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The Virtue of Night Prayer

EsinIslam Ramadan Explorer

Importance, facilitating steps to it and the ranks of the righteous forefathers in it.

All praise is due to Allah who made praying comfort for the believers, shelter for the scared, a light for the misguided, and prayer and peace of Allah be upon the Imam of people of prayer and Tahajud, leader of the those bow and prostrate, and upon all his family, companions and whoever followed them with goodness till the day of resurrection.

Night prayer is the habit of the righteous, the trade of the believers and craft of the winners. In the night, believers become vacant for their Lord, direct their selves to their Creator and Originator, to complain to him their affairs and ask him of His favor. As their souls stand between the hands of their Creator, devoted to secretly insist on asking its Lord, breathe in these grants, citing from the light of these devotions, desire and supplicate intensely to the great bounties and grants.

Night prayer in the Qur`an:

Allah Almighty said: {Their sides forsake their beds...} [Surat AsSajdah: 16]

{تَتَجَافَى جُنُوبُهُمْ عَنِ الْمَضَاجِعِ} [السَّجدة: 16]

Transliteration: Tatajāf Junūbuhum `Ani Al-Mađāji`

Mujahid and Al-Hassan said: ''It means night prayer''.

Ibn Katheer said in his interpretation: ''That means night prayer, leaving sleep and rest on comfortable beds''.

Abdul Haqq Al-Ishbili said: ''Those who their sides repel from their beds, where it doesn't rest on it nor be fixed from their fear of the warning and in hope for what they were promised''.

Allah, Glorified and Exalted, mentioned about the people of Tahajud: {17. They used to sleep but little by night [invoking their Lord (Allh) and praying, with fear and hope].18. And in the hours before dawn, they were (found) asking (Allh) for forgiveness.} [Surat Ath-Tharyt: 17-18]

{كَانُوا قَلِيلا مِنَ اللَّيْلِ مَا يَهْجَعُونَ (17) وَبِالأَسْحَارِ هُمْ يَسْتَغْفِرُونَ}[الذَّاريات: 17-18]

Transliteration: (17) Kānū Qalīlāan Mina Al-Layli Mā Yahja`ūna (18) Wa Bil-'Asĥāri Hum Yastaghfirūn

Al-Hassan said: ''They strived at night and extended their prayer till the last part of night then they sat supplicating, in submission and seeking forgiveness.''

Allah Almighty said: {Is one who is obedient to Allh, prostrating himself or standing (in prayer) during the hours of the night, fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the Mercy of his Lord (like one who disbelieves)? Say: "Are those who know equal to those who know not?" It is only men of understanding who will remember (i.e. get a lesson from Allh's Signs and Verses).} [Surat Az-Zumar:9]

{أَمْ مَنْ هُوَ قَانِتٌ آنَاءَ اللَّيْلِ سَاجِدًا وَقَائِمًا يَحْذَرُ الآخِرَةَ وَيَرْجُو رَحْمَةَ رَبِّهِ قُلْ هَلْ يَسْتَوِي الَّذِينَ يَعْلَمُونَ وَالَّذِينَ لا يَعْلَمُونَ إِنَّمَا يَتَذَكَّرُ أُولُو الأَلْبَابِ} [الزُّمر: 9]

Transliteration: 'Amman Huwa Qānitun 'Ānā'a Al-Layli Sājidāan Wa Qā'imāan Yaĥdharu Al-'Ākhirata Wa Yarjū Raĥmata Rabbihi ۗ Qul Hal Yastawī Al-Ladhīna Ya`lamūna Wa Al-Ladhīna Lā Ya`lamūna ۗ 'Innamā Yatadhakkaru 'Ūlū Al-'Albāb
 

I.e. Can we equate between the one with this description with the one who slept at night and lost his self, not aware of his Lord's promise, rather His warning?!

Dear brothers: Where are the men of night? Where are the descendants of Adham and Al-Fudayl? The heroes have vanished and the idle lasts!

