Excellence of Prayer at Night – Qiyam al-layl

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Qiyam al-layl or night vigil is a source of great spiritual energy. The Quran commends the one who utilizes the early hours of each day to engage in remembrance of Allah: “Is one who worships devoutly during the hours of night prostrating himself or standing [in adoration] and who places his hope in the mercy of His Lord – [like one who does not]? Say: ‘Are those equal – those who know and those who do not know?’ It is those who are endowed with understanding that receive admonition.” [Az-Zumar 39:9]

“And in some parts of the night (also) perform the Salat (prayer) with it (i.e., recite the Qur’an in the prayer) as an additional prayer (Tahajjud optional prayer – Nawafil) for you (O Muhammad (PBUH)). It may be that your Lord will raise you to Maqam Mahmud (a station of praise and glory, i.e., the honour of intercession on the Day of Resurrection).” (17:79)

“Their sides forsake their beds…” (32:16)

“They used to sleep but little by night [invoking their Rabb (Allah) and praying, with fear and hope].’‘ (51:17)

The Prophet has said: “Keep up qiyam al-layl. It was the way of the virtuous who came before you, it draws you nearer to your Lord, atones for your sins, forbids you from evil and protects the body from sickness.” (Tirmidhi.)

“Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) kept standing (in prayer) so long that the skin of his feet would crack. I asked him: “Why do you do this, while you have been forgiven of your former and latter sins?” He said, “Should I not be a grateful slave of Allah?” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

COMMENTARY: This Hadith has already been mentioned. It is reproduced here to illustrate the practice of the Prophet (PBUH) in respect of Qiyam-ul-Lail. It tells us that:

o The nafl salat should be performed with full concentration and peace of mind.

o The more one is endowed with gifts from Allah, the greater gratitude and worship one should express for them to Allah.

o The best time for showing one’s humility before Allah and for worship is the later period of night.

“Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) visited me and Fatimah (May Allah be pleased with her) one night and said, “Do you not observe prayer (at night)?”[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

COMMENTARY: This Hadith tells us that one should also awaken others at night for prayer so that they also avail the benefits of performing prayer at this particular time.

“Salim bin `Abdullah bin `Umar bin Al-Khattab (May Allah be pleased with them) reported, on the authority of his father, that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “What an excellent man `Abdullah is! If only he could perform optional prayers at night.” Salim said that after this, (his father) `Abdullah slept very little at night.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

COMMENTARY: This Hadith points out the excellence of `Abdullah bin `Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) as well as the merits of Qiyam-ul-Lail.

“Abdullah bin Salam (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (PBUH) said, “O people, promote the greetings, feed (the poor and needy) and perform Salat when others are asleep so that you will enter Jannah safely.” [At-Tirmidhi].


o In the Early Hours by Khurram Murad chapter two

o Riyad-us-Saliheen Book Eight Chapter 212