Qiyam Ul Layl | Tahajjud
The class looks long but there is very little of it to memorise, most of it is to remind and motivate (starting from ourselves) to be consistent with this great deed – Qiyaam ul Layl. There are a lot of quotes from Sahaba or early scholars which helps the cause, great to read but we do not need to memorise them and so this class will not be difficult. May Allah make it beneficial us and you.
Qiyam ul Layl
My Dear Brothers & Sisters in Islam! The situation of Muslims today necessitates the talk about the most important act of worship in Islaam which is Salaah (prayer). The Messenger of Allaah ﷺ resorted to it whenever he became distressed about an issue. Prayer is the water spring that never dries and the treasure that never ends.
O My Brothers & Sisters in faith! Night prayers strengthen the bond between us and our Lord. Qiyaam al-layl is Sunnah mu’akkadah. Qiyaam al-layl plays a great role in strengthening one’s faith and helping one to do good deeds. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
Allaah praises those who have faith and are pious for their noble characteristics and good deeds, one of the most special of which is qiyaam al-layl. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
Allaah has described the pious in Ayahs 15-17 of Soorat al-Dhaariyaat as having a number of characteristics – including praying qiyaam al-layl – by means of which they attain Paradise. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
Also Allah says in Surah Imran Ayahs 15-17 (interpretation of the meaning):
The Prophet ﷺ encouraged us to pray qiyaam al-layl in many ahaadeeth, such as the following:
Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar said: From Soorat Tabaarak [al-Mulk] to the end of the Qur’aan is one thousand verses. Whoever prays qiyaam reciting from Soorat Tabaarak to the end of Qur’aan has prayed qiyaam with one thousand verses.
The Prophet did not only recommend the night prayer to his nation, but laid an excellent example for that. Al-Bukhaarie and Muslim reported that the Prophet ﷺ used to stand in prayer in the night so long so that his feet would become swollen.”
It is by night prayers that dead hearts enlivened, spurred towards good deeds and prevented from evil acts. Ibn ‘Abbaas said, “Whoever loves to find the long standing of the day of Resurrection less difficult should let him show himself to Allaah in the darkness of the night prostrating and standing, fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord.”
The slaves of Allaah spend their nights in prostration and standing; keeping themselves away from the comfort of their beds and subduing their slumber for the joy of moving closer to Allaah, with the hope to attain His promised bliss and out of fear His punishment. The real slaves of Allaah sleep little in the night. To them, night prayer has its sweetness. Abu Sulaimaan Ad-Daaraanie said, “Those who pray in the night enjoy when they are observing their night prayer more than what the people of pastime and fun enjoy from their pastime. If not because of the night, I would not have loved to remain in this world.”
Night prayer is a break-off from this life to get in contact with Allaah. Those who engage in night prayer do not find any sweetness in sleep. They remember the loneliness of the grave and the horror of the Last Day.
Truthful slaves of Allaah stay awake in the night praying and invoking their Lord out of fear of His punishment and in hope for His blessing and, no person knows what is kept hidden for them of joy as a reward for what they used to do.
Though their intentions and requests may vary, night is their source of making pleas to their Lord. Some seek nearness to Allaah, some are afraid of the Last Day and others seek forgiveness for their sins. Allaah then bestows His favors on them and grants them their requests and chooses them because they are contented with little sleep in the night and use the rest of the night in prayer, reading the Qur’aan and remembering of Allaah.
The night is the arena for the high-minded people. It is the provision for the journey of life. As for the low-minded people, their concern is for this world and they thereby forget the eternal life. It is a pity that youth of this age spends all their night and day in pastime and fun!
Brothers & Sisters in faith! Inability to observe night prayers hardens the heart and makes one heedless of the word of Allaah. The Messenger of Allaah ﷺ was told of a man who would sleep all the night. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Satan has urinated in the ears of such a man.” (Bukhari)
Whoever does not have a particular act of worship he observes during the night is negligent of his own rights. Which type of depravity is greater than having an opportunity to converse with one’s Lord and allow it to slip away through sleeping and low-mindedness?! We are not talking about those who spend their nights in forbidden things.