O men of night strive*** Many a time the person goes and never returns

Night prayer in the Sunnah

Muslim brother and sister: The Prophet (prayer and peace of Allah be upon him) motivated and desired in night prayer: ''Be keen on night prayer as it is the habit of the righteous, it's your mean of proximity to your Lord, expiation of sins and a barrier against sinning.'' (Reported by Ibn Khuzaymah 1135 and authenticated by Al-Albani)

عليكم بقيام الليل فإنَّه دأبُ الصَّالحين قبلكم، وهو قربةٌ لكم إلى ربِّكم، ومكفرةٌ للسَّيِّئات، ومنهاةٌ عن الإثم [رواه ابن خزيمة 1135 وصحَّحه الألباني].

The Prophet (prayer and peace of Allah be upon him) also said to Abdullah Ibn Omar when it concerned him: ''What a man Abdullah, if he just prayed at night''. (Agreed upon) Salem Ibn Abdullah Ibn Omar commented: ''So Abdullah from that time doesn't sleep at night except for a little period''.

نعم الرَّجل عبد الله، لو كان يصلِّي من الليل [متفق عليه]

The Prophet (prayer and peace of Allah be upon him) also said: ''In Paradise there are rooms you could see its interior from its exterior and its exterior from its interior'' then Abu Malik Al-Ash'ari asked: For who is it O Messenger of Allah? He replied, ''it is for those who where Lenient in there speech (to people), fed others and spent their night praying while people are asleep''. (Reported by Al-Albani 617 in Sahih Al-Targhb and commented on it as Good and authentic)

في الجنَّة غُرفة يُرى ظاهرها من باطنها، وباطنها من ظاهرها فقال أبو مالك الأشعري: لمن هي يا رسول الله؟ قال: لمن أطاب الكلام، وأطعم الطَّعام، وبات قائمًا والنَّاس نيام [رواه الألباني 617 في صحيح التَّرغيب وقال: حسن صحيح].

The Prophet (prayer and peace of Allah be upon him) also said: ''Jibreel came to me and said to me, ''live as long as you wish, but at the end you will die, love whoever you want you will depart him, do whatever you want you will soon be accountable for it and know that the honor of the believer is night prayer and his pride is to not be in need of people.'' (Declared good by Al-Albani 73 In Sahih Al-Jame')

أتاني جبريل، فقال: يا محمد، عش ما شئت فإنَّك ميِّت، وأحبب من شئت فإنَّك مُفارقه، واعمل ما شئت فإنَّك مجزي به، واعلم أنَّ شرفَ المؤمن قيامه بالليل، وعزَّه استغناؤه عن النَّاس [حسَّنه الألباني 73 في صحيح الجامع]

He also (prayer and peace of Allah be upon him) said: ''Whoever prays at night with ten verses is not considered of the inattentive ones, whoever prays at night with one hundred verses is considered among the submissive and whoever prays at night with one thousand verses is considered of the quintals (Al-Muqanttirn) collectors (of reward not gold).'' (Reported by Abu Dawd 1398 and authenticated by Al-Albani)

من قام بعشر آياتٍ لم يكتب من الغافلين، ومن قام بمائة آيةٍ كتب من القانتين، ومن قام بألف آيةٍ كُتب من المقنطرين [رواه أبو داود 1398 وصحَّحه الألباني]

Al-Muqanttirn: The one who is recorded for him a Qinttar (Quintal) of reward.

The Prophet (prayer and peace of Allah be upon him) mentioned a man who slept a night until he woke up where he said: ''This is a man who the devil urinated in his ears.'' (Agreed upon)

ذاك رجلٌ بالَ الشَّيطان في أذنيه [متفقٌ عليه].

