While the Muslim nation goes about praying Tarawih with extreme enthusiasm in the Month of Ramazan, it is a good idea to pause and reflect over the reality of Tarawih.
The inventor of Tarawih, the second ruler, Umar Ibn Khattab, has some frank admissions on Tarawih that are worth noting.
Umar’s view on Tarawih
Regarding Tarawih Umar boasted: It is a wonderful innovation!
Sahih al-Bukhari v 6 p 555 under ‘Virtue of Prayers in Month of Ramazan’
Al-Taj al-Jam’e le al-Usool v 2 p 65
When Umar was informed that neither the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) nor Abu Bakr prayed Tarawih, Umar exclaimed – If it’s an innovation, it’s one of the best innovations!
Tarikh al-Yaqoobi v 2 p 130
Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) on innovation
While traditions condemning innovations like Tarawih are too many to document, we list here a few reports from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Interested readers can refer the six ‘reliable books’ (al-Sihaah al-Sittah) for more traditions warning against innovations.
1. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) warned about innovations in Medina: …it is serious to make innovation in it (and one who does it), there is upon him the curse of Allah, and that of the angels and of all the people…
Sahih al-Muslim trad 1,370
Sahih al-Bukhari trad 1,867
2. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said – Allah will not accept the good deeds of one who follows innovation until he gives up that innovation.
Sunan Ibn Majah book 1, trad 52
3. He (s.a.w.a.) also said – Every innovation is deviation and every deviation (leads to punishment) in the Fire.
The report is too famous for references. Readers will find it along with its variations in these books:
Sahih al-Muslim trad 867
Sunan al-Nesaai trad 1,578
Sunan Abi Dawood trad 4,607
Sunan Ibn Majah ‘Kitab al-Sunnah’
With Umar’s own admission on the innovative nature of Tarawih and the numerous warnings of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) on dangers of innovation in religion, it is time for a reality check for the Muslims.