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Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) - 51: Standing In Prayers At Night

Islamic Perspectives - Muslim Journals

Arab News & Information - Shaikh Muhammad Al-Ghazali

THE supplications the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to say when he went to bed, a few of which we quoted last week, clearly show how he always glorified God and spoke of His greatness. Indeed, as he prepared to go to sleep, he said words that other people cannot manage even when they are fully alert.

He described Godhead in absolute perfection. Here are two more of his supplications he often said before going to sleep: "My Lord, I appeal to You by Your noble face and perfect words to give me protection against the evil of everything under Your control. My Lord, You are the one who frees Your servants from debt and sin. My Lord, Your hosts are never defeated, Your promise is never unfulfilled. No effort is of any use against Your will. All glory and praise are due to You. In Your name, my Lord, I place myself. My Lord, forgive me my sins, subdue my devil, release my encumbrance and admit me to the High Society."

We see how the Prophet follows his flowing glorification of God with an appeal that is full of humility, seeking shelter with God against poverty, debt, sin and the Satan's whispers and temptation. For as long as he lives on earth, he does not want to be encumbered by the heavy burdens of this present life. He does not want to be humiliated by anyone. Hence, he dislikes poverty and sin. He aspires to what would ensure a high position in the life to come.

Having thus appealed to his Lord, he goes to sleep. We must not imagine that his slumber will take long hours. By no means. It is only a matter of an hour or so, and then he gets up to do as he has been bid, resuming his glorifications and praises of God, in the depth of the night, as well as during the day. It is God's specific order to him: "Remember your Lord's name morning and evening. At night prostrate yourself before Him, and extol His limitless glory throughout the long night." (76: 25-26). Night worship was a duty incumbent on him alone. Let everyone go to sleep. He alone was given the order: "Stand in prayer at night, all but a small part of it, half of it, or a little less, or add to it. Recite the Qur'an calmly and distinctly." (73: 2-4)

It is authentically reported that he used to stand up for long hours at night praying and reciting the Qur'an. When he was in his late fifties, he woke up one night for his worship. It happened that Abdullah ibn Abbas, his young cousin who was no more than 11 or 12 years of age, was staying with him. He decided to join the Prophet in his night worship. The Prophet recited the Qur'an at ease, going on and on, while the young cousin was struggling to stay awake and hoping that the Prophet would soon finish. Yet the spirit of the devoted worshipper overcame the weakness of old age, with Muhammad reciting one long surah after another. Ibn Abbas said later: "I thought of leaving off." Indeed, his feet were swollen because of the long hours he stood up in devoted worship. Yet his heart, full of devotion, taxed his weakening body as he approached 60. Hence, he did not feel the pain as much as he felt the happiness of devoted worship.

He might wake up at night and look up into the sky. He would feel that the calmness of the night will usher some important event. People will wake up: Some of them will laugh while others weep; some will live and others will die; some will follow guidance while others will go astray; some will have plenty while others will have little. Fate prepares for them a great diversity of outcomes. How will they react? He would then say: "All glory be to God! What diversity of temptations has He placed in the world today, and how plentiful is the bounty He has granted. Wake the women up (meaning his wives). Many people who are well dressed in this life will find themselves naked on the Day of Judgment."

Thus he prepared for the coming day, with whatever it might bring of good or evil. He prepared for it with an act of worship in which his household shared with him. Hence, he wanted his wives to wake up and offer some night worship.



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