The Prophet (prayer and peace of Allah be upon him) said: ''The best of prayer after the obligatory (five) prayers is night prayer'' (Reported by Muslim 1163)

وأفضل الصَّلاة بعد الفريضة صلاة الليل [رواه مسلم 1163]

The Prophet prayer and peace of Allah be upon him praying at night:

Allah Almighty ordered His Prophet Prayer and peace of Allah be upon him to stand praying in the night where He Almighty said: {1. O you wrapped in garments (i.e. Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم)!2. Stand (to pray) all night, except a little -3. Half of it or a little less than that,4. Or a little more. And recite the Qur'n (aloud) in a slow, (pleasant tone and) style.} [Surat Al-Muzamil: 1-4]

{يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُزَّمِّلُ (1) قُمِ اللَّيْلَ إِلا قَلِيلا (2) نِصْفَهُ أَوِ انْقُصْ مِنْهُ قَلِيلا (3) أَوْ زِدْ عَلَيْهِ وَرَتِّلِ الْقُرْآنَ تَرْتِيلا} [المزمِّل: 1-4]

Transliteration: (1) Yā 'Ayyuhā Al-Muzzammilu (2) Qumi Al-Layla 'Illā Qalīlāan (3) Nişfahu 'Aw Anquş Minhu Qalīlāan (4) 'Aw Zid `Alayhi Wa Rattili Al-Qur'āna Tartīlāan

He, Glorified and Exalted, said: {And in some parts of the night (also) offer the Salt (prayer) with it (i.e. recite the Qur'n in the prayer), as an additional prayer (Tahajjud optional prayer - Nawfil) for you (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم). It may be that your Lord will raise you to Maqm Mahmd (a station of praise and glory, i.e. the honour of intercession on the Day of Resurrection.)} [Surat Al-Isr`: 79]

{وَمِنَ اللَّيْلِ فَتَهَجَّدْ بِهِ نَافِلَةً لَكَ عَسَى أَنْ يَبْعَثَكَ رَبُّكَ مَقَامًا مَحْمُودًا} [الإسراء: 79]

Transliteration: Wa Mina Al-Layli Fatahajjad Bihi Nāfilatan Laka `As 'An Yab`athaka Rabbuka Maqāmāan Maĥmūdā

'A`ishah (May Allah be pleased with her): ''If the Messenger of Allah prayer and peace of Allah be upon him stands till his feet (skin) cracks, 'A`ishah said: ''O Messenger of Allah, you do this while you're forgiven of all your coming and past sins?'' He replied, O 'A`ishah can't I be a thankful slave (of Allah)''.'' (Agreed upon)

كان رسول الله -صلّى الله عليه وسلّم-، إذا صلَّى، قام حتى تفطر رجلاه، قالت عائشة: يا رسول الله أتصنع هذا، وقد غفر لك ما تقدم من ذنبك وما تأخر؟ فقال: يا عائشة أفلا أكون عبدًا شكورًا [متفق عليه].

This shows that thanking is not by tongue only; rather it is by the heart, tongue and all body parts. As the Prophet (prayer and peace of Allah be upon him) paid the right of worship to Allah in its complete and perfect form, while he was responsible for spreading the Islamic creed, educating Muslims, Jihad in the cause of Allah and give the right of his family and children, as described by Ibn Rawaha:

Among us the Messenger of Allah reciting His book***If it cracks its glare covers the light of the morning

He showed us the way after blindness in our hearts***with certainty that what he said is true

Sleeps while his sides repel from his bed***at the time polytheists' beds are heavy with their bodies


Narrated by Huthayfa (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said: '' I prayed with the Prophet (prayer and peace of Allah be upon him) one night where he started his recitation with Surat Al-Baqarah, then I said to myself ''He will bow when he reaches one hundred (verses), but he continued, I said he will finish the Rak'ah with it, then he started Surat An-Nis` and finished it, then started Al-'Imrn and finished it, he recited in a slow flowing manner, if he passes on a verse that holds praise in it, he would praise, if he passes with a need he would ask and if he passed on matter of seeking refuge he would seek refuge''.'' (Reported by Muslim 772)

صلَّيت مع النّبيّ -صلّى الله عليه وسلّم- ذات ليلةٍ فافتتح البقرة، فقلت: يركع عند المائة ثمَّ مضى، فقلت: يصلِّي بها في ركعة، فمضى، فقلت: يركع بها ثمَّ افتتح النِّساء فقرأها، ثمَّ افتتح آل عمران فقرأها، يقرأ مترسلًا، إذا مرَّ بآيةٍ فيها تسبيح سبح، وإذا مرَّ بسؤالٍ سأل، وإذا مرَّ بتعوذ تعوذ [رواه مسلم 772].