Endeavor dear brothers & sisters, to pray whatever you can in the night and be constant in that, for it is by patience, perseverance, constancy and sincerity that you can achieve strength and help from your Lord. Know that minutes of the night are valuable; do not therefore waste them in forgetfulness and shopping. Also, wake members of your family in the night to pray and repent for their sins.
The Messenger of Allaah ﷺ said,
“May Allaah bless a man who wakes up in the night and prays; and wakes up his wife and she also prays. If she refuses to stand up, he sprinkles water on her face.
May Allaah bless a woman who wakes up in the night and prays and wakes her husband up and he prays, and if he refuses to stand up, she sprinkles water on his face.”
(Nisai’i & Ibn Majah)
HOW TO PRAY
There is no specific way to pray tahajjud, in terms of what the worshipper should recite after al-Faatihah in each rak‘ah. So the Muslim should pray two rak‘ahs by two, reciting whatever he is able to of Qur’an, then he should pray Witr after that. What the Prophet ﷺ usually did when praying qiyaam al-layl was eleven rak‘ahs, but if anyone does more or less than that, it does not matter.
One should also try to observe long bowing and prostration and endeavor to remember Allaah a lot. However, one should not make things hard for himself.
Aisha Radiyallahu ‘Anha said, Rasulullah ﷺ did not perform more than eleven rak’ahs during Ramadhaan or after Ramadhaan. (Eight rak’ahs tahajjud and three rak’ahs witr). He performed four rak’ahs. Do not ask of its length or how wonderfully (i.e. with humbleness and concentration) it was performed. In the same manner he performed four more rak’ahs. In the same manner he again performed four rak’ahs, and do not ask of its length or how wonderfully it was performed. After that he performed three rakahs witr”. Aayesha Radiyallahu ‘Anha says “I said: “O Messenger of Allah. Do you sleep before you perform witr?” He replied: “O Aayesha, my eyes sleep, but my heart remains awake“. (This is a special gift to the ambiyah (prophets) that their hearts remain awake at all times) [Sahih Isnād (Zubair Ali Za’i)]
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “The dearest of prayer to Allah is the prayer of Dawood (peace be upon him). He used to sleep for half the night, get up and pray for one third of it, and sleep for one sixth of it, and he used to fast one day and not the next.” (Bukhari & Muslim)
The Prophet of Allah Dawood ﷺ as he – firstly – used to sleep for half the night. Whoever wants to put this into practice today should work out the time from after ‘Isha’ prayer until Fajr, then sleep for half of that time.
Then after that time, Dawood ﷺ would get up to pray, and he would pray for one third of the night, then he would sleep for one sixth, until dawn (Fajr prayer).
The wisdom behind that is so that one will not get tired or bored, and so that one will get up to pray Fajr and recite the morning adhkaar with energy, and will not feel tired or lazy, and so that he will start his daily activities in this manner. Then he will be able to do what is required of him of duties towards his family, children and other people, and towards his regular work, so he will not go to work feeling sleepy. And there are other benefits as well.
It should be noted that the individual should try to offer prayers at night in the manner that is appropriate to his own situation, and do as much as he thinks it is most likely that he will be able to persist in. People vary in their circumstances; some of them sleep early so that they can get up early, some of them work at night, and some of them work both at night and during the day. Each Muslim should try hard to offer night prayers, as much as he is able to do on a regular basis, even if that is not in accordance with what is described above, which is the best way to do it. Moreover, striving to regularly pray Fajr on time should be given precedence in all situations.
The time for praying qiyaam al-layl begins after ‘Isha’ prayer and lasts until the break of dawn. The best of it is the last third of the night.
The scholars of the Permanent Committee said: The time for praying qiyaam al-layl and Witr is from after ‘Isha’ prayer until the break.
Whatever prayer you offer after ‘Isha’ prayer comes under the heading of qiyaam al-layl. People vary in status in that regard, and their reward will vary according to how long they spend in qiyaam al-layl and other righteous deeds. Whoever prays two rak‘ahs after ‘Isha’, they are regarded as coming under the heading of qiyaam al-layl, but the one who prays two rak‘ahs and Witr after ‘Isha’ is not like one who gets up at night and prays as much as Allah wills that he should pray.
