Tahajjud prayer is one voluntary prayer that is performed at night, particularly after Isha time and before Fajr time enters. Sometimes, there is misconception between tahajjud prayer and night prayer (qiyam al-lail), that people consider these two things are similar.
Indeed, tahajjud prayer is included as night prayer, while night prayer itself can be various in its forms. It can be taraweeh prayer, hajah prayer, istikhara prayer, or other types of night prayers in Islam.
There is virtue if we do tahajjud prayer on second-half or last third of the night, which is around 2 A.M. or 3 A.M. It is because Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has ever said about it in a hadith. Thus, implementing it is a form of following his sunnah and we have chance to get more reward from Allah, as there is importance of sunnah in Muslim life.
أَخْبَرَهُ أَنَّ عَبْدَ اللَّهِ بْنَ عَمْرِو بْنِ الْعَاصِ ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ أَخْبَرَهُ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ لَهُ “ أَحَبُّ الصَّلاَةِ إِلَى اللَّهِ صَلاَةُ دَاوُدَ ـ عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ ـ وَأَحَبُّ الصِّيَامِ إِلَى اللَّهِ صِيَامُ دَاوُدَ، وَكَانَ يَنَامُ نِصْفَ اللَّيْلِ وَيَقُومُ ثُلُثَهُ وَيَنَامُ سُدُسَهُ، وَيَصُومُ يَوْمًا وَيُفْطِرُ يَوْمًا
“Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Al-‘As: Allah’s Messenger told me, “The most beloved prayer to Allah is that of David and the most beloved fasts to Allah are those of David. He used to sleep for half of the night and then pray for one third of the night and again sleep for its sixth part and used to fast on alternate days.” (Bukhari)
In addition, it is also recommended to perform tahajjud after sleeping, for the meaning of tahajjud is to give up hujud which means sleep.
But, many scholars define the term tahajjud in its general sense, which is performed during the night, after or before sleeping. Both of them are good, it’s just one of them is more virtuous.
Besides the one mentioned above, tahajjud prayer still has a lot of blessing virtues either explained in Al-Qur’an or sunnah. It becomes the excellent prayer after obligatory prayer, since people have to wake up in the middle of their deep sleep. It is certainly not easy. People who can perform it, especially in regular, are the chosen people.
عَنْ أَبِي بِشْرٍ، جَعْفَرِ بْنِ أَبِي وَحْشِيَّةَ أَنَّهُ سَمِعَ حُمَيْدَ بْنَ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ، يَقُولُ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ أَفْضَلُ الصَّلاَةِ بَعْدَ الْفَرِيضَةِ قِيَامُ اللَّيْلِ وَأَفْضَلُ الصِّيَامِ بَعْدَ رَمَضَانَ الْمُحَرَّمُ
“It was narrated from Abu Bishr Ja’far bin Abi Wahshiyyah: He heard Humaid bin ‘Abdur-Rahman say that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, ‘The best prayer after the obligatory (fard) prayers is prayer at night and the best fasting after the month of Ramadan is Al-Muharram.’” (Sunan an-Nasa’i)
The time of doing tahajjud prayer is the best time to pray and ask everything we want to Allah. At this time, Allah comes down on the nearest Heaven to us to grant our requests. With the quiet atmosphere, we will feel closer to Him and forget the worldly matter for a while.
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ “ يَنْزِلُ رَبُّنَا تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى كُلَّ لَيْلَةٍ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ الدُّنْيَا حِينَ يَبْقَى ثُلُثُ اللَّيْلِ الآخِرُ يَقُولُ مَنْ يَدْعُونِي فَأَسْتَجِيبَ لَهُ مَنْ يَسْأَلُنِي فَأُعْطِيَهُ مَنْ يَسْتَغْفِرُنِي فَأَغْفِرَ لَ
“Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s messenger (pbuh) said that Our Lord, the Blessed, the Superior, comes every night down on the nearest Heaven to us when the last third of the night remains, saying, ‘Is there anyone to invoke Me, so that I may respond to invocation? Is there anyone to ask Me, so that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone seeking My forgiveness, so that I may forgive him?’” (Bukhari)
However, before hoping for its virtues, we should know well first how to perform tahajjud prayer appropriately. Basically, the rules of doing tahajjud prayer are almost the same as the rules of doing other voluntary prayers or obligatory prayers. It’s just that there are some important points making tahajjud slightly different from other prayers.
- Before Performing Tahajjud, Firstly Clean Our Mouth
It is not obligatory, but the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) taught us to do so.
عَنْ حُذَيْفَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم كَانَ إِذَا قَامَ لِلتَّهَجُّدِ مِنَ اللَّيْلِ يَشُوصُ فَاهُ بِالسِّوَاكِ
“Narrated Hudhaifa that whenever the Prophet (pbuh) got up for Tahajjud prayer, he used to clean his mouth (and teeth) with siwak.” (Bukhari)
After sleeping, cleaning our mouth is a way to make ourselves feel fresh. Prayer is a holy meeting between us and Allah, so we need to prepare our physical and mental condition that can make us focus in doing it. Allah always sees us and knows our efforts.
