His Worship at Night and Dawn-times

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Prophet muhammads worship at night and dawn times?

The end of night, or the time of dawn is the time when the human mind is clear, the heart is pure, everywhere is silent, and people are asleep; these are the moments when spiritual diseases, like hypocrisy and vanity, have the least effect on people. These are the moments when Divine mercy descends on the world and the Lord of the universe is closest to His servants. This is why these are the best moments of the day for worship, when people are away from daily activities and hearts can turn to and concentrate on Allah.

Before five-daily prayers were prescribed upon believers, reciting long chapters from the Qur’an and performing tahajjud prayer in the late parts of the night had been obligatory. (See the Holy Qur’an, al-Muzzammil 73; 1-4) This had been the rule for about a year, and believers’ feet had been swelling because of long periods of standing up and praying. Finally, when five-daily prayers were made obligatory upon believers, the ruling about tahajjud prayer was relieved and it became, and continues to be a supererogatory prayer. (al-Muzzammil 73; 20, Abu Dawud, Tatawwu’, 17)

Allah the Almighty made the tahajjud prayer obligatory specifically for His beloved Prophet (pbuh), so He might bestow His blessings upon His Messenger abundantly and His Messenger might be able to benefit from such blessed times. It is stated in the Qur’an:

“And during a part of the night, pray Tahajjud beyond what is incumbent on you; maybe your Lord will raise you to a position of great glory.” (al-Isra, 17; 79)

After this command, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) never in his life ceased performing tahajjud prayer, reciting Qur’an, and saying supplications in the middle of the night. He even performed tahajjud prayer sitting when he did not have the strength to stand at the end of his life. (Abu Dawud, Tatawwu’, 18) Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) used to perform tahajjud and witr prayer together as thirteen rak’ahs. He later reduced them to eleven and then to nine rak’ahs close to the end of his life. (Abu dawud, Tatawwu’, 26)

The Prophet (pbuh) performed his prayer, which he called the light of his eyes, more eagerly at night. He explained his eagerness to tahajjud prayer as follows:

“Allah the Almighty created an ardent desire towards a different thing in each prophet. What I like most is to worship at night…” (Haythami, II, 271)

Prayers and saying remembrances at night, when everyone is asleep, are very important to getting closer to Allah the Almighty. In this respect, the more the strength of love for Allah the more the desire for tahajjud prayer will be. Night prayers and saying remembrances are like meeting and chatting with the beloved. Being awake when everyone else is asleep means getting into the Lord’s world of mercy and joining His assembly of love and clemency.

Since tahajjud prayer is one of the most important means to get a servant closer to his Lord, the Prophet (pbuh) wanted his ummah to benefit from such a great blessing; and he advised night prayers to every believer starting with his close relatives. One night he (pbuh) knocked on the door of Ali and Fatimah’s house (may Allah be pleased with them), and asked them: “Aren’t you going to pray?” (Bukhari, Tahajjud, 5) Here is how he (pbuh) advised his other companions to stay awake at dawns:

“Try to get up at night, because it was the habit of righteous people before you and the means of getting closer to Allah. (This act of worship) keeps away from sins, becomes atonement for mistakes, and relieves the problems.”[1] (Tirmidhi, Daawat, 101)

When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) came to Medina, Jewish scholar Abdullah b. Salam went to him. As soon as he saw the Prophet’s beautiful face, he said: “The owner of this face cannot be a liar.” He then said that the first advices that he heard from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) were: “Salute each other! Give each other presents! Watch your relatives’ rights! Pray at night when everyone is asleep! Do all these and enter peacefully into Paradise.” (Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 42) Turning to Allah at a time when most people are asleep is certainly one of the most effective means of the acceptance of supplications and an easy entrance into Paradise. Hajah Ali Ramitani (q.s.) says that:

“A believing servant’s wish comes true at the place where three hearts come together; a believer’s sincere heart, Qur’an’s heart that is the Chapter Yasin (36), and the heart of the nights that is the time of dawn.”

Believers should help each other to popularize and perform such difficult acts of worship like tahajjud regularly. The best way of helping each other can be realized in peaceful families. Husbands and wives should support each other in worshipping Allah and doing good deeds. In fact, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) prayed for such families and said:

“May Allah have mercy on a man who gets up at night and prays, and awakens his wife; if she refuses, he should sprinkle water on her face. May Allah have mercy on a woman who gets up at night and prays, and awakens her husband; if he refuses, she would sprinkle water on his face.” (Abu Dawud, Ṭaṭawwu’, 18) Spouses should love each other in order to establish such a supporting connection between them.

