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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Benefits of Tahajjud

Allah, the Exalted, says:
"And in some parts of the night (also) perform the Salat (prayer) with it (i.e., recite the Qur'an in the prayer) as an additional prayer (Tahajjud optional prayer - Nawafil) for you (O Muhammad (PBUH)). It may be that your Rubb will raise you to Maqam Mahmud (a station of praise and glory, i.e., the honour of intercession on the Day of Resurrection).'' (17:79)
"Their sides forsake their beds...'' (32:16)
"They used to sleep but little by night [invoking their Rubb (Allah) and praying, with fear and hope].'' (51:17)

1160. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) kept standing (in prayer) so long that the skin of his feet would crack. I asked him: "Why do you do this, while you have been forgiven of your former and latter sins?'' He said, "Should I not be a grateful slave of Allah?'' [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: This Hadith has already been mentioned. It is reproduced here to illustrate the practice of the Prophet (PBUH) in respect of Qiyam-ul-Lail. It tells us that:
1. The Nafl Salat should be performed with full concentration and peace of mind.
2. The more one is endowed with gifts from Allah, the greater gratitude and worship one should express for them to Allah.
3. The best time for showing one's humility before Allah and for worship is the later period of night.

1161. `Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) visited me and Fatimah (May Allah be pleased with her) one night and said, "Do you not observe prayer (at night)?'' [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: This Hadith tells us that one should also awaken others at night for prayer so that they also avail the benefits of performing prayer at this particular time.

1162. Salim bin `Abdullah bin `Umar bin Al-Khattab (May Allah be pleased with them) reported, on the authority of his father, that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "What an excellent man `Abdullah is! If only he could perform optional prayers at night.'' Salim said that after this, (his father) `Abdullah slept very little at night. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: This Hadith points out the excellence of `Abdullah bin `Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) as well as the merits of Qiyam-ul-Lail. It also tells us that it is permissible to praise someone in his presence if one is sure that he will not become proud due to that praise. Another aspect of this Hadith is that it induces one to wish for others' welfare and happiness.

1163. `Abdullah bin `Amr bin Al-`As (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said to me, "Do not be like so-and-so O `Abdullah! He used to pray during the night, then stopped the practice.'' [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

1164. `Abdullah bin Mas`ud (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Mention was made before the Prophet (PBUH) of a man who slept throughout the night till morning. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) remarked, "He is a man in whose ears Satan urinated.'' [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: This Hadith holds inducement for Qiyam-ul-Lail and highlights its merits. It also urges one to perpetuate his good actions, follow the practice of the righteous and avoid the way of those who are negligent or become negligent in the performance of virtuous deeds. Urination of Satan in a person's ear or ears can be literally true (although we cannot perceive it) because if a person does not seek the protection of Allah against Satan, then Satan joins him in food and other activities, as is evident from other Ahadith. Therefore, urination of Satan is also possible. Some people think it is a metaphor to the effect that he who does not get up at night for prayer and goes on enjoying his sleep, Satan `closes' his ears until he does not hear the remembrance of Allah. Some others consider it a metaphor for the contempt and insult of Satan. In either case, we learn from this Hadith that missing the Qiyam-ul-Lail is disliked because it provides Satan an opportunity to create mischief, and he succeeds in creating obstructions in the worship and obedience of Allah.

1165. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "When any one of you sleeps, Satan ties three knots at the back of his neck. He recites this incantation at every knot: `You have a long night, so sleep.' If he awakes and remembers Allah, one knot is loosened. If he performs Wudu', the (second) knot is loosened; and if he performs prayer, (all) knots are loosened. He begins his morning in a happy and refreshed mood; otherwise, he gets up in bad spirits and sluggish state.'' [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: "Tying knots'' can be literal, the way magicians do it in their magical exercises. With this practice Satan tries to withhold people from the worship of Allah. Some people are of the opinion that it is a metaphor for sleepiness/dozing. In any case, Satan does his level best to withhold a person from the worship of Allah. Satan experiences frustration if someone gets up at night for prayer; he also experiences happiness if he manages to keep someone asleep until dawn.