- Niyyat (Intention)
Niyyat takes essential role in determining the value of our deeds. Good deeds we do will be nothing if we do not know what they are for. Fundamentally, niyyat lies in our hearts, though it will be better for us to specify that we are performing particular good deed, and in this case is tahajjud prayer.
According to the most references, below is niyyat of tahajjud prayer. This niyyat is said softly and heartily right before takbirah al-ihram.
أُصَلِّي سُنّةَ التَهَجُدِ رَكْعَتَيْنِ ِللَهِ تَعَاليَ
“I intend to pray tahajjud prayer two raka’ahs because of Allah ta’ala.”
- It is Performed in Two Raka’ahs Followed by Two Raka’ahs
The minimum raka’ah in tahajjud prayer is two raka’ahs, while there is no limitation of raka’ah in it. But, regardless to the amount of raka’ah in tahajjud prayer performed, Rasulullah (pbuh) used to offer it in two raka’ahs followed by two raka’ahs, and so on.
أَنَّ عَبْدَ اللَّهِ بْنَ عُمَرَ ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ قَالَ إِنَّ رَجُلاً قَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ، كَيْفَ صَلاَةُ اللَّيْلِ قَالَ “ مَثْنَى مَثْنَى، فَإِذَا خِفْتَ الصُّبْحَ فَأَوْتِرْ بِوَاحِدَةٍ ”
“Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar that a man said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger (pbuh)! How is the prayer of the night?’ He said, ‘Two raka’ah followed by two raka’ah and so on, and when you apprehend dawn, offer one raka’ah as witr.’” (Bukhari)
- It is Usually Followed by Witr Prayer
Our tahajjud will be more virtuous if we follow it with witr. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) used to do it in tahajjud prayer due to the importance of witr prayer for blessing life.
The minimum raka’ah in witr is one raka’ah, and the maximum raka’ah is eleven. However, witr can be offered before we sleep (e.g. after Isha), and we should not do it again after tahajjud, since there are no two witr prayer in one night.
عَنْ عَائِشَةَ ـ رضى الله عنها ـ قَالَتْ كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يُصَلِّي مِنَ اللَّيْلِ ثَلاَثَ عَشْرَةَ رَكْعَةً مِنْهَا الْوِتْرُ وَرَكْعَتَا الْفَجْرِ
“Narrated ‘Aisha, ‘The Prophet (pbuh) used to offer thirteen raka’ah of the night prayer and that included the witr and two raka’ah (Sunna) of the Fajr prayer.’” (Bukhari)
- Saying Sayyidul Istighfar When the Prayer is Done
After our tahajjud and witr are done, we can do various good deeds, such as reciting Al-Qur’an or praying. But the one that has the highest value is saying sayyidul istighfar, as Rasulullah (pbuh) said in a hadith. There are importance of istighfar for our lives, one of them is getting grace from Allah.
حَدَّثَنِي عُبَادَةُ بْنُ الصَّامِتِ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ “ مَنْ تَعَارَّ مِنَ اللَّيْلِ فَقَالَ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ وَحْدَهُ لاَ شَرِيكَ لَهُ، لَهُ الْمُلْكُ، وَلَهُ الْحَمْدُ، وَهُوَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَىْءٍ قَدِيرٌ. الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ، وَسُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ، وَلاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ، وَاللَّهُ أَكْبَرُ، وَلاَ حَوْلَ وَلاَ قُوَّةَ إِلاَّ بِاللَّهِ. ثُمَّ قَالَ اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِي. أَوْ دَعَا اسْتُجِيبَ، فَإِنْ تَوَضَّأَ وَصَلَّى قُبِلَتْ صَلاَتُهُ
“Narrated ‘Ubada bin As-Samit that the Prophet (pbuh) said, ‘Whoever gets up at night and says La ilaha illallah wahdahu la sharikalahu lahulmulk, walahulhamdu wahuwa ‘ala kulli shai’in qadir. Alhamdulillahi wa subhanallahi wa lailaha illallah wallahu akbar wa la hawla wala quwwata illabillah (None has the right to be worshipped but Allah. He is the Only One and has no partners. For Him is the Kingdom and all the praises are due for Him. He is Omnipotent. All the praises are for Allah. All the glories are for Allah. And none has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and Allah is Great and there is neither Might nor Power except with Allah), and then says Allahumma ighfirli (O Allah! Forgive me). Or invokes (Allah), he will be responded to and if he performs ablution (and prays), his prayer will be accepted.’” (Bukhari)
From the explanation of how to perform tahajjud prayer above, it is not difficult to offer and everyone can do it. If there are a lot of people who cannot do it, the matter is certainly inside themselves. They probably lack of motivation and do not really understand the virtues of sunnah prayers, specifically night prayers.