Number of Rakats in Witr Prayer
How many Rakat of wajibul witr namaz have to be offered after the Isha salaah? As per my knowledge it is three but I have seen people offering one rakat as well.
I have an objection to the expression of wajib’ul witr you have used. If wajib means a prayer which if not performed would incur displeasure of the Almighty, then there are only five Wajib prayers in Islam, which are the Fard of the five prayers. Witr, in my opinion, is highly recommended prayer, but not obligatory.
As for the manner Witr prayer is to be said: “Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: The night prayer consists of pairs and when you see the approach of dawn, make this number odd by one rakat. It was said to Ibn Umar: What does the (word) pair imply? He said: (It means) that salutation is uttered after every two rak’ahs.” (Muslim)
My understanding is that Witr, which is essentially the Tahajjud prayer, should be said in twos with one rak’at added towards the end. However we know that at least one companion of the prophet, ‘Abdullah Ibn Umar, did sometimes used to say one rakat Witr. His reported practice has prompted some people to believe that one rak’at prayer could also be said. When a well known companion of the prophet is reported to have said one rakat Witr, I can’t call it completely wrong, although I would myself not do it, because I am not convinced that it should be done that way, given the fact that the practice of the prophet, alaihissalaam, was different.