Witr - Timing (Hadith No. 808)


Assalamu`alaykum,
Bismillah.
When to pray witr? Should I offer it right after `Ishaa' or delay it? And how far can I delay it? Is there an ending time for witr?


Well, you know how it goes. Please keep reading..

Volume 2, Book 16, Number 808:
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.

Time for witr starts with `Ishaa' and ends when dawn begins. More on it here.

The Timing of Witr:

It starts when a person has prayed ‘Isha’, even if it is joined to Maghrib at the time of Maghrib, and lasts until dawn begins, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah has prescribed for you a prayer (by which He may increase your reward), which is Witr; Allaah has enjoined it for you during the time between ‘Isha’ prayer until dawn begins.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 425; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.
Is it better to offer this prayer at the beginning of its time or to delay it?
The Sunnah indicates that if a person thinks he will be able to get up at the end of the night, it is better to delay it, because prayer at the end of the night is better and is witnessed (by the angels). But whoever fears that he will not get up at the end of the night should pray Witr before he goes to sleep, because of the hadeeth of Jaabir (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever fears that he will not get up at the end of the night, let him pray Witr at the beginning of the night, but whoever thinks that he will be able to get up at the end of the night, let him pray Witr at the end of the night, for prayer at the end of the night is witnessed (by the angels) and that is better.” Narrated by Muslim, 755.
Al-Nawawi said: This is the correct view. Other ahaadeeth which speak of this topic in general terms are to be interpreted in the light of this sound, specific and clear report, such as the hadeeth, “My close friend advised me not to sleep without having prayed Witr.” This is to be understood as referring to one who is not sure that he will be able to wake up (to pray Witr at the end of the night). Sharh Muslim, 3/277.
[IslamQA]
Some additional 'fiqh' points:
What if..
  • you forgot to pray witr, or kept sleeping till Fajr? Read answer here.
  • you were praying witr right before dawn, and Fajr adhaan was called. Read answer here.
Wassalam.