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Prayer qiyam

Published on October 10th, 2016 | by Abu Umayza | Views: 3061


12 Reasons for Performing Qiyamul Layl

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

الحـمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله وعلى آلـه وصحبه ومن والاه

Jabir bin Abdullah رضي الله عنه narrated that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said (relating what Jibreel said when he came to him):

واعلم أن شرف المؤمن قيامه بالليل ، وعزه استغناؤه عن الناس

“…and know that sharaf (honour and nobility) of the believer lies in his qiyamul layl (standing in the night in prayer), and his ‘izzah (dignified greatness) lies in being needless (and independent) from the people.”

[Al-Hakim, 3289, Tabarani, 4278 and Bayhaqi – graded as hasan by al-Mundhiri in ‘At-Targheeb’, 2/43′ al-Haythami in ‘Majma’ az-Zawa’id’, 10/222; and al-Albani in ‘Saheeh al-Jaami’, 73 (see also ‘Silsilat as-Saheehah’, 831)]

Qiyamul layl and being needless from people share common traits as they both act as cause and effect. The more one stands (voluntarily) in front of his Rabb in the silent depths of the nights – seeking His Help and relying upon Him alone – the more he feels content and certain of being granted provision; and the less he relies on people around him or worries about what they possess.

In many ‘culturalised’ Muslim communities, one’s honour and rank is measured by family background, ethnicity, by wealth and social circle/status. These racial and material determinants do not feature the qualitative aspects of a person’s spiritual development and the level of taqwah and connection one has with Allah. And as turmoil engulfs the ummah from all sides, this special salah is a profound (yet neglected) way of re-connecting with Allah in order to seek solace and try to perfect our servitude towards Him inwardly and outwardly.

There are many profound reasons why Allah سبحانه و تعالى links honour and nobility with qiyamul layl. To understand some of these reasons should become a strong incentive for us all to become accustomed to performing this special prayer and instil within ourselves habits and characteristics by which Allah would increase our standing with Him in the Hereafter, as well as bring support and aid in this life.

As we progress, it will ‘insha Allah become acutely obvious where the solution to our problems lie and enliven us to become more careful and attentive towards it.

And Allah سبحانه و تعالى grants honour and dignity to whom He Wills.

ONE: It is from the best acts of (voluntary) ibadah.

Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه narrated that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

أفضل الصيام بعد رمضان شهر الله المحرم وأفضل الصلاة بعد الفريضة صلاة الليل

“The best of fasting after Ramadan is the month of Allah, Muharram, and the best of salah after the obligatory salah, is the salah of the night.”

[Saheeh Muslim, 1163]

Fasting in Muharram and performing qiyamul layl are voluntary, and they have been described as the best of acts after the obligatory ones. Voluntary fasting is from among the most superior and beloved acts to Allah – and here it has been mentioned together with qiyamul layl.

One reason for this linkage is because just like (voluntary) fasting, qiyamul layl is an act that is hidden from people. This means there is no showing off involved as may happen in other acts of worship, thus reflecting true sincerity of a person. One can have nothing more beneficial than sincerity towards his Rabb in his affairs, and with sincerity of resolve. He should be sincere towards Him in his determined willfulness and in his actions.

TWO – It’s an expiation for sins.

Mu’ad bin Jabal رضي الله عنه narrated that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

ألا أدلك على أبواب الخير : الصوم جنة، والصدقة تطفيء الخطيئة، كما يطفئ الماء النار، وصلاة الرجلُ من جوف الليل، قال : ثم تلا { تَتَجَافَى جُنُوبُهُمْ عَنِ الْمَضَاجِعِ } حتى بلغَ { يَعْمَلُونَ } *ن

“Shall I not tell you about the doors to goodness: Fasting is a shield (from punishment) and sadaqah extinguishes sin as water extinguishes fire; and the salah of the man in the depth of the night.” He said: “Then recite: ‘Their sides forsake their beds, to invoke their Lord in fear and hope, and they spend out of what We have bestowed on them. No person knows what is kept hidden for them of joy as a reward for what they used to do.'” [Tirmidhi, 2616, who graded it as hasan saheeh]

