The Virtues Of Night Prayer During Ramadhan.

The Virtues of Qiyam in Ramadhan

All the Praise is to Allah, the Lord of Al-Alamin. Peace and Blessing be upon his Messenger.

Previous Sins Will Be Forgiven.

Abu Hurairah (radiiallahu anhu (RA) – May Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alai hi wassallam (SAW) peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to encourage us to pray at night in Ramadan, without making it an obligatory. Then he said, ‘Whoever prays at night in Ramadan out of faith and the hope of reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.’ When the Messenger of Allah SAW died, this is how things were (i.e., Tarawih was not prayed in congregation), and this is how it was remained during the Khalifah of Abu Bakar RA, until the beginning of the Khalifah of ‘Umar Al-Khattab RA.”

‘Amr Ibn Murrah Al-Juhani said: “A man from Quda’ah came to the Messenger of Allah SAW and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! What do you think if I testify that there is no god except Allah, and that you, Muhammad, are His Messenger, and I pray the five daily prayers, and fast in the month (of Ramadan), and pray at night in Ramadan, and pay zakah?’ The Prophet SAW said: ‘Whoever dies on that will be among the siddiqin (those who tell the truth) and the martyrs.’”

The Lailatul-Qadar

2. The best of its nights is Lailatul-Qadar, because the Prophet SAW said: “Whoever prays at night during Lailatul-Qadar [and manages to “catch” it] out of faith and the hope of reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.”

3. According to the most correct opinion, it is the twenty-seventh night of Ramadhan. Most of the ahadith state this, such as the hadith of Zurr Ibn Hubaish, who said: “I heard Ubayy Ibn Ka’ab saying – and it was said to him that ‘Abdallah Ibn Mas’ud said: ‘Whoever follows the Sunnah will ‘catch’ Lailatul-Qadar!’ – Ubayy RA said: ‘May Allah have mercy on him, he did not want people to take it for granted and only stay up to pray on one night. By the One besides Whom there is no other god, it is in Ramadhan – he was swearing without a doubt – and by Allah, I do know which night it is. It is the night in which the Messenger of Allah SAW commanded us to pray (qiyam). It is the night the morning of which is the twenty seventh, and the sign of it is that the sun rises on that morning white and without rays.’” [Muslim and others].

Praying Qiyam in Congregation

It is allowed to pray qiyam in congregation, indeed it is better than praying individually, because this is what the Prophet SAW did himself and explained its virtues. Abu Dharr RA said: “We fast Ramadan with the Messenger of Allah SAW and he did not lead us in qiyam at all until there were only seven days left, he led us in prayer until a third of the night had passed. When there were six days left, he did not lead us in qiyam. When there were five days left, he led us in prayer until half the night had passed. I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, I wish that you had continued until the end of the night.’ He said, ‘If a man prays with the imam until he concludes it, it will be counted as if he prayed the whole night.’ When there were four nights left, he did not lead us in qiyam. When there were three nights left, he brought together his family, his wives and the people, and led us in qiyam until we were worried that we would miss al-falah. I asked, ‘What is al-falah?’ he said, ‘Sahur. Then he did not lead us in qiyam for the rest of the month.’” [Sahih hadith reported by the authors of Sunan].

5. The Prophet SAW did not lead them in qiyam for the rest of the month because he feared that it would then become an obligatory, and they would not be able to do it, as is stated in the hadith of ‘Aishah reported in Al-Saheehayn and elsewhere. Following the death of the Prophet SAW, that fear was no longer a factor, as Allah had made the religion completed. The reason for not praying qiyam in congregation during Ramadhan no longer applied, and the previous ruling, that congregational prayer is something prescribed in Islam, remained in effect. So ‘Umar Al-Khattab RA revived the practice, as is recorded in Sahih Al-Bukhari and elsewhere.

Women Can Pray Qiyam in Congregation

Women can attend the prayers too, as is stated in the hadith of Abu Dharr referred to above. Indeed, it is permissible to appoint an imam just for them, apart from the imam of the men. It was proven that when ‘Umar RA gathered the people to pray qiyam, he appointed Ubayy Ibn Ka’ab to lead the men and Sulayman Ibn Abi Hathmah to lead the women. ‘Arfajah Al-Thaqafi said: “‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib RA used to command the people to pray during the night in Ramadhan, and he would appoint an imam for the men and an imam for the women. I was the imam for the women.”

Number of Rak’ahs of Qiyam

7. The number of rak’ahs is eleven [including witir], and it is preferable in our opinion following the practice of the Messenger of Allah SAW, because he never did more than that in his life. ‘Aishah RA was asked about how he prayed in Ramadhan. She said, “The Messenger of Allah SAW never prayed more than eleven raka’ahs (of qiyam), whether during Ramadan or any other time. He would pray four, and do not ask me how beautiful or how long they were. Then he would pray four, and do not ask me how beautiful or how long they were. Then he would pray three.” [Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others].

8. A person may do less than that, even if it is only one rak’ah of witir, because of the evidence that the Prophet SAW did this and spoke about it.

