As the month of Ramadan approaches, it is wise to plan ahead in order to make the most of the blessed month and maximise the benefits.
Qiyam-ul Layl or the optional night prayer, also known as tarawih and tahajjud, is one of the best ways to achieve this goal.
The rewards of this special ibadah (worship) vary. It is talked about in many verses in the Quran and Hadith. The nights of Ramadan are also a perfect opportunity to develop the habit of observing tahajjud prayers.
Here are 15 ahadith that portray the significance of this practice and the Prophet’s (peace and blessings be upon him) advice regarding it*:
When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) prayed (the optional night prayers: Qiyam-ul-layl), he would stand until (the skin of) his feet swelled. So, I said:
“O Prophet of Allah, do you do as such while Allah has forgiven you all mistakes?”
He responded: “Should not I be a grateful servant of Allah?” (Muslim)
I prayed one night with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and he kept standing until I thought of doing something bad.”
`Abdullah was asked, “What was that?”
He said: “I thought of sitting down and leaving him.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
I prayed with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) one night and he started reciting [surat] Al-Baqarah.
I thought that he would bow at the end of one hundred verses, but he proceeded on; so I thought that he would perhaps recite the whole surah in a rak`ah.
He continued reciting and I had the belief that he would bow on completing the Surah. However, he went on and started [surat] An-Nisaa’ and recited it all.
Then he started [surat] Aal `Imran and recited it.
He recited leisurely: when he reached a verse which referred to the Glory of Allah, he glorified Allah; when he recited a verse that includes a supplication, he would supplicate Allah; and when he came across a verse related toisti`adha (seeking Allah’s protection), he asked Allah for protection.
Then he bowed and repeated (while bowing): ‘Subhana rabbia al-`adheem‘ (Glory be to my Mighty Lord.) His bowing lasted about the same length of his standing time.
(Then, on returning to the standing posture afterruku`) he said:
Sami` Allahu liman Hamidah
rabbana walka al-Hamd
Allah responds to whoever praises Him
O Lord, Yours is the praise
He stood about the same length of time as he had spent in bowing. He then prostrated himself and said:
Subhana Rabbia Al-A`la
Glory be to my Lord, the most High
His prostration lasted nearly the same length of time as his standing. (Muslim)
“What an excellent man `Abdullah is! If only he could perform [optional] prayers at night.”
Salim said that after this, (his father) `Abdullah used to sleep very little at night. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
“O `Abdullah, do not be like so and so! He used to pray at night and then he stopped doing that” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
“The best month for observing fasting after Ramadan is Allah’s month of Muharram, and the best Salah after the prescribed Salah is Salah at night.” (Muslim)
“Whosoever performs Qiyam (optional night prayer) during Ramadan out of faith and being hopeful of Allah’s reward, will have his past sins forgiven.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whosoever performs Qiyam (optional night prayer) during Lailat Al-Qadr (Night of Decree), out of faith and being hopeful of Allah’s reward, will have his past sins forgiven.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
When the Prophet arrived for the first time in Madinah, I went with everyone to see him. When I saw him, I knew his face was not that of a liar. The first words he said were,
“O people, spread Salam (greeting of peace), give food, maintain kin relationships, and pray at night while people are asleep. With this, you shall enter Heaven in peace.” (Ibn Majah)
“Night prayers are to be offered two by two, then if you fear that dawn will come, make [the total of the rak`ahs you performed] an odd number by praying one [additional] rak`ah.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
“When one of you gets up at night to perform [optional night] prayer, let him start Salah with two short Rak`ahs.” (Muslim).
When the last ten nights of Ramadan entered, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would revive the night in worship and awake his family… (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
“May Allah show mercy to a man who gets up during the night and performs Salah, awakens his wife to pray and if she refuses, he sprinkles water on her face (to make her get up).
May Allah show mercy to a woman who gets up during the night and performs Salah, awakens her husband for the same purpose; and if he refuses, she sprinkles water on his face.” (Abu Dawud).
“When a man awakens his wife during the night and they both perform two Rakat prayer together, they are recorded among the men and women who celebrate remembrance of Allah.” (Abu Dawud)
*Most of this collection is based on the chapters on Qiyam in Imam An-Nawawi’s Riyad As-saliheen