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Allah said in a lengthy hadith (25), from the 40 Hadith Qudsi’ (Prophetic summary of Allah’s words), that His slave gets closer to him by performing voluntary acts of worship in order to earn Allah’s love. This illustrates how the most coveted love of our Adoring Lord can be gained. After fulfilling Fardh (obligatory) acts like fasts, salah, etc. a slave indeed draws closer to Allah through Nafl (voluntary) ones, such as Tahajjud/Qiyam al-Layl (Night Prayer). Allah’s love being man’s most sought-after possession. The Prophet (PBUH) would especially increase his recitation in the Night Prayers until his feet were swollen. He mentioned doing so, to be undeniably Allah’s grateful slave.
Another hadith in Abi Dawud, explains how Allah approaches the lowest heavens during the last 1/3 of every night. He then asks regarding believers who have forsaken their beds to remember Him. Who has made dua to Him so that he can reply? Who asked of Him so that He may give and sought His forgiveness so that He may forgive?
How can the Tahajjud prayer benefits be demonstrated better than by the two hadith mentioned above? Namely, it’s pivotal to securing Allah’s love, accepted supplication, and abounding forgiveness. Qiyam al-Layl is a Sunnah Mu’akkadah (confirmed Sunnah). This article aims to explain to its readers how to perform the Tahajjud prayer (The Night Prayer).
The Obligation of Prayer
Before we discuss the method for Tahajjud and its virtues, we should mention the obligation of prayer and how that came to be. After all, this is a form of prayer that is above and beyond Qiyam-ul-Layl. It is, indeed, compulsory for all Muslims.
Allah put the obligation of prayer upon the Muslims during Muhammad (S)’s journey to the heavens, Isra and Mi’raj. When he ascended and spoke to Allah, Allah informed him of the prayer obligation. However, He said that Muslims must pray 50 times a day. As the Prophet (PBUH) was descending, Musa (AS) stopped him and spoke to him.
Prophet Musa (AS) asked Muhammad (S) what happened during his interaction with Allah, to which the Prophet (PBUH) replied with the narration regarding 50 prayers. Musa (AS) was taken aback and asked the Prophet (PBUH) to return to Allah and ask Him to make the requirement lesser since it would be too much for the Ummah.
Hence, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) ascended the heavens again and spoke to Allah. He requested him to lessen the obligation so that Muslims would be at ease. Allah reduced it by five, and Muhammad (S) went down again. When he told Musa (AS), Musa told him to go back and ask for further reduction in the number of prayers.
This back and forth continued for a time, until there were just five prayers left for Muslims. Musa (AS) once again told Muhammad (S) to ask Allah for a reduction but having asked for so much already, the Prophet (PBUH) didn’t want to ask for more.
Therefore, the obligation of the five daily prayers was put upon the Muslims. This is why we have to pray Fajr, Zuhr, Asr, Maghrib, and Isha, and Tahajjud comes after all of these.
What are the timings for Tahajjud (Night Prayer)?
As is the case with obligatory prayers, it is important to note the duration of time in which Qiyam al-Layl can be offered. It is mentioned in Surah Al-Isra that there are part of the night where voluntary Tahajjud prayer can be offered.
The Tahajjud prayer time is from after Isha until the break of dawn. And its most preferred time is found in the last 1/3 of the night. Although it can be prayed at any time after Isha, doing so is less rewarding than sleeping and then waking up to offer it. The length of one’s recitation, the number of Rakat offered, and the quality of one’s focus determines its outcome.
How many rakat did the Prophet (PBUH) pray in the Tahajjud Prayer?
A worshipper may pray two units (rakat) by two, during Tahajjud. The norm for the Messenger of Allah (PBUH), was to pray eleven rakat in all. It is permissible to pray more or less than that. The eleven that he prayed would typically include eight of Qiyam al-Layl, and three of Witr. This vividly explains what is necessary to know of the Tahajjud prayer rakat.
