Night Prayer – Part two

Today’s reminder is continuing on from the night prayer last week.

The imam began the reminder today with a reference from the 79th ayat of Sura Al Isra. It is translated to say:

And rise at ˹the last˺ part of the night, offering additional prayers, so your Lord may raise you to a station of praise.

Dear brothers and sisters, we spoke last week on the benefit of the night prayers and how we should implement in into our lives. The reminder continues this week with outlining the blessings of this act of worship so that we can implement it into our lives.

One of the blessings that comes from this prayer is the eradication of hypocrisy. We all need to take extra care to be mindful of this point as we live in a time and a place where hypocrisy is displayed by people in all walks of life.

As Muslims, we need to make sure that our acts of worship are not hypocritical. That they are being performed for the sake of Allah SWT and not for the sake of status or others to witness.

One way that this can be achieved is to perform acts of worship that are hidden from the world. They are those acts of worship that have no chance of the world witnessing it and therefore it is being done solely for the One who is always watching.

The night prayer is an act of worship that falls under this category. It is something that is done when those around us are asleep. Nobody is there to witness it and it is something that offers a deep personal connection with Allah SWT alone.

The imam spoke of how Allah SWT addresses people that pray in the night. Sura Al-Furqan, ayat 63 and 64 are translated to say:

The ˹true˺ servants of the Most Compassionate are those who walk on the earth humbly, and when the foolish address them ˹improperly˺, they only respond with peace.

˹They are˺ those who spend ˹a good portion of˺ the night, prostrating themselves and standing before their Lord.

And that leads us onto the next point regarding the night prayer. We all live busy lives, in a world where distractions are so intense that even prayers in congregation are sometimes disturbed with ringtones or alarms on phones.

This is part of life and we can all make attempts to minimize these disruptions but the point here is that the prayers in the day time have dunya prodding us to draw attention away from the prayers. Whether it is family at home whilst you are trying to make prayers or whether it is school or work which has tight schedules that you must follow, the prayers during the day have their own challenges.

This is why the night prayer is such a blessing. It offers that solitude and that peace that no prayer during the day can offer. Often it is prayed in low light, alone and with next to no other noise or distraction being heard.

The imam mentioned a hadith which is translated to say:

The most excellent prayer after that which is obligatory is the (voluntary) late night prayer.” [Reported by Muslim]. it is better as it is done in secret, and its very difficult, and as its quieter there is better contemplation.

And it is worth mentioning again in today’s reminder that the night prayer is one of the ways of attaining Allah SWT’s mercy.

The imam relayed two hadith in relation to this point. The first is translated to say:

There is an hour during the night in which no Muslim bondman will ask Allah for good in this world and the next but He will grant it to him.

And this one which is translated to say:

 “Make a practice of getting up at night, for it was the custom of the pious before you, is a means of bringing you near to your Lord, an atonement for evil deeds and a preventative of sin.”

Dear brothers and sisters, the night prayers offers so much for so little on our part. From the answering of our prayers to the eradication of our sins, this is the act of worship we should all be attempting to build into our lives.

By doing so, we will not only benefit greatly in the hereafter but we will have discovered a treasure that offers us peace and tranquillity in this life like nothing else.

And whilst we are still in a time of year when the nights are still long and the days are short, lets make the most of the opportunity and implement this blessed act of worship into our lives.

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Night Prayers

One of the pillars of Islam is the Salah and beyond the mandatory prayers, we have been taught by the greatest of all creation SAWS, optional prayers that are of benefit to us. One of the greatest prayers that can benefit us is the prayer that is prayed in the final third of the night.

The imam reminded us of this by referring to the 15, 16 and 17th ayat of Sura As-Sajdah. It is translated to say:

The only ˹true˺ believers in Our revelation are those who—when it is recited to them—fall into prostration and glorify the praises of their Lord and are not too proud.

They abandon their beds, invoking their Lord with hope and fear, and donate from what We have provided for them.

