Making up for Witr (odd prayer) and nullifying it | The official website of Sheikh Muhammad Ali FERKUS
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Thirsday 12 Rabî` Al-'Awwal 1442 H - October 29, 2020 G



Fatwa: 55

Category: fatwas about prayer

Making up for Witr (odd prayer) and nullifying it

The question:

It is established that the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم ordered to make up for Witr for whom he missed it. It is also established that when he misses his Wird (a part of the Qur’an that one recites during night) he makes up for it by accomplishing it with an even number. How can we reconcile then between these two hadiths? If he makes for the Witr –by performing it with one Rak`a- and makes for his Wird with an even number, he will not perform then his Wird with two Rak`as, since he adds the Rak`a of Witr? Or the matter is other than that? And what about the validity of annulling the Witr?

The answer:

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon whom Allah sent as a mercy to the Worlds, upon his Family, his Companions and his Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.

The asked question concerns the excused person, whereas the person without excuse has no Witr to perform, in accordance with the Prophet’s صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم saying: “Whoever reaches dawn (Sobh) without performing Witr, has no Witr”(1), and his saying صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم: “Certainly, the Witr is performed during night”(2).

These hadiths are applied to the one who has no excuse, as the texts which are reported about the validity of making up for Witr prayer and others concern the one who misses the prayer and who has an excuse, and this in order to reconciling between the texts and the proofs, among them, the Prophet’s صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم saying, “If anyone oversleeps and misses the Witr, or forgets it, he should pray when he remembers”(3) and the generality expressed in the Prophet’s صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم saying, “Whoever oversleeps or misses a prayer, he should perform it when he remembers”(4) .and `Â'isha’s رضي الله عنها saying, “When the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم misses the Witr, he performs it after the sunrise”(5) . Moreover, Ibn Mass`ûd رضي الله عنه reported that “The Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم overslept till the sunrise, then he performed prayer”(6). These texts indicate the permissibility to postpone the Witr when having an excuse, as they indicate apparently, but the manner of making up for Witr during the day is different from that of night, that is to say, we accomplish it with an even number, not with an odd number, in accordance with the hadith of `Â'isha رضي الله عنها who said, “If the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم missed Witr at night because he was sick or sleeping, he would pray twelve Rak`as during the day”(7). Hereupon, he who has a habit of praying Witr with one Rak`a, will make up for it with two Rak`as, and who has the habit of praying three, will make up for it by four, he who has the habit of praying five will make for it by six and so on, because the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم used to pray eleven Rak`as during night, and twelve during the day.

As for the Wird, it means the Wird of the Qur’an which is the Hizb (the half of a chapter of the Qur’an), as it is established on the authority of `Umar Ibn Al-Khattâb رضي الله عنه, who said, “The Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said, “Whoever misses reading his Hizb or a part of it at night and reads it from when the sun has passed the meridian until the Dhuhr prayer has not missed it, or it is as if he has caught it.”(8)

It is also said that the Hizb means what one has the habit to recite during night prayer.

If we understand it so, there will be no problem to end one’s prayer by an odd number of Rak`as.

However, if he misses the Witr because of sleep, oblivion or illness, then he should make up for it during the day by performing it with an even number of Rak`as (Shaf') as previously mentioned.

As for the question known by “Nullifying the Witr” which consists in adding to it another Rak`a and then perform an odd prayer after having performed a prayer with even number of Rak`as (Shaf`), this opinion is in fact weak for two reasons:

First: because supererogatory prayer with one Rak`a is not known in the Sharia.

Second: the Witr does not become supererogatory by making it Shaf`, because whoever performs Witr during night has indeed accomplished his Witr, and if he gets up from his sleep and performs another Rak`a , then it will be independent from the first and will not become the same prayer, as there is between them, sleep, ritual impurity, ablution and speech. He will then, in such a case, perform two Witrs, and if he adds the last Witr, he will perform it three times, and this goes against the Prophet’s صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم saying, “There should not be two Witrs in one night.”(9) on the one hand, it contradicts the Prophet’s صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم saying, “Make the last of your prayer at night Witr”. The contradiction consists in performing Witr in many positions of the night prayer.

