Understanding Tahajjud Prayer – A Special Night Prayer in Islam

Tahajjud prayer, a special night prayer in Islam, is a term often heard but rarely practiced by many. Even when observed, only a few individuals consistently perform this prayer every night.

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In this article, hasana.id will explore the concept of Tahajjud prayer. Although the article is quite extensive, it is also very comprehensive! Make sure you read it to the end.

Let’s Get to Know Tahajjud Prayer

Tahajjud prayer is a recommended voluntary act in Islam that was highly encouraged by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He rarely missed performing this prayer every night. As Muslims, it is fitting for us to follow his example.

However, regrettably, very few of us maintain a regular practice of this nighttime prayer. Reasons range from not knowing the proper method, being unaware of its virtues, or simply finding it challenging to wake up at night.

Only a small fraction of us have integrated Tahajjud prayer into our daily lives as a consistent act of worship.

Therefore, this article aims to provide a comprehensive explanation of Tahajjud prayer, hoping that more Muslims will embrace it as a part of their daily routine.

Hasana.id will cover the steps of performing Tahajjud prayer, the intention (niyyah), supplications to recite after the prayer, its virtues, and tips for waking up at night to perform Tahajjud.

Since this article is lengthy, we have also provided a table of contents. Feel free to click on the topics you are interested in reading first.

Tahajjud prayer is one of the highly encouraged voluntary acts of worship by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

He rarely spent a night without performing Tahajjud prayer. Thus, it is only fitting for a Muslim to emulate this practice.

Unfortunately, only a few of us engage in this nighttime prayer. The reasons vary – some may not be familiar with the procedure, unaware of its virtues, or simply succumb to laziness or other excuses.

Consequently, it seems that only a small number of contemporary Muslims have made Tahajjud prayer a regular part of their lives.

That’s one of the reasons why this article was created, to provide a comprehensive explanation of Tahajjud prayer, hoping to inspire more people to make it a daily practice.

Here, hasana.id will cover the steps to perform Tahajjud prayer, the intention (niyyah), supplications to recite after the prayer, its virtues, and tips for waking up at night to perform Tahajjud.

As this article is quite lengthy, we have included a table of contents for your convenience. Feel free to click on the topic you want to read first.

What is Tahajjud Prayer?

Tahajjud prayer is one of the recommended nighttime prayers according to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). This voluntary prayer is performed after the Isha prayer and before the Fajr prayer, but it should not be done during the daytime or before Isha prayer.

To perform Tahajjud prayer, one must first sleep, even if only for a short while. If someone prays at night without sleeping, it is called Qiyam-ul-Lail.

The minimum number of Rakats (units of prayer) for Tahajjud prayer is two, but there is no maximum limit, although some sources mention 8 to 12 Rakats as a common practice.

The method of performing Tahajjud prayer is similar to other voluntary prayers. The prayer holds numerous virtues and benefits, which will be explained in more detail in the following sections.

Tahajjud or Shalat Tahajud?

Before delving too deep, it’s essential to clarify that this issue is related only to the spelling of the word. Though not critically important, it’s still worth discussing.

The word “sholat” (prayer) in Arabic begins with the letter ﺹ (shod or shad). There is no direct equivalent or corresponding Latin letter for this Arabic letter. Therefore, the spelling “sholat tahajud” can be considered correct, but it can also be perceived as incorrect. Similarly, “shalat tahajud” uses the letter “a” instead of “o”.

Both spellings are considered acceptable, and neither is entirely accurate due to the difference in the Arabic and Indonesian alphabets.

So, you can write it as “sholat tahajud” or “shalat tahajud.”

In this article, I may write “sholat tahajud” in some parts and “shalat tahajud” in others.

Additionally, following Arabic vocabulary, “tahajud” should be written with a shaddah (tahajjud) due to the doubled letter “jim” (جّ), but since this is a matter of transcription and there is no direct equivalence between Arabic and Indonesian languages, it does not warrant debate.

The Ruling of Tahajjud Prayer

The ruling of performing Tahajjud prayer is Sunnah, but its status differs from other Sunnah prayers. Tahajjud prayer is considered Sunnah Muakkadah, which means it is highly recommended and emphasized.

Sunnah Muakkadah refers to a Sunnah that was consistently practiced by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) or rarely left out by him. Other examples of Sunnah Muakkadah include Duha prayer and Tarawih prayer.

