Can you recall ever wanting something with such sheer vigor and force that you find yourself constantly making dua to Allah in the hopes of attaining it?
Be it for forgiveness, or well-being or for the ease of your worldly trials and those of the loved ones around you- we all find ourselves supplicating with that one dua closest to our hearts.
Allah, due to His benevolence, has prescribed an opportune time for us to make our dua to Him, which is Qiyam-ul-layl; the night prayer. Prophet Muhammad is known to have said:
The best prayer after the obligatory prayers is the night prayer. (Sahih Muslim)
The term ‘Qiyam-ul-layl’, in the most literal sense, means to ‘stand during the night’. It is a voluntary prayer which is offered between the time of Isha prayer and the Fajr prayer (before dawn). But the most preferred time is before sunrise, in the last third of the night.
It is also more commonly known as ‘tahajjud’, ‘witr’ and ‘Taraweeh’ and holds great rewards and blessings for any Muslim who sacrifices his/her sleep to stand in front of Allah (SWT) and pray to Him.
Qiyam-ul-layl, ordained during the Makkan period, comprises of voluntary salah and other forms of worship like dhikr. The significance of Qiyam-ul-layl is stated in the Quran on several occasions:
And some part of the night keep vigil for it as an additional prayer for you; maybe that your Lord will raise you up to a praised position. (17:79)
The importance of Tahajjud in the life of a Muslim is further emphasized:
O you wrapped in garments (i.e. Prophet Muhammad saw)! Stand (to pray) all night, except a little. Half of it or a little less than that or a little more. And recite the Quran (aloud) in a slow, (pleasant tone and) style. Verily, We shall send down to you a weighty Word (i.e. obligations, laws). Verily, the rising by night (for Tahajjud prayer) is very hard and most potent and good for governing oneself, and most suitable for (understanding) the Word (of Allah). (73:1-6)
This calls our attention to the fact that Qiyam-ul-layl is one of the truly blessed opportunities for Muslims to call upon their Creator and Lord.
Jibreel referred to Qiyam as “sharaf-al mumineen” – the integrity of the believers. Hence, Qiyam holds great wonder and opportunities for mankind, which are open for each and every one of us to avail. The night prayer and its blessings transcend and translate into our daily lives, without us even realizing it.
Prophet Muhammad’s greatest trial was his role of being a universal guide for mankind and he excelled at it. His success was not something that took place overnight. In the earlier phases of prophethood, the night prayers or Qiyam-ul-layl was made mandatory for the Prophet Muhammad by Allah.
In order for us to pursue progress and achieve success in our lives, it is important that we refine and build upon our connection with Allah (SWT) in as many ways as our Prophet Muhammad prescribed through his Sunnah:
You should pray qiyaam al-layl, for it is the custom of the righteous who came before you and it brings you closer to your Lord, and expiates sins and prevents misdeeds. (At Tirmidhi 3549)
Allah chose this particular time for supplication and worship. It requires us to put in that extra effort to earn His blessings and rewards by fighting against our sleep and waking up just for the sole purpose of connecting with Allah.
Waking up for Qiyam helps us gain discipline, and strengthen self-control and willpower. Muslims learn to fight their ‘nafs’ and personal desires and in turn, gain purity and excellence. Thus, Qiyam-ul-layl is the path that may lead a believer to paradise and all that it encompasses:
In Paradise there are apartments the outside of which can be seen from the inside and the inside of which can be seen from the outside.
A Bedouin stood up and said:
“Who are they for, O Messenger of Allah?”
They are for those who speak good words, feed others, fast regularly and pray to Allah at night when people are sleeping. (At Tirmidhi 1984)