُ مَرَّتَيْنِ أَوْ ثَلَاثًا وَهَذَا فِي زَمَانِهِم. وَأَمَّا فِي زَمَانِنَا فَالْأَفْضَلُ أَنْ يَقْرَأَ الْإِمَامُ عَلَى حَسَبِ حَالِ الْقَوْمِ مِنْ الرَّغْبَةِ وَالْكَسَلِ فَيَقْرَأُ قَدْرَ مَا لَا يُوجِبُ تَنْفِيرَ الْقَوْمِ عَنْ الْجَمَاعَةِ؛ لِأَنَّ تَكْثِيرَ الْجَمَاعَةِ أَفْضَلُ مِنْ تَطْوِيلِ الْقِرَاءَةِ
“What is mentioned by Abu Hanifah as Sunnah is the Sunnah of finishing al-Quran once in tarawih prayers (in the month of Ramadhan) … While what was commanded (done) by Umar RA is included in the fadhilah (Sunnah) which is finishing al-Quran twice or thrice. And that was in his time. While for today, it is better for an imam to recite (the verses of al-Quran) according to the condition (of the ma’mum) in terms of their perseverance and laziness. Therefore, an imam should recite according to the rate which will not cause his ma’mum to leave the congregation because having more people is better than a long recitation.” (See Badai’ al-Sanai’, 1/289)
Likewise, Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haitami stated that reciting some of the verse (from a lengthy surah) is better in tarawih prayer if he intends to finish the recitation of al-Quran, if not, then reciting the whole (complete) surah is better according to a fatwa issued by Ibn al-Solah. Imam Abd al-Hamid al-Sharwani commented on this statement in his hashiah stating that:
يُؤْخَذُ مِنْ ذَلِكَ أَنَّ مَحَلَّ كَوْنِ الْبَعْضِ أَفْضَلَ إذَا أَرَادَ الصَّلَاةَ بِجَمِيعِ الْقُرْآنِ فِي التَّرَاوِيحِ فَإِنْ لَمْ يُرِدْ ذَلِكَ فَالسُّورَةُ أَفْضَلُ
"It is taken (understood) from this matter, that reciting some (of the lengthy verse) is better if one intends to finish the recitation of al-Quran in tarawih prayer and if he does not intend to do so, then reciting the surah (as a whole) is better."(See Tuhfah al-Muhtaj wa Hawasyi al-Syarwani wa al-‘Ibadi, 2/52)
Coming back to the question asked, we conclude that dividing the verses of al-Quran in tarawih prayer with the intention to finish it on the last day of Ramadhan is Sunnah and highly encouraged. Especially if the tarawih prayer is performed congregationally. So, it is one of the ways for the public or the family relatives to benefit from the whole recitation of al-Quran.
However, a thing to be taken into consideration is the condition of ma’mum who prays behind the imam during tarawih. This is because each person’s condition is different, in fact, diverse. This includes among the family members themselves. Therefore, it is an obligation for an imam to consider all levels and types of people which are different as well as motivates them to be together in congregation to perform tarawih prayer with imam to the end. Hopefully, they will all receive rewards as promised by the Prophet PBUH through his saying:
مَنْ قَامَ مَعَ الإِمَامِ حَتَّى يَنْصَرِفَ فَإِنَّهُ يَعْدِلُ قِيَامَ لَيْلَةٍ
‘Whoever stands with the Imam until he finishes, it is equivalent to spending the whole night in prayer.’
Sunan Ibn Majah (1327)
May Allah SWT give us all clear understanding in religion. Ameen.