Virtues of Tahajjud Prayer

Tahajjud: Virtues and Way of Performance

In the Name of Allāh, Most Gracious, Most Merciful;

All praise and thanks are due to Allāh, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Solāh al-Tahajjud is the Sunnah of the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) which Muslims should follow all the time; it’s not something confined to Ramadhān.  Qiyam and Solāh Tahajjud are the same Solāt with different names. It is an optional night prayer. However, the only difference appears when these two names are used during Ramadhān, the optional prayers performed after Solat `Isha’ is referred to as Qiyam (or, more commonly, Tarawīh), while spending the night in worship (after some sleep) is called Tahajjud. Both names have been used in the Qur’ān. Referring to Qiyam, the Qur’ān uses the phrase Qum al-layl when Almighty Allāh says: “O thou wrapped up in thy raiment! Keep vigil the night long (Qum al-layl), save a little, a half thereof, or abate a little thereof, or add (a little) thereto and chant the Qur’ān in measure…” [Al-Muzzammil, 73: 1-4]

The verb Fatahajjad is a derivative from the root Hajada (to keep vigil), Allāh says: “And some part of the night awake for it (fatahajjad), a largess for thee. It may be that thy Lord will raise thee to a praised estate.” [Al-Isra’, 17: 79] The later verse means to get up and perform Tahajjud Prayer.

Tahajjud refers to getting up after sleeping and performing optional night prayer. It is named Tahajjud, though the original name of night prayer is Qiyam, which literally means standing.  Qiyam also refers to spending the night in worship in general, whether it is Prayer (solāh) or any other form of worship.

In his famous kitāb, Fiqh As-Sunnah, Sheikh Sayyid Sabiq elaborates on the subject as follows:

Tahajjud Prayer: Its excellence and merit, according to the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Ordering His Messenger to perform Salātul Tahajjud, Allāh Almighty says: “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.” [Al-Isra’, 17: 79]

This order, although it was specifically directed to the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam), also refers to all Muslims, since the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) is a perfect example and guide for us in all matters.

Moreover, performing Tahajjud prayers regularly qualifies one as of the Righteous and earns one Allāh’s bounty and mercy. Allāh says: “Lo! Those who keep from evil will dwell amid gardens and water springs, 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.” [Adh-Dhariyat, 51: 15-18]

In praising those who perform the late night prayers, Allāh says: “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-Furqān, 25: 63-64]

There are number of hadiths that emphasize the importance of Tahajjud.

`Abdullah ibn as-Salam (radiallāhu`anhu) reported: “When the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) 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.”‘ [Narrated by al-Hakim, Ibn Majah, and at-Tirmidzi: authentic and sound]

Salman al-Farsi (radiallāhu`anhu) quoted the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) as saying: “Observe the night prayer, it was the practice of the righteous before you and it brings you closer to your Lord and it is penance for evil deeds and erases the sins and repels disease from the body.”  [Narrated by an-Nasa’ie and ibn Majah: Sahih]

Etiquettes of Tahajjud prayer

The following acts are recommended for one who wishes to perform the Tahajjud prayers:

1. Upon going to sleep, one should make the intention to perform the Tahajjud prayers. Abu ad-Darda’ quoted the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) as saying: “Whoever goes to his bed with the intention of getting up and praying during the night, but, being overcome by sleep, fails to do that, he will have recorded for him what he has intended, and his sleep will be reckoned as a charity (an act of mercy) for him from his Lord.” [Narrated by an-Nasa’ie and Ibn Majah: Sahih]

2. On waking up, one should wipe one’s face, use a tooth brush, and look to the sky and make the supplication. It was reported the duā’ from the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam): “O Allāh! There is no god but Thee, Glory is to Thee, I seek Thy forgiveness for my sins, and I ask for Your mercy. O Allāh increases my knowledge and let my heart not swerve after You have guided me, and bestow mercy upon me from Thyself. All praise is to Allāh who has given us back life after our death and unto Him is the resurrection.” Then, one should recite the last ten verses of Surat Al-`Imran starting with, “Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day,- there are indeed Signs for men of understanding.” Then one should say, “O Allāh, 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. Meeting with You is true; the Paradise is true, the Fire is true. The Prophets are true, and Muhammad is true and the Hour is true! O Allāh , to You have I submitted, in You have I believed, in You have I put my trust, to You have I turned, 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 Allāh; there is no god besides Thee.” [Narrated by Muslim]

3. One should begin Tahajjud with two quick rak`ahs and then one may pray whatever one wishes after it. `A’ishah (radiallāhu`anha) said: “When the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) prayed during the late-night, he would begin his prayers with two quick raka`at.” [Narrated by Muslim]

4. One should wake up one’s family for Tahajjud. Abu Hurairah (radiallāhu`anhu) quoted the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam), as saying: “May Allāh bless the man who gets up during the night to pray and wakes up his wife and who, if she refuses to get up, sprinkles water on her face. And may Allāh bless the woman who gets up during the night to pray and wakes up her husband and who, if he refuses, sprinkles water on his face.” The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) also said: “If a man wakes his wife and prays during the night or they pray two rak`ahs together, they will be recorded among those (men and women) who (constantly) make remembrance of Allāh.” [Narrated by Abu Dawud and others:  authentic].