1166. `Abdullah bin Salam (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) said, "O people, promote the greetings, feed (the poor and needy) and perform Salat when others are asleep so that you will enter Jannah safely.'' [At-Tirmidhi].
Commentary: This Hadith has glad tidings for those who enthusiastically do all the good works mentioned in this Hadith. "Enter Jannah in peace'' here means that they will enter Jannah without suffering any punishment in Hell.

1167. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "The best month for observing Saum (fasting) after Ramadan is Muharram, and the best Salat after the prescribed Salat is Salat at night.'' [Muslim].
Commentary: The month of Muharram is related to Allah which makes its eminence clear. It shows that in the optional Saum (fasting) the most meritorious are those which are observed in this month. After the obligatory Salat, the most meritorious is the optional Salat performed at night.


1170. Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) used to leave off observing Saum (fasting) during a month until we thought that he would not observe Saum at all during it; and (sometimes) he would observe Saum till we began to think that he would not omit any day of that month. If one wished to see him performing Salat during the night, he could do that; and if one wished to see him sleeping at night, he could do that.
[Al-Bukhari].
Commentary: What this Hadith tells us is that whether it was optional Saum (fasting) or optional Salat (Nawafil) of the night, that is to say Qiyam-ul-Lail, the Prophet (PBUH) did not have a permanent routine for it. Sometimes it so happened that almost the month passed but he did not observe fasting and then a few days before the end of the month he would start fasting. Sometimes, he would fast day after day continuously, and it would appear as if he would continue fasts for the whole month, but he would then suddenly terminate fasts. Similar was the case of Tahajjud. Sometimes, he would perform Tahajjud prayer in the first portion of the night, sometimes in the second, and sometimes in its later portion. Thus, he was found sleeping and performing Salat in every part of the night.

1171. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) used to perform eleven Rak`ah (of Tahajjud) prayers at night. He (PBUH) would prostrate so long as one of you might recite fifty Ayat (of the Qur'an). Thereafter, he would perform two Rak`ah before Fajr prayers and would lie down on his right side till the Mu'adhdhin would come and inform him about the time of (Fajr) prayer. [Al-Bukhari].
Commentary: This Hadith tells us that it was a practice of the Prophet (PBUH) to sleep on his right side after performing two Sunnah of Fajr prayer. It also tells us that he used to make long prostrations in Tahajjud prayer, because one gets closer to Allah in a state of prostration. This Hadith also stresses on utmost concentration in Salat as it is highly pleasing to Allah and there is a greater possibility of acceptance of prayer which is made in a state of prostration.

1172. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) did not observe more than eleven Rak`ah (of Tahajjud prayers), be in Ramadan or any other month. First of all he would perform four Rak`ah. Ask not about their excellence and their length. He (PBUH) would then perform four more Rak`ah; and do not ask about their excellence and their length. Then he would perform three Rak`ah (Witr prayer). (`Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) added) I submitted: "O Messenger of Allah! Do you sleep before performing the Witr prayer?'' He (PBUH) said, "O `Aishah! My eyes sleep but my heart does not sleep.'' [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary:
1."My heart does not sleep'' signifies that "usually I am not so overwhelmed by sleep that I miss the Salat''. Some people give a different interpretation of this by saying that his Wudu' remained intact as his heart was awake. This is one of the attributes of the Prophet (PBUH). This Hadith stresses on performing Salat with full decorum and concentration because this is the way the Prophet (PBUH) did it. The real beauty of Salat lies in performing it in accordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) and with full peace of mind.
2. If one is confident of getting up in the later part of the night, one can perform Witr after Tahajjud prayer; but if one is not sure of getting up at the time of Tahajjud then it is better to perform Witr after `Isha' prayer.

1173. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) would sleep during the early part of night and stand in Salat during the latter part. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: This Hadith tells us about the ordinary routine of the Prophet (PBUH). Ordinarily, he would go to sleep in the first part of the night and perform Tahajjud prayer in the later portion, which is the best time for it. But, as already mentioned in the preceding Ahadith, he sometimes also performed it in the early as well as middle hours of the night.

