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Tahajjud: Praying through the Night

There would be no Muslim in the world who does not wish to join the company of the righteous and be counted among slaves nearer to Allah so that he is purified of all sins and becomes immune from all bodily afflictions at the same time. This is possible only with the regular observance of the Tahajjud [late night prayers]. Allah’s Messenger (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

عَلَيْكُمْ بِقِيَامِ اللَّيْلِ، فَإِنَّهُ دَأَبُ الصَّالِحِينَ قَبْلَكُمْ، وَإِنَّ قِيَامَ اللَّيْلِ قُرْبَةٌ إِلَى اللَّهِ، وَمَنْهَاةٌ عَنِ الإِثْمِ، وَتَكْفِيرٌ لِلسَّيِّئَاتِ، وَمَطْرَدَةٌ لِلدَّاءِ عَنِ الْجَسَدِ

Make it a habit to perform tahajjud prayers because this is the way of the righteous people, a medium to get nearer to Allah, a safeguard against the sins, an atonement for the wrongs done and a protection from bodily afflictions (Ahmad, Tirmizi, Baihaqi). In the Quran Allah Almighty says:

وَعِبَادُ الرَّحْمَنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الأَرْضِ هَوْناً وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمْ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلاماً (63) وَالَّذِينَ يَبِيتُونَ لِرَبِّهِمْ سُجَّداً وَقِيَاماً (64) (الفرقان : 63، 64)

(Translation of meaning) “And the slaves of the Beneficent are those who walk upon earth lightly and when they are addressed by the ignorant they say salam to them; and those who pass their nights praying to their Creator prostrating and standing (Al-Fuqan:63-64)

The Conditions of Tahajjud

  1. Before going to bed, one should will that he will perform the Thus even if he is unable to get up in late night he will deserve the reward for his will.
  2. One should take ablution and brush his teeth and recite this prayer:

اللھم لک الحَمدُ ،أَنتَ قَیُّومُ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالاَرضِ وَمَن فِیھِنَّ وَلک الحَمدُ ، لک ملک السَّمَاوَاتِ والاَرضِ وَمَن فِیھِنَّ ،وَلک الحمدُ اَنتَ نُورُ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالاَر ضِ وَلکَ الحمدُ اَنتَ ملکُ السمواتِ والارضِ،ولک الحمدُ اَنتَ الحقُّ،وَوَعدکَ الحقُّ وَلِقَاؤُکَ حَقٌّ وَقَولکَ حَقٌّ،وَالجَنَّۃُ حَقٌّ ،وَالنَّارُ حَقٌّ ،والنَّبِیُّونَ حَقٌّ وَمُحمدٌ حَقٌّ والسَّاعَۃ ُحَقٌّ ۔اللھُمَّ لکَ اَسلَمتُ وبِک آَمنتُ وَعَلیکَ تَوکلتُ وَاِلیکَ اَنبتُ وبِک خَاصَمتُ واِلیکَ حَا کَمت ُفَاغفِرلِی مَا قَدَّمتُ وَمَا أَخَّرتُ وَمَا اَسرَرتُ وَمَا اَعلَنتُ اَنتَ المُقَدَّمُ وَأَنتَ المُوخَّرُ لاَ اِلَہ اِلاَّ اَنتَ وَلاَ حَولَ وَلاَ قُوَّۃ َاِلاَّ باِلله (بخاري)

 “O my God, praise be to Thee; Thou are the Maintainer of the heavens and earth and all that exists in them; praise be to Thee. The dominion of the heavens and earth and all that exists in them belongs to Thee; praise be to Thee. Thou are the light of heavens and earth; praise be to Thee. Thou are the Lord of the heavens and earth; praise be to Thee. Thou are Right; Right is from Thee; meeting with is right; and your word is right; and the paradise is right and the hell is right; and the prophets are right; and Muhammad (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) is right; and the Last Day is right. O my God I have submitted to you; I argue with your strength; and I take my case to Thee. So forgive me for what I did in the past or lately and what I hid and what I declared. Thou are the First and Thou are the Last. There is no god but Thou; and there is no awe and no force but by Allah (Bukhari).

