Q:I would really appreciate if you could somehow provide with some hadith / reference in support of 3 rakah witr salaah according to the Hanafi Madhab.

In the article that you forwarded to me, the writer has accepted that one may perform 3 rakaahs of Witr salaah. However, he seems to be imposing the view that this should only be done in the manner that he has understood, i.e 2 rakaahs with a salaam and thereafter 1 rakaah.

Whilst this method may be correct according to some Madhabs, to impose it on the followers of other Madhabs will not be proper.

Hence, I would hereby mention those proofs that support the Hanafi view on this matter.

According to the Hanafi Madhab, the Witr salaah should be performed as 3 rakaahs with one salaam at the end only. This view is based on the following:

1. Sayyidatuna Aaisha (Radhiallaahu Anha)reports that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) never used to make salaam after the first 2 rakaahs of Witr.’

(Mustadrak Haakim vol.1 pg.304;

Imaam Haakim has classified this Hadith as Sahih according to the requirements of Bukhari and Muslim. Hafiz Dhahabi has also accepted this). Imaam Haakim then says, ‘There are various other narrations that support this, from them is the following.’

2. Sayyidatuna Aaisha (Radhiallaahu Anha)reports that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) used to perform 3 rakaahs of Witr and he never used to make salaam except in the last rakaah.’ (Ibid)

3.Imaam Nasaaie (RA) has recorded (the following) on the authority of Sayyiduna Ubayy ibn Ka’ab (Radhiallaahu Anhu) that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) used to recite Surah Sabbihisma rabbikal a’alaa in the first rakaah of Witr, Surah al-Kaafiroon in the 2nd rakaah and Surah, Qul huwallaahu Ahad in the third and that he (Rasulullah – Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) would not make salaam except in the last of those rakaahs.

(Hafiz Iraaqi has classified this narration as Sahih – authentic) –

Refer Naylul Awtaar vol.1; also see Aathaarus-sunan pg.203;

I’elaa-us-sunan vol.6 pg.42

4. Thaabit al-Bunaani (Radhiallaahu Anhu), the famous student of Sayyiduna Anas (Radhiallaahu Anhu) says that Sayyiduna Anas (Radhiallaahu Anhu) lead us in the Witr salaah he performed 3 rakaahs and he did not make salaam till the last rakaah.

(Tahawi vol.1 pg.206 –

Hafiz ibn Hajar (RA) has classified the narration as Sahih (authentic) – see al-Diraayah; I’elaa-us-sunan vol.6 pg.44

5. Sayyiduna Abu-Zinaad (ra)– a Taabi’ee – says that I found most of the Fuqahaa and the people of knowledge saying that the Witr is 3 rakaahs with only one salaam at the end.’

(Tahaawi vol.1 pg.207).

Muhaddith Nimawi has classified this narration as Hasan (sound);

see Aathaarus-sunan pg.204

6. Abu Zinaad (ra) also stated that Khalifah Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz (RA) had established through the verdicts of the Fuqahaa, that Witr salaah is 3 rakaahs, with no salaam except in the last rakaah.’

(Tahaawi vol.1 pg.207 – Muhaddith Nimawi has declared this narration as Sahih (authentic) – see Aathaarus-sunan pg.204)

7.Sayyiduna Umar ibn al-Khattaab (Radhiallaahu Anhu) is also reported to have performed 3 rakaahs Witr with one salaam only.

(Mustadrak al-Haakim vol.1 pg.304; Tahaawi vol.1 pg.205-206)

All the above authentic narrations have proven without a shadow of doubt that the Witr salaah should be 3 rakaahs with no salaam in between.

Narrations 5 and 6 have proven this to be the practice of majority of the Fuqahaa (theologians) during the era of the Taabi’een as well. From among the Sahaaba, this is reported to be the practice of Sayyiduna Umar ibn al-Khattaab,Sayyiduna Ali ibn Abi Talib, Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Mas’ood,Sayyiduna Ubayy ibn Ka’ab,Sayyiduna Zayd ibn Thaabit,Sayyiduna Anas ibn Maalikand Sayyiduna Abu Umaamah (Radhiallaahu Anhum).

(Refer al-Tamheed of ibn Abdul-Barr vol.4 pg.174)

The following narrations prove that one should definitely sit in Tashahhud after 2 rakaahs and thereafter stand up for the third:

1.Sayyidatuna Aaisha (Radhiallaahu Anha) reports from Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) – as part of a lengthy Hadith – that he also said, ‘After every two rakaahs, there is ‘Attahiyyaat’.’ (Sahih Muslim). This Hadith is general and includes all salawaat as well as the Witr.

(I’elaa-us-sunan vol.6 pg.51)

2. Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (Radhiallaahu Anhu) is reported to have said, ‘Witr is 3 rakaahs like the Witr of the day, i.e. the salaah of Maghrib.’(Tahaawi vol.1 pg.206).

Muhaddith Nimawi (RA) has declared this narration as Sahih (authentic).

(Aathaarus-sunan pg.204).

This narration also proves that just as one sits after the first 2 rakaahs in Maghrib salaah, similarly, one should do so in the Witr salaah.

(I’elaa-us-sunan vol.6 pg.43-44)

3.Abul-Aaliyah (Radhiallaahu Anhu)– a Taabi’ee – states that the companions of Muhammad (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) have taught us that the Witr is just like Maghrib salaah.

The only difference is that we recite Qiraat in Witr, and not in Maghrib, i.e. in the third rakaah.

(Tahaawi vol.1 pg.206). Muhaddith Nimawi (RA) has declared it Sahih (authentic)

This is a clear proof for the Hanafi Madhab in that the Maghrib salaah and Witr will be identical in all aspects, except the Qiraat in the third rakaah. Hence, the Tashahhud in the second rakaah is also backed / supported by this narration.

Now, as for the narrations quoted by the writer in that article, one should first understand that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) always encouraged that one should perform some Nafl salaah before the Witr salaah and that the Witr should not be the only salaah performed after Esha.

This was also the constant practice of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam). Hafiz ibn Abdul-Barr Maaliki (RA) states that Witr according to them is only after some other salaah that precedes it.’

(Al-Tamheed vol.4 pg.177)

It is precisely for this reason that in some narrations – as quoted by the writer – there is mention of 5 rakaahs of Witr and 7 rakaahs as well which in actual fact refers to what we have just mentioned, i.e. from the 5 or 7 rakaahs, the last 3 are actually the Witr and the remaining 2 or 4 would be the Nafl that was supposed to precede it.

The same answer will apply to the first narration that, ‘Don’t pray 3 rakaahs Witr, pray five Witr or seven rakaahs Witr, but don’t make similarity to Maghrib’.

The reason for preventing the Witr from being like Maghrib salaah is obvious, and that is because there is no Nafl salaah that precedes it.

(see al-Nukatu Tareefah of Allaamah al-Kawthari pg.186)

As for the narration of Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Umar (Radhiallaahu Anhu) that mentions that one should make salaam after 2 rakaahs and thereafter perform 1 rakaah only, this practice is further weakened by a narration of Mustadrak al-Haakim

wherein Hasan al-Basri (RA) is reported to have been asked about this narration. It was said to him,

Verily, Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Umar (Radhiallaahu Anhu) used to make salaam after the 2 rakaahs of Witr?’ He replied, ‘(His father) Sayyiduna Umar al-Khattaab (Radhiallaahu Anhu) was more knowledgeable than him and he would (not make salaam and) stand up for the third rakaah.’

(Mustadrak vol.1 pg.304)

This is besides the fact that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) is reported to have prohibited from performing one rakaah only.

(Refer al-Tamheed vol.4 pg.177; al-Nukatu Tareefah pgs.182-183)

Lastly, I’m sure that the above information is more than enough to eradicate any sort of doubt concerning the Hanafi viewpoint on this issue.

And Allah Ta’ala Knows Best

Ml. Muhammad ibn Moulana Haroon Abassommar


CHECKED AND APPROVED: Mufti Ebrahim Desai(Fatwa Department)



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