In Surat al-Muzzammil (73), the verse: "Keep vigil at
night but a little, a half thereof" (2-3) has been
abrogated by the following verse: "He knoweth that ye
count it not, and turneth unto you in mercy. Recite then
of the Qur'an that which is easy for you" (v.20). The
phrase "the vigil of the night" (nashi'at al-layl) means
the early hours of the night. They (the companions) would
pray (the tahajjud prayer) in the early hours of the
He (Ibn Abbas) says: It is advisable to offer the
prayer at night (tahajjud), prescribed by Allah for you
(in the early hours of the night). This is because when a
person sleeps, he does not know when he will awake. The
words "speech more certain" (aqwamu qilan) means that this
time is more suitable for the understanding of the Qur'an.
He says: The verse: "Lo, thou hast by day a chain of
business" (v.7) means engagement for long periods (in the
The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: May Allah have
mercy on a man who gets up at night and prays, and awakens
his wife; if she refuses, he should sprinkle water on her
face. May Allah have mercy on a woman who gets up at night
and prays, and awakens her husband; if he refuses, she
would sprinkle water on his face.
The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: If a man awakens
his wife at night, and then both pray or both offer two
rak'ahs together, the (name of the )man will be recorded
among those who mention the name of Allah, and the (name
of the) woman will be recorded among those who mention the
name of Allah. Ibn Kathir did not narrate this tradition
as a statement of the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him), but he
reported it as a statement of AbuSa'id.
The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: Any person who
offers prayer at night regularly but (on a certain night)
he is dominated by sleep will be given the reward of
praying. His sleep will be almsgiving.
The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) went out at night and
found AbuBakr praying in a low voice, and he passed Umar
ibn al-Khattab who was raising his voice while praying.
When they both met the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him)
together, the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: I passed
by you, AbuBakr, when you were praying in a low voice. He
replied: I made Him hear with Whom I was holding intimate
converse, Apostle of Allah. He (the Prophet) said to Umar:
I passed by you when you were praying in a loud voice. He
replied: Apostle of Allah, I was awakening the drowsy and
driving away the Devil.
Al-Hasan added in his version: The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him)
said: Raise your voice a little, AbuBakr, and he said to
Umar: Lower your voice a little.
The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) retired to the
mosque. He heard them (the people) reciting the Qur'an in
a loud voice. He removed the curtain and said: Lo! every
one of you is calling his Lord quietly. One should not
trouble the other and one should not raise the voice in
recitation or in prayer over the voice of the other.
Zurarah ibn Awfa said that Aisha was asked about the
midnight prayer of the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him).
She said: He used to offer his night prayer in
congregation and then return to his family (in his house)
and pray four rak'ahs. Then he would go to his bed and
sleep, but the water for his ablution was placed covered
near his head and his tooth-stick was also kept there
until Allah awakened him at night.
He then used the tooth-stick, performed ablution
perfectly then came to the place of prayer and would pray
eight rak'ahs, in which he would recite Surah al-Fatihah,
and a surah from the Qur'an as Allah willed. He would not
sit during any of them but sit after the eighth rak'ah,
and would not utter the salutation, but recite (the Qur'an)
during the ninth rak'ah. Then he would sit and supplicate
as long as Allah willed, and beg Him and devote his
attention to Him; He would utter the salutation once in
such a loud voice that the inmates of the house were
almost awakened by his loud salutation. He would then
recite Surah al-Fatihah while sitting, bow while sitting,
and then recite the Qur'an during the second rak'ah, and
would bow and prostrate while sitting. He would supplicate
Allah as long as He willed, then utter the salutation and
This amount of prayer of the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him)
continued till he put a weight. During that period he
retrenched two rak'ahs from nine and began to pray six and
seven rak'ahs standing and two rak'ahs sitting. This
continued till he died.
Sa'd ibn Hisham said: I came to Medina and called upon
Aisha, and said to her: Tell me about the prayer of the
Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him).
She said: The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) used
to lead the people in the night prayer, and then go to his
bed and sleep. When midnight came he got up, went to
answer the call of nature and to perform ablution with
water. Having performed ablution, he entered the mosque
and prayed eight rak'ahs.
To my mind he performed the recitation of the Qur'an,
bowing and prostrating equally. He then observed witr with
one rak'ah and prayed two rak'ahs sitting. Then he lay
down on the ground. Sometimes Bilal came to him and called
him for prayer. He then dozed, and sometimes I doubted
whether he dozed or not, till he (Bilal) called him for
This is the prayer he offered till he grew old or put
on weight. She then mentioned how he put on weight as
Al-Aswad ibn Yazid said that he entered upon Aisha and
asked her about the prayer of the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him)
during the night. She said: He used to pray thirteen
rak'ahs during the night. Then he began to pray eleven
rak'ahs and left two rak'ahs. When he died, he would pray
nine rak'ahs during the night. His last prayer during the
night was witr.
I spent a night with my maternal aunt Maymunah. The
Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) got up to pray at night. He
prayed thirteen rak'ahs including two rak'ahs of the dawn
prayer. I guessed that he stood in every rak'ah as long as
one could recite Surah al-Muzzammil (73).