The reward and the virtue are commensurate with the level of the deed.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN QIYYAM UL LAYL & TAHAJJUD
Qiyaam al-layl means spending the night, or part of it, even if it is only one hour, in prayer, reading Qur’aan, remembering Allah (dhikr) and other acts of worship like learning ahadeeth and Islam. It is not stipulated that it should take up most of the night.
Tahajjud means specifically praying at night, and some scholars limited it to prayers that are offered at night after sleeping.
Ways to Help Oneself Pray Qiyaam al-Layl
There are many things that one can do to help oneself pray qiyaam al-layl, among which are the following:
1. Realize that Allaah is calling him to qiyaam. When the slave realizes that his Master, Who has no need of peoples worship, is calling him to do this, he will respond. Read Ayahs 1-4 of Surah Muzammil quoted at the start of this class.
Sad ibn Hishaam ibn Aamir said to Aaishah (may Allaah be pleased with her): Tell me about how the Messenger of Allaah ﷺ prayed qiyaam. She said: Have you not read Yaa ayyuhal-muzzammil (O you wrapped in your garments!)? He said, Of course. She said: Allaah, may He be exalted and glorified, made qiyaam obligatory at the beginning of this soorah, so the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and his companions prayed qiyaam for a year, and Allaah withheld the end of this soorah for twelve months, until He revealed something at the end of this soorah to make things easier, so qiyaam al-layl became voluntary after it had been obligatory. (Reported by Muslim).
2. Knowing its virtues. Whoever knows the virtues of this act of worship will be keen to talk to Allaah, may He be exalted, and to stand before Him at that time. These were mentioned in the Ayaat & Ahadeeth earlier in this class.
3. Sleeping on ones right side. The Prophet ﷺ taught his ummah to sleep on their right sides (Bukhari & Muslim).
Imaam Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: There is a reason for his lying on his right side, which is that the heart is located on the left, so if a person lays on his left side, he will sleep too deeply, because the hearts position will be too comfortable, but if he sleeps on his right side, he will not be too settled, so he wont sleep deeply.
4. Sleeping in a state of tahaarah (purity). The Prophet ﷺ said,
5. Going to sleep early. Sleeping straight after Ishaa is the advice of the Prophet ﷺ, and a good and healthy habit. The Prophet ﷺ used to prefer to delay Ishaa, and he did not like to sleep before it or talk after it. (Sahih Bukhari).
Another matter that has to do with sleep is choosing a suitable bed, not one that is excessively luxurious or soft, because that makes a person sleep too much and become negligent, and causes laziness and carelessness. The pillow of the Prophet ﷺ on which he slept at night was made of leather stuffed with palm fibres. (Abu Dawood & Ahmad) and the mat he lay on was of of palm fibres that left marks on his side. (Reported by Ahmad and al-Haakim. Saheeh al-Jaami, 5545).
6. Having the habit of reciting adhkaar (words of remembrance of Allah) prescribed by shareeah (Islamic law) before going to sleep, because these adhkaar are like a fortress which protects a person from the Shaytaan, by the permission of Allaah, and helps him to get up for qiyaam. Among these adhkaar is that mentioned in the ahadeeth are
Waking up at night
The Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever turns over at night and say (the below Dua), then says, Allaahumma ghfir li (O Allaah, forgive me), or some other duaa, it will be answered, and if he does wudoo and then prays, his prayer will be accepted”. (Reported by al-Bukhaari)
لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ وَحْدَهُ لاَ شَرِيكَ لَهُ، لَهُ الْمُلْكُ، وَلَهُ الْحَمْدُ، وَهُوَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَىْءٍ قَدِيرٌ. الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ، وَسُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ، وَلاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ، وَاللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ، وَلاَ حَوْلَ وَلاَ قُوَّةَ إِلاَّ بِاللَّ
Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah wahdahu laa shareeka lah, lahul-mulk wa lahul-hamd wa huwa al kulli shayin qadeer. Al-hamdulillahi, subhaan Allaah wa laa illaaha ill-Allaah wa Allaahu akbar wa laa hawla wa laa quwwata illa Billaah
(There is no god but Allaah Alone, with no partner or associate. His is the Dominion and the Praise, and He is Able to do all things. Praise be to Allaah, glory be to Allaah. There is no god except Allaah, Allaah is Most Great and there is no strength and no power except in Allaah)
7. Being keen to take a nap during the day, whether before zuhr or after. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Take a nap, for the shayaateen do not take naps”. (Reported by al-Tabaraani. Al-Saheehah, 2647).
