The significance of qiyam ul-layl

The term “Qiyam Al-Layl” originates from the Holy Quran, referring to the Tahajjud prayer. The Tahajjud prayer is optimally performed after midnight but before fajr.

During the blessed month of Ramadan, believers remain awake, engaged in prolonged prayers, seeking to draw closer to Allah. This period of extended prayers is known as Qiyam Al-Layl.

Merits of Qiyam Al-Layl:

As stated in the Holy Quran:

{And as for the night, keep awake a part of it as an additional prayer for you: soon will your Lord raise you to a station of praise and glory!} (Al-Israa’ 17:79)

Though this command was addressed directly to the Prophet (peace be upon him), it is intended for his followers as well, encouraging them to engage in these additional prayers as an act of devotion to Allah.

In the Holy Quran, Allah speaks of the devout who engage in night prayers:

{They arise from [their] beds; they supplicate their Lord in fear and aspiration, and from what We have provided them, they spend.} (As-Sajdah 32:16)

This verse, and others like it, clearly allude to Qiyam Al-Layl. Furthermore, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

Persevere in Qiyam Al-Layl. It was the practice of the righteous who preceded you, drawing you nearer to your Lord, atoning for your sins, forbidding evil, and protecting the body from illness. (At-Tirmidhi)

Aishah, the wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him), reported that he would stand for such extended periods during night prayers that the skin of his feet would crack. When asked why he engaged in such lengthy prayers despite his past and future sins having been forgiven, he replied:

Should I not be a grateful servant of Allah? (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) stated:

The best of prayers, after the prescribed prayers, is prayer in the depths of the night, and the best of fasting after the month of Ramadan is fasting the month of Allah, Muharram. (Muslim)

According to Amr ibn Absah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

The time when the Lord is closest to His servant is during the latter part of the night, so if you can be among those who remember Allah at that time, then do so. (At-Tirmidhi)

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) preferred to retire early, after isha prayer, in order to avoid excessive sleep and the risk of missing fajr prayer or Qiyam Al-Layl. Umar ibn al-Khattab similarly encouraged people to sleep early to avoid missing Qiyam Al-Layl.

Qiyam Al-Layl is an act of worship that connects the heart to Allah, enabling it to overcome life’s temptations and to strive against one’s own desires at a time when silence prevails, eyes are closed in slumber, and sleepers toss and turn in their beds.

Hence, Qiyam Al-Layl is a demonstration of sincere determination and one of the attributes of those with lofty aspirations. Allah has praised them and distinguished them from others in the Holy Quran:

{Is one who is obedient to Allah, prostrating himself or standing [in prayer] during the hours of the night, fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord [like one who disbelieves]? Say: ‘Are those who know equal to those who know not?’ It is only men of understanding who will remember.} (Az-Zumar 39:9)

Qiyam Al-Layl is a sunnah mu’akkadah (confirmed practice of the Prophet, recommended to be followed), which the Prophet (peace be upon him) urged us to perform, saying:

You should pray Qiyam Al-Layl, for it is the practice of the righteous people who came before you, and it will bring you closer to your Lord, expiate bad deeds, prevent sin, and expel disease from the body. (At-Tirmidhi and Ahmad)

He (peace be upon him) consistently practiced Qiyam Al-Layl and never abandoned it, whether he was traveling or residing at home. His companions and the early generations of Muslims also followed his example, performing Qiyam Al-Layl as a means of seeking closeness to Allah.

During Ramadan, Qiyam Al-Layl takes on even greater importance as believers strive to make the most of the blessed month. In addition to the voluntary Tahajjud prayer, Muslims also perform Taraweeh prayers, which are a form of Qiyam Al-Layl specific to Ramadan.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) advised Muslims to perform Qiyam Al-Layl during Ramadan:

Whoever performs Qiyam Al-Layl during Ramadan out of sincere faith and seeking its reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

In conclusion, Qiyam Al-Layl is a highly recommended act of worship that holds great rewards and spiritual benefits for those who engage in it. It is an opportunity for believers to draw closer to Allah, especially during the blessed month of Ramadan. May Allah grant us the strength and perseverance to engage in this noble act of worship and reap its many blessings. Ameen.

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