With regard to him doing it: ‘Aishah RA was asked how many raka’ahs the Messenger of Allah SAW used to pray in witir? She said, “He used to pray four and three, or six and three, or ten and three. He never used to pray less than seven, or more than thirteen.” [Abu Dawud, Ahmad and others].

The Prophet SAW said about witir: “Witir is true, so whoever wishes can pray five, and whoever wishes can pray three, and whoever wishes can pray one.”

Reciting Qur’an In Qiyam

9. As regards reciting from the Qur’an during qiyam, whether in Ramadhan or at other times, the Prophet SAW did not set a limit or state what was too much or too little. His recitation used to vary; sometimes it would be long, at other times short. Sometimes in every rak’ah he would recite the equivalent of ‘Yaa ayyuha’l-muzammil, which is twenty ayat; sometimes he would recite the equivalent of fifty ayat. He used to say, “Whoever prays at night and reads one hundred ayat will not be recorded as one of the negligent.” According to another hadith: “…and reads two hundred ayat will be recorded as one of the devout and sincere believers.”

When he was sick, the Prophet SAW recited the seven long surahs in his night prayers, i.e., Al-Baqarah, Aal ‘Imran, Al-Nisa’, Al-Ma’idah, Al-An’aam, Al-A’raaf and Al-Tawbah.

In the account of Hudhayfah Ibn Al-Yaman praying behind the Prophet SAW, in one raka’ah he recited Al-Baqarah, Al-Nisa’ and Aal ‘Imran and he recited them in a slow and measured tone. It is proven with the soundest (most saheeh) of isnads that when ‘Umar Al-Khattab RA appointed Ubayy Ibn Ka’ab to lead the people in praying eleven raka’ahs in Ramadhan, Ubayy used to recite ayat by the hundreds, so that the people behind him would be leaning on sticks because the prayers were so long, and they did not finish until just before Fajar.

It is also reported in a sahih account that ‘Umar RA called the readers during Ramadan, and told the fastest of them to recite thirty ayat, the moderate ones to recite twenty-five ayat, and the slowest ones to recite twenty ayat.

However, if a person is praying qiyam by himself; he can make it as long as he wishes; if others agree with the imam, and he may also make it as long as he wishes. The longer it is, the better, but a person should not go to extremes and spend the whole night in qiyam, except on rare occasions, following the example of the Prophet SAW said: “The best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad.” If a person is praying as an imam, he should make it only as long as is easy for the people behind him, because the Prophet SAW said: “If any of you leads the people in prayer, let him make it short, because among them are the young and the old, the weak, and those who have pressing needs. But if he is praying alone, let him make it as long as he likes.”

The Timing of Qiyam

10. The time for praying qiyam is from after ‘Isha until Fajar, because the Prophet SAW said: “Allah has added one more prayer for you, which is witir, so pray it between Salat al-‘Isha’ and Salat al-Fajar.”

11. Praying at the end of the night is better, for those who can manage it, because the Prophet SAW said: “Whoever is worried that he will not get up at the end of the night, let him pray witir at the beginning of the night, but whoever feels that he will be able to get up at the end of the night, let him pray witir at the end of the night, for prayer at the end of the night is witnessed and that is better.”

12. If it is the matter of choosing between praying in congregation at the beginning of the night and praying alone at the end of the night, it is preferable to pray with the jama’ah, because that is counted as if one had prayed the whole night through.

This is what the Sahabah did at the time of ‘Umar RA. ‘Abd Al-Rahman Ibn ‘Abd Al-Qari said: “I went out with ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab to the mosque one night during Ramadan, and saw the people scattered throughout the mosque, some praying individually, and some praying in small groups. He said, ‘By Allah, I think that if I gathered all of them behind one reader it would be better.’ So he resolved to do that, and he gathered them behind Ubayy Ibn Ka’ab. Then I went with him on another night, and the people were all praying behind their reader, and ‘Umar said, ‘What a good innovation this is. What they sleep and miss – meaning the latter part of the night – is better than what they are doing,’ – the people used to pray qiyam at the beginning of the night.”

Zaid Ibn Wahab said: “‘Abdallah used to lead us in prayer in Ramadhan, and he used to finish at night.”

13 – The Prophet SAW forbade praying witir as three rak’ahs, and explained this by saying: “Do not make it resemble Salat al-Maghrib.” Therefore the person who wants to pray three rak’ahs for witir must find a way to make it different (from Maghrib). There are two ways he can do this: either by giving Salam after the first two raka’ahs, which is the best way; or by not sitting after the first two raka’ahs (i.e., praying three raka’ahs non-stops). And Allah knows best.

Recitation during Three Rak’ahs of Witir

14. It is Sunnah to recite Sabbih bi ismi Rabbika al-‘A’la in the first raka’ah, Qul Yaa ayyuha’l-Kafirun in the second rak’ah, and Qul Huwa Allahu ahad in the third raka’ah. Sometimes Qul a’udzu bi Rabbi’l-Falaq and Qul a’udzu bi Rabbi’l-Naas may be added as well.