Ibn Mas'd (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated that: ''I prayed with the Messenger of Allah (prayer and peace of Allah be upon him) and he elongated his prayer until I wanted to do something bad, he was asked, what was it, he replied ''I wanted to sit and leave him''.'' (Agreed upon)

صلَّيت مع رسول الله -صلّى الله عليه وسلّم- فأطال حتَّى هممت بأمرٍ سوءٍ، قال قيل: وما هممت به؟ قال: هممت أن أجلس وأدعه [متفقٌ عليه].

Ibn Hajar said: ''There is evidence in the Hadith that the Prophet (prayer and peace of Allah be upon him) chose to elongate his night prayer, and Ibn Mas'd was known to be strong and keen on following the Prophet (prayer and peace of Allah be upon him). He didn't think of sitting until a long time passed where he could not bear it.

Night prayer in the life of the righteous forefathers

Al-Hassan Al-Bassri said: ''I didn't find an act of worship tougher than praying in the end of the night''.

Abu 'Uthman An-Nahdi said: ''I was hosted by Aby Hurayra for seven days, Him, his wife and servant would divide the night to three parts, one would pray then he would wake up the other when he finishes''.

When Shadad Ibn Aws goes to bed he is like a bean on a frying pan, then he says, ''O Allah hellfire has prevented me from sleeping'', then he gets up to pray.

Tawoos used to Jump from his bed then makes Wudu`, directs himself towards the Qibla till dawn where he says, ''Remembering hellfire made Sleeping fly from the eyes of the worshipers.''

Zam'ah the worshiper would wake up and pray a long night, so when the last part of night comes he would call with a loud voice, ''O you wedded people, all this time of night you sleep? Don't you wake up and leave!! Then you would hear someone from there crying, another supplicating and the latter performing Wud. ِat the crack of dawn he calls: ''In the morning people will praise their effort.''

The ranks of the righteous forefathers in night prayer

Ibn al Jawzi said: Know that the righteous forefathers were in seven ranks concerning praying at night:

First rank: They would pray the whole night and some of them would pray Fajr with the ablution of 'Ish`.

Second rank: Some would pray half the night.

Third rank: They would pray third of the night, the prophet (prayer and peace of Allah be upon him) said: ''The most beloved prayer to Allah is the prayer of Dawd: He would sleep half the night, pray third of it and sleep sixth of it.'' (Agreed upon)
وأحبُّ الصَّلاة إلى الله صلاة داود: كان ينام نصف الليل ويقوم ثلثه، وينام سُدسه [متفق عليه].

Fourth rank: some would pray sixth or fifth of the night

Fifth rank: They would not consider certain timings, except they would pray until they feel sleepy, so they would sleep, but if they conscious again they will continue praying.

Sixth rank: Some would pray from the night four or two Rak'as.

Seventh rank: people who would pray between Maghrib and 'Ish`, then pray in the last part of night, hence combining the two edges of night. In sahih Muslim it was reported that the prophet (prayer and peace of Allah be upon him) said: ''In the night there is an hour, no Muslim would match it with asking Allah good from this worldly life or the hereafter, except He will give him it and that would be every night.'' (Reported by Muslim 757)

إنَّ في الليل لساعةٌ، لا يوافقها رجلٌ مسلمٌ يسأل الله خيرًا من أمر الدُّنيا والآخرة، إلا أعطاه إيَّاه، وذلك كل ليلةٍ [رواه مسلم 757].

