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Question 33 : Do the Shi‘ah regard witr prayer as obligatory?

Reply: Witr prayer is part of the supererogatory night prayers and it is one of the recommended {mustahabb} works which the Muslims who follow the Messenger of Allah (S) perform, but the Shi‘ah jurists {fuqaha} who rely on the Book of Allah and the Prophet’s Sunnah say that the witr prayer is one of the things which are incumbent on no one except the Holy Prophet (S).

In his book, Tadhkirah al-Fuqaha, ‘Allamah al-Hilli enumerates about 70 salient features of the Prophet (S) and at the beginning of his statement, he thus says:

فأما الواجبات عليه دون غيره من أمّته أمور أ: السّواك ب: الوتر ج: الأضحيه. روي عنه صلى الله عليه وأله وسلم أنه قال: ثلاث كتب عليّ ولم تكتب عليكم: السواك والوتر والأضحية.

As for the things which are incumbent only upon him (S) and not upon his ummah, they are: the use of tooth-stick {miswak}, witr prayer, and offering sacrifice {adhiyah}. He (S) is reported to have said: “Three things were made incumbent upon me but not you: the use of tooth-stick {miswak}, witr prayer and offering sacrifice.”1

Consequently, according to the Shi‘ah witr prayer is obligatory {wajib} upon the Holy Prophet (S) and it is recommended {mustahabb} upon the other Muslims.

  • 1. ‘Allamah al-Hilli, Tadhkirah al-Fuqaha, vol. 2, “Kitab an-Nikah,” Introduction 4.

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