As for what has been reported about Ibn `Umar(10) and `Ali Ibn Abi Tâlib(11) رضي الله عنهم that it is allowed to nullify the Witr by adding one Rak`a to it, these two traditions are in fact contradicted by the Marfû`(12) hadith reported on the authority of Ibn `Umar رضي الله عنهما and which is agreed upon [by Al-Bukhâri and Muslim], “Make the last of your prayer at night Witr”(13). Moreover, what we report is what matters not what we see.

In sum, both Shaf` and Witr are restricted to the religious meaning, so if we take into consideration this meaning, the Witr should not be turned into Shaf`, because Shaf` is supererogatory whereas Witr is a confirmed or obligatory Sunna with a divergence as regards this.

If the preponderance of nullifying the Witr is established, the majority of scholars consider permissible to pray after the Witr without repeating it. It is reported that this is the opinion of Abu Bakr, Sa`d, `Ammâr, Ibn `Abbâs and `Â'isha رضي الله عنهم(14). The evidence concerning this, is the hadith reported on the authority of `Â'isha رضي الله عنها who said, “The Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم used to say the Taslîm (final salutation in order to end the prayer) that we could hear, then he would pray two Rak`as in a sitting position”(15). And the hadith reported on the authority of Ummu Salama رضي الله عنها that “The Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم used to perform two Rak`as after the Witr in a sitting position”(16). We have also previously mentioned the hadith, “There should not be two Witrs in one night.” Which indicates that it is forbidden to repeat the Witr.

The perfect knowledge belongs to Allah عزَّ وجلَّ. Our last prayer is all praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon our Prophet, his Family, his Companions and Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.

Algiers, Dhu Al-Qa`da 17th, 1427H.
Corresponding to: December 8th , 2006.



(1) Reported by Ibn Hibbân in As-Sahîh (hadith 2408), by Ibn Khuzayma (hadith 1092), by Al-Hâkim (hadith 1159), by `Abd Ar-Razzâq in Al-Mussannaf (hadith 4591) and by At-Tayâlissi in Al-Musnad (hadith 2192) on the authority of Abu Sa`îd Al-Khudri رضي الله عنه. This hadith is judged authentic by Al-Hâkim in Al-Mustadrak, Adh-Dhahabi agrees with him as regards this judgment (1/441). Al-Albâni judged it also authentic in Irwâ' Al-Ghalîl (2/154).

(2) Reported by At-Tabarâni in Al-Mu`jam Al-Kabîr (hadith 891), by `Abd Ar-Razzâq in Al-Mussannaf (hadith 4607), on the authority of Mu`âwiya Ibn Qurra رضي الله عنه. This hadith is judged Hassan (good) by Al-Albâni in As-Silsila As-Sahîha (hadith 1712).

(3) Reported by Abu Dâwûd, chapter of “The chapters concerning the Witr” (hadith 1431), by At-Tirmidhi, chapter of “Witr” (hadith 465), by Ibn Mâjah, chapter of “Performing the prayer and the Sunna in it” (hadith 1188), by Ad-Dâraqotni (hadith 1656) and by Al-Bayhaqi (hadith 4711), on the authority of Abu Sa`îd Al-Khudri رضي الله عنه. This hadith is judged authentic by Al-Albâni in Irwâ' Al-Ghalîl (2/189).

(4) Reported by Al-Bukhâri, chapter of “Prayer times” (hadith 597), by Muslim, chapter of “Mosques” (hadith 1600), by Abu Dâwûd, chapter of “Prayer” (hadith 442), by An-Nassâ' i, chapter of “Times” (hadith 613), by At-Tirmidhi, chapter of “Times” (hadith 178) and by Ibn Mâjah, chapter of “Prayer” (hadith 696), on the authority of Anas رضي الله عنه.

(5) Reported by Ahmed (hadith 25527), by `Abd Ar-Razzâq in Al-Mussannaf (hadith 4603), by Al-Bayhaqi (hadith 4620), on the authority of `Â'isha رضي الله عنها. This hadith is judged Hassan (good) by Al-Haythami in Majma` Az-Zawâ'id (2/511). It is judged authentic by Al-Albâni in Irwâ' Al-Ghalîl (2/155).

