A Guide To Qiyamullail - When, Why And How To Do It

A Guide To Qiyamullail - When, Why And How To Do It


Ustaz Md Khalid Md Rafi •  Apr 10, 2023

I blinked and we are already in the last leg of the blessed month of Ramadan. Assalamualaikum everyone. The time has come to reap rewards in multifold. YOLO (you only live once) rings true for good deeds and we need to live big, and love our Lord even bigger. What better way to do it than by performing Qiyamullail (or Qiyam al Layl)?

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A Guide To Qiyamullail

1. What is Qiyamullail?

The term ‘Qiyamullail’, literally means to ‘stand during the night’ but it refers to when you spend some part of the night, no matter how short, from after Isyak till Fajar, to worship Allah.

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Worship such as prayers, recitation of the Qur’an, remembrance of Allah (dhikr), or any acts of worship can be performed. The hukum for performing Qiyamullail is sunnah muaqqadah or highly encouraged, but it is obligatory for the Prophet (ﷺ). P.S. Not sure how to start performing Terawih prayers? We've rounded up all that you need to know in this article!

2. Difference between Qiyamullail and Tahajjud

Tahajjud salah, though considered Qiyamullail, is the sunnah prayer performed after Isyak and before Fajr. Thus Tahajjud is part of Qiyamullail but Qiyam is not limited to prayers, as it also encompasses other forms of worship during the night. Qiyam is more general than Tahajjud as it includes prayers and other actions, be it before or after sleeping. Tahajjud is exclusively for prayers although some scholars state that they are the same.

P.S. Here are 7 beautiful things you should know about the most blessed night in Islam, Lailatul Qadr.

3. Why do we perform Qiyamulail?

Now, how did all of this come about? Prophet Muhammad’s greatest trial was his role of being a universal guide for mankind, and yes we all know he was excellent at it. But his success did not take place overnight. In the earlier phases of prophethood, the Qiyamullail was made mandatory for the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w, by Allah. The Prophet (ﷺ) taught us that in order for us to achieve success in our lives, it is important that we refine and strengthen our connection with Allah. Allah says, “And as for the night, keep awake a part of it as an additional prayer for you: soon will your Lord raise you to a station of praise and glory” (Al-Israa’ 17:79)

During the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), he was known to pray so much that his feet became swollen, which prompted his wife, Aisyah to question him. Aisyah (ra), said: “Why do you do this oh Messenger of Allah, while all of your sins past and future have been forgiven? He said: Shouldn't I be a thankful slave?” (HR Bukhari) The more one stands (voluntarily) in front of Allah in the silent depths of the nights – seeking His Help and relying upon Him alone – the more he feels content and certain of being granted provision, and the less he relies on people around him or worries over what others possess. 

P.S. Check out these 8 ways to do ibadah with your family this Ramadan!

4. Benefits of performing Qiyamullail

So what would be a strong incentive for us to perform Qiyamullail? These are some of them:

1) It is the best prayer after the obligatory prayers. Rasulullah (ﷺ) said, “The best of salah after the obligatory salah, is the salah of the night (Qiyamullail).” (HR Muslim) Performing Qiyamullail is voluntary, and they have been described as the best of acts after the obligatory ones. One reason for this is Qiyamullail is an act that is hidden from people. (Only Allah knows of you being the real MVP and that is all the love we really need ❤️)

2) It brings the worshipper closer to Allah.

Rasulullah (ﷺ) said, “Upon you is (to perform) Qiyamullail, for it is the habit of the righteous before you. And it will bring you closer to your Rabb, and expiate for bad deeds, and prevent sin.” (HR Tirmidhi; Hassan) What better reason can there be, to get that special spot with your Maker? 

3) It includes a special time period where dua is granted.

“Verily in the night there is an hour, no Muslim reaches it, asking Allah for goodness from matters of the Dunya or the Akhirah, except that Allah gives it to him, and that is in every night.” (HR Muslim) Allah provides for His creation every moment of the day. Yet for Muslims, there are exclusive time periods when du’a is especially encouraged and granted – and the last third of the night is amongst them. He loves you, and you need that quality time with Him. For you to recharge, refresh, reconnect. 

4) When do we perform Qiyamullail?

Though the Tahajjud can be prayed at any part of the night, if possible, it is best to pray it after midnight, especially during the last third of the night. For example, if you're in Singapore and Malaysia, that would be around 3 or 4 am. P.S. Planning to perform Qiyamullail at the mosque in Singapore? Check out our article to find out more!

5. How to pray Qiyamullail?

Arrangement to wake up for prayers

Even though the prayers of Qiyamullail or Tahajjud can be made after Isya prayers, the full reward mentioned in the Quran and Hadiths refers to worship that is preceded by sleep. This is also understood from the meaning of Tahajjud - which is the struggle to rid oneself of sleep. After praying the Isha prayer and before going to sleep, do make arrangements to wake up during the night before the Fajr prayer. True strength lies in your willpower to lift that blanket.

Waking up

Wake up during the night at the time you've chosen and perform your wudhu. But what if you oversleep? Okay let’s face it, it's tough. But it's not impossible guys. If you make an honest effort to wake up and perform the Tahajjud but accidentally sleep through the night, do not beat yourself up. According to a hadith, Allah SWT records your genuine intention to perform the Tahajjud and grants you sleep as an act of mercy. You will be rewarded as if your intention had been fulfilled. How merciful is He, the Kind and Compassionate ❤️

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As you prepare to do prayers, make an intention of performing it such as “I intend to pray Tahajjud 2 rakaat”. Do take note that any type of night prayers such as solat taubah, isthikharah etc..is also a form of Qiyamullail. (Yay!) Repeat rakaats as you wish. Generally, two rakaats is seen as the minimum for Tahajjud. However, it's possible to repeat as many more, as you wish. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) frequently prayed up to 13 rakaats. End your night prayers with “Witr” prayers. It is a prayer consisting of 3 rakaat with two salams. You can perform 2 rakaat of Witr prayers followed by the salam, then continuing it by another one rakaat of Witr, followed by the salam.

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Don’t forget to supplicate to Allah as this is the best time to ask Him for what your heart wishes. Ask away, don't be shy! He is closer to you than your jugular vein, and He will give you what is best for you, insyaAllah. Lastly, try to make Qiyamullail part of your daily routine, even outside the month of Ramadan. Remember that Allah appreciates regular acts of worship and brings you closer to Him. In addition, Qiyamullail is often associated with Allah's gifts of forgiveness and redemption, making it a great way to seek correction for each day's minor failures, sins and imperfection.