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Tahajjud (The Night Vigil Prayer)

Nafl salah or un-obligatory worship at night is a confirmed sunnah, a regular and unchanging practice of the Prophet Muhammad, blessings and peace of Allah be upon him. It is said that worship in the quiet hours of the night was personally obligatory upon the Prophet but upon no one else. This order upon the Prophet is expressed in the words of the Qur'án in Súrah al-Muzzammil, The Enwrapped:

yáá 'ayyuha-l-muzzammil — qumi-l-layla 'illá qalílá
Oh you enwrapped! Keep vigil the night, except a little;

nisfahúú 'owi-ñ-qus minhuqalílá — 'owzid ‘alayhi wa-rattili-l-qur'ána tartílá
half of it, or lessen it a little, or add to it a little; and chant the Qur'án in a slow, measured chant.

'inná sanulqí ‘alayka qowlañ thaqílá
Truly We shall charge you with a weighty Word.

'inna náshi'ata-l-layli hiya 'ashaddu wat'añ wa-'aqwamu qílá
Unquestionably rising at night is more powerful and that which is heard [in the hours of the night vigil] more certain.

'inna laka fi-n-nahári sabhañ tawílá
Indeed in the day you have a long line of duties [which take your time].

wa-dh-kuri-sma rabbika wa tabattal 'ilayhi tabtílá
So remember the Name of your Lord and devote yourself to Him with utter devotion.

Even if one can only do a little, wholly supererogatory prayers (unconnected with a specific time or reason) at night are more valuable than during the day.

If one divides the night into six parts, the fourth and fifth part are the best for prayer. If divided in half, the second half is best. If into thirds, the middle part is best. With this said Tahajjud is offered after ‘Isha and before Fajr.

It is recommended to begin one's night Tahajjud with two brief rak‘ahs, to have intended to make the Tahajjud before going to sleep, and to not make a practice of more prayer than one can regularly perform without harm to oneself.

As with all practices, it is important to make an intention to make Tahajjud and for a specific number of rak‘ahs. If one's intented number changes, whether fewer or greater, it is permissible to change one's intention. One finishes every two rak‘ah with salams. It is also recommended to finish your worship in the night with Witr after Tahajjud.


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