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What Is the Importance of Qiyam-ul-Layl?

04 April, 2023
Q Please tell me the importance of Qiyam prayers (long night prayers) that takes place in Ramadan and how would it make me a better Muslim?


Short Answer: Qiyam Al-Layl is an act of worship that connects the heart to Allah and enables it to overcome the temptations of life and to strive against one’s own self, at the time when voices are stilled, eyes are closed in sleep, and sleepers are tossing and turning in their beds.


Salam Kareema,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

The expression “Qiyam Al-Layl” is derived from the Quran for what is also known as Tahajjud prayer.

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Tahajjud is preferably offered after midnight, but before fajr.

During the month of Ramadan, stay awake, standing in long prayers, striving to get closer to Allah. The occasion of such long prayers is known as Qiyam Al-Layl.

Virtues of Qiyam Al-Layl:

The Quran says what means:

{And as for the night, keep awake a part of it as an additional prayer for you: soon will your Lord raise you to a station of praise and glory!} (Al-Israa’ 17:79)

This was a command directly addressed to the Prophet (peace be upon him), but it is also meant for his followers to adopt these special prayers, as additional prayers of devotion to Allah.

In the Quran, Allah speaks of such devotees who pray at night:

{They arise from [their] beds; they supplicate their Lord in fear and aspiration, and from what We have provided them, they spend.} (As-Sajdah 32:16)

This verse and those like it make obvious reference to Qiyam Al-Layl.

In addition, the Prophet said:

Keep up Qiyam Al-Layl. It was the way of the virtuous who came before you, it draws you nearer to your Lord, atones for your sins, forbids you from evil and protects the body from sickness. (At-Tirmidhi)

Aishah, the wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him) reported that he used to keep standing so long in night prayers that the skin of his feet would crack.

When asked, why he did this while all his past and future sins were forgiven, he said:

Should I not be a grateful slave of Allah? (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) has said:

The best of prayers, after the prescribed prayers, is prayer in the depths of the night, and the best of fasting after the month of Ramadan is fasting the month of Allah, Muharram(Muslim)

According to Amr ibn Absah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) has said:

The time when the closest the Lord is to His slave is in the later part of the night, so if you can be one of those who remember Allah at that time, then do so. (At-Tirmidhi)

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) preferred to go to sleep early, after isha prayer. The reason was to avoid sleeping too long, for fear of missing fajr prayer or Qiyam Al-Layl.

Also, Umar ibn al-Khatab used to urge people to sleep early, so that they would not miss Qiyam Al-Layl.

Connecting our Hearts With Allah

Qiyam Al-Layl is an act of worship that connects the heart to Allah and enables it to overcome the temptations of life and to strive against one’s own self, at the time when voices are stilled, eyes are closed in sleep, and sleepers are tossing and turning in their beds.

Therefore, Qiyam Al-Layl is one of the measures of sincere determination and one of the qualities of those who have great ambitions.

Allah has praised them and distinguished them from others in the Quran:

{Is one who is obedient to Allah, prostrating himself or standing [in prayer] during the hours of the night, fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord [like one who disbelieves]? Say: ‘Are those who know equal to those who know not?’ It is only men of understanding who will remember.} (Az-Zumar 39:9)

Qiyam Al-Layl is a sunnah mu’akkadah (confirmed habit of the Prophet, recommended to be followed), which he (peace be upon him) urged us to do when he said:

You should pray Qiyam Al-Layl, for it is the habit of the righteous people who came before you, and it will bring you closer to your Lord, will expiate for bad deeds, prevent sin and expel disease from the body. (At-Tirmidhi and Ahmad)

He (peace be upon him) always had the habit of praying Qiyam Al-Layl, and never gave it up, whether he was traveling or staying at home.

Women Too

Among the pious ladies of the old times too, we read of many who were very keen to pray Qiyam Al-Layl. Anas ibn Malik reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

Jibreel said to me, ‘Go back to Hafsah, for she fasts a lot and prays a lot at night (Qiyam Al-Layl).’ (Al-Hakim)

Muadhah al-Adawiyah, one of the righteous women physicians spent her wedding night, along with her husband, Silah ibn Ashyam, praying until dawn.

Then, when her husband and son were killed, she would spend the whole night in prayer, worshiping and beseeching Allah. Then, she would sleep during the day. If she felt sleepy whilst she was praying at night, she would tell herself: “O soul, there is plenty of sleep ahead of you.”

The above sayings and anecdotes of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his early followers clearly illustrate the importance of Qiyam Al-Layl.

It tells us about the boundless blessings Allah would bestow on us, if we care to spend the few hours of the night in prayerful worship of our All-Merciful Lord.

May Allah bless us to be His sincere devotees, to merit His rewards here and hereafter!

I hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.


(From Ask About Islam archives)

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About Professor Shahul Hameed
Professor Shahul Hameed is an Islamic consultant. He also held the position of the President of the Kerala Islamic Mission, Calicut, India. He is the author of three books on Islam published in the Malayalam language. His books are on comparative religion, the status of women, and science and human values.