When a Muslim prays or thanks God he does so in the same fashion that was taught to Abraham, Moses, Jesus, (peace and blessings be upon them) and all of the previous prophets of Allah. You will find that when a Muslim prays he places his forehead on the ground in total submission to God almighty. Let us see how the prophets (including Jesus, peace be upon him) prayed:
Genesis 17:3 "And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,"
Genesis 17:17 "Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?"
Exodus 34:8 "And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped."
Numbers 16:20-22 "And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment. And they fell upon their faces, and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?"
Joshua 5:14 "And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant?"
Ezekiel 9:8 "And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?"
2 Chronicles 20:18 "And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD."
Ezekiel 11:13 "And it came to pass, when I prophesied, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then fell I down upon my face, and cried with a loud voice, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou make a full end of the remnant of Israel?"
Matthew 17:6 "And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid."
Matthew 26:39 "And he (Jesus) went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."
[What Did Jesus Really Say?, Misha'al Ibn Abdullah al-Kadhi]
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In the name of Allah the most gracious most merciful
The Virtues of praying Tahajjud
Allah Most High said,"Establish worship at the going down of the sun until the dark of the night, and (the recital of) the Qur'an at dawn. Lo! (the recital of) the Qur'an at dawn is ever witnessed. And some part of the night awake for its recital, as voluntary worship for you. It may be that your Lord will raise you to a praised estate."[Qur'an, 17: 78-79]
Abu Hurayra (Ra) reports that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said,"The best prayer after the obligatory prayers is the night prayer."[Muslim]
Abu Hurayra (Ra) reports that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was asked, "What prayer is most virtuous, after the obligatory prayers?" He said, "Prayer in the depths of the night."[Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Nasa'i, Ibn Majah]
Abd Allah ibn Salam (Ra) reports that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said,"O people! Spread the salams, feed others, maintain family ties, and pray at night when others sleep and you will enter Heaven safely."[Tirmidhi, Hakim]
Abu Umama al-Bahili (Ra) reports that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, "Hold fast to night prayer, for it was the way of the righteous before you, a way of drawing closer to your Lord, an expiation for wrong deeds, and a shield from sin."[Tirmidhi, and others] In some narrations, there is an addition, "And it repels sickness from the body."
Ibn Mas`ud (Ra) said,"The virtues of night prayer over day prayer is like the virtue of secret charity over open charity."[Tabarani]
The scholars explain that this refers to voluntary prayers. Imam Saffarini, the Hanbali faqih explained in his Sharh Mandhumat al-Adaab:
"Night prayer is superior to day prayer because: It is more concealed and closer to sincerity. The righteous early Muslims (salaf) used to strive hard to hide their secrets [f: i.e. the actions between them and Allah]."
Hasan [al-Basri] said, "It used to be that a person would have guests staying over and he would pray at night without his guests knowing."
And because night prayer is harder on the lower self, because night is a time of rest from the tire of day, so leaving sleep despite the lower self being desirous of it is a tremendous struggle (mujahada). Some have said,"The best of works are those the lower self is forced to perform."
And because recitation in night prayer is closer to contemplation, because things that busy the heart are mostly absent at night, so the heart is more attentive and is with the tongue in understanding, as Allah Most High said,"Lo! The night vigil is (a time) when impression is more keen and speech more certain. [Lo! You have by day a chain of business. So remember the name of your Lord and devote yourself with a complete devotion.]" (Qur'an, 73: 6-7) It is because of this that we have been commanded to recite the Qur'an in night prayer in a steady recital (tartil).
And it is because of this that night prayer is a shield from sin.
And because night vigil time is the best of times for voluntary worship and prayer, and the closest a servant is to his Lord.
And because it is a time when the doors of the sky are opened, supplications answered, and the needs of those who ask fulfilled.
Allah has praised those who wake up at night for His remembrance, supplication, and to seek forgiveness and entreat Him, saying:
"They forsake their beds to cry unto their Lord in fear and hope, and spend of what We have bestowed on them. No soul knows what is kept hid from them of joy, as a reward for what they used to do." [Qur'an, 32: 16-17]
And He said,"Those who pray for pardon in the watches of the night."[Qur'an, 3: 17]
And, "[The (faithful) servants of the Merciful are they who walk upon the earth modestly, and when the foolish one address them answer: Peace;] And who spend the night before their Lord, prostrate and standing"[Qur'an, 25: 63-64]
Allah most negated similitude between those who pray at night and those who do not:"Is the one who worships devoutly in the watches of the night, prostrate and standing, fearful of the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord, (to be accounted equal with a disbeliever)? Say: are those who know equal with those who know know? But only people of understanding will pay heed."[Qur'an, 39: 9]" [Saffarini, Ghidha al-Albab Sharh Mandhumat al-Adaab]
Imam Abu Sa'id al-Khadimi said,
"There is scholarly consensus (ijma`) that among the best of virtuous acts is the night vigil prayer." [al-Bariqa al-Mahmudiyya Sharh al-Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya]
The scholars derived the following from the Qur'an and Prophetic hadiths:
1. The minimal night vigil prayer is 2 rakats. [Hindiyya, quoting Fath al-Qadir]
2. Its optimal recommended amount is 8 rakats, because this was the general practice of the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him, his family, and companions). [Hindiyya, quoting Fath al-Qadir]
3. Lengthier recitation is superior to a larger number of rakats prayed. [Durr al-Mukhtar, Radd al-Muhtar]
4. If one divides the night in thirds, then the final middle third is most virtuous. [Durr al-Mukhtar]
5. If one divides the night in half, then the second half is more virtuous. [ibid.]
6. Voluntary (nafl) prayer at night is more virtuous than voluntary prayer during the day. However, the full reward mentioned in the Qur'anic verses and Prophetic hadiths refers to worship that was preceded by sleep. This is also understood from the very linguistic meaning of tahajjud, which is to struggle rid oneself of sleep. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar, quoting Ibn Amir Haajj's Halba]
7. Ibn Nujaym and Haskafi both affirmed that night prayer is recommended. [al-Bahr al-Ra'iq, and al-Durr al-Mukhtar; chosen in al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya] Kamal ibn al-Humam, the brilliant mujtahid who was the greatest Hanafi faqih of the latter half of Islamic history, however, wavered between it being recommended or a confirmed sunna. This is because while the spoken hadiths indicate recommendation, the continued practice of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) would seem to indicate it being a confirmed sunna. This was also chosen by Ibn al-Humam's student, Ibn Amir Haaj in his Halba. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
8. It is disliked to leave the night vigil prayer for one who has made it their habit, unless there is an excuse, because the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him), "O Abd Allah! Do not be like so-and-so. He used to pray at night and then left it."[Bukhari and Muslim] Therefore, one should take on an amount of works one can sustain, for the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him, his family, and companions) said,"The most beloved of actions to Allah are the most constant, even if little." [Bukhari and Muslim] [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar, from Ibn Amir Haajj's Halba]
9. It is recommended to start the night vigil with two short rakats, because of the hadith of Abu Hurayra that the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, "It you get up for night prayer, start with two short rakats."[Muslim, Ahmad, Abu Dawud]
10. Supplications in the depths of the night are answered, as the hadiths have mentioned.
References: Sunnipath, askimam
Here are a few tips to help us pray Tahajjud each night:
1. Practice Qayloola (short nap) which is to sleep even for half an hour after Dhuhr if we can for this has much benefit in terms of being able to awaken for Tahajjud. Onl;y a short nap will suffice from between 15-20 minutes and no more than 30 minutes. Anymore than this may have negative effects with regards to being able to sleep again at night after Isha.
2. Sleep straight after Isha particularly in the summer months and then awaken for Tahajjud.
3. For women in particular it is easier to pray Tahajjud as they could awaken half an hour or 40 minutes before Fajr starts. Pray Tahajjud and then a little while later pray Fajr. For men it is better to awaken earlier and then sleep and awaken for Fajr with jamaat. Which is better? Fajr with jamaat (congregation) so waking up to pray Fajr with congregation should be a priority for men. If a man knows they will not be able to attend Fajr with jamaat then they may do what is recommended for women and that is to awaken 30-40 minutes before Fajr begins.
4. Avoid major sins in particular because major sins stop a person from being able to stay awake praying and worshipping Allah in the night.
