In a lengthy hadith (25), from the 40 Hadith-e-Qudsi’ (Prophetic summary of Allah’s words), Allah is reported to have said: “…and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him…” Illustrating how the most coveted love of our Adoring Lord, can be gained. After fulfilling Fardh (obligatory) acts like fasts, salah, etc. a slave 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. It has been noted that the Prophet (PBUH) would increase his recitation in the Night Prayers until his feet were swollen. He mentioned doing so, to be 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 believers who have forsaken their beds to remember Him, “Who supplicated Me so that I may answer him? Who asks of Me so that I may give to him? Who asks My forgiveness so that I may forgive him?
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 ruled a Sunnah Mu’akkadah (confirmed Sunnah). This article aims to explain to its readers how to perform the Tahajjud prayer (The Night Prayer).
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. Allah says: “And in some parts of the night (also) offer the Salaah (prayer) with it (i.e., recite the Qur’ aan in the prayer) as an additional prayer (Tahajjud optional prayer Nawâfil) for you.” [al-Isra’ 17:79]
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 Night 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.
The right hand is placed over the left, on the chest. The eyes must be focused on the place of prostration.
Sana (the opening dua)
Then the following dua is recited: “Subhaanaka Allaahumma wa bihamdika, wa tabaaraka ismuka wa ta’aala jadduka, wa laa ilaaha ghayruka (Glory and praise be to You O Allah, blessed be Your name and exalted be Your Majesty, and there is no god but You).”
Recite Surat al-Fatiha in Tahajjudd Prayer
Seek refuge with Allah from Shaytan with the words:
“Aoodhu Billahi minash-Shaytanir-rajeem (I seek refuge with Allah from the accursed Satan).”
The Tasmiyah follows:
“Bismillahir-Rahmaanir-Raheem (In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful).”
Surat al-Fatiha is then recited 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)”
“All praises and thanks belong to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds, the most Gracious, the most Merciful; Master of the Day of Judgment. You alone we worship, from You alone we seek help. Guide us onto the straight path – The path of those whom You favored, not of those who earned Your wrath or went astray.”
Surat al-Fatiha is recited 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.” (How Perfect is my Lord, the Supreme) 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” (Allah hears those who praise Him), and then rise, saying: “Rabbana lakal hamd.” This means: Our Lord, praise be to You.
Go down to prostrate on the floor, saying:“Allahu Akbar” with the forehead, nose, palms of both hands, knees, and toes all touching the floor.
Read as follows in the sujood: “Subhana Rabbiyal Aa’la (How Perfect is my Lord, 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. (O my Lord! Forgive me.” (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. The second and final rakah is performed 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, Tashahud is recited. 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 Night Prayer
The Taslim “As-Salamu’ Alaykum wa rahmat-Allah” once to the right and once to the left, concludes this ‘most cherished’ voluntary prayer.