It was the advice of Nabi Sulayman’s (alayhis salam) Mother, ‘O my son! Do not spend much time sleeping at night, because this causes a person to become destitute on the day of Qiyamah.’
(Sunan ibn Majah, Hadith: 1332)
The performance of Nafl Salah (Tahajjud) during the latter part of the night or early hours of the morning was a constant practice of Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam).
Sayyidatuna Aishah (radiyallahu’anha) says: ‘Do not abandon the Salah of the night, for certainly Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) would never leave out Tahajjud Salah. If he (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) was ill or weak, he would perform Tahajjud while sitting.’
(Sunan Abi Dawud, Hadith: 1301; Sahih ibn Khuzaymah, Hadith: 1137)
Tahajjud was also an integral part of the lives of the Sahabah (radiyallahu’anhum) who were known to be knights / warriors by day and devout worshippers by night.
Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) has encouraged the Ummah to perform Tahajjud.
Ten great benefits
The Fuqaha (Jurist) classify Tahajjud as the most significant of all Nafl Salahs.
(Tahtawi, pg. 393)
In one Hadith, Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) said:
‘Be mindful of the night Salah (Tahajjud) for certainly,
1. It was the practice of the pious before you,
2. It is a means of gaining proximity to your lord,
3. It atones sins, and
4. It serves as a barrier from disobedience.’
(Sunan Tirmidhi, Hadith: 3549; Sahih ibn Khuzaymah, Hadith: 1135)
In other Hadiths, Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) has described Tahajjud as:
5. The best of Salats after the Fard Salah
6. An honour for a true believer
7. A cause of extreme pleasure to Allah
8. A means of easily acquiring Jannah
9. A protection from sicknesses and diseases.
(Targhib, vol. 1 pg. 423-435)
10. The ‘Ulama mention that from among the many benefits of Tahajjud is that it brings Nur (Divine glow) to one’s face and it protects a person from the terror of the day of Qiyamah.
The ideal time
The best time for Tahajjud Salah is after half of the night passes up to the last part of the night (before Subh Sadiq). It is in the last third of the night that Almighty Allah accepts du’as and proclaims: ‘Is there anyone seeking substance that I may sustain him? Is there anyone seeking forgiveness that I may forgive him.’
(Sahih Bukhari, Hadith: 1145)
Hafiz ibn Rajab al-Hambali (rahimahullah) mentioned the following while commenting on the auspiciousness of this part of the night,
‘It is the best times for Salah, at that time the servant is closest to Allah, the doors of the skies are opened and the du’as (supplications) are accepted by Allah Ta’ala.’
(Lataiful Ma’arif pg.56)
The second option
However, if one is unable to wake up at that part of the night, then one may perform Salatul Layl (Tahajjud) any time after Esha Salah.
Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) said, ‘Whatever is performed after Esha Salah is counted from the night, i.e. it will be considered as Salatul Layl – Tahajjud.’
(Targhib, vol. 1 pg. 430; Shami, vol. 2 pg. 24)
It was also the practice of some Sahabah (radiyallahu’anhum) to perform their Tahajjud before sleeping.
(ibn Abi Shaybah, Hadith: 6679)
One should bear in mind that it is Mustahab (preferable) to offer the Witr Salah last, i.e. after the Tahajjud Salah/Salatul Layl.
(Sahih Bukhari, Hadith: 998; Shami, vol.1 pg. 369)
However during Ramadhan, one should offer the Witr with congregation even though one intends to perform Tahajjud later on.
(Mirqat, vol. 3 pg. 386)
One who is uncertain of awakening at the latter part of the night should offer Witr before sleeping and if one awakens later during the night, one may offer the Tahajjud Salah. However, without repeating the Witr.
(Shami, vol. 1 pg. 238)
Imam Ahmad ibn Hambal (rahimahullah) was so inspiring when he said:
‘Surprising is the condition of he who knows that Jannah is being adorned above him and the Jahannum is being lit beneath him, and he continues to sleep between the two?’
(al-Matjarur Rabih, pg.130)
An elderly friend once mentioned to me that his wife, has a list of close friends whom she gives wake-up calls to every morning at Tahajjud time. How noble and inspirational!
May Allah Ta’ala grant us the ability to inculcate this most virtuous, yet neglected practice of our Beloved (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam). Amin.
The approach of Ramadan offers an ideal opportunity to inculcate the habit of practicing this salient Sunnah of our beloved Master (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam)