Shama-il Tirmidhi Chapter 039, Hadith Number 011 (258).

'Aayesh Radiyallahu 'Anha say "Rasulullah Sallallhu 'Alayhi Wasallam performed eleven rak'ahs at night, of which one was a rak'ah of witr. When he completed this he slept on the right side".

This hadith contradicts the previous one, in which eight rak'ahs have been mentioned. For this reason some 'ulama have commented on the ahaadith of Sayyiditina 'Aayesha Radiyallahu 'Anha on this subject, which has already been discussed in the previous hadith. As a further explanation, this could also be said that this happened at different occasions. At a time Sayyidina Rasulullah Salallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam performed eight rak'ahs and a time more or less. The second question is about witr been mentioned as one rak'ah. There exists some differences regarding this salaah, the first is in its ordinance. The Hanafis say it is waajib and some Imaams say it is mustahab. As the hadith does not mention this, this question is omitted. Another difference is regarding the rak'ahs of witr. The madh-hab of Imaam Abu Hanifa RA is that witr consists of three collective rak'ahs with one salaam. Other Imaams are of the opinion that it is performed in a single rak'ah. Some say it is one rak'ah with two separate wajib rak'ahs and a salaam before it. Various narrations have been mentioned regarding this. The difference among the a-immah are, on which of these is preferable. The Hanafis support their view with a few ahaadith:The narration of Sayyidina 'Abdullah bin Abi Qays Radiyallahu 'Anhu that has been mentioned by Abu Daawud and others, which has been discussed already in the previous hadith, where Sayyiditina 'Aayesha Radiyallahu 'Anha has mentioned that the salaah of Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam consisted of four and three, six and three, eight and three and ten and three. To mention this with such trouble and at every place mention three without increasing or decreasing the number of witr rak'ahs, is a clear proof that in this salaah there is no increase or decrease and remains three rak'ahs. Otherwise Sayyiditina 'Aayeshah Radiyallahu 'Anha would have said seven, nine, eleven, and not six and three etc.Mulla'Ali Qaari has written that the proof of the Hanafiyyah is that there is a consensus among the Sahaabah Radiyallahu 'Anhum that it is jaa-iz (permissible) and preferable that witr is three rak'ahs and there is a difference of opinion in rak'ahs less than this. Some say one rak'ah is also jaa-iz, others say it is altogether not jaa-iz. It is apparent that the consensus of the Sahaabah Radiyallahu 'Anhum is stronger and better than the one wherein there exist discordant views. Sayyidina Hasan Basri Radiyallahu 'Anhu, a famous muhaddith and one of the great sufis, say that there is a consensus among the Muslims that witr consists of three rak'ahs. Umar bin 'Abdul'aziz RA. - the second 'Umar- passed a law after consulting the 'ulama of Madinah, that witr must be performed in three rak'ahs. Hasan RA. was asked a question that 'Abdullah bin 'Umar performed three rak'ahs of witr with a salaam at the end of the second rak'ah and performed the third rak'ah separately? He replied: "His father 'Umar performed the three rak'ahs of witr with one salaam, and he (Sayyidina'Umar Radiyallahu'Anhu) was more learned".It has been prohibited in the ahaadith to perform only a single rak'ah. Sayyidina 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud Radiyallahu 'Anhu was informed that Sayyidina Sa'd Radiyallahu 'Anhu performed only a single rak'ah of witr. He said: "A single rak'ah is not valid in salaah". The Hanafis put forth many proofs from different sources. The 'ulama have written many books on it. In this chapter the fiqhi angle has not been discussed. It is briefly and sufficiently highlighted.

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