The Tahajjud Prayer method in detail (2 Rakat)
As mentioned earlier, it is preferable and more praiseworthy to set the alarm, sleep, and then to wake up specially, to offer the Night Prayer.
The intention for every prayer, including Tahajjud, is made in the heart. Verbally making an intention, is a bidah/bidat (innovation) and against the teachings of the Sunnah. The intention is to determine which prayer is to be prayed, and the number of rakat offered in it.
The opening Takbir/Takbeer
The prayer commences with raising the hands up to the shoulders or ear-lobes, saying, ‘Allahu Akbar’ once. Fingers should be stretched apart and not placed close together.
We place the right hand over the left, on the chest. We must focus the eyes on the place of prostration.
Sana (the opening dua)
Then, we recite the following: Subhaanaka Allaahumma wa bihamdika, wa tabaaraka ismuka wa ta’aala jadduka, wa laa ilaaha ghayruka (It glorifies and praises Allah as well as His Name, Majesty and Oneness.
Recite Surat al-Fatiha in Tahajjudd Prayer
Seek refuge with Allah from Shaytan with the words:
Aoodhu Billahi minash-Shaytanir-rajeem (For seeking Allah’s protection from Satan).
The Tasmiyah follows:
We recite Surat al-Fatiha completely, with the Basmalah (Bismillaahir-Rahmaanir-Raheem). The prayer is not valid without its recitation.
Al hamdu lillahi rabbil ‘alamin. Arrahmanir rahim. Maliki yawmiddin. Iyyaka na’budu wa iyyaka nasta’in. Ihdinas siratal mustaqim. Siratal ladhina an’amta’alaihim, ghairil maghdubi’alaihim wa lad dhallin. (Aameen)
The Surah starts by praising and thanking Allah, who is the most Gracious and most Merciful Lord of the universe, and the Master of the Last Day. Then we voice our monotheistic principles of worshipping and asking for help from none but Allah. After that, we ask for guidance to the right path, which is the way of those favored by him, not those who angered him or deviated.
We recite Surat al-Fatiha in both units (rakat) of the salah. In Tahajjud, it is followed by a Quranic Surah, in both.
After completing the surah, bow down, saying: Allahu Akbar while placing both hands on the knees. Say: Subhana Rabbiyal Adhim. (Praising the Supreme Lord) three times. Keeping the head in line with the back, look down to the place of sujood (prostration).
Rise from bowing
Stand up from the bowing position and say: Sami’Allahu liman hamidah (meaning Allah hears people who glorify Him), and then rise, saying: Rabbana lakal hamd. (Directing praise to Allah)
Go down to prostrate on the floor, saying: Allahu Akbar. In addition, the forehead, nose, palms of both hands, knees, and toes should all be touching the floor.
Read as follows in the sujood: Subhana Rabbiyal Aa’la (Praising Allah who is the Highest) three times. Keep the arms away from the sides of the body and the ground.
This position is one of supreme nearness to Allah, in which dua supplication should be made in abundance.
Sit up from the floor saying Allahu Akbar. Sitting upright with knees bent, and palms placed on them, say: Rabbigh-firlee (Seeking Allah’s forgiveness) 3 times.
Followed by uttering Allahu Akbar and again going into the Sujood position. Reciting Subhana Rabbiyal A’la three times. Sit up from this position saying Allahu Akbar once again.
This marks the completion of the first rakah of Qiyam-al-Layl. We perform the second and final rakah in the same way, except that there is no Sana (beginning dua) recited in it.
Tashahhud in the position of Qaida (sitting)
After completing the two sujoods of the second rakat, we recite Tashahud. This is obligatory, and upon forgetting, two prostrations of forgetfulness must be performed (Sajda al-Sahw/Sahu). Durood-e-Ibrahim, and some other Tahajjud prayer duas from the Quran and Sunnah, may follow the Tashahud.
Taslim to complete two rakat of the Tahajjud Prayer
The Taslim As-Salamu’ Alaykum wa rahmat-Allah once to the right and once to the left, concludes this ‘most cherished’ voluntary prayer.