An article I wrote last year, but the topic is one I still strive to fulfill. InshaAllah, I can become a person who holds the love for tahajjud in her heart. Ameen.
Bismillah wAlhamdulillah wa salaatu wa salaam ‘ala Rasulillah.
Ever find yourself stirring in your sleep in the middle of the night? For some reason, you have randomly awoken and cannot seem to fall asleep again. Often times this proves a bother—especially when you are thinking, “Man, I have class in the morning. I need to sleep.” But just think—subhanAllah, this could be Allah ta’ala calling out to you. To you. Calling on His servant to spend some time worshipping Him and for some moments in solitude with Him.
We should recognize this as a blessing being sent to us and jump on this opportunity. It is understood that to do this is not an easy task as tahajjud linguistically means “to struggle to rid oneself of sleep”. While a struggle, this struggle of the night makes us more ready and able for the many struggles of the day—the struggles against our nafs, our worldly desires, and the corrupt facets of society. In particular, those committed to dawah (the calling to Islam) find tahajjud essential to their success as it reinvigorates them and provides them with the energy to go out each day and call others to this beautiful deen.
Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, mentions the night prayer numerous times throughout the Qur’an revealing its great merit. He ta’ala calls on His servants to wake in the night and to stand and prostrate to Him. Allah, Exalted be He, commanded the Prophet, salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, to stand at night in prayer to ready him for the Message to come. He said:
“O you enwrapped in garments! Stand (to prayer) by night, but not all night; Half of it, or a little less; Or a little more; and recite the Qur’an in slow, measured rhythmic tones. Soon shall We send down to thee a weighty Message.” (73:1-5)
In these verses, Allah ta’ala makes the night prayer obligatory on the Prophet, salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, alone. Though not obligatory on us, Allah ta’ala indicates a strong connection between standing for prayer in the night and dawah, when He says: “Soon, shall We send down to thee a weighty Message.” For the Prophet, salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, the night prayers served as a means to assist in his spreading of the Message of Islam as it should serve any da’iee (caller to Islam).
We have been advised, that if we were to cut the night into thirds, to wake for tahajjud in the final middle third. This is a time that only Allah, Most High, knows of your waking, knows of your steps toward the bathroom, and knows of the forsaking of your warm sheets to stand in front of Him and to ask of Him. This is a time when our minds are not preoccupied with the many activities of the day, but can be at peace with our hearts to reflect on the words of Allah ta’ala and our relationship with Him.
In Surat-as Sajdah, our Creator and Sustainer says: ‘They forsake their beds to cry unto their Lord in fear and hope, and spend of what We have bestowed on them. No soul knows what is kept hid from them of joy, as a reward for what they used to do.’ (32: 16-17)
Our Prophet, salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, shared with us that the most virtuous prayers after our obligatory prayers are those prayers made in the depths of the night. This is a time when a servant shows his/her complete sincerity (ikhlas) in his worship since only he and Allah ta’ala know of it. For the servant’s ikhlas, tahajjud has been granted this high rank with Allah ta’ala as He grants the one who makes tahajjud a common practice.
The Prophet’s, salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, feet would swell due to his hours of standing in the night. He had been forgiven and only acted out of gratitude to his Creator. We have not been granted this forgiveness but have been granted innumerable blessings. Should we not then be able to offer at least a portion of our nights to the One who gave us these nights and gave us our beds to even find repose in, asking for both His forgiveness and expressing our deep thankfulness? I ask for His forgiveness, mercy, and guidance.
“Perished are the speeches and vanished are the allusions; nothing benefited us except the prostrations which we made in the middle of the night.” (Al Junayd, Dear Beloved Son by Imam Al Ghazali)
May Allah ta’ala forgive me for my shortcomings and errors. Any good comes from only Him, ‘azza wa jal. May He make us among those who stand and prostrate in the night. Ameen.