There are very few important points in this hadith, of which two have been discussed already. Firstly, that Sayyidina Aayesha Radiyallahu ‘Anha says that Sayyidina Rasullullah Sallallhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam did not perform more than elevn ra’kahs in tahajjud in Ramadhaan or out of Ramadhaan. Whereas in the narration of Sayyidina ibn Abbas Radiyallahu ‘Anhu, Sayyidina Zayd bin Khaalid Radiyallahu ‘Anhu and other Sahaabah Radiyallahu ‘Anhum, it s stated that Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam performed thirteen ra’kahs. In a narration mentioned in Abu Daawud, Sayyiditina Aayesha Radiyallahu ‘Anha in reply to a question from Sayyidina ‘Abdullah bin Abi Qays Radiyallahu ‘Anhu himself counted the rak’ahs of tahajjud as follows: that four and two is six, and two equals eight, and two ten, plus three is thirteen. It is even narrated by Sayyiditina Aayesh Radiyallahu ‘Anha herself that Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam performed thirteen rak’ahs. Abu Daawud informs us in a narration that it is reported from Sayyiditina ‘Aayeshah Radiyallahu ‘Anha that: “Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam did not perform (tahajjud) less than seven rak’ahs, or more than thirteen rak’ahs”. In the Muwatta Imaam Maalik, it is narrated that Sayyiditina Aayeshah Radiyallahu ‘Anha said: “Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam performed thirteen rak’ahs at night. Then performed two short rak’ahs after the adhaan for the morning prayers were heard”. Some’ulama, after having seen the various ahaadith on this subject said the ahaadith of Sayyiditina ‘Aayeshah Radiyallahu ‘Anha on this subject is confusing, which means it is weak. There is no necessity to say they are confusing. What perplexity can there be if eleven rak’ahs. Were performed generally? Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam may have at times performed more, or less rak’ahs than these, as is evident from a few ahaadith.
The second discussion is that a few people derive the mas’alah from this hadith, that taraweeh is eight rak’ahs. Whereas from this narration it also cannot be said that tahajjud is only eight rak’ahs, as has been mentioned previously. This hadith has nothing to do with Taraweeh. The literal meaning of salaatul layl is the prayers of the night. By it nothing besides tahajjud is meant. If every prayer of the night is intended, then with the taraweeh, the faraa-id and sunan of maghrib and ‘eshaa, all will be excluded, of which no solution can be found. In this only the tahajjud is mentioned, and the question is only intended for this salaah, which Sayyiditina ‘Aayeshah Radiyallahu ‘Anha kindly replied. The reason for asking is clear, that did Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam perform more acts of worship in Ramadaan than at normal times, as has been mentioned in several narrations. Therefore Sayyidina Abu Salamah Radiyallahu ‘Anhu thought that it might be possible that more rak’ahs of tahajjud were performed. Upon inquiring, Sayyiditina ‘Aayeshah Radiyallahu ‘Anha replied in the negative. Otherwise it was also not the intention of Sayyiditina ‘Aayeshah Radiyallahu ‘Anha to leave aside the taraweeh. The rak’ahs of tahajjud were never more than eleven rak’ahs. The performing of thirteen rak’ahs has been confirmed Sayyiditina ‘Aayeshah Radiyallahu ‘Anha herself. On the subject of taraweeh, Maulana-Rashid-Ahmad Gangohi has written a detailed booklet ‘Ar Ra’y an Najeeh in Urdu. Those who wish may refer to it. Briefly, in the ahaadith tahajjud is termed as salaatul layl (The prayer of the night), and taraeeh as Qiyaami Ramadhaan (The standing-in prayer-of Ramadhaan). These are two separate prayers. The consensus of many ‘ulama is that by Qiyaami Ramadhaan, taraweeh is meant. Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam paid much importance to the Qiyaam of Ramadhaan. In many ahaadith the importance of it has been stressed and practised also. Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam has said: “The one that stands in prayer in Ramadhaan with sincere faith and hope, all his sins are forgiven”. (‘The ulama say by sins only the minor ones are intended).
Sayyidina Abu Hurayrah Radiyallahu ‘Anhu reports that Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam did not enforce a command that qiyaam should be made in Ramadhaan, but rather persuaded or commanded one to do so. Sometimes Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam performed this salaah (Taraweeh) with a large congregation, and excused himself for not performing it continuously, saying that it become fard. There are many reason for it possibly becoming fard by Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallhu ‘Alayhi Wasallam performing it regularly. Certainly the Sahaabah Radiyallahu Anhum, some individually and some in congregation performed this salaah till about the middle of the night, and at times a little longer. Sayyidina Umar Radiyallahu ‘Anhu instructed the people in the time of his khilaafah to perform taraweeh with jamaa’ah (congregation) and not individually to avoid confusion. Sayyidina Saa-ib Radiyallahu ‘Anhu says: “The Imaam generally recited those surahs that consists of a hundred aayaat. We use to lean on something because of the standing for lengthy period and the tiredness that resulted. This salaah ended before suhur (sehri)”. Many ‘ulama have written the consensus of the Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jamaa’ah that tarweeh is sunnah. From among the Ahlul-Qiblah (The people of the Qibila) none besides tha Rawaafid (Shi’ah) deny this. The four Imaams, viz Imaam Abu Hanifa RA, Imaam Shaafi’ee RA, Imaam Maalik RA, Imaam Humbal RA, all have mentioned this in their kitaabs of Fiqh (jurisprudence), that tarawee is twenty rak’ahs sunnah mu-akkidah. Acording to Imaam Maalik RA, a famous saying of his is that tarawee is thirty six rak’ahs.In the ‘Mughni’ a famous kitaab on Humbali fiqh, it is stated that the view of Ahmed bin Humbal RA is, that the most accepted saying is that taraweeh is twenty rak’ahs. This is also the madh-hab of Sufyaan Thaury RA, Imaam Abu Hanifa RA, and Imaam Shafi’ee RA. The madh-hab of Imaam Malik RA, is that it is thirty six rak’ahs. Imaam Malik RA said: “An envoy of the king came to me, that a concession be given in the rak’ahs of taraweeh. I rejected this “. A student of Imaam Maalik RA says : “Thirty nine rak’ahs were performed in Madinah. i.e. Thirty six for taraweeh, and three witr”. This subject has been discussed in detail in the kittab ‘Awjaz’. My respected tutors said: ‘The thirty six rak’ahs that were performed in Madina, of those, twenty were of taraweeh, between every Sayyidina (stop after every four rak’ahs) it is mustahab to rest the time it too to complete the four rak’ahs. Therefore the people performed four rak’ahs nafl in the Sayyidina. Hence the sixteen rak’ahs performed in the four taraweehs become extra. Anyhow, this is the madh-hab of the Maaliki’s. The most accepted adh-hab of the remaining three Imaams are that it is twenty rak’ahs.