1174. Ibn Mas`ud (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: One night I joined the Prophet (PBUH) in his (optional) Salat. He (PBUH) prolonged the Qiyam (standing) so much that I made up my mind to commit an act of wrong. He was questioned: "What did you intend to do?'' He replied: "I intended to sit down and stop following him (in Salat).'' [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: We learn from this Hadith that:
1. Qiyam-ul-Lail (Tahajjud prayer) must be fairly long and every constituent of it should be performed with full peace of mind.
2. It is permissible to perform Nafl Salat in congregation.
3. In case an Imam inordinately lengthens a Salat, it is permissible for his followers to detach themselves from the congregation. But Ibn Mas`ud has regarded his intention to do so as bad, and for this reason its justification becomes doubtful. Since the Imam has been exhorted to take care of his followers in Salat, this apparently furnishes justification for the detachment.

1175. Hudhaifah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I performed Salat with the Prophet (PBUH) one night, and he started reciting Surat Al-Baqarah. I thought that he would go in Ruku` (bowing posture in Salat) at the end of one hundred Ayat, but he continued (reciting); and I thought that he would perhaps recite (this Surah) in the whole Rak`ah (prayer), but he continued the recitation; I thought he would perhaps bow on completing (this Surah). He (PBUH) then started reciting Surat An-Nisa' which he followed with Surat Al-Imran. He recited leisurely. When he recited an Ayah which mentioned the tasbeeh, he would say Subhan Allah and when he recited the Ayah which tells how the Rubb is to be asked, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) would then ask from Him; and when he (PBUH) recited an Ayah asking one to seek Protection Allah, he would seek Protection of Allah. Then he bowed and said, "Subhana Rabbiyal-Azim (My Rubb the Great is free from imperfection)''; his bowing lasted about the same length of time as his standing, (and then on returning to the standing posture after Ruku`) he would say, "Sami' Allahu liman hamidah, Rabbana lakal-hamd (Allah listens to him who praises Him. Praise be to You, Our Rubb!),'' and he would then stand about the same length of time as he had spent in bowing. He would then prostrate himself and say, "Subhana Rabbiyal-A`la (My Rubb the Supreme is free from imperfection),'' and his prostration lasted nearly the same length of time as his standing (Qiyam). [Muslim].
Commentary: This Hadith has already been mentioned. In his commentary on Sahih Muslim, Imam An-Nawawi has interpreted the words (occuring in this Hadith) as "I thought he would perhaps recite in the whole Rak`ah.'' Here Rak`ah means complete Salat (two Rak`ah). This interpretation is necessary for the reason that in its absence, the meanings of the next sentence go wrong. Due to this reason, we have kept these meanings in view in our translation. In any case, it furnishes justification for the desirability of long Qiyam (standing in Salat), the desirability of congregation in Nafl Salat, and the maintenance of the correct sequence in the recitation of the Surah of the Qur'an in prayers, which is not accepted by many people.

1176. Jabir (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) was asked: "Which Salat is the best?'' He replied, '' The best Salat is that in which Qiyam (the duration of standing) is longer.'' [Muslim].
Commentary: We learn from this Hadith that of all the articles of Salat (Ruku`, Sujud, etc.), it is best to lengthen the Qiyam because the greater the Qiyam is, the longer the recitation of the Qur'an will be. Since the recitation of the Qur'an is the best form of remembrance of Allah, the lengthening of the Qiyam is also most meritorious.

1177. `Abdullah bin `Amr (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "The Salat which is dearest to Allah is that of (Prophet) Dawud; and As-Saum (the fasting) which is dearest to Allah is that of (Prophet) Dawud. He used to sleep half the night, get up to perform Salat for one-third of it, then sleep through the remaining one-sixth of it; and he used to observe Saum on alternative days.'' [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: Since Islam has strictly forbidden self-affliction to the extent that it has forbidden hardship even in worship, compulsory awakening for Salat at midnight and observing Saum (fasting) for the whole month (except of the month of Ramadan) is disapproved. The model set by the Prophet (PBUH) is the ideal pattern of moderation in this respect. In this Hadith the fasting and the prayer of Prophet Dawud have been regarded most pleasing to Allah, because their conduct had a moderation which is enjoined by Islam.

