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All about Tahajjud “Voluntary Night Prayers”

Tahajjud is the term used in Islam for a sort of recommended / voluntary night prayers offered by

Tahajjud is the term used in Islam for a sort of recommended / voluntary night prayers offered by a Muslim to please God ‘Allah’. It is not one of the five daily (day and night) obligatory prayers that a Muslim is commanded to offer but an addition. Both Quran and Sunnah magnanimously praised and mentioned its rewards.

In this article you will learn:

  • Tahajjud definition.
  • The ruling of Tahajjud in Islam.
  • When it’s done.
  • How it’s done.
  • The rewards for keeping Tahajjud.

So, here we go.

Definition of Tahajjud

Linguistically; Tahajjud is staying up late at night.

Technically, Tahajjud is a sort of recommended / voluntary prayers; a Muslim performs it at night or especially after some sleep; to please God ‘Allah’. 

Qiyamull-layl, is a wider term which conjoins one or more of a group of worship acts; prayer ‘Salah’, reading Quran and remembrance of Allah ‘Thikr’.

Ruling of Tahajjud in Islam

Tahajjud is a Sunnah mu’akkadah (a confirmed Sunnah) of Muhammad (PBUH). The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said:

You should pray qiyaam al-layl, for it is the custom of the righteous who came before you and it brings you closer to your Lord, and expiates sins and prevents misdeeds.”   [Jami` at-Tirmidhi] (1)

Tahajjud was an obligation on all Muslims at the beginning of Islam. After a year or so, this obligation was abrogated and reduced to a recommendation to whoever wants to offer it. In Al-Muzzamil, one of the very first Surahs revealed of Quran, you find:

O you who wraps himself [in clothing] (1) Arise [to pray] the night, except for a little (2) – Half of it – or subtract from it a little (3) Or add to it, and recite the Qur’an with measured recitation. (4) Indeed, We will cast upon you a heavy word. (5) Indeed, the hours of the night are more effective for concurrence [of heart and tongue] and more suitable for words.”   [Quran 73-1:6] (2)

It is interesting to know that Muhammad (PBUH) rarely missed Tahajjud because Allah addresses him in Quran:

And from [part of] the night, pray with it as additional [worship] for you; it is expected that your Lord will resurrect you to a praised station.”  [Quran 17-79] (3) 

When You Perform Tahajjud?

Tahajjud is recommended to be offered every night, or as often as a Muslim can, after ‘Ishaa’ (obligatory night prayer) up until Fajr (dawn obligatory prayer). It is preferable to perform it after the actual mid-of-night time (mid-time between dusk and dawn, not twelve o’clock midnight). Ideally, Muslims should perform Tahajjud during the last third of the nighttime after some sleep.

Abu Huraira narrated: Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said:

When it is the last third of the night, our Lord, the Blessed, the Superior, descends every night to the heaven of the world and says, ‘Is there anyone who invokes Me (demand anything from Me), that I may respond to his invocation; Is there anyone who asks Me for something that I may give (it to) him; Is there anyone who asks My forgiveness that I may forgive him?’ “   [Sahih al-Bukhari] (4)

Actually, the best of rewards is for offering Tahajjud during the month of Ramadan especially the last ten nights of it.

Aisha narrated:

With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Prophet (PBUH) used to tighten his waist belt (i.e. work hard) and used to pray all the night, and used to keep his family awake for the prayers.”   [Sahih al-Bukhari] (5)

How to Perform Tahajjud?

Tahajjud could be as few as one set of two rak’ahs (units) up to ten sets of twenty rak’ahs or more; as much as a Muslim wants to offer.

A Muslim starts with two short rak’ahs and then performs as much as Allah wills for him.

`A’ishah said:

when the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) stood up at night to pray, he began his prayer with two short rak’ahs.”   [Muslim] (6)

Messenger Muhammad (PBUH) recommends ending the night prayers with Witr (a single rak’ah).

Narrated Ibn ‘Umar, that the Prophet (PBUH) said:

Make the last of your prayer at night Witr (an odd number).”   [Agreed upon] (7)

Moreover, it is Sunnah also to go to sleep once sleepiness overcomes a Muslim. 

A’isha, the wife of the Messenger (PBUH), reported he said,

If a man prays in the night and sleep overcomes him during it, Allah writes for him the reward of his prayer, and his sleep is sadaqa for him.”    [Muwatta’ Malik] (8)

Rewards for Keeping It

There are so many shreds of evidence on the rewards of Allah for those who keep Tahajjud:

  1. Allah describes them in Quran, “They arise from [their] beds; they supplicate their Lord in fear and aspiration, and from what We have provided them, they spend. (16) And no soul knows what has been hidden for them of comfort for eyes as reward for what they used to do.”   [Quran 32-16:17] (9)
  2. He (PBUH) also said: “You should pray qiyaam al-layl, for it is the custom of the righteous who came before you and it brings you closer to your Lord, and expiates sins and prevents misdeeds.”   [At-Tirmidhi] (10)
  3. Al-Haakim narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “… Remember that the believer’s honour is his praying at night, and his pride is his being independent of people.”   [Al-Albaani] (11)

Thus, this hadith is to emphasize the greatness of the rewards earned by whoever recites numerous verses in Tahajjud.

These are not all of the evidences, but a few of them to show the honor and rewards that a Muslim earns by keeping Tahajjud.

 

In Conclusion

     Tahajjud is confirmed Sunnah that Muhammad (PBUH) and his honored companions kept. He and them being the perfect role models. Therefore, Muslims in every place, at anytime, and age should follow their example. Actually, this is how Muslims seek steadfastness and that connection which we all as humans aspire for to acquire tranquility and peace. Tell us how you find your tranquility and peace?


References:

(1) Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 3549; classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Irwa’ al-Ghaleel, 452.
(2) Quran verses (1:6)’s meaning interpretation, surah 73.
(3) Quran verses (17)’s meaning interpretation, surah 79.
(4) Prophet’s saying ‘Hadith’ in Sahih al-Bukhari.
(5) Prophet’s saying ‘Hadith’ in Sahih al-Bukhari.
(6) Prophet’s saying ‘Hadith’ in Sahih Muslim.
(7) Prophet’s saying ‘Hadith’ in Bulugh al-Maram.
(8) Prophet’s saying ‘Hadith’ in Muwatta’ Malik.
(9) Quran verses (16:17) meaning interpretation, surah 32.
(10) Same as (1).
(11) Classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 73.

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