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم imparted this profound advice to Mu’ad, who was from among the most learned and noble Sahabi. * He صلى الله عليه وسلم linked qiyamul layl to the descriptions in Surat as-Sajdah, 16-17; and this expiation is also similarly alluded to in another hadeeth where the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم mentioned how Allah سبحانه و تعالى marvels at two men; one of whom gets out of his warm bed at night and removes himself from his family in order to perform salah. Upon which Allah Says to His Angels, ‘Look at this slave of Mine who got up from his bed and left from amongst his family to offer salat, desiring what is with Me (i.e. Paradise) and fearing what is with Me (i.e. Hellfire)…’ [see ‘Musnad Ahmad’, 6/22 (authenticated by Ahmad Shakir and others)]

What is also important to note from this hadeeth is that the term “doors to goodness” remains unqualified, and when a reward or benefit remain unqualified, this implies something huge and without measure.

THREE – It brings the worshipper closer to his Rabb.

‘Amr bin Absa رضي الله عنه narrated that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

أقرب ما يكون الرب من العبد في جوف الليل الآخر فإن استطعت أن تكون ممن يذكر الله في تلك الساعة فكن

“The closest a slave comes to his Rabb is during the depth of the latter part of the night. So if you can be among those who remember Allah at that time (period), then do so.”

[Tirmidhi, 3579 who graded it as hasan saheeh (see also ‘Saheeh al-Jaami’, 1173)]

Our righteous Salaf used to enjoy qiyamul layl and rejoice greatly in performing it. They understood the significance of being close to Allah and what this entailed by way of His Mercy and Forgiveness. The words of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم , “If you can be among those who remember of Allah at this time, then do so” was such a powerful incentive, that they knew the result of this encouragement could only be equally good. In another narration, the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم is reported to have said:

عليكم بقِيامِ الليلِ فإنه دَأبُ الصالحينَ قبلَكم ، وهُوَ قُربةٌ لكم إلى ربِّكم ، ومُكَفِّرَةٌ لِلسَّيِّئاتِ ، ومَنهاةٌ عَن الإثمِ

“Upon you is (to perform) qiyamul layl, for it is the habit of the righteous before you. And it will bring you closer to your Rabb, and expiate for bad deeds, and prevent sin.”

(and in another version in Tirmidhi, “and expel disease from the body”). [Ibn Khuzymah, 1135, graded as hasan by al-Albani and others]

And it is only through expiation and prevention of sins, that Allah سبحانه و تعالى enables and ennobles His ‘abd to come close to Him. And this is from the greatest of achievements.

FOUR – It will cause one to enter Paradise in peace.

Abdullah bin Salaam رضي الله عنه narrated that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

يا أيها الناس أفشوا السلام وأطعموا الطعام وصلوا بالليل والناس نيام تدخلوا الجنة بسلام

“O people, spread the salaam, and give food, and pray at night when the people are sleeping; you will enter Paradise in peace (and safety).”

[Ibn Majah, 1105 and Tirmidhi, 2485, who graded it saheeh]

And in the narration of Suhayb Ar-Rumi رضي الله عنه, who said, “…without a doubt the Prophet of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم used to say: ‘The best of you are those who give food to people and those who return the Salaam’, so that is what causes me to give out food to people.” [see Musnad Ahmad, 6/16 and others; authenticated by Ibn Hajr in ‘al-Ahadeeth al-‘Aliyaat’, 25 – and classed as saheeh in ‘Silsilah as-Saheehah’, 1/73]

The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم also said: “Feed the people, and greet those whom you know and those whom you do not know.” [Agreed upon] – and about this hadeeth, Ibn Rajab said, “The hadeeth makes connection between feeding others and spreading salaam because this combines good actions in both word and deed, which is (perfected) good treatment (ihsaan). Indeed, this is the best thing that you can do in Islam after the obligatory duties.” [Fath al-Baari, 1/43]