Ishaaq ibn Abd-Allaah said: Taking a nap is one of the deeds of good people. It revitalizes the heart and helps one to pray qiyaam al-layl.
Al-Hasan al-Basri passed by a group of people in the marketplace in the middle of the day, and heard the racket they were making. He said, Do these people take a nap? It was said to him, No. He said, I think their nights must be bad.
8. Avoiding eating or drinking too much. Eating and drinking too much are two of the main obstacles that prevent people from praying qiyaam al-layl. The Prophet ﷺ said:
Sufyaan al-Thawri said: You should eat little, so that you will be able to pray qiyaam al-layl.
Maqal ibn Habeeb saw some people eating a lot, and said, I do not think that our companions want to pray qiyaam al-layl.
9. Striving against oneself to pray qiyaam al-layl. Human nature is inclined towards wrongdoing, so we need to strive as for the one who follows his own inclinations will be led to doom and destruction.
The Prophet ﷺ said: “When a man from my ummah gets up to pray at night, striving against his own self to get up and purify himself, there are knots on him. When he washes his hands in wudoo, one knot is undone. When he washes his face, another knot is undone. When he wipes his head another knot is undone. When he washes his feet, another knot is undone. Then Allaah says to those who are veiled (in the Unseen): Look at this slave of Mine, he is striving against his own self and asking of Me. Whatever My slave asks of Me shall be his.” (Ahmad and Ibn Hibaan. Saheeh).
10. Avoiding sin. If the Muslim wants to be one of those who earn the honour of speaking to Allaah in the depths of the night, let him beware of sin, for the one who is contaminated with the stain of sin will not be helped to pray qiyaam al-layl. A man said to Ibraaheem ibn Adham, I cannot pray qiyaam al-layl, so tell me the cure for this. He said, Do not commit sin during the day, and He will help you to stand before Him at night, for your standing before Him at night is one of the greatest honours, and the sinner does not deserve that honour.
A man said to al-Hasan al-Basri: O Abu Saeed, I sleep in good health, and I love to pray qiyaam al-layl, and I prepare water with which to purify myself, so why can I not get up? Al-Hasan said: Your sins are restricting you. He said, may Allaah have mercy on him, The slave who commits a sin will be denied the opportunity to pray qiyaam at night and to fast during the day.
Al-Fudayl ibn Ayaad said: If you cannot pray qiyaam al-layl, or fast during the day, know that you are indeed deprived and restricted, chained by your sins.
In these days there are generations of Muslims who spend their nights on useless things like watching immoral TV programs like music and the like on satellite channels. That is the reason many households complain of lack of interest in night prayers.
11. Checking oneself and rebuking oneself for not praying qiyaam al-layl. Checking oneself is one of the signs of the righteous and truthful. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): O you who believe! Fear Allaah and keep your duty to Him. And let every person look to what he has sent forth for the morrow, and fear Allaah. Verily, Allaah is All-Aware of what you do. [al-Hashr 59:18].
QUOTES/ACTIONS OF SALAF WITH REGARDS TO QIYAM UL LAYAL/TAHAJJUD
The salaf used to enjoy qiyaam al-layl and rejoice greatly in doing it.
Abul-Darda (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: Pray two rakahs in the darkness of the night for the darkness of the grave.
Muhammad ibn al-Munkadir said: There is nothing left of the joys of this life except three: qiyaam al-layl, meeting ones brothers in faith, and praying in congregation.
