بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم

اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْن،وَالصَّلاۃ وَالسَّلامُ عَلَی النَّبِیِّ الْکَرِيم وَعَلیٰ آله وَاَصْحَابه اَجْمَعِيْن۔

Observe Tahajjud in the last ten days of Ramadan especially during the odd nights falling in them

We should engage ourselves in worship during the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan. The Messenger of Allah said: “Look for Lalat-ul-Qadr in the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan.” (Bukhari) So, according to this Prophetic instruction, one should look for it on 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th and 29th night of the holy month. By worshiping in this blessed night which is better than a thousand months in virtue one may get his sins forgiven and attain closeness to Allah the Exalted. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) is reported to have said: "Whoever stands (in prayer) during Lail-ul-Qadr with faith and hoping for its reward will have all of his previous sins forgiven.” (Bukhari & Muslim) Standing (in prayer) means to be engaged in different forms of worship such as offering Salah, reciting Quran or other supplications and recitals. Hoping for its rewards means doing it only to seek Allah’s pleasure and not to show off or please men. Therefore, we should take extra care of observing Tahajjud prayer during the odd nights of the final ten days of the holy month.

In Masjid Haram and Masjid Nabawi the Tahajjud prayer and afterward three rak’ahs of Witr are offered in congregation at midnight after 20 Rak’ahs of Tarawih while in other masjids across Saudi Arabia only 8 Rak’ahs of Tarawih are offered after Isha Salah and then the Tahajjud and Witr are offered at midnight. The practice of the Prophet (PBUH) and that of his Companions establishes Tahajjud as an individual voluntary prayer of great virtue. However, since it is a voluntary prayer, there is nothing wrong in performing it in congregation.As Tahajjud is not specific to the month of Ramadan, we should offer it throughout the year. But if we fail to do soover the year, we should atleast observe some units (rak’ahs) as Tahajjud during Ramadan especially during the odd nights of the last ten days of the month, following the example of the Prophet (PBUH) in this regard. As mentioned in Surat al-Muzzammil, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) used to spend two-third, half or one-third of the night praying Tahajjud. He used to wake up his family members for Tahajjud during the last ten days. Besides, one of the objectives of sitting in Itikaf is to grab the opportunity of worshiping in Lailat-ul-Qadr. As per the Prophetic injunctions, Tahajjud should be one’s last prayer of the night. Therefore, those having a firm determination or sure enough to wake up for Tahajjud should perform Witr after Tahajjud in the last hours of the night. As for those who lack determination or not sure that they would wake up for Tahajjud should offer Witr before going to bed and then should try to wake up and pray few units of Tahajjud in the last hours of the night even after having performed Witr before going to sleep.

In the beginning i.e. before the five daily prayers were obligated Tahajjud had been an obligatory prayer for the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and the Muslims in general. Hence the Prophet (PBUH) and the Companions used to spend a considerable amount of time praying Tahajjud at night. However, after the five daily prayers were enjoined, the obligation of Tahajjud was abrogated but it remained as a highly recommended and virtuous prayer.  Allah and His Messenger (PBUH) emphatically urged the Muslims to observe Tahajjud. Therefore, we find reference of Tahajjud prayer along with the obligatory ones at numerous places in the Quran. On the other hand, a group of scholars maintain that though the obligation of Tahajjud was abrogated for the common Muslims yet it remained obligatory for the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) till his death

As for the number of rak’ahs in Tahajjud, the Messenger of Allah usually prayed eight rak’ahs as Tahajjud and then performed three rak’ahs of Witr. However, it was not a fixed number as he sometimes prayed more than eight and occasionally offered less than that too. After the obligatory prayers, Tahajjud is the most emphatically recommended prayer in the Quran. Tahajjud is considered the master of all voluntary prayers. Allah the Exalted says:

“They arise from [their] beds; they supplicate their Lord in fear and aspiration, and from what We have provided them, they spend. And no soul knows what has been hidden for them of comfort for eyes as reward for what they used to do.” (32:16-17)

“And those who spend [part of] the night to their Lord prostrating and standing [in prayer]. (25:64) And then after mentioning certain other characteristics of the righteous Allah the Exalted says: “Those will be awarded the Chamber for what they patiently endured, and they will be received therein with greetings and [words of] peace.” (25:75)At another place, Allah the Exalted says: “They used to sleep but little of the night. And in the hours before dawn they would ask forgiveness.” (51:17-18)

On the other hand, Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported from the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) that he said: “The best prayer after the obligatory prayers is the night prayer.” (Muslim) Abdullah ibn Salam (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the noble Prophet (PBUH) said: “O people, spread the (greeting of) Salam, feed the hungry, and pray at night when people are sleeping and you will enter Paradise in peace.” (Tirmidhi & Ibn Majah) Moreover, Abu Hurairah and Abu Sa’eed (may Allah be pleased with them) reported from the Messenger of Allah that he said: “If a man wakes up at night and also wakes his wife up to offer two units of prayer together, Allah registers their names among those who remember Allah most.” (Abu Dawood)

Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with her) reported that when Allah's Messenger (PBUH) occupied himself in prayer, he observed such a (long) qiyam (posture of standing in prayer) that his feet were swollen. Ayesha said: O Allah's Messenger, you do this (in spite of the fact) that your earlier and later sins have been pardoned for you? Thereupon, he said. Ayesha, should I not prove myself to be a thankful servant (of Allah)?