The virtue of spreading the salaam are many just as feeding each other; both are a means to maintaining ties of kinship and brotherhood – and none will enter Paradise who sever such ties nor have faith until they love one another. Praying at night will cause one to enter Paradise in peace because one’s heart is attached to Allah and finds tranquility and peace in His remembrance, all the while others prefer sleep. Many more reasons will become clear as we continue this series ‘insha Allah…

FIVE – Its level of reward is raised by twenty-five degrees.

Suhayb bin Sinan رضي الله عنه narrated that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

صلاة الرجل تطوعا حيث لا يراه الناس تعدل صلاته على أعين الناس خمسا وعشرين

“The voluntary salah of a man (performed) where people are unable to see him, outweighs the salah (performed) where people are able to see him by twenty-five degrees.”

[Musnad Abi Ya’la, and attributed to him by Ibn Hajar in ‘Mutaalib al-Aaliyah’, 4/534; see also ‘Ikmal al-Ikmal’, 3/337 – graded as saheeh by al-Albani in ‘Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3821]

Similarly it is also recorded (in marfoo’ form) that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم is reported to have said:

فضل صلاة الرجل في بيته على صلاته حيث يراه الناس كفضل الصلاة المكتوبة على النفل

“The superiority of (voluntary) salah of a man (performed) in the house (in contrast) to the salah where people can see him, is like the superiority of the obligatory salah over the voluntary.”

[Tabarani, ‘Mu’jam al-Kabeer’, 8/46; Ibn Abi Shaybah and others – graded as hasan in ‘Saheeh al-Jaami’, 4217]

Obligatory salah performed in jama’ah (in the masjid) is superior to the salah performed alone by twenty seven degrees – and here also we have additional opportunity to increase reward twenty five-fold by performing voluntary salah away from the prying eyes of people.

From the reasons for (being given) this status is because voluntary salat are legislated to draw nearer to Allah. And if an act of worship is done in secret, then it resonates ikhlas and is farther from showing off and seeking fame, than acts done publicly. On the other hand, obligatory acts of ibadah were legislated to be carried out in public as these acts and rites help establish the Deen when everyone sees them being performed.

SIX – It encompasses a special time period wherein invocation is granted.

Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه narrated that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

ينزل ربنا تبارك وتعالى كل ليلة إلى السماء الدنيا حين يبقى ثلث الليل الآخر يقول: من يدعوني فأستجيب له؟ من يسألني فأعطيه؟ من يستغفرني فأغفر له؟

“Every night our Rabb تبارك وتعالى Descends to the samaa’ of the dunya in the last third of the night and Asks: ‘Who will call upon Me, so that I may answer him? Who will ask of Me, so that I may grant him? Who will seek My Forgiveness, so that I may forgive him?'” [Agreed upon]

No doubt Allah provides for His creation every moment of the day. Yet for Muslims, there are special and exclusive time periods when du’a is especially encouraged and granted – and the last third of the night is amongst them. It is for those upon whom is the favour of Allah and who have been given tawfeeq, to perform ‘ibadah in the night in anticipation of encountering Allah’s Promise.

It was also narrated on the authority of Jabir bin ‘Abdullah رضي الله عنه that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

إن في الليل لساعة لا يوافقها رجل مسلم يسأل الله خيرا من أمر الدنيا والآخرة إلا أعطاه إياه وذلك كل ليلة

“Verily in the night there is an hour, no Muslim reaches it, asking Allah for goodness from matters of the Dunya or the Akhirah, except that Allah gives it to him, and that is in every night.” [Saheeh Muslim, 757]

Taking both the narrations together, it is understood that the special “hour of asking for goodness” is to be found in the last third of night. It was also for this reason that Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه added: “…The Companions of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم used to prefer performing (optional) salah at the end of the night rather than the start of the night.” Abu Muslim narrated that he asked Abu Dharr رضي الله عنه, “Which Qiyamul Layl is the most superior?” He replied, “I asked the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم the same that you asked, and he said, “The one (performed) in the middle of the (latter half of the) night, and very few perform it.” [Musnad Ahmad, 5/179]

Imam Ash-Shafi’i so eloquently said in his Diwan, “Do you belittle du’a and discount it while not knowing what the prayer accomplishes. The arrows of the night do not miss their target, but they have a (limited time) span, and the span then finishes.”

