There has not been a prophet or messenger that did not spent his nights worshipping the One Who had sent him. Qiyam Al-Layl (Night Vigil Prayer) has always been a sign of believers. The people of the Ummah that preceded us revived their nights with Prayer and supplication and besought their Lord at a time when He is closer to them. Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased by him) once said to `Umar,

O `Umar! Verily, Allah has rights by night that He does not accept during the day, and verily Allah has rights by day that He does not accept during the night.

Truly, the Paradise of the believer in this world lies in his or her place of Prayer.

Night Prayer of the Prophets

“It used to be said that the characteristics of the Prophets and the righteous, the chosen ones from Mankind and whose hearts are pure, are three: They were forbearing, oft-returning (to Allah), and they all had a portion of Qiyam Al-Layl.” (Al-Fudhayl ibn `Iyadh)

Moses (peace and blessings be upon him). Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “I passed by Musa on the night of my Ascension while he was in his grave praying” (Muslim, Ahmad, and An-Nasa’i).

Jesus (peace and blessings be upon him). He used to say “Verily the night and the day are two stores so look to what you do in them.” Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased by him) said regarding Prophet `Isa, “Wherever the night caught up with him, he would stand praying until the morning” (Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah by Ibn Kathir).

David (peace and blessings be upon him). Prophet Muhammd said, “Dawud [i.e. David] was the most devout worshipper among the humankind” (Muslim and At-Tirmidhi).

He also said, “The most beloved of Prayers to Allah is the Prayer of Dawud, and the most beloved of fasts to Allah is the fast of Dawud. He used to sleep half of the night, stand up in Prayer a third of it, and sleep a sixth of it, and he used to fast on alternate days” (Al-Bukhari).

Solomon (peace and blessings be on him), a report from Prophet Muhammad said, “The mother of Sulayman ibn Dawud [Solomon, the son of David] said to Sulayman ‘O my son, do not sleep a lot at night because indeed sleeping too much at night will leave a man in poverty on the Day of Judgment” (A weak hadith narrated by Ibn Majah and Al-Bayhaqi).

Night Prayer of the Righteous

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Upon you is to observe the Night Prayer, for it is the way of the righteous that came before you” (At-Tirmidhi).

Whenever Mu`adh ibn Jabal rose to pray at night, he would call out,

O Allah, indeed the eyes of people are asleep and the stars have receded, but You are the Ever Living and Eternal. O Allah, my way to Paradise is slow and my fleeing from Hellfire is weak. O Allah, grant me Guidance from You which you return to me on the Day of Judgment, truly You do not fail in Your Promise. (Hilyat Al-Awliya by Abu Nu’aym)

Abul-`Aliyah. “We used to consider it a big sin that a man learns Qur’an then he sleeps without reciting some of it (in Prayer)” (Al-Zuhd, by Ahmad ibn Hanbal).

Al-Hasan Al-Basri. “If a slave falls asleep in prostration (out of tiredness), Allah boasts him before the Angels saying, ‘Look at My slave, he worships Me whilst his soul is with Me and he is in prostration'” (Al-Zuhd by Ahmad ibn Hanbal).

He also said,

By Allah, I have accompanied a people who spent these dark nights prostrating and praying to their Lord. Their tears would flow down their cheeks, one time they would be bowing and another time they are in prostration. They beseech and implore their Lord to free themselves (from the Hellfire) and the long night did not bore them because of the hope in their hearts for the Day of Return. May Allah have mercy upon a person who competes with them in these deeds and who is not content with (please clarify) falling short. Truly, the world has cut off its inhabitants and the deeds of a people are only returned to them. (Mukhtasar Qiyam Al-Layl, by Al-Marwazi)

Once, it was said to Yunus ibn `Ubayd,

Have you ever seen anyone performs as the deeds of Al-Hasan Al-Basri? He said, “By Allah, I have not seen anyone who even speaks like him so how can I see anyone do like his deeds!” His words of admonition used to make the hearts weep while the admonition of other people does not even make the eyes weep. (Tanbih Al-Mughtarin, by Al-Sha`rani)

Al-Rabi` ibn Khuthaym. He bought a horse for thirty thousand and used it to partake in battles. One day he sent his servant Yasar (on an errand) and tied his horse. When the servant returned, he said, “O Rabi`! Where is your horse? He said, ‘It has been stolen.’ He said, ‘While you were looking!’ He said, ‘Yes, Yasar.