It was reported in a sahih report that the Prophet SAW once recited one hundred ayat of Surah al-Nisa’ in one raka’ah of witir.

Du’a Al-Qunut

15, A person may also humble himself before Allah by reciting the dua’ which the Prophet SAW taught to his grandson Al-Hasan Ibn ‘Ali RA, which is:

“Allahummahdini fiman hadayta wa ‘afini fiman ‘aafayta wa tawallani fiman tawallayta wa baarik lee fima a’tayta wa qinee sharra maa qadayt, fa innaka taqdi wa laa yuqda ‘alayk. Wa innahu laa yadhillu man waalayta wa laa ya’izzu man ‘adayt. Tabaarakta Rabbanaa wa ta’alayt. Laa manja minka illa ilayk”

“(O Allah, guide me along with those whom You have guided, pardon me along with those whom You have pardoned, be an ally to me along with those whom You are an ally to, and bless for me that which You have bestowed. Protect me from the evil You have decreed for verily You decree and none can decree over You. For surety, he whom You show allegiance to is never abased and he whom You take an enemy is never honored and mighty. O our Lord, Blessed and Exalted are You. There is no refuge from You except with You).”

Sometimes one may send blessings on the Prophet SAW, and there is nothing wrong with adding other du’a that are known from the Sunnah.

16. There is nothing wrong with reciting Qunut after ruku’, or with adding curses against the kuffar, sending blessings on the Prophet SAW or praying for the Muslims in the second half of Ramadan, because it is proven that the imam used to do this at the time of ‘Umar RA. At the end of the hadith of ‘Abd Al-Rahman Ibn ‘Ubayd Al-Qari mentioned above, it says: “… They used to curse the kuffar in the middle, saying,

‘Allaahumma qatil al-kafarata alladheena yasudduuna ‘an sabilik wa yukadhdhibuna rusulak wa laa yu’minuna bi wa’dik. Wa khaalif baina kalimatihim wa alqi fi qulubihim al-ru’b wa alqi ‘alaihim rijzaka wa ‘adzaabak ilaah al-haqq”

“(O Allah, destroy the kuffar who are trying to prevent people from following Your path, who deny Your Messengers and who do not believe in Your promise (the Day of Judgement). Make them disunited, fill their hearts with terror and send Your wrath and punishment against them, O God of Truth).”

Then he would send blessings on the Prophet SAW, and pray for good for the Muslims as much as he could, and seek forgiveness for the believers.

After he had finished cursing the kuffar, sending blessings on the Prophet, seeking forgiveness for the believing men and women and asking for his own needs, he would say:

“Allaahumma iyyaaka na’bud wa laka nusalli wa najud, wa ilayka nas’aa wa nahfud, wa narju rahmataka rabbanaa wa nakhaafu ‘adhaabak al-jadd. Inna ‘adhaabaka liman ‘aadayta mulhaq”

“(O Allah, You do we worship, to You do we pray and prostrate, for Your sake we strive and toil. We place our hope in Your Mercy, O our Lord, and we fear Your mighty punishment, for Your punishment will certainly overtake the one whom You have taken as an enemy.”

Then he would say “Allaahu Akbar” and go down in sujud.

What Should Be Said At The End Of Witir?

17. It is Sunnah to say at the end of witir (before or after the Salam):

“Allaahumma innee a’udzu bi ridaaka min sakhatika wa bi mu’aafaatika min ‘aqubatika, wa a’udzu bika minka. La uhsee thanaa’an ‘alaika, anta kamaa athnaita ‘ala nafsik”

“(O Allah, I seek refuge in Your good pleasure from Your wrath, and in Your protection from Your punishment. I seek refuge with You from You. I cannot praise You enough, and You are as You have praised Yourself.”

18. When he gave Salam at the end of witir, he said:

“Subhaan il-Malik il-Quddus, subhaan il-Malik il-Quddus, subhaan il-Malik il-Quddus’

“(Glory be to the Sovereign, the Most Holy), elongating the syllables, and raising his voice the third time.

Two Rak’ahs after Witir

19. A person may pray two rak’ahs after witir if he wishes; because it is proven that the Prophet SAW did this. Indeed, he said, “This travelling is exhausting and difficult, so after any one of you prays witir, let him pray two raka’ahs. If he wakes up, this is fine; otherwise these two rak’ahs will be counted for him.

20. It is Sunnah to recite Idha zulzilat al-ard and Qul yaa ayyuha’l-kaafirun in these two raka’ahs.

Fatawa NO: 3452 of Islam Q&A: Adopted from” Qiyam Ramadhan” by Al-Albani.

[Excerpted from Islam Q&A]


About Md Radzi Ahmad
A retired Malaysian civil servant. Served the Malaysian government for thirty-one years. Posted to London, Rangoon, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Bangkok. Born in Kampong Hutan Kandeh, Alor Star, Kedah. Educated at Sultan Abdul Hamid College, Alor Star and University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. Currently resides in Subang Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan,Malaysia.Blessed with three children, a son, two daughters, daughter in law and two grandaughters.

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