Question: Why is it sunnat to perform Salat al-Witr in the Shafi’i Madhhab but wajib in the Hanafi Madhhab?
The rulings derived through ijtihad may be different, and their being different is mercy. An ijtihad does not invalidate another ijtihad. Something may be halal in a madhhab while it may be haram in another. On the Day of Judgment, everyone will be treated according to the madhhab he/she followed in the world. For example, Shafi’is who eat mountain oysters will not be called to account about it, but the Hanafis who eat them will be called to account about it and will be asked why they ate them.
So is the case with worldly affairs, too. For example, carrying a gun is lawful in some countries while it is not in the others. Everybody is questioned according to the laws of the country he/she lives in.
There are hadith-i sharifs about Salat al-Witr, two of which are as follows:
(Witr is haqq. Whoever does not perform it is not of us.) [Abu Dawud]
(Salat al-Witr is obligatory upon me and voluntary upon you.) [Daylami]
Shafi’i, Maliki, and Hanbali scholars ruled that Salat al-Witr is sunnat. Sunnat means a voluntary salat.
It is the job of mujtahid scholars alone to derive rulings from hadith books. A Hanafi Muslim who reads the second hadith-i sharif written above may think that Salat al-Witr is a voluntary salat. For this reason, we frequently explain it that we should beware of deriving rulings from hadith-i sharifs.
Hanafi scholars, basing their inference on the above mentioned and other evidence, stated that Salat al-Witr is wajib.
Hadrat Imam-i Rabbani states:
It is not permissible for us to act on hadith-i sharifs. Some hadith-i sharifs, which seemingly go against the rulings of our madhhab, cannot be proof to challenge the words of scholars. It means renouncing the madhhab and deviating from the right path for a Hanafi to recite Surat al-Fatiha behind the imam. (Maktubat, 312th Letter; Mabda’ wa Ma’ad, Chapter 31)
Hadrat Muhammad Hadimi states:
The four sources of Islam are proof and documents only for mujtahid scholars because we cannot derive rulings from Qur’anic verses and ahadith. Even if a ruling of a madhhab seems to be disagreeing with a Qur’anic verse or a hadith, it does not mean that this ruling is wrong. The Qur’anic verse/hadith in question may require a deduction through ijtihad or it (and thus its embodied ruling) may have been replaced (naskh) by a chronologically successive one or maybe it is necessary to interpret its meaning into a different thing. (Bariqa, p. 94)
Question: If I want to perform Salat al-Witr after the middle of the night but if I fail to wake up and miss it, do I have to make up Salat al-Isha too in the morning?
Salat al-Witr is a separate salat. It is better to perform it after the middle of the night. If one misses Salat al-Witr, one does not have to make up Salat al-Isha in addition to it. One must make up only Salat al-Witr. Those who fail to wake up at midnight should perform Salat al-Witr after Salat al-Isha before going to bed.
Question: Is it necessary to make up Salat al-Witr if it is missed?
Yes, it must be made up because it is a wajib salat.
Question: If one, when performing Salat al-Witr, stands up for the fourth rak’at by mistake, does one have to offer the fifth rak’at also?
If one realizes one’s mistake before performing the sajda of the fourth rak’at, one should sit down and complete salat with sajda as-sahw. If one realizes one’s mistake after doing the sajdas of the fourth rak’at, then one should perform an extra rak’at. However, all these are applicable on condition that one sat in the third rak’at. If one did not sit in the third rak’at, then one should say the salam at the end of the fourth rak’at. In this case, this salat is counted as a voluntary salat, and one must reperform Salat al-Witr.
Question: Should a person, when saying the takbir in the third rak’at of Salat al-Witr, begin saying the takbir when his hands are on his ears and finish saying it when he folds his hands?
He should follow the method of saying the opening takbir. That is, his hands should be on his ears when he says Al (the first syllable of the phrase Allahu akbar) and should be folded when he says the word akbar.
Question: When performing Salat al-Witr, can we recite Surat al-Kawthar in the first rak’at, Surat al-Falaq in the second rak’at, and Surat an-Nas in the third rak’at? (I ask this question because Surat al-Kawthar contains three ayats and Surat an-Nas contains six ayats.)
It is makruh to recite Surat al-Kawthar in the first rak’at and Surat an-Nas in the second rak’at. But there is nothing wrong with reciting Surat al-Falaq in the second rak’at and Surat an-Nas in the third rak’at because Surat an-Nas is only one ayat more than Surat al-Falaq.
Question: Qiyam (standing) is one of the obligatory elements of fard salats. Is it one of the obligatory elements of Salat al-Witr, too?
Yes, it is one of the obligatory elements of it. (Siraj-ul-wahhaj)
Question: When saying the takbir before Qunut prayers in Salat al-Witr, should a person raise his hands without letting them down hanging on both sides?
Yes, he should.
Question: If one has Witr salats to make up, can one not perform sunnat salats?
No, one cannot.
Question: How should we intend for Salat al-Witr? Should we say, “I intend to perform Salat al-Witr of Salat al-Isha” or “I intend to perform the wajib salat of the present time”?