One should keep the two initial rak’ats of tahajjud light. Afterwards he may lengthen them if he likes.

  1. One should perform his tahajjud within his capacity, as Allah Almighty has ordained:

لا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْساً إِلاَّ وُسْعَهَا (البقرة : 284)

(Translation of meaning) “Allah does not burden anybody beyond his capacity” (Baqarah: 284). If during tahajjud he feels sleepy he should stop and go to sleep, otherwise it is possible that he commits errors in reciting the verses of Quran.

Time of Tahajjud: Although the time of tahajjud commences from the end of the isha’ prayer and remains till a little before the adhan of Fajr to pray tahajjud in the last quarter of night is considered desirable. Allah’s Messenger (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

«يَنْزِلُ رَبُّنَا تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالى كُلَّ لَيْلَةٍ إِلَى سَّمَاءِ الدُّنْيَا، حِينَ يَبْقَى ثُلُثُ اللَّيْلِ الآخِرِ، فَيَقُولُ: مَنْ يَدْعُونِي فَأَسْتَجِيبَ لَهُ؟ مَنْ يَسْأَلُنِي فَأُعْطِيَهُ؟ مَنْ يَسْتَغْفِرُنِي فَأَغْفِرَ لَهُ؟»

Allah Almighty descends to the lowest heavens in the third quarter of each night and says: Is there anybody who calls me so that I could address his call; is there anybody to beg anything from me so that I could bestow it upon him; is there anybody who seeks my forgiveness so that I could forgive him? (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

Number of Rak’ats in Tahajjud: Allah’s Messenger (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) performed eleven rak’ats. According to Hadrat Ayesha RadhiAllahu Anha, the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used to pray not more than eleven rak’ats during Ramadan and other times (all compilers). Sometimes he performed thirteen rak’ats also. According to Hadrat Ayesha RadhiAllahu Anha again he used to perform thirteen rak’ats in tahajjud and five rak’ats of witr. And during these five rak’ats he stood only in the last one (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

The number is not important. What is desirable is that one should pray a little but keep it up regularly.  Once the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was asked about what was the most favoured deed before Allah almighty. He replied that good deed which is performed regularly even if it was little (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

Taraweeh: Ramadan’s Specific Prayers

Taraweeh is a sunnah muakkadah for men and women alike. The Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: «مَنْ قَامَ رَمَضَانَ إِيمَانًا وَاحْتِسَابًا، غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ» one who stood for prayers during the Ramadan faithfully all his past sins will be forgiven (all compilers).

The number of rak’ats: In a narration of Hadrat Ayesha RadhiAllahu Anha reported that the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) used to perform eleven rak’ats during Ramadan and other times. The manner of their performance is that after each units of two rak’ats salam will be recited and after each four rak’ats the imam will make a brief pause for relaxation. It is for this pause of relaxation that these prayers are called “taraweeh”. These prayers can be performed in jama’at as well as solitarily. Hadrat Ayesha RadhiAllahu Anha narrates that when the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) performed these prayers in the mosque some other persons joined him. On the second night he was joined by a large number of his companions. On the third or fourth night a great number of companions assembled in the mosque. But the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) on that night did not go the mosque and remained at home. Next morning when he came to the mosque he told them that he was aware of their assembly last night but he did not come intentionally to the mosque lest these are made obligatory for them (Al-Bukhari and Muslim). It was Hadrat Umar bin Khattab RadhiAllahu Anhu who during his khilafat directed Hadrat Abbi bin Ka’b RadhiAllahu Anhu to lead the people for these prayers so he led in the performance of twenty rak’ats (Al-Bukhari). It is desirable to recite the whole of Quran once in the taraweeh over the month of Ramadan. This fulfils the sunnah of listening to the whole of Quran once during the Ramadan.

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