Tahajjud is primarily a nafl prayer that is offered at night before Fajar. It is also called ‘Qiyaam al-Layl’ or ‘night prayer’.
However, this is not an ordinary nafl prayer like others that one prays during day time. Offering this prayer at night is superior with respect to the blessings associated with it.
Evidence & Status of Tahajjud Prayer in the Light of Qur’an
Tahajjud is a Nafl prayer for Ummah. However, it was a compulsory prayer for the Prophet PBUH. In his life, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has offered Tahajjud prayer regularly. As our Prophet PBUH used to offer this prayer, it also becomes the Sunnah prayer.
At multiple places in the Holy Quran, Allah has commanded the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to offer Tahajjud prayer at night.
For example, Surah Al Muzammil begins as;
O you who wraps himself [in clothing] (Saheeh International)
Stand all night (in prayer) except a little — Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran
(pray) half the night, or a little less, — Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran
Furthermore, in Surah Al Insan, Ayat 26, Allah SWT has mentioned.
And during part of a night, prostrate yourself to Him and glorify Him for the longest during a night. (translated by Imam Iskender Ali Mihr)
These verses clearly enunciate that it was made compulsory for the Prophet (PBUH).
Similarly, in Surah Israa, chapter 17, verse 79, Allah SWT has mentioned that;
During a part of the night, wake up and keep up Tahajjud (the night prayer) with It (the Qur’an) as an additional prayer for you! It is very near that your Lord will get (deliver) you to Makaam e Mahmûd.
Likewise, in Surah Ash-Shu’ara, verse 218, Allah says,
He sees you when you stand up (to pray Tahajjud).
Tahajjud Prayer in the Light of Ahadith
Apart from Qur’an, numerous Ahadith have also mentioned of Tahajjud prayer that propounds its status.
As mentioned in a Sahih Bukhari, Hadees 1130,
Similarly, according to Sahih Bukhari, Hadees 1123,
According to Sahib Bukhari, 1131,
Significance of Tahajjud Prayer
Tahajjud prayer is significant because it is performed during the time when Allah descends to the lowest sky to listen to us more closely.
As mentioned in the Sahih Bukhari, Hadees 1145,
(Note: Allah is omnipresent and always there to listen to our calls. However, the last part of the night is when Allah Himself calls us to ask what we want from Him)
There is another Hadees that highlights the significance of night prayer.
Hazrat Amr ibn Absah R.A claimed that he heard Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) saying:
The above Hadees also highlights the fact that Tahajjud is not a mandatory prayer for Ummah.
Moreover, this part of the night is the most peaceful time. As Tahajjud is performed during this time when everyone is asleep; it gives us a true sense of ‘I & Allah’ feeling. There is no one or nothing that can distract us from Allah. We are more focused while praying and talking to Allah.
Allah SWT has mentioned in Surah Al Muzammil, Verse 6:
Surely the rising by night is (difficult but) stronger in effectiveness and more secure in recitation.Translated by Imam Iskender Ali Mihr
When to Perform Tahajjud Prayer?
Tahajjud can be performed in the early, middle, or later part of the night. However, it must be after performing the obligatory Isha prayer and before the time for Fajar begins. Another necessary condition is; that one must get some sleep and then wake up again for Tahajjud.
However, the best time to offer it is the third part of the night. It is because Allah descends to the nearest heaven to us during this part of the night as mentioned in the above hadith.
But, there was usually no specific time at night when Prophet PBUH used to perform Tahajjud.
As Ibn Hajar R.A says:
There was no specific time in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would perform his late night Prayer; but he used to do whatever was easiest for him.
How to Perform Tahajjud?
Tahajjud prayer is performed just like other Nafl prayers. One can offer as many Rakats as one wants during Tahajjud.
However, it is recommended and usually followed method to perform this Namaz in 2 Rakats separately.
Two Rakats are a minimum requirement for Tahajjud prayer. One can repeat the Rakats as many times as one wants.
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