Allah (swt) mentions in the Quran, ‘Is the one who worships devoutly in the watches of the night, prostrate and standing, fearful of the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord, (to be accounted equal with a disbeliever)? Say: are those who know equal with those who don’t know? But only people of understanding will pay heed.’” (al-Zumar 39: 9)
“ Establish worship at the going down of the sun until the dark of the night, and (the recital of) the Qur’an at dawn. Lo! (the recital of) the Qur’an at dawn is ever witnessed. And some part of the night awake for its recital, as voluntary worship for you. It may be that your Lord will raise you to a praised station.” (al-Israa’ 17: 78-79)
“Verily, the night vigil is (a time) when impression is more keen and speech more certain.” (al-Muzzammil 73:6)
“And the (faithful) servants of the Merciful are those…who spend the night before their Lord, prostrate and standing…’ [Qur’an, 25: 63-64]
“Their sides 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.’ (al-Sajdah 32: 16-17)
“Those who pray for pardon in the watches of the night.” (Ali ‘Imraan 3: 17)
Abu Hurayra reports that the Messenger of Allah (saw) was asked, “What prayer is most virtuous after the obligatory prayers?” He said, “Prayer in the depths of the night.” (Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i, Ibn Majah)
The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him, his family, and companions) said, “Hold fast to night prayer, for it was the way of the righteous before you, a way of drawing closer to your Lord, an expiation for wrong deeds, and a shield from sin.” (Tirmidhi)
The Prophet (saw) said, “Whoever recites ten verses in qiyaam will not be recorded as one of the forgetful. Whoever recites a hundred verses in qiyaam will be recorded as one of the devout, and whoever prays with a thousand verses in qiyaam will be recorded as one of the muqantareen (those who pile up good deeds).” (Reported by Abu Dawood and Ibn Hibbaan. It is a hasan report. Saheeh al-Targheeb, 635).
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said in a Hadith Qudsi: “Our Lord (swt) descends each night to the earth’s sky when there remains the final third of the night, and He says: Who is saying a prayer to Me that I may answer it? Who is asking something of Me that I may give it him? Who is asking forgiveness of Me that I may forgive him?” (Bukhari, Muslim, Malik, Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud)
After all these reasons to pray Qiyam in the night, subhan Allah how can we resist? How can we prefer sleep to it, or choose to stay up late doing other things and still miss such an opportunity. In Surah al-Muzzammil Allah (swt) describes the late hours of the night as being when our speech and contemplation is stronger while the day-time is spent busy with people and work. There is a special enjoyment for this act of worship. It’s one of the things we love most about Ramadan, and yet may so quickly abandon. The practical tip is very simple:
- 1. Start praying two extra rakahs after whatever you normally pray after Isha.
So if you normally don’t pray two rakahs of sunnah after Isha, then start with that. If you do pray your sunnah, add two more to it. Every week try to add another two rakahs until Ramadan begins. If you can only maintain just your two extra rakahs, that’s a great accomplishment insha Allah.
If you already pray Qiyam after Isha’, then your task is a bit harder. Try to wake up half an hour before fajr and pray your extra rakahs then. If you cannot do that, wake up during that time and at least make dua as your duas are more accepted then. Subhan Allah, there are countless stories of people who were granted seemingly impossible wishes and no they didn’t wish upon a star! They got up, made wudu, and prayed to Allah (swt) late in the night and asked Him directly, during the hour where He Himself asks, “Who is saying a prayer to Me that I may answer it? Who is asking something of Me that I may give it him? Who is asking forgiveness of Me that I may forgive him?” It would be a great time to take out your list of intentions from Day 30 and pray for them! A nightly opportunity worth more than we can imagine!
- 2. Start with ten verses for your extra two rakahs and gradually increase to a hundred so you may be recorded as one of the devout even before Ramadan starts!
Before anyone gets scared, a hundred verses especially from the last juz’ of the Quran, is not very hard to read. You can add ten verses a night and in ten nights you will be reading a hundred verses. You are also allowed to hold the Quran and read from it while praying Qiyam. Again, even if you never get past ten verses a night in Qiyam, that is something very valuable and a blessing not to be undermined. Express your shukr (gratitude) to Him for what He allows you to do, and He will increase it! May Allah (swt) allow us to graduate ‘from the school of the night’! May we be recorded with the devout and muqantareen!
When we feel lazy, an easy line to remember to hold to:
“It may be that your Lord will raise you to a praised station.” (Israa’ 79)
That is, a praised station with Him (swt).