What is the correct way to perform the witr prayer?


A lady from the UK wrote to Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa and asked why we observed the three rak‘ahs of the witr prayer in two parts, i.e. two rak‘ahs and then one rak‘ah. She also asked whether we were permitted to use kitchen utensils, such as frying pans etc. provided at self-catering holiday apartments.

Huzoor-e-Anwaraa, in his letter dated 12 October 2021, provided the following guidance to her:

“Scholars of Hadith and jurisprudence have described various ways of performing witr and they have also given different arguments in favour of their position. The following two are the more well-known ones: one is to offer two rak‘ahs, finish them with salaam, and then offer the third rak‘ah separately. The second method is to offer the three rak‘ahs together in such a way that after the two rak‘ahs one sits down [qa‘dah] for tashahhud, [then gets up to offer the third rak‘ah] and finally ends the prayer with a salaam.

“Hence, responding to a person’s question about how one should perform witr, the Promised Messiahas once said: ‘Either offer two rak‘ahs, say salaam, then offer the third rak‘ah, or offer the three rak‘ahs, while sitting down in the middle for at-tahiyyat, and say salaam once [in the end].’ (Al Hakam, No. 13, Vol. 7, 10 April 1903, p. 14)

“It is mentioned in ahadith that the Holy Prophetsa would usually separate the three rak‘ahs of the witr prayer with a salaam in the middle. Hence, it is narrated by Hazrat Abdullah Bin Umarra

كَانَ‭ ‬رَسُولُ‭ ‬اللّٰهِ‭ ‬صَلَّى‭ ‬اللّٰهُ‭ ‬عَلَيْهِ‭ ‬وَسَلَّمَ‭ ‬يَفْصِلُ‭ ‬بَيْنَ‭ ‬الْوَتْرِ‭ ‬وَالشَّفْعِ‭ ‬بِتَسْلِيمَةٍ‭ ‬وَيُسْمِعُنَاهَا

“‘Allah’s Messengersa used to separate the witr [uneven rak‘ah] from the shaf‘ [two even rak‘ahs] with a salaam, which he would make us hear.’ (Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Musnad Abdullah ibn Umar ibn al-Khattabra, Hadith 5204)

“Likewise, Hazrat Aishara narrates: 

كَانَ‭ ‬رَسُولُ‭ ‬اللّٰهِ‭ ‬صَلَّى‭ ‬اللّٰهُ‭ ‬عَلَيْهِ‭ ‬وَسَلَّمَ‭ ‬يُصَلِّي‭ ‬فِي‭ ‬الْحُجْرَةِ‭ ‬وَأَنَا‭ ‬فِي‭ ‬الْبَيْتِ‭ ‬فَيَفْصِلُ‭ ‬بَيْنَ‭ ‬الشَّفْعِ‭ ‬وَالْوَتْرِ‭ ‬بِتَسْلِيمٍ‭ ‬يُسْمِعُنَاهُ

“‘Allah’s Messengersa used to offer salat in the inner chamber, while I used to be in the house. He would separate the witr [uneven rak‘ah] from the shaf‘ [two even rak‘ahs] with a salaam which he would make us hear.’ (Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Hadith as-Syedah Aishara, Hadith 23398)

“Someone asked Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra about how the Promised Messiahas used to offer the witr prayer. The person asked, ‘Did the Promised Messiahas use to say salaam after offering two rak‘ahs of witr prayer [and complete the remaining one rak‘ah thereafter] or would he offer all the three rak‘ahs in one go?’

“Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra replied:

“‘Usually, [he would say salaam] after offering two.’

“Maulvi Syed Sarwar Shah Sahibra added that, as far as he had heard of narrations from the people familiar with the matter, they had also expressed that he used to say salaam after offering two rak‘ahs and offer the remaining one rak‘ah separately. (Al Fazl, Qadian Dar-ul-Aman, No. 97, Vol. 9, 12 June 1922, p. 7)

“Thus, although Islamic jurists have also declared the method of offering the three units of the witr prayer together — with sitting down [qa‘dah] for tashahhud in the middle and saying one salaam in the end — to be correct and masnun, the general practice of our lord and master, the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa and of his ardent devotee, the Promised Messiahas, was that after offering two rak‘ahs of witr, they would say salaam and then offer the third rak‘ah separately.”

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