No soul can imagine what delights are kept in store for them as a reward for what they used to do.

Dear brothers and sisters, we can see that the reward for this is beyond anything we can imagine or compare to in this life. This alone should compel us to get up for the night prayer.

Alongside this, the Quran also references this in Sura Al-Thariyat in ayats 15 to 17 which are translated to say:

Indeed, the righteous will be among gardens and springs,

Accepting what their Lord has given them. Indeed, they were before that doers of good.

They used to sleep but little of the night

Dear brothers and sisters, we are plagued with things that worry us and make us desire. Alongside that, we are all guilty of errors as Muslims and so the night prayer offers the opportunity to seek Allah’s bounty and His mercy.

Alongside this the imam spoke of a hadith in which the prophet SAWS spoke of the reward for night prayers. It is translated to say:

“O people, extend greetings (saying Salam to each other), keep relations with your kin, provide food (to people) and pray at night when people are asleep and you will enter Paradise in peace.”

Dear brothers and sisters, the night prayer is one of those optional acts of worship that has the potential to transform both our life in this dunya and our fortunes in the hereafter. It is therefore important for us to attempt to instill this sunnah as a habit in our lives.

And so this reminder concludes with 3 practical tips on how we can implement the night prayer as a habit into our lives.

  1. Sleep on time. The temptation is to stay awake deep into the night to perform the night prayer. This is not the correct approach. It is better to sleep on time and then wake up to perform the night prayer. On approach may be to wake up 10 minutes earlier than the start of Fajr as it allows you to pray the night prayer and then remain awake to perform the Fajr prayer as well. If sleeping at time is a challenge then one practical advice is to stop interaction with devices in the hour or 90 minutes leading up to sleep.
  • Start small and work your way up. Maybe begin with the attempt to pray it once. Then once a fortnight or week, then twice weekly and so on. There is more benefit in gradually increasing the number of times as you stand a greater chance of sticking to it. Equally, the night prayer is prayed in units of 2 like any other nafl prayer so begin with just the minimum 2 rakats and if you decide in future to increase that to 4,6,8 etc then you can work gradually towards it
  • It is Sunnah to have a nap in the afternoon if your schedule allows it. This is 15-20 power nap to give you the rest needed for the rest of the day. If time permits then make this part of the day also which increases further the chance of night prayers becoming a sustainable habit.

Dear brothers and sisters, the night prayer is an act of worship that has great power. Let us aim to get this implemented as a habit so that we can be amongst the group of people referred to in the following hadith in which the Prophet SAWS said:

Our Lord, the Blessed and the Exalted, descends every night to the lowest heaven when one-third of the latter part of the night is left, and says: Who supplicates Me so that I may answer him? Who asks Me so that I may give to him? Who asks Me forgiveness so that I may forgive him?

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The Night Prayer

Dear brothers and sisters, the topic of today’s reminder is something which might have been forgotten and has no part in the life of many of us. For some of us, we do it in the month of Ramadan but not in the rest of the times.

The act is the night prayer, an act that although isn’t obligatory, it is something which each and every one of us can benefit greatly from if performed. The imam reminded us of a hadith in relation to this in which the Prophet SAWS said:

“Hold fast to the night prayer, for it is the practice of the righteous before you, and a means of drawing closer to your Lord, and an eraser of sin, and a means of their prevention.”

Dear brothers and sisters, if we think about this hadith for a moment, there are a number of points and lessons we can take from this. Today’s reminder does this. Firstly, this is not a practice that has begun just with our faith, the practice itself has been performed by righteous people going further back than the advent of our faith.

Allah SWT also speaks of the night prayer. In Sūrah Al-Muzammil, which is one of the earliest chapters of the Qur’ān to be revealed to the Prophet SAWS, Allah SWT commanded His Prophet by saying:

Arise the night, except for a little. Half of it or a little less than that, or add to it, and recite the Qur’ān with measured recitation.

