Making the intention in the two Rak’ahs before the Rak'ah of Witr
Fatwa No: 159701

Question

assalamu alaikum Could you please tell me that while praying 3 rakat witr prayer with two tasleem, what intention should I have in the first two rakat? intention for witr prayer or sunnah prayer? jazak Allah khairan

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

Specifying the intention for two Rak’ahs before the Rak’ah of Witr depends on the nature of those two Rak’ahs whether they are from the Witr or from the night prayer or else. Indeed, the scholars  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them differed in opinion about what Witr means, whether it is the last Rak’ah by which a person ends his (night) prayer, or the totality of the two-Rak’ah-units that he prays and ends by this Rak’ah. Having known the difference of opinion in this regard, it becomes clear what the praying person should intend by the Rak’ahs that he prays optionally before Witr, should he intend by them Witr or unspecified optional prayer or something else? Some scholars said that Witr is the totality of the night prayer that ends with a Witr [an odd number prayer]. Based on this, those two Rak’ahs will be from Witr and the praying person should intend by them Witr. However, some other scholars said that Witr is the last Rak’ah and one should intend by the two Rak’ahs before it the Sunnah of Witr (i.e. the Witr is three Rak'ahs with two Tasleems). Some other scholars said that he should intend by those two Rak’ahs Tahajjud or the night prayer.

However, we hope that the matter is easy. So, if you intend by them [the two Rak’ahs] that they are from Witr, then it is good, and if you intend by them the night prayer or Tahajjud or unspecified optional prayer, then it is also good.

Allaah Knows best.

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