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Thursday 14th December 2017
 
What is the virtues of Qiyaam (prayer at night) during Ramadaan ?

Praise be to Allaah.

Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to encourage us to pray at night in Ramadaan, without making it obligatory. Then he said, ‘Whoever prays at night in Ramadaan out of faith and the hope of reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.’ When the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) died, this is how things were (i.e., Taraaweeh was not prayed in congregation), and this is how they remained during the khilaafah of Abu Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with him), until the beginning of the khilaafah of ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him).”


Laylat al-Qadr

The best of its nights is Laylat al-Qadr, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever prays at night during Laylat al-Qadr {and manages to “catch” it} out of faith and the hope of reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.”

Praying qiyaam in congregation

It is allowed to pray qiyaam in congregation, indeed it is better than praying individually, because this is what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did himself and explained its virtues. Abu Dharr (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “We fasted Ramadaan with the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and he did not lead us in qiyaam at all until there were only seven days left, when he led us in prayer until a third of the night had passed. When there were six days left, he did not lead us in qiyaam. When there were five days left, he led us in prayer until half the night had passed. I said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, I wish that you had continued until the end of the night.’ He said, ‘If a man prays with the imaam until he finishes, it will be counted as if he prayed the whole night.’ When there were four nights left, he did not lead us in qiyaam. When there were three nights left, he brought together his family, his wives and the people, and led us in qiyaam until we were afraid that we would miss al-falaah. I asked, ‘What is al-falaah?’ he said, ‘Suhoor. Then he did not lead us in qiyaam for the rest of the month.’” (Saheeh hadeeth reported by the authors of Sunan).


Number of rak’ahs of qiyaam

The number of rak’ahs is eleven, and it is preferable in our opinion not to exceed this number, following the practice of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), because he never did more than that in his life.
‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) was asked about how he prayed in Ramadaan. She said, “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) never prayed more than eleven rak’ahs (of qiyaam), whether during Ramadaan or any other time. He would pray four, and don’t ask me how beautiful or how long they were. Then he would pray four, and don’t ask me how beautiful or how long they were. Then he would pray three.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, Muslim and others).

A person may do less than that, even if it is only one rak’ah of witr, because of the evidence that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did this and spoke about it.

With regard to him doing it: ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) was asked how many rak’ahs the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to pray in witr? She said, “He used to pray four and three, or six and three, or ten and three. He never used to pray less than seven, or more than thirteen.” (Reported by Abu Dawood, Ahmad and others).

With regard to him speaking about it, he said: “Witr is true, so whoever wishes can pray five, and whoever wishes can pray three, and whoever wishes can pray one.”

Reciting Qur’aan in qiyaam

As regards reciting from the Qur’aan during qiyaam, whether in Ramadaan or at other times, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not set a limit or state what was too much or too little. His recitation used to vary, sometimes it would be long, at other times short. Sometimes in every rak’ah he would recite the equivalent of ‘Yaa ayyuha’l-muzammil, which is twenty aayaat; sometimes he would recite the equivalent of fifty aayaat. He used to say, “Whoever prays at night and reads one hundred aayaat will not be recorded as one of the negligent.” According to another hadeeth: “…and reads two hundred aayaat, will be recorded as one of the devout and sincere believers.”

When he was sick, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) recited the seven long soorahs in his night prayers, i.e., al-Baqarah, Aal ‘Imraan, al-Nisaa’, al-Maa’idah, al-An’aam, al-A’raaf and al-Tawbah.

In the account of Hudhayfah ibn al-Yamaan praying behind the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), in one rak’ah he recited al-Baqarah, al-Nisa’ and Aal ‘Imraan, and he recited them in a slow and measured tone. It is proven with the soundest (most saheeh) of isnaads that when ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) appointed Ubayy ibn Ka’b to lead the people in praying eleven rak’ahs in Ramadaan, Ubayy used to recite aayaat by the hundreds, so that the people behind him would be leaning on sticks because the prayers were so long, and they did not finish until just before Fajr.

It is also reported in a saheeh account that ‘Umar called the readers during Ramadaan, and told the fastest of them to recite thirty aayaat, the moderate ones to recite twenty-five aayaat, and the slowest ones to recite twenty aayaat.

However, is a person is praying qiyaam by himself, he can make it as long as he wishes; if others agree with the imaam, he may also make it as long as he wishes. The longer it is, the better, but a person should not go to extremes and spend the whole night in qiyaam, except on rare occasions, following the example of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) who said: “The best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad.” If a person is praying as an imaam, he should make it only as long as is easy for the people behind him, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If any of you leads the people in prayer, let him make it short, because among them are the young and the old, the weak, and those who have pressing needs. But if he is praying alone, let him make it as long as he likes.”

The timing of qiyaam

The time for praying qiyaam is from after ‘Isha until Fajr, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah has added one more prayer for you, which is witr, so pray it between Salaat al-‘Isha’ and Salaat al-Fajr.”

Praying at the end of the night is better, for those who can manage it, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever is afraid that he will not get up at the end of the night, let him pray witr at the beginning of the night, but whoever feels that he will be able to get up at the end of the night, let him pray witr at the end of the night, for prayer at the end of the night is witnessed [by the angels???], and that is better.”
If it is the matter of choosing between praying in congregation at the beginning of the night and praying alone at the end of the night, it is preferable to pray with the jamaa’ah, because that is counted as if one had prayed the whole night through.

This is what the Sahaabah did at the time of ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him). ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn ‘Abd al-Qaari said: “I went out with ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab to the mosque one night during Ramadaan, and saw the people scattered throughout the mosque, some praying individually, and some praying in small groups. He said, ‘By Allaah, I think that if I gathered all of them behind one reader it would be better.’ So he resolved to do that, and he gathered them behind Ubayy ibn Ka’b. Then I went with him on another night, and the people were all praying behind their reader, and ‘Umar said, ‘What a good innovation this is. What they sleep and miss – meaning the latter part of the night – is better than what they are doing,’ – the people used to pray qiyaam at the beginning of the night.”

Zayd ibn Wahb said: “‘Abd-Allaah used to lead us in prayer in Ramadaan, and he used to finish at night.”

13 – The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) forbade praying witr as three rak’ahs, and explained this by saying: “Do not make it resemble Salaat al-Maghrib.” Therefore the person who wants to pray three rak’ahs for witr must find a way to make it different (from Maghrib). There are two ways he can do this: either by giving salaam after the first two rak’ahs, which is the best way; or by not sitting after the first two rak’ahs (i.e., praying three rak’ahs non-stop). And Allaah knows best.

Recitation during three rak’ahs of witr

It is Sunnah to recite Sabbih bi ismi Rabbika al-‘A’laa in the first rak’ah, Qul Yaa ayyuha’l-Kaafiroon in the second rak’ah, and Qul Huwa Allaahu ahad in the third rak’ah. Sometimes Qul a’oodhu bi Rabbi’l-Falaq and Qul a’oodhu bi Rabbi’l-Naas may be added as well.

It was reported in a saheeh report that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) once recited one hundred aayaat of Soorat al-Nisa’ in one rak’ah of witr.
 
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By Abdul Qayuum Mirpuri in Urdu

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