Dear brothers and sisters, if we ponder of this verse we can conclude that Allah SWT was urging everyone to the night prayers. Therefore, if Sūrah Al-Muzammil was amongst the first of revelation given to the Prophet Muḥammad SAWS then the instruction to pray at night was also one of the very first instructions given by Allāh SWT to the Prophet Muḥammad SAWS in his preparation for the mammoth tasks that awaited him.

Secondly, the hadith earlier also mentioned the night prayer as “a means of drawing closer to your Lord”. Allah SWT has offered so much to those who discipline themselves to glorify Him through this act of worship; because it means so much to Him. Each and every one of us can relate to how valuable sleep is these days and therefore to sacrifice this has its just reward with Allah SWT.

And what is their reward? In truth, we do not entirely know for certain. Allāh SWT has said in the Glorious Quran:

Their sides forsake their beds, as they call upon their Lord in fear and hope, and from what We have provided them, they spend. And so no soul knows of the delights of the eyes that have been hidden for them, as reward for what they used to do

Dear brothers and sisters, this is not to say that Allah SWT has not uncovered some of the secrets behind this unknown reward. The Prophet SAWS said:

In Jannah, there are rooms, the outsides of which can be seen from their insides and their insides can be seen from their outsides. An Arab Bedouin man got up and asked, ‘Who do they belong to O messenger of Allāh?’ He responded, ‘They belong to those who speak with goodness, offer food, consistently fast and pray at night when people are asleep.’

Thirdly, the hadith mentioned that the night prayer is “an eraser of sin, and a means of their prevention”. Dear brothers and sisters, we all run the risk of doing sins which we fear being reminded of on the Day of Reckoning, then this act enables us to erase them during the night.

Not only that, the act also provides us with prevention and so if we need a shield to prevent us from those sins that we fear returning to after repentance due to how irresistible they seem, again, such a shield can be acquired during the night.

Dear brothers and sisters, this is one of the most amazing realities of the night prayer; it erases the sins of yesterday whilst providing a shield against the sins of tomorrow. Perhaps this is one of the reasons the Prophet SAWS referred to the night prayer as being “the honour of a believer”, for sins give rise to humiliation; a cold, bitter and dark sense of inward humiliation that one truly feels during the sin and after it as well, whilst the night prayer is a liberator from this.

We have a hadith reminded to us by the imam today in which the Prophet SAWS said:

Angel Jibrīl came to me and said, ‘O Muḥammad, live as long as you wish, you shall die in the end. Love whom you wish, you will be separated from them in the end. Do whatever you wish, you shall be held accountable in the end, and realise that the honour of a believer is in his night prayer, and that his dignity is when he is not reliant on others.

Dear brothers and sisters, as we can deduce from today’s reminder, not only is the act of performing night prayers a blessed act, but based on the rewards, it is one that we need to try and implement into our everyday lives.

However, as with all new habits, it will take some preparation and dedication in order to be formed. The reminder concludes with 3 points in helping to establish the night prayer.

  1. Begin with the intention of performing the night prayer with conviction and sincerity. Without the permission of Allah SWT, we are unable to do anything and therefore make this the cornerstone of the habit you are attempting to start.
  2. Understand that the notion of an undisturbed sleep is only a recent phenomenon. Even in the west, divided sleep periods was considered normal and it did not affect the health. In fact, recent scientific studies confirm the benefits of segmented sleep.
  3. Recongize damaging behaviour that may prevent the act of night prayers. From eating a heavy meal at night to staying up late staring at a screen, these are all behaviours that will disrupt your body and mind and thus prevent the ability to have a good sleep and wake up for night prayers.

Dear brothers and sisters, the night prayer is the time when the distractions of the world are at a minimum. Use this opportunity of solitude to resurrect a desirable act of worship as well as provide oneself with the blessings of Allah SWT in this life and the next.

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