5. If one gets sleepy while performing Tahajjud one should sleep. This is due to the hadith narrated by `A’ishah (radiallāhu`anha) as she quoted Allāh ’s Messenger (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) as saying: “When one of you gets up during the night for prayer and his Qur’anic recital gets mixed up to the extent that he does not know what he says, he should lie down.” [Narrated by Muslim]

Recommended time for Tahajjud

Tahajjud may be performed in the early part of the night, the middle part of the night, or the latter part of the night, but after the obligatory Salātul `Isha’ (Late Evening prayer).

While describing the Prophet’s way of performing prayer, Anās bin Malik said: “If we wanted to see him praying during the night, we could see him praying. If we wanted to see him sleeping during the night, we could see him sleeping. And sometimes he would fast for so many days that we thought he would not leave fasting throughout that month. And sometimes he would not fast (for so many days) that we thought he would not fast during that month.” [Narrated by Ahmad, al-Bukhari, and an-Nasa’ie]

Commenting on this subject, Ibn Hajar says: “There was no specific time in which the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) would perform his late night prayer; but he used to do whatever was easiest for him.”

Best time for Tahajjud

It is best to delay this prayer to the last third portion of the night. Abu Hurairah (radiallāhu`anhu) quoted that the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam), as saying: “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?” [Narrated by Ahmad, al-Bukhari, and an-Nasa’ie]

‘Amr ibn Abasah (radiallāhu`anhu) reported that he heard the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) saying: “The closest that a slave comes to his Lord is during the middle of the latter portion of the night. If you can be among those who remember Allāh, the Exalted One, at that time then does so.” [Narrated by Ahmad, al-Bukhari, and an-Nasa’ie]

Abdullāh ibn ‘Amr (radiallāhu’anhu) reported Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) as saying: With Allāh the best fasting is that of Dawud and the best prayer is that of Dawud (‘alaihissalam) for he slept half of the night and stood for prayer for the third of it and (then) slept the sixth part of it and he observed fast one day and broke on the other. [Narrated by Muslim (2595)]

The number of raka`at to be performed during Tahajjud

Tahajjud prayer does not entail a specific number of raka`at which must be performed nor is there any maximum limit which has to be performed. The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) would normally perform eight raka’at and ending with three raka’at of witir. It would be fulfilled even if one just prayed one rak`ah of Witir after the `Isha’.

Samurah ibn Jundub (radiallāhu`anhu) said: “The Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) ordered us to pray during the night, a little or a lot, and to make the last of the prayer the Witr prayer.” [Narrated by at-Tabarani and al-Bazzar]

Anas ibn Malik (radiallāhu`anhu) quoted Allāh’s Messenger (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam), as saying: “Prayer in my mosque is equal to ten thousand prayers [elsewhere]. And prayer in the Sacred Mosque is equivalent to one hundred thousand prayers [elsewhere]. And prayer in the battlefield is equivalent to one million prayers [elsewhere]. And what is more than all of that is two raka`at performed by a servant [of Allāh] during the middle of the night.” [Reported by Abu ash-Shaikh, Ibn Hibban in his work ath-Thawab, and al-Munzhiri, in his book at-Targhib wa Tarhib, is silent about it.]

Seeking Lailatul-Qadar in last ten days of Ramadhān

‘Aishah (radiallāhu`anha) reported: “When the (last) ten started, the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) would tighten his izar (i.e. he stayed away from his wives in order to have more time for worship), spend the whole night awake (in prayer), and wake up his family.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

And she (radiallāhu`anha) also said: “Allah’s Messenger (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) used to exert more (in worship) on the last ten than on other nights.” [Muslim]

The Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “Seek it in the last ten nights, on the odd-numbered nights.”[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Abu Hurairah (radiallāhu`anhu) narrated that the Messenger (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “Whoever stands (in qiyam) in Lailatul-Qadar [and it is facilitated for him] out of faith and expectation (of Allah’s reward), will have all of his previous sins forgiven.”

[Al-Bukhari and Muslim; the addition “and it is facilitated for him” is recorded by Ahmad from the report of ‘Ubadah Ibn As-Samit; it means that he is permitted to be among the sincere worshippers during that blessed night]

‘Aishah (radiallāhu`anha) reported that she asked Allah’s Messenger (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam), “O Messenger of Allah! If I knew which night is Lailatul-Qadar, what should I say during it?” And he (Sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) instructed her to say:

“Allahumma innaka ’afuw wun tuhibbul ‘afwa fa’fu ’anni”(O Allah! You are Forgiving, and you love forgiveness. So forgive me)  [Recorded by Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and At-Tirmidzi; verified to be authentic by Al-Albāni]

Wallāhu’alam.

[Via Islam online (Group of Islamic Researchers)]

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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