5. Another alternative is to pray Tahajjud after Isha before sleeping. This is less reward but nevertheless still rewarding. A great scholar suggested that if one knows that one will not be able to wake up for Tahajjud then one can pray it before sleeping. Witr should be the last prayer of the night, so after one has prayed 4 fard of Isha, 2 Sunnah and 2 nafil then one can do an extra nafil with intention of Tahajjud and then end the night with Witr.
Make effort and dua:
Therefore should try our best to pray Tahajjud as much as we can and if there was one habit that we would desire to gain then it is the habit of praying Tahajjud prayer every night for it is one of the best ways to get closer to Allah and gain high ranks in the hereafter as well as being able to make dua in the best part of the night. Once a person starts praying Tahajjud then they would NEVER want to go back or stop praying it because of the amazing feeling and sensation of elevation and hightened sense of satisfaction n contentment of the heart. There is no feeling like it and we should all aim to implement this prayer into our daily lives, no matter what it takes. Even if we can pray it once or twice a week then build up from there. The main thing is that we make the effort and most of all ask of Allah and beg of him to give us the ability to pray Tahajjud every night.
Ibn Mas`ud (Allah be pleased with him) was asked, "I cannot pray at night."He said, "Your sins have prevented you."
May Allah give all of us the ability to pray Tahajjud every single night in order that we get closer to him. Ameen
Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra رضي الله عنه said, "I prayed and then sat down. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم turned to me and said, 'You have a stomach ache?' I said, 'Yes, Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم.' He صلى الله عليه وسلم said, 'Then pray. There is healing in prayer.'" After that, when something serious happened to him, he devoted himself to the prayer.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "Any woman who wears perfume and then goes out to the mosque, so that the fragrance can be discerned, her prayers will not be accepted until she performs ghusl like the ghusl to be performed when in a state of janaabah." (Reported by Imaam Ahmad, 2/444)
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "Any woman who applies perfume and then goes out among the people so that they could smell her fragrance is a zaaniyah (adulteress)." (Reported by Imaam Ahmad, 4/418)
"Be reposeful in prostration and do not rest your forearms on the ground as a dog does." (al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani رحمه الله, the great hadeeth master and Shafi'ee jurist, states that in the case of a lengthy prostration it would be permitted to rest the arms on the thighs. (Mirqat al-Mafatih, 2:609)
This prohibition does not extend to women since they have been instructed to contract in prostration, which includes placing the arms on the ground. This is further supported by a version of this narration in Saheeh Muslim, which states that "the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه وسلم prohibited that a man spread his forearms like a beast" - hence, excluding women. (See Radd al-Muhtar, 1:432) (Provisions for the Seekers)
"Command your children to perform prayer when they are seven years of age, and beat them for neglecting it when they are ten, and [at that age] seperate their beds [between boys and girls]." (Abu Dawood; Tirmidhi)
Prayer (salah), the most important obligation of Islam, should be inculcated into the lives of children by the age of ten, well before they reach puberty (buloogh). This way they become accustomed to fulfilling the commands of Allaah from a young age. Also, due to the rise of sexual awareness at that age [or earlier if necessary], the sleeping areas of boys and girls are to be seperated so that they also learn to abstain from the prohibitions of Allaah سبحانه و تعالى, avoid suspicious venues, and ensure correct social behaviour. (Mirqat al-Mafatih, 2:276)
"And beat them..." has been explained by Ibn 'Abideen رحمه الله, the great Syrian jurist, as being with the hands and not with a rod, and that this should also not exceed three strikes. (Radd al-Muhtar, 1:235)
The purpose is discipline, so it is forbidden to inflict wounds or cause injury through such beating. (Provisions for the Seekers)
Shaykh ul Hadeeth Maulana Yusuf Motala said: "Sayyid 'Aqeel رحمه الله was an adherent (mureed) of Shaykh Badr 'Alam رحمه الله. He was amongst the dearest and most devout of his associates. As he resided in Madeenah Munawwarah, we would often encounter one another. We were acquainted for many years. I once went to visit his nephew when he was around ninety years of age before his passing away. He came to meet me upon becoming aware of my presence.
I asked about his wellbeing, health and fixed practises (ma'mulat). He answered, 'My health is as expected given this age, but through Allaah's grace, the undertaking of fixed practises is as continuous as ever before.' What he said thereafter is worth listening to.
'What can I say about my moment in prostration? I feel like remaining in that position for ever.'
