Myth: Taraweeh marathon is the way to do it
You stifle a yawn and shift your weight from one foot to the next, as you make plans for your taraweeh-free nights after you’re done with your super-six days of intense standing sessions. And so, you motivate yourself to stand long and hard.
*The imaam recites somewhere in the background.*
Your plans unravel undisturbed save for the frequent hiccups, and you savor the after-taste of your iftaar as the prayers go on till morning. And on the night of the seventh—boy, do you feel exempted from all night prayers!
Allah (swt) says,
“And when they stand up for As-Salât (the prayer), they stand with laziness and to be seen of men, and they do not remember Allâh but little.” (04:142)
This couldn’t have been put any better. You see two kinds of people in Ramadan. Ones who sign up for the taraweeh marathon (6-rozah, 10-rozah taraweeh), and the others who waltz out of the mosque in the middle of the prayers singing 8 is Sunnah.
You must be a special kind of lazy if you can put yourself to a crash-Quran in taraweehjust to be rid of it for the remaining nights. The imaam recites on a 3x clock-speed and you space in and out of your thoughts. Sorry excuse of a taraweeh that starts with a bang, flickers in the second rakah and prematurely dies after a week. Like a soft-drink shaken open—frothing one moment and flat the next. And after a very anti-climactic performance, you find yourself blessed enough to not be bothered about the rest of the month.
Cutting in the middle of jama’ah after 8 rakahs is not a Sunnah either. It is one thing to quietly slip out of the rows and head home because you know you can’t pray any longer, and another thing to announce your departure to save your pious, bearded reputation in the masjid saying “I’ve done my Sunnah, folks”. And you see the 8-rakah exit squad get up. Let it be known that Sunnah is to stand behind the imaam for as long as he leads the prayer. Allah’s Messenger stated,
“He who in Ramadan stood (in prayer) with the Imaam till the end (of taraweeh in congregation), will be rewarded for standing (in prayer) for the whole night.” (Tirmidhi)
Point being- even though the prophet prayed 11 units, but if your imaam is praying more (which is equally permissible), then it is unbecoming of you to ditch the jama’ah in the middle. And even more inappropriate if you try to pass your laziness as Sunnah, baffling everyone else along the way.
(Those who really do pray 8 plus 3 in seclusion with all the sincerity and beauty that the Prophet practiced, are excluded from the generalization of course.)
Furthermore, laziness in prayers is a sure sign of hypocrisy. This verse was particularly revealed about the hypocrites who would wait till the sun sets, till time thins out to start praying- 4 raka’hs done shoddily with no khushu to speak of.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “This is the prayer of the hypocrite, this is the prayer of the hypocrite, this is the prayer of the hypocrite. He sits watching the sun until when it goes down between the two horns of the devil, he stands up pecks out four Rak`ahs (for `Asr) without remembering Allah during them except little.” (Muslim)
And he (pbuh) also stated,
“The heaviest prayers on the hypocrites are the `Isha’ and Dawn prayers. If they know their rewards, they will attend them even if they have to crawl.”(Bukhari and Muslim)
There’s always a bit of hypocrisy infesting us some way or the other. Pray whatever quantity you can manage and pray it good. The whole point of qiyaam-ul-layl is to draw you closer to Allah (swt), not to keep count of Juz finished and raka’hs done like you’re going to cash them out for brownie points. And pray that you may have the strength to beautify your night prayers and that you are able to stand in the last passing hours when the night is full.