SEVEN – It expels negligence from the heart.

Abdullah bin ‘Amr رضي الله عنه narrated that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

من قام بعشر آيات لم يكتب من الغافلين ومن قام بمائة آية كتب من القانتين ومن قام بألف آية كتب من المقنطرين

“Whoever stands (in prayer) reciting ten Ayaat will not be recorded as one of the ghaafileen (negligent). Whoever stands (in prayer) reciting one hundred Ayaat will be recorded as one of the qaaniteen (firmly devout). Whoever stands (in prayer) reciting one thousand Ayaat will be recorded as one of the muqantireen [those who will be given a qintaar* as reward].”

[Abi Da’wud, 1398 – graded as hasan by Ibn Hajar in ‘Nata’ij al-Afkar’, 3/253; and saheeh by al-Albani in ‘Saheeh Abi Da’wud’, 1398 (see also ‘Saheeh al-Jaami’, 6439)]

* Al-Tabaraani narrated that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “A qintaar is better than this world and everything in it.” [see ‘Saheeh al-Targheeb’, 638] Others also mention that a qintaar is a very large amount of gold.

There are a few variations of this hadeeth and some scholars have commented on the generality of its meaning. Some have explained what is implied by these narrations is qiyamul layl (e.g. see here) – It is therefore prudent and far-sightedness for a person to grasp every opportunity to attain goodness. The importance of this matter becomes clear when one understands with whom Allah سبحانه و تعالى has associated the word ‘ghaafileen’ with in the Qur’an. So we should make it a regular habit to implement these directives and not risk falling into neglect with regards our Deen; and aim higher to become from those who:

وَاذْكُر رَّبَّكَ فِي نَفْسِكَ تَضَرُّعًا وَخِيفَةً وَدُونَ الْجَهْرِ مِنَ الْقَوْلِ بِالْغُدُوِّ وَالْآصَالِ وَلَا تَكُن مِّنَ الْغَافِلِينَ

“And remember your Rabb within yourself, humbly and with fear and without loudness in words in the mornings, and in the afternoons and be not of those who are al ghaafileen.”

[Al-A’raaf, 205]

EIGHT: It brings about the love of Allah.

Abu Darda’ رضي الله عنه narrated that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

ثلاثة يحبهم الله عز وجل ، ويضحك إليهم ، ويستبشر بهم : الذي إذا انكشفت فئة ؛ قاتل وراءها بنفسه لله عز وجل ، فإما أن يقتل ، وإما أن ينصره الله ويكفيه ، فيقول الله : انظروا إلى عبدي كيف صبر لي نفسه ؟ ! والذي له امرأة حسناء ، وفراش لين حسن ، فيقوم من الليل ، ف [ يقول : ] يذر شهوته ، فيذكرني ويناجيني ، ولو شاء رقد ! والذي يكون في سفر ، وكان معه ركب ؛ فسهروا ونصبوا ، ثم هجعوا ، فقام من السحر في سراء أو ضراء

“(There are) three whom Allah عز وجل loves, laughs at them and rejoices at them. [The first is] he who, when his battalion is exposed, he fights behind it for the Cause of Allah عز وجل. He is either killed or Allah Grants him victory and suffices him, so Allah Says, ‘Look at My servant, how he endures his soul for Me?’ [The second is] he who has a beautiful wife and a nice soft bed, yet he stands up (at night) to pray, then (Allah Says) ‘he discards his desires to make dhikr of Me and invoke Me, and if he wanted he could have slept.’ [The third is] he who is on journey with a caravan that stayed up til late night, tired and exhausted; then they slept, so he (woke up to) stand in prayer before dawn, (whether he is) in a state of joy or adversity.”