We understand from this that a person stays in prostration for several seconds or moments, or just as we recite subhaana rabbiyal a'la three times, he will be reciting it seven times, eleven times or even a hundred times. But Sayyid 'Aqeel رحمه الله says, 'The pleasure I derive after placing my head in prostration makes me want to remain like that for three hundred or five hundred years.' What pleasure! And that is at ninety years of age!"
[The Beauty Of Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم, As Reflected In Lectures On Saheeh al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Page 6]
A Donkey Mistake: Preceding the Imam in the Movements of Salat
By Kamil Uddin
عن أبي هريرةَ، قال: قال محمدٌ ،أمَا يَخْشَى الذي يَرْفَعُ رَأْسَهُ قبل الإمامِ أن يحوِّل الله رأْسَهُ رأْسَ حِمَار. - الترمذي
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, "Does he who raises his head before the imam [in prayer] not fear that Allaah will change his head into a head of a donkey?" (Tirmidhī)
This statement of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم refers to the act of lifting the head in sajdah and rukūʿ before the imam in ṣalāt. The Arabic letter alif at the beginning of the statement is an interrogative particle and the mīm a negative particle; together they combine to form an intensifier, or harf al-tanbīh, whose purpose is to alert the listener to carefully consider of the words of the speaker.
Opinions differ regarding the warning issued in this hadith. Some scholars state that the warning is figurative. A donkey often denotes stupidity and idiocy in the Arabic language; and indeed one can find in Arabic few things more insulting to call someone than an ass. Also, in the Quran certain Jews are given the same ascription of a donkey in the verse,"The likeness of those charged with upholding the Torah, who, thereafter, did not uphold it (faithfully), is like the likeness of a donkey (merely) carrying books." (Surat al-Jumu'ah, 62:5)
These scholars take the opinion that the hasty worshipper's head will not physically transform into a donkey, but that Allah will slowly rob him of sound reason. Ibn Daqīq al-ʿĪd رحمه الله states that Ibn Bazīzah said, "The hadith carries the possibility of physical distortion, or the figurative sense can apply." Anwar Shāh al-Kashmīrī رحمه الله is of the opinion that this distortion of the face will occur on the Day of Judgment, as on that day, all deeds and actions will be given a physical body and they will testify for or against those who performed them.
Whether the meaning is literal or figurative, the warning is severe in both cases. Lifting the head in sajdah or rukūʿ before the imam is expressly forbidden through this hadith and others of the same meaning.
From a legal perspective, the act of preceding the imam in any act of ṣalāt is disliked (makrūh) by consensus of the Muslim jurists (Bidāyat al-Mujtahid). Some go even further to say that the prayer is altogether invalid and must be performed again (ibid). The majority, however, hold that such action, though it decreases the prayer's devotional value before Allah, does not completely annul it, and while it is preferable to repeat it, it is not necessary. The preferred ruling is that the prayer is still valid if one rises from rukūʿ or sajdah before the imam as long as one catches part of it with the imam; if he misses a rukn (pillar of the prayer) with the imam completely then he must repeat his ṣalāt. Regardless, the warning is clear, and one should exercise great care in the congregational prayer. Imam Nawawī states in his commentary on Saḥīḥ Muslim under the explanation of this hadith, "All of this explanation (on the action of lifting the head before the imam) demonstrates the severity of the prohibition of that action."
