7 Practical Tips for Praying Qiyam al-Layl

salatBy Muhammad Nasir ad-Deen al-Albani and Shaykh Salih al-Munajjad

1. Ikhlas (Sincerity) – the key to Allah’s Help and Blessings

Help of Allah is needed to accomplish and achieve success in all our affairs. And Allah only helps those who are sincere in their hearts. The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “If you are truthful with Allah, then Allah will deliver to you what you wish for.” (An-Nasai and al-Hakim) Therefore, one should have a sincere intention to pray Qiyam al-Layl; seek the Pleasure of Allah Alone and avoid the desire of praise or fame. Allah says: “And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allah, and worship none but Him Alone…” (Al-Bayyinah 98:5)

Imam Ibn al-Qayyim said: “The degree to which a person is helped and aided by Allah depends on the degree of his intention, drive, aim and hopes. Help from Allah comes to people in proportion to their drive, intention, hopes and fears, and failure comes to them in like manner.”

2. Knowing the Virtues of Qiyam al-Layl

Knowing the virtues and rewards of performing worship produces willingness and desire to perform the worship. We have previously mentioned numerous virtues of regularly praying Qiyam al-Layl, here we mention the excellence of praying Qiyam al-Layl particularly in the great month of Ramadan. Abu Hurayrah (rta) reported: “Allah’s Messenger (sa) encouraged the people, without making it an absolute command, to perform Qiyam during Ramadan. He used to say: “Whoever stands (in Qiyam) in Ramadan out of faith and expectation (of Allah’s reward), all his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Muslim)

3. Taking a nap in the daytime

Taking a nap before or after Dhuhr Salah will dismiss the stress and thus, enable one to get up in the night and stand in front of his Lord. The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Take a nap, for the Shayateen (Satans) do not take naps.” (at-Tabarani)

4. Sleeping according to the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger (sa)

(a) Sleep early: Sleeping early is a healthy habit and it was the practice of Allah’s Messenger (sa) to sleep directly after performing the Isha prayer. Abu Barzah al-Aslami (rta) said that the Prophet (sa) used to prefer to delay Isha, and he did not like to sleep before it or talk after it.” (Bukhari)

(b) Sleep in a state of Taharah (purity): Ibn Abbas (rta) reported that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Purify these bodies and Allah will purify you, for there is no slave who goes to sleep in a state of purity but an angel spends the night with him, and every time he turns over, [the angel] says, ‘O Allah! Forgive Your slave, for he went to bed in a state of purity.’” (at-Tabarani)

(c) Choose a suitable bed: Excessive luxurious or soft bed provokes laziness and makes one sleep more and become negligent. A’ishah (rta) narrates that the pillow of the Prophet (sa) on which he slept at night was made of leather stuffed with palm fibres.” (Abu Dawood and Ahmad)

Once Umar Ibn al-Khattab (rta) entered upon the Messenger of Allah (sa) when he was lying on a mat of palm fibres that had left marks on his side. Umar (rta) said: “O Messenger of Allah, why do you not get something more comfortable than this?” He (sa) said: “What do I have to do with this world? My relationship with this world is like that of a traveller on a hot summer’s day, who seeks shade under a tree for an hour, then moves on.” (Ahmad and al-Hakim)

(d) Cleaning the bed and lying on the right side: Abu Hurayrah (rta) reported: “The Prophet (sa) said: “When any one of you goes to bed, let him clear his bed by hitting it with his garment, for he does not know what may have come onto it. Then let him lie down on his right side…” (Bukhari and Muslim)

(e) Reciting the Adhkar (supplications) mentioned in the Sunnah before sleeping

There are a number of Adhkar prescribed in the Sunnah before going to bed; amongst them are reciting the last verses of Soorah al-Baqarah, reciting Soorah al-Falaq and Soorah an-Nas and Soorah Ikhlas; blow in the palms and wipe as much of the body possible, starting from the head, face and then the front of the body doing it three times. (Bukhari and Muslim)

5. Avoid too much food and drink

Too much food or drink is one of the main obstacles that make one lazy and negligent of Qiyam al-Layl. The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Man fills no vessel worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to have a few mouthfuls to give him the strength he needs. If he has to fill his stomach, then let him leave one-third for food, one-third for drink and one-third for air.” (at-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)

6. Striving against oneself

Striving against oneself to get up and pray and suppressing one’s desires bring about Allah’s help and His Pleasure for the slave. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And as for those who strive hard in Our Cause, We will surely guide them to Our Paths. And verily, Allah is with the Muhsinoon (good-doers).” (Al-Ankabut 29: 69)

The Prophet (sa) said: “The Mujahid (one who strives in way of Allah) is the one who strives against his own self for the sake of Allah.” (Reported by at-Tirmidhi)

7. Rebuking one’s self for not praying Qiyam al-Layl

Qiyam al-Layl is a great blessing from Allah, the Exalted, and He has placed in it numerous spiritual benefits and rewards for the believer. Therefore, one should rebuke one’s self, if he misses this great opportunity of achieving rewards and Pleasure of Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “O you who believe! Fear Allah and keep your duty to Him. And let every person look to what he has sent forth for the morrow, and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what you do.” (Al-Hashr 59:18)

Adapted from As-Sunnah Islamic Newsletter Issue 15