Tahajjud Prayer in the Quran

Regarding Tahajjud prayer, Allah says:

“And during a part of the night, pray Tahajjud beyond what is incumbent on you; maybe your Lord will raise you to a position of great glory.” (Quran 17:79)

This verse explicitly commands the performance of Tahajjud prayer during the nighttime. It is referred to as an additional act of worship for Muslims.

However, this directive does not mean that it is obligatory; the act of performing Tahajjud prayer remains voluntary.

Another Quranic verse says:

“In the hours of the night, they were awake for the purpose of voluntary prayer, and seeking Allah’s forgiveness.” (Quran 51:17-18)

This verse alludes to those who engage in Tahajjud prayer.

To understand the interpretations of each verse, it is advisable to refer to well-known commentaries such as Tafsir Jalalain, Tafsir Munir, or others. This is crucial to avoid misunderstandings.

Tahajjud Prayer in Hadiths

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

“Observe the night prayer, for it was the practice of the righteous before you, and it is a means of gaining proximity to your Lord, a way of penitence, and a shield from sins.” (Hadith recorded by Tirmidhi)

The night prayer mentioned here includes Tahajjud, Witr, and Tarawih prayers.

In another Hadith, it is mentioned:

“Whoever stands (in prayer) in the middle of the night and recites the Qur’an with a sweet voice, he will be in the company of the noble and obedient angels, and when he recites the Qur’an with a loud voice, he will be in the company of the worst devils.” (Hadith recorded by Abu Dawud)

Yet another Hadith states:

“Allah will have mercy on a man who gets up at night and prays, and wakes up his wife; if she refuses, he should sprinkle water on her face. Allah will have mercy on a woman who gets up at night and prays, and wakes up her husband; if he refuses, she should sprinkle water on his face.” (Hadith recorded by Abu Dawud)

In reality, there are many more Quranic verses and Hadiths related to Tahajjud prayer.

However, the verses and Hadiths mentioned above are sufficient to establish the Sunnah and the virtues of Tahajjud prayer.

Tahajjud Prayer Procedure

Now that we have covered some basic aspects of Tahajjud prayer, it’s time to learn about the procedure.

This is essential because acts of worship are often misrepresented or misconstrued by some individuals.

Every act of worship we perform should adhere to the guidance provided by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and detailed by the scholars.

Introducing new acts of worship or modifying existing ones is permissible, but there must be a basis from the Quran, Hadith, consensus (ijma’), or analogy (qiyas).

Here are some important points to consider regarding the procedure for performing Tahajjud prayer:

Time of Tahajjud Prayer

As mentioned earlier, Tahajjud prayer can be performed after the Isha prayer and before the Fajr prayer.

Outside this time frame, it is not considered Tahajjud prayer. Additionally, one must sleep before performing Tahajjud.

What is the best time to perform Tahajjud prayer?

Scholars divide the night into three parts: the early third, the middle third, and the final third of the night. For convenience, the early third is approximately from Maghrib prayer until around 10 PM.

The middle third is from around 10 PM to 2 AM, while the final third is from around 2 AM until shortly before Fajr prayer.

The best time to perform Tahajjud is during the final third of the night, from 2 AM until shortly before Fajr.

Can one perform Tahajjud without sleeping first?

No, it is not allowed. One of the conditions for performing Tahajjud is to sleep first, even if only for a brief moment (e.g., just one minute).

This is based on the statement of Imam Ramli, a scholar of the Shafi’i school. In his book, “Nihayatul Muhtaj Ila Syarhil Minhaj,” he mentioned:

ويسن (التهجد) بالإجماع لقوله تعالى {ومن الليل فتهجد به نافلة لك} [الإسراء: 79] ولمواظبته – صلى الله عليه وسلم – وهو التنفل ليلا بعد نوم

Translation:

“Tahajjud prayer is recommended unanimously based on the verse of Allah SWT (And during a part of the night, pray Tahajjud beyond what is incumbent on you; maybe your Lord will raise you to a position of great glory (Quran 17:79)), and due to the constant practice of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), which is to perform voluntary prayers at night after sleeping.”

If someone performs Tahajjud prayer without sleeping first, it will not be considered Tahajjud, but rather a regular voluntary prayer.

So, make sure you sleep and set an alarm. When you wake up, recite the supplication for waking up, perform ablution, and then immediately offer the Tahajjud prayer.

Number of Rakats in Tahajjud Prayer

Tahajjud prayer should be performed with a minimum of two rakats and a maximum that can vary. Some sources mention 8 to 12 rakats, while others say there is no maximum limit.