A question that is likely to cross the inquisitive mind is, "Why such a severe warning?" The action seems harmless enough and not something warranting so much detail or attention. Much wisdom, however, lies in following the imam in prayer and in rebuking contradicting him in performing the pillars of prayer. Mutābaʿat al-imām (following the imam) is an fundamental Islamic concept. Numerous prophetic narrations emphasize its importance:
The imam is only made to be led, when he says: "Allāh Akbar" then you should also say "Allāh Akbar". When he performs rukūʿ then you should also perform rukūʿ. When he performs sajdah then you should also perform sajdah. (Bukhārī, Muslim)
This hadith is a clear command from the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant peace) and Allah expresses the severity of disobeying him in the following verse of the Quran:
"And let those who oppose the Messenger's [Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace)] commandment (i.e. his Sunnah legal ways, orders, acts of worship, statements, etc.) (among the sects) beware, lest some fitnah (disbelief, trials, afflictions, earthquakes, killing, overpowered by a tyrant, etc.) befall them or a painful torment be inflicted on them." (Sūrat al-Nūr, 24:63)
The concept of following a leader not only applies to ṣalāt but to other facets of life as well. Allah states, "O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day."(Sūrat al-Nisāʾ, 4: 59)
Imam al-Nasafī رحمه الله states under the commentary of this verse that both government officials and scholars are included in "those of you who are in authority". Following the imam (or those entrusted with leadership) is emphasized so much that it is included in our basic creed. Imam Ṭaḥāwī states in his renowned treatise on Islamic creed, "We do not believe in revolt against our leaders and rulers even though they may commit injustice." The lifting of the head before the imam is a form of revolt, thus the severity in warning of the action. In another hadith the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, "Whoever obeys me obeys Allah; whoever obeys the ruler obeys me; and whoever disobeys the ruler, disobeys me." (Bukhārī)
This hadith and the verse of Surah al-Nisāʾ stated earlier are both explained by Ibn Abī ʾl-ʿIzz al-Ḥanafī رحمه الله in his commentary of al-ʿAqīdat al-Ṭaḥāwiyyah. He explains that obeying those in authority is not an independent obedience. In the verse of Surah al-Nisāʾ, Allah has used the imperative verb "obey" for both Himself and the Messenger, but not again separately for those in authority. The reason being is that they are only obeyed when it is obedience to Allah and His Messenger. But at the same time, we do not revolt against them or cause disunity and discord within the community. Stern warning has been given against this in a hadith in which Ibn ʿAbbās (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, "Whomsoever finds something in his ruler that he disapproves of, he should bear it patiently, for one who moves a spans length from the jamāʿah and dies, dies the death of the Days of Ignorance," (Bukhārī) and in another narration the words are, "he has removed the nook of Islam from his neck" (Ahmad), meaning he has thrown away his allegiance of Islam.
Islamically, there are two concepts of leadership, imāmah kubrā (leadership of the whole Muslim community) and imāmah sughrā (leadership in ṣalāt). Both have one and the same focus, providing unity to the Muslim body. After the passing of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), the Companions elected Abū Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) on the basis of the latter leadership. On this occasion ʿUmar (may Allah be pleased with him) stated, "The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was pleased with you in respect to our dīn (leading the prayer when the Prophet was unable to) so why should we not be pleased with you in respect to our dunyā (worldly affairs)?"
The sensitivity of the Islamic concept of leadership is such that causing the slightest possibility of dispute and discord, be it in prayer or any other aspect in life, is deemed destructive for the community as a whole (unless the leader is disobeying the commandments of Allah, in which case obedience to the leader is disallowed). The imam stands at the front of the congregation for a reason; he is likened to the commander of an army. His actions therefore, must always precede the action of his followers. To do otherwise would be a donkey mistake.
Bidāyat al-Mujtahid wa Nihāyat al-Muqtaṣid (vol.1). Muhammad ibn Aḥmad ibn Rushd al-Qurṭubī. Beirut: Lebanon. Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyyah 2003.
Kamil Uddin is currently an undergraduate student of the Shari'ah College at the Institute of Islamic Education in Elgin, IL. He teaches on a part-time basis for the online Islamic studies academy darululum.org and is also pursuing his undergraduate studies in liberal arts outside of the Institute of Islamic Education. He is a hafiz of the Quran and delivers friday khutbahs in the Chicago-land area.
The Prayer is the second pillar of Islam and occupies a distinguished position among the duties placed on every Muslim. In the hadith of the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and the verses of the Holy Quran, after the profession of faith, the first thing mentioned is the Prayer. In order to perfect it, one must perfect takbir al-tahrimah, the opening "Allahu Akbar" of the Prayer. It may seem like something small and simple, but its shocking to see how many perform it incorrectly. Allah سبحانه و تعالى holds the Prayer in great esteem, and it is incumbent upon every Muslim to learn its rules in order to build his connection with and devotion to Allah.
In the obligatory prayers, there are six fara'id, definitive obligations that one must do for his prayer to be complete. The takbir al-tahrimah is the first. It is called tahrimah, or "prohibition," because it prohibits things that were permissible before it, such as eating, drinking, talking, and other acts unrelated to prayer. The obligation of the opening takbir is established through the Quran, the Sunnah, and ijma' (consensus of scholars).
