Tahajjud Prayer, known as the “night prayer”, is a voluntary prayer performed by followers of Islam. It is’nt one of the five obligatory prayers required of all Muslims, although the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was recorded as performing the tahajjud prayer regularly himself and encouraging his companions too.
There are Numbers of Hadith and Verses emphasize the significance of invoking ALLAH Almighty, by solicitation and prayers in the darkest nights.
Evidence in Quran:
In Fiqh As-Sunnah, Sheikh Sayyid Sabiq elaborates on the subject of Tahajjud as follows:
And during a part of the night, keep awake by the prayer. It is beyond what is incumbent on you; maybe your Lord will raise you to a position of great glory.
And they who pass the night prostrating themselves before their Lord and standing.
Evidence in Hadith:
Next to these Quran verses, there also exist a number of hadiths (narrated and confirmed traditions from Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) that reinforce the importance and power of Tahajjud Prayer. In various hadiths, it has been mentioned as Qiyamul Layl (standing of night), Salatul Layl (prayer of night) and Tahajjud.
The Prophet (PBUH) used to pray at night until he was footsore. He was once asked:
“– O the Messenger of Allah! Why do you strain yourself though Allah declared in the Quran (in chapter 48) that you were forgiven of all your sins?”
“– Should not I be a thanking servant?” -Bukhari, Tahjjud, 6
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also said:
“The most virtuous prayer except the obligatory prayers is the one offered by becoming awake after sleep at night.”
– Muslim, Siyam, 202-203).
“Two units of prayer performed at night is more beneficial than anything in the world. If I thought that it would not be a burden on my people I would enjoin it on them.” – Fadail al-Amal, 257
“There is a certain moment at night. If a Muslim catches that moment to wish something from Allah, that thing is granted to him/her.” – Tirmizi, Vitr, 16
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said to Abu Hurayra in this regard:
“O Abu Hurayra! If you want the company of the Mercy of Allah when in the grave and on the Doomsday, wake up at night to offer a prayer for Allah’s sake. O Abu Hurayra! If you pray at the corner of your house, your house lightens as a constellation in the sky, and it becomes like a star for the people of the world.” – Ihya al-Ulumiddin, I, 1023
The Prophet (PBUH) said:
The angels reply:
“– It is his/her wish to attain Your Grace and Blessing, and also fear of Your punishment.”
“I grant him/her what s/he wishes from Me then. And I safeguard him/her from what s/he fears from.” (Fadail al-Amal, 299).
Importance of Tahajjud Prayer:
As it is quite difficult to rouse from one`s slumber in especially after a daylong hectic routine, that is why the power of tahajjud prayer results in achieving the greatest amount of rewards and great status from the Gracious God.
“And those who spend [part of] the night to their Lord prostrating and standing (in prayer)”
– Quran, 25: 64
It means that offering prayer of Tahajjud is one of the supreme signs of the true disciples of Islam. That’s why ALLAH SWT has declared them as His loyal servants in the above verse of Furqan-e-Hameed. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) used to offer this Namaz frequently, which increases it importance in a Muslim’s life.
This Hadith is the testimony of the fact about the tahajjud prayer that the night prayer is the most desirable form of supplication near the Almighty after the ones which are mandatory to act upon. It has also been referred to as the source of attaining nearness of the Almighty
“Be vigilant in standing up [in prayer] at night, for it was the practice of the pious before you. It is a means of gaining proximity to Allah Ta’ala, expiation for transgressions and a barrier from sins.”
It means that Tahajjud prayer has always been the way of the devotees of God’s instructions. And it is the great means of getting Allah’s closest attention, which is the key towards piety and faithfulness.
The Messenger (PBUH) has regarded this, Prayer as a great source of getting rid of satanic influence and attainment of almost all kinds of just desires and aspirations.
