Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
The minimum number of rakats for witr in the Hanafi school is 3. They understood the 1-rakat narrations to mean, "added one rakat more to a 2-rakat prayer," as explained by Imam Abu Ja`far al-Tahawi in his Sharh Ma`ani al-Athar [1.277-282] for many reasons, including the fact that besides this, it is agreed that there is no such thing as a one-rakat prayer. You cannot, for example, pray "1 rakat nafl for Allah...."
The Hanafi position’s strength is indicated by the fact that it is reported from Hasan al-Basri (Allah be pleased with him) that there was general agreement of the early generations (salaf) that witr is 3 rakats [this was reported by Ibn Abi Shayba in his Musannaf and by Imam Tahawi]
The great faqih of the Companions of the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace), Abdullah ibn Mas`ud (Allah be pleased with him), said, “Witr is 3 rakats, like the rakats of Maghrib,” and he said, “One rakat does not fulfill it.” [Zayla`i, Tabyin al-Haqa’iq Sharh Kanz al-Daqa’iq, 1.170, and see Nasb al-Raya for details regarding these and other narrations]
Imam Kamal Ibn al-Humam (Allah have mercy on him), one of greatest jurists of the latter half of Islamic history, discussed this extensively in his Fath al-Qadir, showing that the Hanafi position was that which was adopted by the majority of the Companions. [ Fath al-Qadir, 1.427]
It is not permitted to follow another school’s dispensations without knowing how to make one’s actions valid according to that school.
And Allah alone gives success.
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