In light of the Quran and Sunnah, the Muslim Ummah unanimously agrees that the Master of the Prophets and the Best amongst the Humanity, Prophet Muhammad, spent a considerable amount of time in prayer throughout his life. As mentioned by Allah the Exalted in Surat al-Muzzammil of the glorious Quran, the noble Prophet (PBUH) spent two-third, half and sometimes one-third of the night hours in Tahajjud. The length of the prayers he used to offer and the devotion he showed while praying can easily be known from the books dealing with his life and manners.Allah the Exalted said addressing to His beloved Messenger:

“O you who wraps himself [in clothing]. Arise [to pray] during the night, except for a little. Half of it - or subtract from it a little. Or add to it, and recite the Quran with measured recitation.” (73:1-4)

Similarly, Allah the Exalted says in the ending verse of the same chapter:

“Indeed, your Lord knows, [O Muhammad], that you stand [in prayer] almost two thirds of the night or half of it or a third of it, and [so do] a group of those with you.” (73: 20)

On the other hand, as already reported by Ayesha(may Allah be pleased with her), the Messenger of Allah used to stand so long in prayer that his feet were swollen. (Bukhari) Obviously, standing for one or two hours does not usually cause swelling in the feet. Feet get swollen if one stands for an even longer period of time in prayer. The Messenger of Allah recited a complete long chapter such as Surat al-Baqarah and Al-Imran in one Rak’ah in a moderate pace and with full dedication.

The beginning verses of Surat al-Muzzammil and the last verse, the Hadith mentioned above as well as other narrations are enough to prove that the Messenger of Allahspent two-third, half or atleast one-third of the night in Tahajjud. This also proves that Allah loved it for His Messenger and other believers to develop an immense interest in prayer. There are a number of narrations from the Messenger (PBUH) that confirm the same as well.

‘Ata narrated that once he asked Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with her), “Tell us the most astonishing event you witnessed from the Prophet.” She said, “And what is that was not astonishing about him? One night he came to me and lay down with me under my blanket and then (suddenly) said, ‘Leave me, let me worship my Lord’.  Then he got up, made Wudhu, stood to pray Salah and cried so profusely that teardrops started flowing down through his chest. Then he bent for Ruku’ still crying. Then he prostrated for Sajdah and still crying. Then he raised his head from Sajdah but the cry did not stop. He continued to cry (in this manner) until when it was Fajr time, Bilal came informing him that it was due. And then I said: “O Messenger of Allah! Why do you cry so much while Allah has forgiven whatever you might have done wrong in the past and what you might do wrong in the future?” He said: “Shall I not be a thankful servant to Allah?  Why shouldn’t I cry while these verses have been revealed to tonight?

Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alteration of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding. Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], “ Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire. Our Lord, indeed whoever You admit to the Fire-You have disgraced him, and for the wrongdoers there are no helpers. Our Lord, indeed we have heard a caller calling to faith,[saying], “Believe in your Lord,” and we have believed. Our Lord, so forgive us our sins and remove from us our misdeeds and cause us to die with the righteous ………………………… and fear Allah that you may be successful. (3: 190-200).”(Sahih ibn Hibban)

Hudaifah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated: “One night I passed by the Prophet (PBUH) while he was offering (voluntary) prayer in the masjid. I joined the prayer standing behind him and thought he was not aware that I was also praying behind him. He started reciting Surat al-Baqarah (and kept on reciting). I thought he would bow down for Ruku’ upon finishing 100 verses but he did not and kept on reciting. I again thought he would bow down for Ruku’ upon finishing recitation of 200 verses but he did not. Then I thought he would probably finish the chapter before bowing down for Ruku’.Finally upon finishing the chapter he recited Allahumma lakal-hamd (O Allah, praise belongs to you) three times and then started reciting Surat Al-Imran. I thought he was surely going to bow down for Ruku’ after finishing the chapter yet he did not and after reciting Allahumma lakal-hamd three times started reciting Surat al-Ma’idah. I thought he would bow down for Ruku’ after finishing the chapter and (this time) he did bow down to perform Ruku’. I heard him reciting Subhana Rabbi al-Aẓim(Glorified be my Lord the Great). But I saw his lips moving afterward from which I got that he was reciting something else also. Then he performed Sajdah and I heard him reciting Subhana Rabii al-A’la (Glorified be my Lord the High) and saw his lips moving afterward from which I got that he was reciting something else too though I was not getting it. Then he stood up for the second Rak’ah and I left him praying (giving up the prayer midway) because I could not gather enough courage to continue it with him. (Musannaf Abdur Razzaq)

Ibn Masood (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: One night I joined the Prophet (PBUH) in his (optional) Salah. 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 Salah)." (Bukhari and Muslim)

Abdullah ibn ash-Shukhair related that whenever the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) started doing the prayer, a sobbing cry sound like the sound of a grinding mill used to come from his chest. (Abu Dawood)

It should be noted that the Prophet used to prolong his standing, bowing and prostrating (Qiyam, Ruku’ and Sujud) with measured recitation of the Quran when offering voluntary prayers until he had swelling in his feet. But when leading congregational prayers he showed immense care for the people offering behind him and avoided lengthening the prayer.

In short, we should cherish the blessed nights falling in the last ten days of Ramadan and spend them in offering Tarawih, Tahajjud and other virtuous deeds instead of wastingsuch precious moments in shopping and other idle activities. 

Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi (http://www.najeebqasmi.com/)