[Al-Hakim, ‘Al-Mustadrak’, 68; Bayhaqi, ‘Al-Asma’ wal-Sifat’, 931 and Tabarani in Mu’jam al-Kabeer – Al-Haythami graded the narrators as thiqat in ‘Majma’ az-Zawa’id’, 2/258; hasan by Al-Mundhiri, ‘At-Targheeb’, 1/297; hasan by Al-Albani in ‘Silsilat as-Saheehah’, 3478]

This important narration provides a blueprint in ways to position ourselves to achieve the love of Allah. Two of the three examples mentioned, speak about qiyamul layl – showing the effect of the night prayer, even towards the nascent nature of the one who performs it. It is one thing that we love Allah and strive to please Him, yet it is something completely different for Allah عز وجل to reciprocate our love and to take delight in our qiyamul layl.

From the seerah of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم we know that he never left off qiyamul layl; neither during peace time whilst with his wives, nor during the intensity of battles. And this is part of his صلى الله عليه وسلم example that is included in the Saying of Allah عز وجل:

قُلْ إِن كُنتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللَّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللَّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ

“Say (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم to mankind): “If you (really) love Allah then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your sins.” [Aal Imraan, 31]

Mentioning ten things that bring about Allah’s love, Ibn Qayyim said, “Being alone with Him in worship when He descends during the last third of the night. And this means to invoke Him, to recite His Speech, to stand with all sincerity and with good manners and with good submission, and then to end that with repentance and with seeking His forgiveness.”

NINE – It is the way of the righteous and pious (saliheen).

Abu Umaamah رضي الله عنه narrated that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

عليكم بقيامِ الليلِ ؛ فإنه دَأْبُ الصالحين قَبْلَكم، وهو قُرْبَةٌ لكم إلى ربِّكم، ومَكْفَرَةٌ للسيئاتِ، ومَنْهاةٌ عن الإثمِ

“Upon you is (to perform) qiyamul layl, for it is the habit of the righteous before you. And it will bring you closer to your Rabb, and expiate for bad deeds, and prevent sin.”

[Tirmidhi, 3549 – graded as hasan by al-Baghawi in ‘Sharh as-Sunnah’, 2/458; al-Albani in ‘Saheeh ibn Khuzaymah’, 1135 (see also ‘Irwa’ al-Ghaleel’, 452)]

All of the Prophets and Messengers were obligated to perform qiyamul layl. It was from the reasons why Allah increased their status and made them a special group of people. Those who followed in their example were also raised in ranks and made into examples to be followed too. In Saheeh al-Bukhari, we know of the well-known story of Abdullah ibn ‘Umar رضي الله عنه who narrated a dream he had, where two Angels got hold of him and took him towards the Hell Fire. He started saying, “I seek refuge with Allah from the Fire”, then another Angel came and told him not to be afraid. After mentioning his dream to his sister Hafsah رضي الله عنها (the mother of the believers), she told the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم about it, upon which he صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “Abdullah is a good man. I (only) wish he performed Tahajjud.” Ibn ‘Umar immediately put this directive into practice and never missed a night after that. He used to sleep very little, and this continued til the end of his life. Allah ennobled his life and his death like so many other of the Companions.

Addressing His Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم, Allah Said:

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

“And in some parts of the night offer tahajjud with it (by reciting the Qur’an) as an optional (nafilah) prayer for yourself (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم).

