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The Late Night Prayer, Tahajjud (Qiyam Al-Layil)

March 22, 2010

Its excellence and merit from the Qur’an: Allah ordered his Messenger to perform salatul tahajjud:

“And some part of the night awake for prayer, a largess for thee. It may be that thy Lord will raise thee to a praised position.”

This order, although it was specifically directed to the Prophet, also refers to all the Muslims since the Prophet is their example and guide in all such matters.

Those who regularly perform the tahajjud prayers are the Righteous and are more deserving of Allah’s bounty and mercy.

Allah says: “Lo! Those who keep from evil will dwell amid gardens and watersprings, taking that which their Lord gives them. For, lo, they were doers of good. They used to sleep but little of the night and before the dawning of each day would seek forgiveness.”

Allah praised and complemented the deeds of those who perform the late-night prayers. “The slaves of the Beneficent are they who walk upon the earth in humbleness, and when the ignorant address them, they say: ‘Peace’ and they who spend the night prostrating before their Lord and standing” [ al-Furqan: 63-64 ].

Allah bears witness to their belief in His signs. He says: “Only those believe in Our revelations who, when they are reminded of them, fall down prostrate and hymn the praise of their Lord and they are not scomful: who forsake their beds to cry unto their Lord in fear and hope and spend of what We have bestowed on them. No soul knows what is kept hidden for them of joy as a reward for what they used to do.”

Allah proclaims that those who do not possess these qualities cannot be treated as equal to those who possess them: “Is he who pays adoration in the watches of the night, prostrate and standing, aware of the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord equal to a disbeliever? Say: ‘Are those who know equal with those who know not?’ But only men of understanding will pay heed.”

Volume 2, Page 21: Hadith regarding Tahajjud

The preceding section was primarily concerned with what Allah says about those who perform salatul tahajjud. There also exist a number of ahadith that reinforce the importance of tahajjud.

‘Abdullah ibn as-Salam reports: “When the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam came to Medinah, the people gathered around him and I was one of them. I looked at his face and understood that it was not the face of a liar. The first words I heard him say were: ‘O people, spread the salutations, feed the people, keep the ties of kinship, and pray during the night while the others sleep and you will enter paradise in peace.”‘ This is related by al-Hakim, Ibn Majah, and at-Tirmizhi who calls it hasan sahih.

Salman al-Farsi relates that the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam said: “Observe the night prayer, it was the practice of the rightous before you and it brings you closer to your Lord and it is penance for evil deeds and erases the sins and repells disease from the body.”

Sahl ibn Sa’d reports: “Gabriel came to the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam and said: ‘O Muhammad, live as long as you like, for you are to die. Do whatever deed you wish, for you are to be rewarded. Love whomever you wish, for you are to be parted. And know that the honor of the believer is in the night prayer and his glory is being free from want from the people.”‘

Abu ad-Darda’ reports that the Prophet said: “Three people are loved by Allah, and He laughs for them and He grants them glad tidings. [The first is] a man who fights behind a group that flees and does so with his own soul for Allah’s sake, regardless of whether he is killed or he is aided by Allah and made victorious. Allah says: ‘Look to my slave there who is patient with his life for My sake.’ [The second is] the one who has a beautiful wife and a soft bed and rises during the night. Allah says: ‘He leaves his desires and remembers Me and if he wished he would sleep.’ [The third] is a person who is traveling with a group and they pass the night awake and then sleep, but he still observes his prayer in hardship or ease.”

Volume 2, Page 22: Etiquettes of Late Night Prayer

The following acts are sunnah for one who wishes to perform the tahajjud prayers. Upon going to sleep, one should make the intention to perform the tahajjud prayers. Abu ad-Darda’ relates that the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam said: “Whoever goes to his bed with the intention of getting up and praying during the night, and sleep overcomes him until the moming comes, he will have recorded for him what he had intended, and his sleep will be a charity for him from his Lord.” This is related by an-Nasa’i and ibn Majah with a sahih chain.

Upon waking, one should wipe one’s face, use a toothstick, and look to the sky and make the supplication which has been reported from the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam: “There is no God but Thee, Glory be to Thee, I seek forgiveness from You for my sins, and I ask for your mercy. O Allah, increase my knowledge and let my heart not swerve after You have guided me, and bestow mercy upon me from Thyself. All praise be to Allah who has given us back life after our death and unto Him is the resurrection.”

Then, one should recite the last ten ‘ayat of al-‘Imran, starting with, “Lo! In the creation of the heavens and the earth and [in] the difference of night and day are tokens (of His sovereignty) for men of understanding.” Then one should say, “O Allah, to You belongs the praise. You are the Light of the heavens and the earth and what is therein. And to You belongs the praise. You are the truth and Your promise is true. And the meeting with You is true. And the paradise is true. And the Fire is true. And the prophets are true. And Muhammad is true. And the Hour is true. O Allah, to You have I submitted. And in You have I believed. And in You have I put my trust. And to You have I turned. And by You I argue. And to You do I turn for my decisions. Forgive me of my former and latter sins, and those done in private and those done in public. You are Allah, there is no God besides Thee.”

One should begin Qiyam al-Layil with two quick rak’at and then one may pray whatever one wishes after that. ‘Aishah says: “When the Prophet prayed during the late-night, he would begin his prayers with two quick rak’at.” Both of these reports are related by Muslim.

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