(6) Reported by An-Nassâ' i, chapter of “Times” (hadith 612), by Al-Bayhaqi (hadith 4637) and by Al-Bazzâr in Al-Musnad (hadith 2030), on the authority of Ibn Mass`ûd رضي الله عنه. This hadith is judged authentic by Al-Albâni in Irwâ' Al-Ghalîl (2/156).

(7) Reported by Abu Dâwûd, chapter of “Prayer” (hadith 1342), by At-Tirmidhi, chapter of “The chapters concerning prayer” (hadith 445), by Ibn Hibbân (hadith 2619) and by Ahmad (hadith 24384), on the authority of `Â'isha رضي الله عنها. This hadith is judged authentic by Al-Albâni in Sahîh Sunan Abi Dâwûd (hadith 1342) and in Sahîh At-Tirmidhi (hadith 445).

(8) Reported by Muslim, chapter of “Travelers’ prayer” (hadith 1779), by Abu Dâwûd, chapter of “Prayer”, concerning the chapters of night prayer (hadith 1313), by At-Tirmidhi, chapter of “Prayer” (hadith 518), by An-Nassâ'i, chapter of “Night prayer and supererogatory prayer during the day” (hadith 1790), by Ibn Mâjah, chapter of “Prayer” (hadith 1343), by Ad-Dârimi, (hadith 1529) and by Al-Bayhaqi (hadith 4737), on the authority `Umar Ibn Al-Khattâb رضي الله عنه.

(9) Reported by Abu Dâwûd, chapter of “Prayer” (hadith 1438), by At-Tirmidhi, chapter of “Witr” (hadith 470), by An-Nassâ'i, chapter of “Night prayer and supererogatory prayer during the day” (hadith 1679), by Ahmad (hadith 16733) and by Al-Bayhaqi (hadith 5039), on the authority of Talq Ibn `Ali رضي الله عنه. This hadith is judged authentic by Al-Albâni in Sahîh Al-Jâmi` (hadith 7567).

(10) Reported by Al-Bukhâri, chapter of “Witr” (hadith 998), by Muslim, chapter of “Travelers’ prayer” (hadith 1755), by Abu Dâwûd, chapter of “Witr” (hadith 1438), by Ahmad (hadith 4813) and by Al-Bayhaqi (hadith 5023), on the authority of `Abd Allâh Ibn `Umar رضي الله عنهما.

(11) Reported by Ahmad (hadith 6155), judged authentic by Ahmad Shâkir in his recension of Musnad Ahmad (9/39) and judged Hassan (good) by Al-Albâni in Irwâ' Al-Ghalîl (2/194).

(12) A Marfû` hadith: is a hadith which is attributed directly to the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم.

(13) Reported by `Abd Ar-Razzâq in Al-Mussannaf (hadith 6484) and judged authentic by Zakariyya Ibn Ghulâm Qâdir Al-Pâkistâni in Mâ Saha Min Âthâr As-Sahâba Fil Fiqh (1/395).

(14) See these traditions and their chains of narration in Mâ Saha Min Âthâr As-Sahâba Fil Fiqh by Zakariyya Ibn Ghulâm Qâdir Al-Pâkistâni (1/394-398).

(15) Reported by Muslim, chapter of “Travelers’ prayer” (hadith 1739), by Abu Dâwûd, chapter of “Prayer” (hadith 1343), by An-Nassâ'i, chapter of “Oblivion” (hadith 1315), by Ibn Mâjah, chapter of “Performing prayer” (hadith 1191), by Ibn Khuzayma (hadith 1078), by Ahmad (hadith 23876) and by Al-Bayhaqi (hadith 4852), on the authority of `Â'isha رضي الله عنها.

(16) Reported by At-Tirmidhi, chapters of “Witr” (hadith 471), by Ibn Mâjah, chapter of “Performing prayer” (hadith 1195), by Ahmad (hadith 26013). This hadith is judged authentic by Al-Albâni in Mishkât Al-Massâbîh (hadith 1284).