#136: The Meaning and Methodology of Tahajjud Prayer

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. Can you explain the meaning of the word “tahajjud”? And the methodology of performing tahajjud prayer.

Answer:

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those who follow his footsteps until the Last Day.

Tahajjud prayer has great advantages as stated in a hadith narrated from Abu Hurairah RA, the Prophet PBUH said:

وَأَفْضَلُ الصَّلَاةِ بَعْدَ الْفَرِيضَةِ؛ صَلَاةُ اللَّيْلِ

“The most excellent prayer after that which is obligatory is the (voluntary) late-night prayer.” [1]

Ibn Rajab said: “The tahajjud time at night is best filled with the performance of sunnah prayers. At the time, a slave is closest to his Lord. This is the time the doors to the heavens are open and the supplications are granted. This is also the time to ask anything one needs to Allah SWT.” [2]

From Abu Hurairah RA, Rasullullah PBUH said:

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 لَهُ

“Our Lord who is blessed and exalted descends every night to the lowest heaven when two-thirds of the night has passed and says, “Who supplicates me so that I may answer him? Who asks of me so that I may give to him? Who asks my forgiveness so that I may forgive him?” [3]

Syeikh Mustafa al-Bugha said: (Included) in what “descends” are the descend of His stipulations, His blessings, His grace and His forgiveness.

In answering the above question, we start with the statement of Allah SWT:

وَمِنَ اللَّيْلِ فَتَهَجَّدْ بِهِ نَافِلَةً لَّكَ عَسَىٰ أَن يَبْعَثَكَ رَبُّكَ مَقَامًا مَّحْمُودًا

“And from [part of] the night, pray with it as additional [worship] for you; it is expected that your Lord will resurrect you to a praised station.” [4]

Allah SWT states: (فَتَهَجَّدْ بِهِ). This verse means to stay up at night. The word “الْهُجُودُmeans sleep while the word “التَّهَجُّدُ” follows the wazan (word scale – arrangement of spoken words that results in different meanings) “تَفَعُّلٌ” which means an effort of doing the act and reaffirms the original meaning.

Sometimes the word scale following the wazanتَفَعُّلٌ” means a denial of the act, where “تَهَجَّدَ” means the denial ofالْهُجُودَ” (sleep). [5]

The Methodology of Performing Tahajjud Prayer and Its Time

Regarding the methodology of performing tahajjud prayer, there are three opinions:

  • Starts with sleeping, then praying, then sleep and then praying.
  • Pray after sleeping first.
  • Performed after Isya’ prayer.

This is stated by tabi’in scholars regarding the methodology of tahajjud. It’s possible that the opinion is based on the action of the Prophet PBUH who slept, then pray, then sleep again and pray.

Thus, they referred to the action of the Prophet PBUH to uphold the commandment in the verse of the Quran. If such is the situation, then there is a great possibility that the opinion is true.

Why Qiamullail is the reason to reach an honourable status?

Scholars have two opinions on this matter:

  • Allah created anything He wishes as the reason to attain His blessings, regardless of whether the wisdoms behind it is known or not.
  • In qiamullail, there is an element of seclusion and remembrance of Allah SWT without any involvement of others. Thus, the Prophet PBUH was granted seclusion and remembrance with Allah SWT in the hereafter. Hence, this is the honourable level.

Whereas, for the rest of mankind, everyone is at a different level. The highest level is attained by the Prophet Muhammad PBUH for he is granted all sorts of praise that isn’t given to anyone else, and the Prophet PBUH is also allowed to intercede which isn’t allowed to anyone else.

Wallahu a’lam.

 

[1] Narrated by Muslim (1163)

[2] See Lata’if al-Ma’arif, pg. 77

[3] Narrated by al-Bukhari (1145)

[4] (Surah al-Isra’: 79)

[5] See Ahkam al-Quran by Ibn al-‘Arabi, 5/372

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