Ahmad ibn Harb said: I am astonished at people who know that the delights of Paradise lie above them and the horrors of Hell lie beneath them. How can they sleep in between them?
Al-Hasan said: We do not know of any deed more difficult than the struggle to stay up at night or to spend money. It was said to him, Why do the mutahajjadeen (those who pray Tahajjud at night) have the most beautiful faces? He said, Because they spend time alone with the Most Merciful, so He adorns them with some of His light.
Thaabit al-Banaani said: There is nothing I enjoy more than qiyaam al-layl.
Yazeed al-Riqaashi said: A lot of tahajjud brings delight to the worshippers, and a lot of thirst (i.e., fasting), brings joy when they meet Allaah.
Al-Qaasim ibn Maeen said: Abu Haneefah spent an entire night in qiyaam reciting this aayah (interpretation of the meaning): Nay, but the Hour is their appointed time (for their full recompense), and the Hour will be more grievous and more bitter [al-Qamar 54:46], repeating it and weeping, beseeching Allaah until morning came.
Ahmad ibn Hanbal used to stay up at night to pray when he was a young man.
Abu Bakr al-Marwadhi said: I was with Imaam Ahmad for nearly four months in the army, and he never stopped praying qiyaam at night or reading Quraan during the day, and I never knew when he completed the Quraan, because he kept that secret.
Imaam al-Bukhaari used to pray qiyaam and tahajjud at night until the time of suhoor, and he would read between a half and a third of the Quraan, and complete it at suhoor every third night.
Al-Allaamah Ibn Abd al-Haadi said, describing the qiyaam of Shaykh Ibn Taymiyah: At night he would keep away from people, and spend that time only with his Lord, beseeching Him continually and reciting Quraan, repeating different kinds of acts of worship by night and by day. When he began to pray, his body would start to tremble, leaning to the left and right.
The women of the salaf also used to strive to pray qiyaam al-layl with energy and determination.
Aisha R.A. Urwah ibn al-Zubayr said: I came to Aaishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) one day to greet her, and I found her praying and reciting the aayah (interpretation of the meaning), But Allaah has been gracious to us, and has saved us from the torment of the Fire [al-Toor 52:27], repeating it and weeping. I waited for her, but I got bored of waiting, so I went to the market for some things I needed, then I came back to Aaishah, and she was still praying and reciting this aayah and weeping.
Hafsah R.A. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Jibreel said to me, Go back to Hafsah, for she fasts a lot and prays a lot at night (qiyaam al-layl)”. (Reported by al-Haakim, Saheeh al-Jaami, 4227).
Muaadhah al-Adawiyyah, one of the righteous Taabiaat (successors of the companions of the Prophet) spent her wedding night, along with her husband Silah ibn Ashyam, praying until Fajr. When her husband and son were killed in the land of battle, she would spend the whole night in prayer, worshipping and beseeching Allaah, and she would sleep during the day. If she felt sleepy whilst she was praying at night, she would tell herself: O soul, there is plenty of sleep ahead of you.
Habeebah al-Adawiyyah, when prayed Ishaa, she would stand on the roof of her house, wearing her chemise and khimaar (i.e., covered in proper Islamic dress), then she would say, O my God, the stars have come out, people have gone to sleep, and kings have closed their doors, but Your door is open. Every lover is alone with his lover, but here I am standing before You. Then she would start to pray and talk to her Lord until the time of suhoor. When the time of suhoor came, she would say, O Allaah, this night is ending, the day is coming, and I wish I knew whether you have accepted this night (of worship) from me, so that I could congratulate myself, or if it has been rejected, so that I might console myself.
Amrah, the wife of Habeeb al-Ajami, prayed qiyaam al-layl one night whilst her husband was asleep. When the time for suhoor came, and her husband was still asleep, she woke him up and said to him, Get up, my master, for the night has gone, the day has come and ahead of you lies a long road with little provision, and a small group of righteous people who have gone before us, and we are still here.
We ask Allaah to help us to remember Him, to thank Him and to worship Him properly. May Allaah bless our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.