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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.