1178. Jabir (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying, "Every night there is a special time during which whatever a Muslim asks Allah of any good relating to this life or the Hereafter, it will be granted to him; and this moment comes every night.'' [Muslim].
Commentary: Like the special moment in Jumu`ah, the time when this special moment occurs every night is not determined. But it is generally in the late hours of the night because that is the best time for worship. As in the case of Lailat-ul-Qadr the wisdom of keeping it secret lies in the inducement to search it by means of worship and prayer, praise and remembrance of Allah.

1179. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) said, "When one of you gets up at night to perform (Tahajjud) prayer, let him start Salat with two short Rak`ah.'' [Muslim].

1180. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: Whenever the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) stood for Salat at night, he would start his prayer with two brief Rak`ah. [Muslim].
Commentary: These two Ahadith point out the desirability of performing two brief Rak`ah before one embarks on Tahajjud prayers, as this was the practice of the Prophet (PBUH). The wisdom behind this is to drive away laziness and pave the way for the nocturnal prayers in a proper manner. Allah knows better.

1181. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: If the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) missed his night (Tahajjud) Salat because of indisposition or the like, he would perform twelve Rak`ah during the day. [Muslim].

1182. `Umar bin Al-Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: "If anyone falls asleep and therefore fails to observe his Hizb (share) or part of it, if he observes it between the Fajr and the Zuhr prayers, it will be recorded for him as though he had observed it during the night.'' [Muslim].
Commentary: This Hadith has already been mentioned. The word "Hizb'' literally means "share'' and "turn''. Here it means that (daily round of recitation) which a person determines for himself, such as prayer or recitation of the Qur'an. For instance, if a person decides that he will perform eight Rak`ah in Tahajjud, recite one Juz` (part) of the Qur'an everyday, remember Allah in such and such form for so many times etc., etc. And then he makes every possible effort to put into practice his decision, but if casually he is unable to fulfill his routine, he should do it afterwards. This action of his will be credited to his account by Allah as if he completed it at the appointed time. This Hadith furnishes justification for the performance of optional righteous acts even after their due time.

1183. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "May Allah show mercy to a man who gets up during the night and performs Salat, awakens his wife to pray and if she refuses, he sprinkles water on her face (to make her get up). May Allah show mercy to a woman who gets up during the night and performs Salat, awakens her husband for the same purpose; and if he refuses, she sprinkles water on his face.'' [Abu Dawud].
Commentary: This Hadith tells us about the conduct of pious husbands and wives. Its outstanding feature mentioned here is that they help each other in acts of virtue and obedience of Allah.

1184. Abu Sa`id and Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "When a man awakens his wife during the night and they both perform two Rak`ah Salat together, they are recorded among the men and women who celebrate remembrance of Allah.'' [Abu Dawud].
Commentary: This Hadith points out the excellence of performing Tahajjud prayers with one's wife. Those who do so will be recorded as (the men and the women who remember Allah much, with their hearts and tongues). For such people, as the Verse concludes [Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward (i.e., Jannah)]. (33:35)

1185. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) said, "When one of you dozes off while performing Salat, he should lie down till his drowsiness has gone away from him. When one of you performs Salat while dozing, he may abuse himself instead of seeking pardon (as a result of drowsiness).'' [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

1186. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "When anyone of you stands up for Salat at night and finds it difficult to recite the Qur'an accurately and he is unaware of what he is reciting, he should go back to sleep.'' [Muslim].
Commentary: Since peace of mind and concentration are essential for performing Salat, it should be performed when one is fresh and free from tiredness and drowsiness. This is the reason Muslims have been prohibited through these two Ahadith from performing Salat when they are overwhelmed by sleep. In such conditions one cannot make proper expression of one's humility before Allah, which is the essence of Salat. Therefore, in such conditions one should first have some sleep because only then one will get real pleasure from the recitation of the Qur'an, prayer and praise of Allah, and will be in a position to beseech Him earnestly for pardoning one's sins.





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