It may be that your Rabb will raise you to Maqam of Mahmood.” [Al-Israa’, 79]

From this amazing Ayah, which of course is of huge ibrah for all of mankind, we learn:

1. It is the only time in the Qur’an the word ‘tahajjud’ has been used. This is significant.

2. Allah used it in conjunction with His Promise to raise the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم to the ‘Maqamam-Mahmood’. The station of praise and glory that will come with the honour of granting him intercession on the Day of Resurrection – which the first and the last of mankind will be thankful for!

3. Through qiyamul layl, Allah increases one’s goodness, status, blessings and associates unique rewards with it – and success through it.

TEN: It is a means to improve Qur’an memorisation.

Ibn Umar رضي الله عنه narrated that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

إذا قام صاحب القرآن فقرأه بالليل والنهار ذكره وإذا لم يقم به نسيه

“If the companion of the Qur’an (i.e. one memorising it) recites it by night and by day, then it won’t be forgotten (or he won’t be forgetful of it).” [Saheeh Muslim, 789]

It is of course prescribed for us to safeguard and maintain the recitation of the Qur’an from loss, forgetfulness and negligence and qiyamul layl (and it’s surrounding period) is an opportune time to read, revise and consolidate what we know of the Qur’an… The last third of the night is a time of blessing, and a stage that is usually free from distractions. The refreshing crisp air at this time oxygenate the mind just as the dawn itself takes a breath and begins to brighten (i.e. Al-Takweer, 18).

And in the month of the Qur’an especially, one can’t but utilise the increased opportunities.

Eleven – Getting reward for its (genuine) intention.

Abu Darda’ رضي الله عنه narrated that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

من أتى فراشه وهو ينوي أن يقوم فيصلي من الليل فغلبته عينه حتى يصبح كتب له ما نوى وكان نومه صدقة عليه من ربه عزوجل

“Whoever went to bed intending to (get up and) pray in the night and was overcome by sleep, it will be written for him what he intended. And his sleep becomes charity for him from his Rabb ‘aza wa jal.”

[An-Nasa’i, 1775 – graded as saheeh (upon the condition of Muslim) by an-Nawawi in his ‘Majmu’, 4/47; al-Albani in ‘Saheeh ibn Majah’, 1113 and ‘Saheeh ibn Khuzaymah’, 1172 and others]

The intention that allows one to get the reward of what he intended (and his sleep becoming a charity for him!) is based on a very real and genuine effort made to ensure that he does indeed wake up in time for the night prayer. There are times when you are certain that you’ll wake up because you have prepared well for it. You’ve made a determined and concerted decision; you’ve set your heart, mind and body to wake up. You’ve set the alarm and perhaps you’ve also made your bed less comfortable to ensure you don’t oversleep; and in fact, sometimes you keep waking earlier in the middle of the night thinking it’s time to pray (out of fear that you might miss the time period).

In other words, the reward for the intention mentioned in the hadeeth is for those who are genuinely prepared to wake up. It is not for those who know deep down inside that they won’t or don’t want to wake up; they expect to over-sleep so that they feel less guilty about it. How then is it possible that we can expect such a huge reward? It is surprising how we naturally wake up for suhoor during Ramadan or when we have to travel early etc. but when it comes to prayer, we see it as less significant!?

Indeed actions are by intentions, and for every person is what he intended.


How swift is the response

and how quickly is the door opened to one

who knocks on it every day and night forty times?

He صلى الله عليه وسلم never abandoned the night prayer — neither when he was at home, nor when he was traveling and if sleep or illness overcame him, he would offer twelve Rak’ahs during the day;…

If this is added to the number of obligatory Rak’ahs and the regular Sunan which he habitually used to pray, the total number of Rak’ahs which he regularly used to offer comes to forty Rak’ahs; these he used to offer habitually and anything additional to these is not a regular prayer….

Therefore it is desirable that the slave be consistent in offering these prescribed prayers, continually until he dies,

for how swift is the response and how quickly is the door opened to one who knocks on it every day and night forty times?

And Allah is Al-Musta’an.

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Abu Umayza

The more the people are guided to follow the goodness, the greater the opportunity for him to get the reward.

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