Friday, August 28, 2009

7 practical tips for praying Qiyam Al-Layl

Qiyam means standing and Qiyam Al-Layl means standing at night. In the Islamic terminology, both words refer to the voluntary night prayer, whose time extends from after Isha prayer until dawn.
Other common names for Qiyam Al-Layl are Salat-ul-Layl (the night prayer), Tahajjud (from hajada, meaning remained one who awake at night), and Taraweeh (resting).
A widespread misconception is that Tahajjud is a different night prayer than Qiyam or Taraweeh. It is important to clarify this misunderstanding and to make clear that the voluntary night prayer is known by different names.

1. Ikhlas (Sincerity)
Allah’s Help is required not only for worldly affairs but also for our worship. And Allah helps those who are sincere in their hearts. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “If you are truthful with Allah, then Allah will deliver to you what you wish for.” (An-Nasa’i, Al-Hakim and Sahih Al-Jami’’)
Therefore, one should have a sincere intention to pray Qiyam Al-Layl. One should seek the pleasure of Allah alone and avoid any desire of praise or fame. Allah says:

“And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allah, and worship none but Him Alone…” (Qur’an, 98:5)

Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “The degree to which a person is helped and aided by Allah depends on the degree of his intention, drive, aim and hopes. Help from Allah comes to people in proportion to their drive, intention, hopes and fears. Failure comes to them in a similar manner.”
2. Know the virtue
Knowing the virtues and rewards of worship encourages us to perform them. The virtue of praying at night during Ramdan supersedes the virtue of praying any other night during the year. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: “Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) encouraged the people, without making it an absolute command, to perform Qiyam during Ramadan. He (peace be upon him) used to say: ‘Whoever stands (in Qiyam) in Ramadan out of faith and expectation (of Allah’s reward), all his previous sins will be forgiven.’ ” (Sahih Muslim)

3. Take a nap
Taking a nap before or after Zuhr Salah will reduce stress and give you sufficient energy to wake up late at night to stand in front of your Lord. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Take a nap, for the Shayateen (pl. of Shaytan) do not take naps.” (At-Tabarani, Al-Sahihah, no. 2647)

4. Sleep as per the Sunnah
• Sleep early! It’s a healthy habit and it was the practice of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him). He would sleep immediately after performing the Isha prayer. Abu Barzah Al-Aslami said the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to prefer to delay Isha, and he did not like to sleep before it or talk after it.” (Al-Bukhari)

• Sleep in a state of taharah (cleanliness). Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Purify these bodies and Allah will purify you, for there is no slave who goes to sleep in a state of purity, but an Angel spends the night with him, and every time he turns over, (the Angel) says, ‘O Allah! Forgive Your slave, for he went to bed in a state of purity.’ ” (At-Tabarani, Sahih Al-Jami’, no. 3831)

• Choose a suitable bed. Extreme luxury and very soft mattresses provoke laziness. We tend to sleep more and become negligent. Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated that the pillow of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was made of leather stuffed with palm fibers.” (Abu Dawood and Musnad Ahmad, Sahih Al-Jami’, no. 4714)

• Keep the bed clean and lie on your right side. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “When any one of you goes to bed, let him clear his bed by hitting it with his garment, for he does not know what may have come onto it. Then let him lie down on his right side…” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

• Recite the Adhkar (supplications) mentioned in the Sunnah before sleeping. Among the Adhkar are reciting the last two verses of Surah Al-Baqarah; reciting Surah Al-Falaq, Al-Nas and Ikhlas and blowing in the palms and wiping as much of the body as possible – starting from the head, face and then the front of the body – three times; and saying Subhan Allah 33 times, Alhamdulillah 33 times and Allahu Akbar 34 times. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

5. Don’t eat too much
Eating and drinking too much are the main obstacles that make one lazy and negligent of Qiyam Al-Layl. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Man fills no vessel worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to have a few mouthfuls to give him the strength he needs. If he has to fill his stomach, then let him leave one-third for food, one-third for drink and one-third for air.” (At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, Sahih Al-Jami’, no. 5674)
Abu Juhayfah reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said to a man who burped in his presence: “Stop your burping, for the people who eat the most in this life will be the most hungry on the Day of Resurrection.” (Al-Hakim, Sahih Al-Jami’, no. 1190)

6. Exert yourself
Exert yourself to get up and pray. Rise above your desires. Allah says in the Qur’an:

“And as for those who strive hard in Our Cause, We will surely guide them to Our Paths. And verily, Allah is with the Muhsinoon (good-doers).” (Qur’an, 29:69)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The Mujahid (one who strives in the Cuase of Allah) is the one who strives against his own self for the sake of Allah.” (Al-Tirmidhi, Al-Sahihah, no. 549)
He (peace be upon him) also said: “When a man from my Ummah gets up to pray at night, striving against his own self to get up and purify himself, there are knots on him. When he washes his hands in wudu, one knot is undone. When he washes his face, another knot is undone. When he wipes his head another knot is undone. When he washes his feet, another knot is undone. Then Allah says to those who are veiled (in the Unseen): ‘Look at this slave of Mine, he is striving against his own self and asking of Me. Whatever My slave asks of Me shall be his.” (Musnad Ahmad, Sahih Al-Targheeb, no. 627)

7. Regret if you missed it
Qiyam Al-Layl is a great blessing of Allah. He has kept numerous spiritual benefits and rewards for the believer in this prayer. Therefore, one should regret if he misses this great opportunity of achieving rewards and the Pleasure of Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an:

“O you who believe! Fear Allah and keep your duty to Him. And let every person look to what he has sent forth for the morrow, and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what you do.” (Qur’an, 59:18)

Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim said, “If the slave is responsible and accountable for everything, even his hearing, sight and innermost thoughts, as Allah says, “…Verily, hearing, sight, and the heart of each of you will be questioned by Allah.” (Qur’an, 17:36), then he should check on himself before he is brought to account.” – As-Sunnah

Ref: ‘The Night Prayers’ by Muhammad Nasir-ud-Deen Al-Albani