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Witr (Arabic: وتر) is an Islamic prayer (salat) that is performed at night after isha'a (night-time prayer) or before fajr (dawn prayer). According to the Hanafi Fiqh witr prayer is wajib. The status of wajib is very close to that of fard. There are a few distinguishing factors of the witr prayer that sets it apart from the fard (mandatory) and sunnah (recommended) prayers. Witr has an odd number of rakat prayed in pairs, with the final raka'ah prayed separately. Therefore, as little as one rakat can be prayed, and eleven at most. This differs from the usual trend of two, three and four rakat of the fard and sunnah prayers.
According to `Abd Allah ibn `Umar, Muhammad said, "The night prayer is offered as two rakat followed by two rakat and so on and if anyone is afraid of the approaching dawn (fajr prayer) he should pray one raka'ah and this will be a witr for all the rakat which he has prayed before."
In a hadith transmitted by Abu Darda, he states that Muhammad enjoined to him three things: to fast three days every month, to offer the Witr salat before sleep, and to offer two rakat sunnah of fajr.
But there are many aḥādīth that show the best time for the witr salat to be at night. If someone fears that he would not be able to awake, or may die in their sleep, then the prayer should be performed before sleeping.
Therefore, he who performs tahajjud (night prayer) regularly should perform witr after tahajjud.
It is recorded that Ali bin Abu Talib said, "The Witr prayer is not required like your obligatory prayers but the Prophet would perform the Witr prayer and say, 'O you people of the Quran, perform the Witr prayer, for Allah is One and He Loves the Witr.'"
- The Translation of the Meanings of Sahih al-Bukhari (Muhammad Muhsin Khan's translation of Sahih al-Bukhari): Hadith 539, pg. 282
- The hadith about this: "Narrated 'Aisha: Allah's Apostle offered Witr prayer at different nights at various hours extending (from the 'Isha' prayer) up to the last hour of the night." (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 16, Number 110).
- The hadith about this: "Narrated `Abdullah bin `Umar: The Prophet said, "Make witr as your last prayer at night." (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 2 Book 16 112). Also: "Narrated 'Aisha: The Prophet used to offer his night prayer while I was sleeping across in his bed. Whenever he intended to offer the Witr prayer, he used to wake me up and I would offer the Witr prayer too." (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 16, Number 111).