Facilitating steps for night prayer

Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali mentioned apparent and hidden reasons facilitating night prayer:

The apparent steps are four:
1) Do not eat too much which will make you drink much, thus praying at night will be heavy on him.
2) Do not tire yourself in the morning with trivial matters.
3) Do not abandon midday nap as it helps in night prayer.
4) Do not commit sins in the morning where you will be deprived from praying at night.
The hidden steps are four:
1) Clearing the heart from any hatred towards any Muslim, innovation and curiosity in the worldly life.
2) A fearing heart overcoming it while short hope in the worldly life.
3) To know the virtue of night prayer.
4) The best of them all: Love of Allah, and strong belief that in his praying at night he doesn't utter a word except he will supplicate his Lord.

Praying the night of Ramadan

The night prayer in Ramadan is Taraweeh prayer that Muslims pray in Ramadan, one of the greatest acts of worship that a slave could seek proximity to his Lord within this month.

The knowledgeable Ibn Rajab: ''Know that the believer in Ramadan has two challenges to struggle with: Struggle in during the day with fasting, and the other is during the night with prayer, whoever combined these two struggles he will be rewarded with the best of reward.''

Shaykh Ibn 'Uthaimeen said: ''Night prayer in Ramadan has a virtue and significance over other acts of worship for what the Prophet prayer and peace of Allah be upon him- said: ''Who prays the night of Ramadan out of belief and hope in reward, he will be forgiven of his coming sins.'' (Agreed upon)

من قام رمضان إيمانًا واحتسابًا، غُفر له ما تقدَّم من ذنبه [متفقٌ عليه]

Praying the night of Ramadan includes praying the beginning of the night and the end, according to that Taraweeh is from the night prayer of Ramadan. Therefore we have to be keen on it and care for it, and seek reward and good deeds from Allah for doing it, where it is only few nights, the sane believer should take advantage of it before it departs.''

Taraweeh is prayed in congregation in the Masjid and the Prophet (prayer and peace of Allah be upon him) was the first to establish it as a sunnah in congregation in the Masjid (for three nights) then he left in fear that it will be imposed as obligatory prayer on the nation. Then when the messenger of Allah prayer and peace of Allah be upon him died and the Islamic creed was stable, this fear vanished and the need of it to be in congregation became still stands.

The Muslims must be keen on this prayer and pray it completely with patience in the cause of Allah, Glorified and Exalted.

Shaykh Ibn 'Uthaimeen said: ''It is not appropriate for a person to abandon Taraweeh, so he could win its reward and good deeds, and he should not leave until the Imam finishes it with Salatul Witr to obtain the complete reward of night prayer.''

Women are allowed to attend Taraweeh in the Masjid if they are not a reason of temptation or being safe from any temptation. On the other hand, she has to come with her full Hijab with no make-up or adorning, perfume, and do not raise her voice.

The Sunnah is that women step back a distance from men and start their lines with the last line vice versa to men's lines as they start from the first line. They also should leave as soon as the Imam finishes prayer and don't fall back except with an excuse. In accordance with the hadith of Umm Salama (may Allah be pleased with her) she said: ''When the Messenger of Allah (prayer and peace of Allah be upon him) says his tasleem (ending the prayer) the women would stand and leave when he finishes his tasleem, and he stays in his place for a while before he leaves where he said: ''we see this and Allah knows best) as more fitting so women could leave before men could reach them''.'' (Reported by Al-Bukhari 870)

كان رسول الله -صلّى الله عليه وسلّم- إذا سلم ، قام النِّساء حين يقضي تسليمه، ويمكث هو في مقامه يسيرًا قبل أن يقوم، قال: نرى -والله أعلم- أنَّ ذلك كان لكي ينصرف النِّساء، قبل أن يدركهنَّ أحدٌ من الرِّجال [رواه البخاري 870]

Prayer and peace of Allah be on our master Muhammad and upon his family and companions.

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EsinIslam Ramadan Team

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