Question: Is it true that my last prayer should be witr or is this merely recommended as a prudent course of action by the Prophet (saw). Once I pray witr after Isha and later I want to pray Nafil, can I do so?

                                    -Shaikh Imran---Imran_shaikh94@hotmail.com        

Answer: It is Mustahab (i.e. highly recommended) for a Muslim to make witr as his/her last prayer at night since the traditions of the Prophet (pbuh) exhort the Muslims to do so.

Narrated Nafi

Ibn 'Umar said, "While the Prophet was on the pulpit, a man asked him how to offer the night prayers. He replied, 'Pray two Rak’ahs at a time and then two and then two and so on, and if you are afraid of the dawn (the approach of the time of the Fajr prayer) pray one Rak’ah and that will be the witr for all the Rak’ahs at which you have offered’." [Sahih Al-Bukhari Vol.1 Hadith No.472]

Narrated Abdullah bin Umar

The Prophet (pbuh) said, "Make Witr as your last prayer at night." [Sahih Al-Bukhari Vol.2 Hadith No.998]

However, this command of the Prophet (pbuh) is in the sense of it being preferable, and not obligatory, because it is proven in the Ahadith that the Prophet (pbuh) sometimes prayed two rak’ahs (units) after Witr whilst sitting down.

Abu Salamah asked ‘Aisha about the prayer of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). She said: “He observed thirteen rak’ahs (in the night prayer). He observed eight rak’ahs and would then observe witr and then observe two rak’ahs sitting, and when he wanted to bow He stood up and then bowed down, and then observed two rak’ahs in between the Adhan and Iqamah of the dawn prayer”. [Sahih Muslim Vol.1 Chapter 261 Hadith No.1608]

The Prophet (pbuh) prayed two rak’ahs after witr in order to demonstrate that it is permissible to pray nafil after witr. He did not always pray nafil after witr, rather he did that only a few times.

If one prays Witr in the beginning of the night, after that Allah (swt) enables him/her to pray qiyaam, then one can pray two by two but he/she does not have to repeat Witr, because the Prophet (pbuh) said, “There cannot be two Witrs in one night.” [Sunan Abu Dawood Vol.1 Chapter 495 Hadith No.1434].

And Allah Knows the Best.