However, I was beseeching my Lord the Almighty and there is nothing to distract me from beseeching my Lord.’ Then he made du`aa’ (supplication) for the thief saying, ‘O Allah, he stole from me and it was not I who stole it from him. O Allah, if he is wealthy, guide him and if he is poor then give him wealth.'” (Al-Zuhd, by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal)

Hasan Al-Banna. “The minutes of the night are expensive, so do not render them cheap by heedlessness.”

One of the Salaf used to say, “For 40 years, nothing has upset me as much as the rise of dawn (i.e. because it marks the end of Tahajjud, the optional late night Prayer).”

`Amr ibn Al-Aswad. He used to have an expensive garment of 200 dirhams that he wore exclusively for the night Prayer (Al-Bidayah Wa An- Nihayah, by Ibn Kathir).

Imam Hamza ibn Habib. Ibn Habib is one of the Seven Reciters, whose readings of the Qur’an are authentic. Muhammad Ibn Al-Fudhayl said about him,

I do not consider that Allah keeps punishment away from the people of Kufa except by (the virtues of) Hamza. He used to read the Qur’an until the people departed, then he would pray four units, then he would pray between Zhuhr and `Asr Prayers, and between Maghrib and `Isha’ Prayers. One of his neighbors said that he never used to sleep at night and that they would often hear him recite the Qur’an melodiously. Hamza himself used to say, “I would look into the mushaf (copy of Qur’an) until I feared losing my sight!” (Ma’rifat al-Qurraa’ Al-Kibar)

Abu Ja`far. He is also one of the Seven Reciters. Nafi` (may Allah be pleased by him) said,

When Abu Ja`far was being washed (for his funeral), they saw that between his neck and heart was a script like that of the mushaf. No one from among those present doubted that this was the light of the Qur’an. (Siyar A`lam An-Nubala’, by Imam Ad-Dhahabi)

`Abdullah ibn Ghalib Al-Hadani. It is narrated in Mukhtasar Qiyam Al-Layl by Imam Al-Samarqandi that

When the enemy approached (in battle), he would say “What can sadden me in this world? By Allah, there is no happiness in it for the wise one. By Allah, were it not for my love of spending the night in prostration and placing my forehead down before You. O Master, in-between movement of limbs and joints (i.e. praying), in the depth of the nights all in hope of Your reward and Pleasure, were it not for this, I would have hoped to leave this world and its people.’ Then he would break the scabbard of his sword and go forth to fight until he was killed. When he was buried, they found the fragrance of musk at his grave and the people began to take the dust of his grave as if it were musk.

A man once saw him in a dream and said, ‘O Abu Faras, what have you done?’ He said, ‘The best of deeds.’ He asked, ‘Where have you gone?’ He said, ‘To Paradise,’ He said, ‘With what?’ He said, ‘By having conviction (yaqin) and standing for long periods in Tahajjud (night Prayer) and suffering from thirst in the midday heat (i.e. fasting).’ He said, ‘And what is this sweet fragrance at your grave?’ He said, ‘That is the fragrance of recitation and thirst.’ He said, ‘Advise me.’ He said, ‘Seize goodness for yourself; do not miss nights and days, for indeed I have seen that the righteous ones attain piety through piety.

Qatadah. He would say, “A hypocrite does not remain vigil at night (in Prayer)” (Hilyat Al-Awliya’, by Abu Nu’aym).

Abu Salman Al-Darani. He said, “If it was not for the Night Prayer, I wouldn’t have liked to remain in this world.”

Prophet Muhammad said,

“Our Lord descends during the last third of each night to the lower heaven, and says, ‘Is there anyone who calls on Me that I may respond to them? Is there anyone who asks Me that I may give unto them? Is there anyone who requests My forgiveness that I may forgive them?'” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Rabi`ah Al-`Abidah. When questioned by her husband as to why she gets up to pray at night, she simply said, “I only rise up when I am called” (Sifat As-Safwah by Ibn Al-Qayyim).

`Utbah. He would be found walking along the seashore at night saying,

O Allah, if You punish me, then I do love You,

And if You have mercy upon me, then still I love You.

Allah says in a hadith qudsi (Divine Hadith), “O My Slaves, it is only your deeds that I record for you; then I shall reward you for them” (Muslim).

By Dr. Sayyid Al-‘Affani