Narrated by Uqba ibn Amir (R.A):
“When one, out of two persons of my Ummah gets up at night and motivates himself for Wudhu despite not feeling to do so since, Shaytaan had tied knots on him. When he washes his two hands in Wadhu, one knot is loosened, when he washes his face, another knot is loosened when he wipes his head with wet hands another knot is loosened, when he washes his feet yet another knot is loosened. Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala says to those behind the veil- His angels: “Look at My slaves! How much hardship he is enduring in dealing with his Nafs (inner self), so now whatever this slave asks of Me, it will be granted to him.” –Ahmad
The above stated Hadith illustrates the great significance the power of the Tahajjud Prayer, whose positive effects start even with ablution resulting in freedom from persuasions of the Lucifer, who does not want to see a believer praying at this late hour of the night in front of Allah SWT. When one gets rid of satan and its influence, resultantly it leads towards adoption of vital piousness and nearness to the Almighty, Who likes this act of His servant to the extent that He speaks to His Angels about it. Then, He tells them that He will grant His disciple with whatever it wishes for. All of this discussion elaborates the degree of importance of the Night Prayer, which is the greatest among all of the rest of Nafl (non obligatory) worships.
Timing of this Prayer:
Tahajjud prayer is implemented in the final third of a night after waking up from one`s sleep. It cannot be offered straight away after Isha, but only following one`s sleep, neither when the time is near to Fajr.
Rakats of this Prayer:
Generally, two rakats is seen as the minimum necessary for a proper Tahajjud. However, it’s possible to repeat as many more as you wish. For instance, according to the Hadiths, the Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) frequently prayed up to thirteen rakats.
Can the Tahajjud prayer still be performed if the Witr prayer has already been observed?
Although it is prefered for the Sunnah Witr prayer to be considered the concluding prayer of the night, one may still perform the Sunnah Tahajjud prayer after it. The Prophet (PBUH) said:
اجْعَلُوا آخِرَ صَلاَتِكُمْ بِاللَّيْلِ وِتْرً
Make Witr as your last prayer at night
– Sahih Al-Bukhari
Hence, if we’re unsure if we will be able to wake up before Subuh or in instances where intend to continue the Witr prayer right after performing the Sunnah Terawih prayers, we may still perform the Sunnah Tahajjud prayer after it. The Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) mentioned:
مَن خَافَ أَنْ لا يَقُومَ مِن آخِرِ اللَّيْلِ فَلْيُوتِرْ أَوَّلَهُ، وَمَن طَمِعَ أَنْ يَقُومَ آخِرَهُ فَلْيُوتِرْ آخِرَ اللَّيْلِ، فإنَّ صَلَاةَ آخِرِ اللَّيْلِ مَشْهُودَةٌ، وَذلكَ أَفْضَلُ
He who apprehends that he may not get up in the later part of the night, should observe the Witr prayer in the first part of it; and he who is certain to get up in the last part of it, he should observe Witr at the end of the night, because Salat at the end of the night is attended (by the angels), and that is better.
– Sahihً Muslim
In fact, we may see this in the practice of Sayyiduna Abu Bakr r.a. who chose to perform the Sunnah Witr prayer before sleeping. He would then wake up later to perform the Tahajjud prayer. Sayyiduna Umar r.a, however, would sleep first and then wake up for the Tahajjud prayer followed by concluding the night with the Witr prayer.
Benefits of Tahajjud Prayer:
Following benefits, one could get by offering Tahajjud Prayer:
- It gives inner strength
- It gives mental toughness
- Seek forgiveness and surely Allah will listen
- The doors of Mercy and Forgiveness are open during the last 1/3 of night
- If someone wishes his/her Dua to be accepted this is the best time to ask
- Huge incentive for the believer to wake up when everyone else is asleep and remember Allah (SWT) alone
- Tahajjud prayer can strengthen religious understanding
- It can bring fresh inspiration and innovation
- Tahajjud prayer can delete wickedness and prevent act of sin
- Tahajjud prayer can strengthen the memory
In short, Tahajjud prayer is the best one among the non-obligatory prayers, and is the cause of getting Allah`s great Blessings and Mercy.