The Quranic proof is the verse,"And proclaim the greatness of your Lord"(74:3). The word rabb 'lord' in this context is the effective cause of the injunction, in that Allah is the sustainer, cherisher, and nurturer of the entire universe, which is the fuller meaning of rabb. His greatness alone, therefore, is worthy of being proclaimed to commence the Prayer.
The Sunnah proof is a transmission from Abu Hurayrah and Abu Sa'id al-Khudri (Allah be pleased with them) in which the Prophet (Allah bless and grant him peace) said, "The key to the Prayer is purificication; its tahrim is takbir, and its tahlil is taslim"(Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah). We also find that this was the Prophet's consistent practice. Further corroborating this position is the consensus of the commentators of the Quran.
When one begins the Prayer he is to pronounce the takbir, raising his hands to his ears while doing so. It is preferred to raise the hands first, then say the takbir. Raising the hands is sunnah, not wajib, but pronouncing the takbir is fard. Men will raise their hands parallel to their earlobes, and women will raise their hands to their shoulders. The palms should be open facing the qiblah. Men will place the right hand over the left hand below the navel, holding the left wrist with the thumb and the pinky of the right hand and the remaining three fingers outstretched along the left forearm. The fingers of the left hand should also remain outstretched. Women will place the palm of the right hand on the back of the left hand upon the chest.
The Prayer brings one nearer to Allah سبحانه و تعالى if performed according to its prescribed method. To start it properly is the first step to attaining divine nearness through this great act of worship.
"Whoever performs prayers with ostentation has empartnered others to Allah; whoever fasts with ostentation has empartnered others to Allah; and whoever gives in charity has empartnered others to Allah." (Ahmad)
The term ashraka, "has empartnered others to Allah," refers to shirk khafi, or "hidden empartnering." (Mirqat al-Mafatih, 9:191)
The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said, "The hidden empartnering is that a person stands to pray and then increases or enhances his prayer due to observing another watching him." (Ibn Maja)
Every act of worship should be performed solely for the pleasure of Allah سبحانه و تعالى. Any deed done with ostentation will not be eligible for Allah's reward, and on the Day of Resurrection such a person will be ordered to beseech those for whom he did the good deeds. (Provisions for the Seekers, 87)
One of the most virtuous of the nawafil acts of worship is waking up in the middle of the night for tahajjud prayer. This is that special time when the doors of mercy are thrown open and the angels are dispersed, seeking out those in need of their Lord. Yet, how unfortunate our situation is that we are deprived from this great bounty.
"Their sides shun their beds in order to pray to their Lord in fear and hope..."(Quran, 32: 16)
Abu Hurayrah (radiallahu anhu) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said, "The best prayer after the obligatory prayers is the night prayer." (Muslim)
I remember anytime one of the narrations regarding tahajjud would come up in a text, or was mentioned by one of our teachers, the students would eagerly ask how they could become regular in this blessed act. Here are a few suggestions based on their responses.
Stage 1 - I just can't wake up
Despite your best efforts (asking a friend to call, multiple alarms, sleeping early, making a firm intention at night, etc.) if you simply cannot force yourself to get up, pray your tahajjud prayer before you go to sleep. Its time technically begins after Isha, so this can be a means of showing Allah that you are serious, and truly desirous of this great bounty. Couple this with dua admitting your inability and asking Allah for His bounty.
Stage 2 - I am sporadic in my tahajjud
If you are blessed to wake up for tahajjud on occasion, or get up most days, but miss a few here and there, be sure to "make-up" the prayer on the days that you don't get up. And of course couple this with dua.
Umar (radiallahu anhu) narrates that "I heard the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) say, 'Whenever one of you sleeps through his night devotions, or through a part of them, then, if you perform them between the Fajr (i.e after Ishraq) and Dhuhr prayer, you will receive the same reward as if you performed them at night.'" (Muslim)
Stage 3 - I regularly wake up for tahajjud
Alhamdulillah, if you are at this stage you need to ensure 3 things:
1. Give shukr every night that Allah allowed you take advantage of this great blessing.
2. Admit to Allah that while you are unworthy of such a blessing, you are in need of it.
3. Beg Allah that He allow you to wake up the following night as well.
May Allah, Most High, allow each of us to be regular in our tahajjud prayers!