In addition, Tahajjud prayer (and other voluntary prayers in general) should be performed in pairs of two rakats, meaning that after two rakats, one should perform the salutation (salam) before resuming the prayer.

Intention (Niat) for Tahajjud Prayer

The intention for Tahajjud prayer is an important aspect to consider in its procedure.

There are two aspects to consider regarding the intention: the lafadh or verbal formulation of the intention and the qashad or the intention in the heart.

Lafadh Niat

The verbal formulation of the intention for Tahajjud prayer is as follows:

أُصَلِّي سُنَّةَ التَهَجُّدِ رَكْعَتَيْنِ للهِ تَعَالَى

Translation:

“I intend to perform the voluntary prayer of Tahajjud, two rakats, for the sake of Allah, the Most High.”

This intention is recited when commencing the prayer with takbiratul ihram. The act of reciting the verbal intention is recommended (sunnah), but not obligatory. Thus, if you forget to recite it before takbiratul ihram, the prayer remains valid.

Qashad Niat

The qashad intention is the intention in the heart. Usually, the qashad intention is formulated in the local language for ease of understanding.

When reciting takbiratul ihram (Allahu Akbar), one should simultaneously make the qashad intention in the heart, such as “I intend to perform the Tahajjud prayer of two rakats for the sake of Allah, the Most High.”

The specific wording of the qashad intention may vary, but it should clearly state the name of the prayer and that it is performed for Allah.

Pillars (Movements and Recitations) of Tahajjud Prayer

The movements of Tahajjud prayer are not different from regular prayers. The prayer starts with takbiratul ihram (the opening Allahu Akbar) and ends with the salutation (salam).

Tahajjud prayer consists of 13 pillars (rukun) of prayer:

  1. Intention (niyyah)

It is important to remember that the intention is formulated along with the takbiratul ihram. The niyyah is made or intended in the heart; it is not spoken aloud. After all, how can one recite both the intention and takbir simultaneously?

The details were explained above.

  1. Takbiratul Ihram

The opening takbir, along with the niyyah in the heart.

  1. Standing (Qiyam) for Those Who Are Able (Specifically for Obligatory Prayers)

For voluntary prayers, it is allowed to pray while sitting, even if one is physically able to stand.

  1. Reciting Al-Fatihah

It is recommended to recite the opening supplication (Dua Iftitah) before Al-Fatihah. After reciting the supplication and Al-Fatihah, one may recite additional verses or surahs.

It is important to note that reciting specific verses or surahs during the prayer is recommended, not obligatory.

  1. Bowing (Ruku’) with Tranquility (Thumaninah)

  2. Rising from Bowing (I’tidal) with Tranquility (Thumaninah)

  3. Two Prostrations (Sujud) with Tranquility (Thumaninah)

  4. Sitting between Two Prostrations with Tranquility (Thumaninah)

  5. Performing the Final Sitting (Duduk Akhir)

  6. Reciting the Tashahhud or Tahiyyat at the Final Sitting

  7. Sending Blessings Upon the Prophet (peace be upon him) at the Final Sitting

  8. The First Salam

  9. Orderliness (Tartib)

Additional Note: Some sources place takbiratul ihram at number 3, after standing, while others place it first.

The essential thing to remember is that Tahajjud prayer must be performed as two rakats, followed by the salutation. You should not perform four rakats at once and then make the salutation.

Furthermore, do not rush through the prayer. Many people try to achieve as many rakats as possible, praying hastily, and not perfecting the pillars of the prayer.

Remember, the purpose of prayer is to remember Allah. Therefore, it should be performed to the best of one’s ability.

Similarly, the recitations in Tahajjud prayer do not differ from those in other prayers. The obligatory recitations in the prayer are the takbiratul ihram, Al-Fatihah, the final Tashahhud, and the salutation.

After reciting Al-Fatihah, it is recommended to recite a portion of the Quran. Some scholars recommend reciting Surah Al-Kafirun in the first rakat and Surah Al-Ikhlas in the second rakat.

Many people ask whether they should recite the opening supplication (Dua Iftitah).

The recitation of the opening supplication before Al-Fatihah is recommended. In other words, it is better to recite it.

The four recitations mentioned above (takbiratul ihram, Al-Fatihah, the final Tashahhud, and the salutation) are obligatory recitations. Other recitations, such as the opening supplication, the remembrance during bowing (ruku’), the remembrance during prostration (sujud), and others, are also recommended (sunnah).

Indeed, there are specific supplications to be recited after completing the Tahajjud prayer. These supplications will be explained below.

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