In the name of God, The Lord of Mercy, The Giver of Mercy
You [Prophet], enfolded in a cloak! Stay up throughout the night, all but a small part of it., half or a little less, or a little more.; recite the Quran slowly and distinctly: We shall momentous message down to you. Night Prayer makes a deeper impression and sharpens wods – you are kept busy for long periods of the day – so celebrate the name of Your Lord and devote yourself wholeheartedly to Him. [Surah Muzzammil Verses 1-8]
All Praise is due to Allah, Who has made Salah a relaxation for the believer and a refuge for the fearful. So what is this night prayer the above verses are speaking about?
Night prayer is the diligence of the righteous, the transaction of the believers, and the action of the victorious. At night the believers are alone with their Lord – they turn towards their Creator complaining about their situations and asking of His bounties. They are standing in front of their Lord, devoted to the confidential talk with their Shaper, gently breathing the fragrances, taking from the lights of the good deeds, and seeking and begging for the greatest of gifts. Let us delve further into the virtues of the night prayer:
Tahajjud in the Quran
• Your Lord knows that your keep vigil nearly two-thirds of the night, or half or one-third of it, as do a group of those with you…[al-Muzzammil 73:20]
• They used to sleep but little of the night, And in the hours before dawn they would ask forgiveness” [Dhaariyaat 51:17-18]
• What about someone who is devoutly obedient during periods of the night, prostrating and standing [in prayer], fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord…? [Zumur 39:9]
• Their sides forsake their couches as they call on their Lord with fear and hope….[as-Sajdah 32:16]
• And who spend the night before their Lord, prostrating themselves and standing up…[al-Furqan 25:64]
• And during the night, wake up and pray, as an extra offering of your own, so that your Lord may raise you to a highly praised status. [al-Israa 17:79]
Traditions of the Prophet (SAW):
• It is upon you to perform night prayer, because it was the practice of the righteous people before you. It is a means of obtaining closeness to Allah the Exalted, it erases sins, it prevents wrongdoings, and it drives away sicknesses from the body. [Ahmad, Tirmidhi]
• The Prophet SAWS said about the condition of Abdullah ibn Umar: “How excellent Abdullah is! If only he would pray salah at night”. Saalim ibn Abdillah ibn Umar said: “After that, Abdullah slept very little at night.” [Bukhari]
• Two cycles of prayer performed in the middle of the night are better for a man than the world and all it contains. But for the hardship it would have caused my Community, I would have made them compulsory.
• The best prayer after the obligatory ones is night prayer. [Muslim]
• There is an hour of the night when, if any Muslim asks God, Exalted is He, for something good, He is sure to grant it to him. [Muslim]
• Our Lord descends to the lowest heaven during the last third of the night, inquiring: ‘Who will call on Me so that I may respond to him? Who is asking something of Me so I may give it to him? Who is asking for My forgiveness so I may forgive him?’ [Bukhari]
Traditions of the early generation of Muslims:
• When Shaddad ibn Aws would go to bed, he would be like a grain in a frying pan. Then he would say: “Oh Allah, hell-fire does not stop me from sleeping”. Then he would stand to pray.
• Imam Al Hasan Al Basri said: “I did not find any worship more powerful than salaah in the middle of the night”.
• Umar (RA) would be would be going over verses from his nightly recitation till he fainted and dropped, so then he would be visited because of this for several days as a sick man receives visits.
• Abukl Juwayria said: I kept company with Abu Hanifa for six months and there was not one night in all that time when he laid his side on the ground. Abu Hanifa used to stay awake half the night, but as he was passing some people he heard them say: ‘This man stays awake the whole night,’ so he retorted: ‘I am ashamed to be credited with something I do not do.’ From then on he took to staying awake all night long.
But I am so tired! How can I wake up for tahajjud?
Imam Ghazali explains that in order for an individual to perform night prayers diligently, he should not eat or drink too much. Then sleep will overpower him and waking up will be difficult. Also, we shouldn’t be tiring ourselves during daytime with activities that are of no benefit to us in the hereafter. A short power nap during the day would help as well.
Another practical tip: Wake up half an hour before Fajr time, and pray two rakah of prayers. Then do your daily recitation/dhikr until the start of Fajr time. Once your nafs gets used to this, you can start praying more rakahs. It’s always best to take it gradually, so start with smaller recitations first. Soon enough, your nafs will be annihilated and you will be able to continue with longer recitations.
Brothers and sisters, during the course of the day, we are always distracted by worldly pursuits e.g. doing our coursework, having lunch, going to our lectures/offices, talking to people etc. We never get the chance to settle down and ponder upon the Majesty of Allah. Let’s face it, haven’t we all been through those days when we have had to hurry up our Zuhr/Asr prayers or at least pray it with less-than-perfect concentration? [As the verse goes: you are kept busy for long periods during the day] These night prayers are a mercy! Subhan’Allah, He has attached such great baraka in it. Deep into the night, when we wake up, we can completely detach ourselves from the worldly distractions and focus our attention on our Lord. Should we not all embark on the journey to get closer to our Lord and seek forgiveness for our sins? Tahajjud prayers and nightly recitations are an easy ticket to this journey.
Also, are we not in our youth? Is it not time that take advantage of this great opportunity while we are still physically able?
I ask Allah (SWT) to grant us the tawfiq to start praying the night prayer with utmost sincerity.