Merits of Qiyam Al-Layl
Praising the characters of the devout believers, Allah Most High says: [Their limbs do forsake their beds of sleep, the while they call on their Lord, in Fear and Hope.] (As-Sajdah 32: 16)
Likewise, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “It is highly recommended for you to observe Qiyam Al-Layl (night vigil Prayer), for it was the practice of your righteous predecessors. Qiyam Al-Layl brings us close to your Lord, atones for our sins, drives disease from the body, and puts a stop to transgression.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that he heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) saying, “There is an hour in the night, in which no Muslim servant will implore Allah for good in this world and the next without giving it to him, and that applies to every night.” (Reported by Muslim)
Have good intention and devotion to Allah
Be determined to perform Qiyam Al-Layl
Keep away from sins
Go to bed early
Take a nap if possible
Depend on Allah
Realize the merits of observing Qiyam Al-Layl
Degrees of Qiyam Al-Layl
There are various degrees of observing Qiyam Al-Layl, as follows:
First, praying the whole night as some of our early righteous Muslims were accustomed to doing.
Second, praying for half of the night. Here, one is recommended to sleep the first third and the last sixth of the night.
Third, praying for one third of the night. Here, one is recommended to sleep the first half and the last sixth of the night. Prophet Dawud (peace and blessings be upon him) used to observe Qiyam Al-Layl in this way. Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Al-`Aas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) told me, “The most beloved Prayer to Allah is that of Dawud and the most beloved fasts to Allah are those of Dawud. He used to sleep for half of the night and then pray for one-third of the night and again sleep for its sixth part and used to fast on alternate days.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Fourth, praying for one-sixth or one-fifth of the night. It is better to pray in the second half or the last sixth of the night.
Fifth, praying with no estimation of time. This involves either one of the following two ways of observing Qiyam Al-Layl:
- Praying from the beginning of the night until sleep overcomes one; then one gets up to pray until sleep overcomes one, and so on. A group of the early righteous Muslims used to observe Qiyam Al-Layl in this way. Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: sometimes Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) would not fast (for so many days) that we thought that he would not fast that month and he sometimes used to fast (for so many days) that we thought he would not leave fasting throughout that month, and (as regards his Prayer and sleep at night) if you wanted to see him praying at night, you could see him praying and if you wanted to see him sleeping, you could see him sleeping. (reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
- Sleeping at the beginning of the night, and then getting up to pray for the remaining part of the night. In this context, Sufyan Ath-Thawri said, “I sleep at the beginning of the night, and then get up to observe Qiyam Al-Layl in the remaining time of the night.”
Sixth, praying four or two rakahs in the night. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “Pray in the night: pray four rakahs; pray two rak`ahs.”
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever wakes up at night and lets his wife do so in order to offer two rak`ahs, will be recorded amongst those who make much dhikr of Allah in that night.” (Reported by Abu Dawud)
Seventh, offering Prayer in the time between the Maghrib and `Isha’ Prayers.
Whoever finds it difficult to perform purification at night and to offer Prayer, should sit facing the qiblah and engage himself in making dhikr (remembrance of Allah) and du`aa’ (supplication). If, however, he is not able to sit, he is recommended to make dhikr while lying on his bed.
Whoever accustoms himself to offering Qiyam Al-Layl should beware of leaving it, for the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said to Abdullah ibn Amr (may Allah be pleased with him), “O `Abdullah! Do not be like so-and-so who used to pray at night and then stopped doing it.