Salat al-Witr is a separate salat, which is performed at night. You should intend, “I intend to perform Salat al-Witr” or “I intend to perform Salat al-Witr, which is wajib.”
Question: Is reciting Qunut prayer wajib or sunnat?
According to Hadrat Imam-i A’zam, it is wajib to recite Qunut prayer in Salat al-Witr. (Radd-ul-mukhtar)
Question: What should a person recite if he does not know Qunut prayers by heart?
A person who does not know Qunut prayers by heart should say istighfar three times instead of it. For example, he may say, “Allahummaghfirli” three times, or he may recite the verse “Rabbana atina …” once.
Question: If one forgets to recite Qunut prayers and remembers it while bending for ruku’, can one go back to standing position to recite them?
One can go back to standing position unless one has bent fully.
Question: If a person, while he is in the ruku’ position, realizes that he did not recite Qunut prayers, what should he do? Should he go back to standing position and recite Qunut prayers?
If a person forgets to recite Qunut prayers and realizes his mistake when he is in the ruku’, he does not go back to standing position. He must perform sajda as-sahw at the end of the salat. However, if he forgets to recite an additional sura and realizes it when he is in the ruku’, he goes back to standing position, recites an additional sura, and does ruku’ again. His previous ruku’ is counted as invalid. If he does not reperform ruku’ and goes down for sajda, his salat is nullified because it is fard to bend for ruku’ after qira’at (recitation).
When Salat al-Witr is performed in jama’at in the month of Ramadan, if a latecomer joins the imam when the imam has gone back to standing position to recite Qunut prayers that he forgot to recite, the latecomer is not considered to have catch up with that rak’at because he missed the ruku’.
Question: If one, after performing Salat al-Isha, performs Salat al-Witr in different clothes and then discovers that the clothes in which one offered Salat al-Isha were impure, does one have to repeat Salat al-Witr, too?
Yes, one has to repeat it as well because the time for Salat al-Witr starts after the time for Salat al-Isha.
However, if one intends at that moment, “I offered Salat al-Isha , which I offered in impure clothes, according to the Maliki Madhhab,” one will not have to repeat them because impure clothes do not affect the validity of salat in the Maliki Madhhab. As it was not done deliberately, it is permissible for one to follow the ruling of the Maliki Madhhab.
Question: If a person, when performing Salat al-Witr, forgets to recite an additional sura in the third rak’at and remembers it while reciting Qunut prayers, what should he do?
He should recite an additional sura that he forgot to recite, say the takbir, and recite Qunut prayers. He has to do sajda as-sahw as he delayed the recitation of the additional sura, which is wajib.
Question: When a person is performing Salat al-Witr behind the imam in the month of Ramadan, if the imam bends for ruku’ before he (the muqtadi) completes Qunut prayers, how should the muqtadi act?
He should stop reciting Qunut prayers and follow the imam. He should bend for ruku’ with him. (Fatawa-i Hindiyya)
Question: If a person, in Ramadan, catches up with the imam in the ruku’ of the third rak’at of Salat al-Witr, should he recite Qunut prayers when he is completing individually the part that he missed?
He does not recite Qunut prayers because he is counted as having performed the third rak’at with the imam. (Fetawa-i Hindiyya)
Question: Is it wajib to recite both of the Qunut prayers?
It is wajib to recite one of them and sunnat to also recite the other.
Question: If one, when performing Salat al-Witr behind the imam in Ramadan, bends for ruku’ without completing Qunut prayers, is he considered to have omitted a wajib element? That is, is it wajib to recite Qunut prayers when a person performs Salat al-Witr behind the imam?
It is not wajib, but sunnat, for a person following the imam to recite Qunut prayers. (Radd-ul-mukhtar)
Question: If a person catches up with the imam in the second rak’at of Salat al-Witr in Ramadan, should he repeat Qunut prayers when he stands up to perform his missed rak’at after the imam says the salam?
No, he does not repeat them.
Question: Is it makruh to always recite Surat al-Asr in the first rak’at, Surat al-Kawthar in the second rak’at, and Surat al-Ikhlas in the third rak’at of Salat al-Witr?
Salat al-Witr, which is wajib, is in the category of voluntary salats in terms of the recitation of a sura. That is, it is not makruh to always recite Surat al-Asr in the first rak’at, Surat al-Kawthar in the second rak’at, and Surat al-Ikhlas in the third rak’at of Salat al-Witr, just as it is not makruh in voluntary salats. Reciting the same suras in the same rak’ats of voluntary salats is not makruh.
Question: After performing the sunnat salat of Salat al-Isha, I forgot to perform Salat al-Isha and performed Salat al-Witr. Then I performed Salat al-Isha. In this case, should I have repeated Salat al-Witr?
If one deliberately performs Salat al-Witr before Salat al-Isha, it will not be valid. However, if one forgets and performs Salat al-Witr before Salat al-Isha, in this case it is not necessary to repeat Salat al-Witr. Forgetting is an excuse. (Majmua-i Zuhdiyya)