The most appropriate thing to do, for those who begin an act of worship to attain Allah’s mercy and start to get its blessings, is to maintain this good manner. A good habit or manner should be maintained and improved. This is what Allah the Almighty and His Messenger (pbuh) advise to the believers. According to the narration of Abdullah b. ‘Amr b. al-‘As, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) gave him the following advices:

“Allah’s Apostle said to me, “O ‘Abdullah! Do not be like so and so who used to pray at night and then stopped the night prayer.” (Bukhari, Tahajjud, 19)

Such behavior not only means neglecting the most important object of human beings in this world, i.e. getting ready for the afterlife, but also leads to going to the presence of the Lord with nothing. Rumi (may Allah have mercy upon his soul) elegantly expresses to not go to Divine presence empty-handed and to use the nights wisely and make preparations for tomorrow instead of wasting it by sleeping:

“To come empty-handed to the door of friends is like going without wheat to the mill. Allah, Exalted is He, will say to the people at the gathering (for Judgment), “Where is your present for the Day of Resurrection? You have come to Us and alone without provision, just in the same guise as We created you. Listen, what have you brought as an offering—a gift on homecoming for the Day when you rise from the dead? Or had you no hope of returning? Did the promise of (meeting Me) today seem vain to you?” Dost you (O reader) disbelieve in the promise of being His guest? Then from the kitchen (of His bounty) you will get (only) dust and ashes. And if you are not disbelieving, how with such empty hands are you setting foot in the Court of that Friend? Refrain yourself a little from sleep and food: bring the gift for your meeting with Him. Become scant of sleep (like them that) were slumbering (but a small part of the night); in the hours of dawn be of (those who) were asking forgiveness of Allah.” (Mathnawi, I, verses: 3171-3179)

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) says that “…the most excellent prayer after what is prescribed is prayer during the night.” (Muslim, Siyam, 203) and expresses the value of tahajjud prayer. This is why he did not want anybody from his ummah to spend the whole night sleeping. In fact, a person was mentioned before the Prophet (pbuh) and he was told that he had kept on sleeping till morning and had not got up for the prayer. The Prophet (pbuh) did not like what he heard and said, “Satan urinated in his ears.”“ (Bukhari, Tahajjud, 13)

Spending the nights awake, in other words keeping the heart with its Lord, is very important for spiritual revival. Just like our body’s need for material nourishment, our soul also needs spiritual nourishment in order to know and worship its Creator. Just like material nutrition spreads all over the body through veins and sustains the vitality of the body, spiritual nourishment or remembrance of Allah must settle in spiritual centers in the believers’ soul and awake them.

Tahajjud is said to be a shield against the hell-fire. Ali (r.a.) expresses that it is an amazing situation that on the one hand one wants to go Paradise and be saved from Hell-fire, on the other hand they spend the nights heedlessly sleeping:

The following narration of Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with them) attracts our attention in this respect:

“If a man saw a dream during the lifetime of the Prophet he would narrate it to the Prophet. Once I wished to see a dream and narrate it to the Prophet. I was young, unmarried, and used to sleep in the Mosque during the lifetime of the Prophet. I dreamt that two angels took me and went away with me towards the Hell-fire which looked like a well with the inside walls built up, and had two side-walls like those of a well. There I saw some people in it whom I knew. I started saying, “I seek Refuge with Allah from the Hell-fire, I seek Refuge with Allah from the Hell-fire.” Then another angel met the other two and said to me, “Do not be afraid.” I narrated my dream to Hafsa who, in her turn, narrated it to the Prophet. He said, “What an excellent man Abdullah is if he only observes the night prayer.” (Salem, a sub-narrator said, “From then on Abdullah did not to sleep at night but very little hence forward.” (Bukhari, Aṣhab al-Nabi, 13)

Encouragement of Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) had an effect on not just Ibn Umar, but also other companions (may Allah be pleased with them), too. Their lives were enlightened by supplications, remembrance of Allah, and worship in the quietness of the night. Qadi Baidawi (may Allah bless his soul) explains this as follows:

“When five-daily prayers were prescribed upon the believers and night prayer became a supererogatory act of worship, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) went out of his home to see the state of his companions at night. He found out that his companions houses were buzzing like a bee-hive because of the voices of Qur’an recitation and saying remembrances.” (Anwar al-Tanzil, IV, III)

Upon this Allah the Almighty revealed the following verses:

“And put your trust in the Mighty, the Merciful. Who sees you when you stand up (to pray) and your movements among those who prostrate themselves.” (al-Shuara 26; 217-19)

Even though the Prophet (pbuh) strongly advised tahajjud prayer, he warned those who overdo it and thus neglect their families, risk their health and jobs. He showed them the moderate way which can prevent tiredness and provide continuity. (Bukhari, Tahajjud, 7)

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) comforted his companions who performed tahajjud prayer regularly but who were sad because of oversleeping and missing some of them saying:

“If a man prays in the night and sleep overcomes him during it, Allah writes for him the reward of his prayer, and his sleep is sadaqa for him.” (Malik, Muwaṭṭa, Salat al-Layl, 1)

Night prayer is the requirement of having a blessed and bountiful morning. The results of works and services performed in the morning will be in the extent of nourishing the heart during the night. Allah the Almighty ordered the Prophet (pbuh) the night prayer in the following verses:

“O you wrapped up in your garments! Rise to pray in the night except a little, half of it, or a little less, or a little more; and recite the Quran in slow, measured rhythmic tones. Soon shall We send down to you a weighty Message. Truly the rising by night is most potent for governing (the soul), and most suitable for (framing) the Word (of Prayer and Praise). True, there is for you by day prolonged occupation with ordinary duties.” (al-Muzzammil 73; 1-7)

The time of dawn is a peaceful and quiet time of the day, which is much more effective than other times for contemplation. Morning times, on the other hand, are the noisy moments of the day during which one loses his/her attention. Night is an exceptional time spared for worship and mornings, and is a great blessing to serve and earn the livelihood.

Night is the time to leave one’s bed just for the sake of Allah and stand in the Divine presence with love and affection. For mature believers, nights are exceptional treasures because of the silence and blessings they hold. Those who know the real value of these treasures find the environment to turn their Lord for the acceptance of their prayers, worship, and supplications when all creation rests.

Those who cannot use the valuable times of the nights wisely will not be able to find enough time to turn to and worship their Lord during the day because of their daily preoccupations. Even if they can find some time, it will not be as effective and valuable as the dawn times. Blessings of Allah the Almighty should be used appropriately and in accordance with their objects. Satan does everything to disrupt this balance. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) says with the intention to show the way to those who spend their nights heedlessly sleeping:

“Satan puts three knots on the back of the head of any of you who is asleep. On every knot he reads and exhales the following words, ‘The night is long, so stay asleep.’ When one wakes up and remembers Allah, one knot is undone; and when one performs ablution, the second knot is undone, and when one prays the third knot is undone and one gets up energetic with a good heart in the morning; otherwise one gets up lazy and with a mischievous heart.” (Bukhari, Tahajjud, 12)

Getting up during the night and performing prayers do well to the health of the body and soul. It is known that too much sleep harms people’s health, dissipates the abundance of blessings, and decreases the capital of afterlife; while sleeping less weakens the animal side of humans and has a great effect on disciplining the self.

For those who do not appreciate the value of the night, goodness of the mornings cannot be attained. Therefore, those who would like to attain the welfare of the day has to use their nights for the purpose of entering a divine and spiritual atmosphere.

Both material and spiritual benefits of tahajjud prayer and reviving the nights is accepted and admitted by everyone. The examples about the benefits of worshiping at nights are as follows:

In the battle of Yarmuk when two armies came close to each other, the commander of the Byzantium army sent an Arab spy to check the Muslim army. When the spy came back, the commander asked him:

“What are they doing? What is the situation?” The spy responded:

“They are pious worshippers at night and cavalries in the morning.”

Then the commander told him:

“If you are telling the truth, then it is better for us to be under the ground than to meet with them…” (Tabari, Tarikh, III, 418)

Below is another exemplary event from history:

No enemy was able to be victorious over the companions of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). When Heraclius’ army lost the battle against Muslims, he angrily turned to them and asked:

“Shame on you! What kind of people are your opponents? Aren’t they people like you are?” His soldiers said: “Yes, they are”

Heraclius asked again:

“Which army has more soldiers, yours or theirs?”

They replied:

“We are much more superior to them in every way.”

He said: “Then what is wrong with you? Every time you fight with them, you terribly lose the battle.”

A wise Roman stood up and said:

“Because they spend their nights worshipping and their mornings fasting. They fulfill their promises, command the right and forbid the wrong; and they share everything with each other…” Upon this respond Heraclius told him:

“You have told the truth.” (Ibn Aṣakir, II, 97)

As we can see in the above mentioned incidents, there is spiritual light in the night, which moves the hearts and adds more to the light of the morning by means of the victories gained in it. Pains of contemporary Muslims should be the sad results of their detachment from their origins and their weakness in servitude to Allah the Almighty. If a believer spends his/her night wisely and benefits from the spirituality of remembrances of Allah, his/her nights become brighter than his/her days; whereas wasting nights sleeping aimlessly is an irretrievable loss like the rain drops falling into an ocean.

[1] By means of scientific achievements of modern age, doctors explain the wisdom behind the Prophet’s (pbuh) saying as follows: “because of the increased level of melatonin, low level of evening cortisol, decreased heart beats and blood pressure, human body discharges prolactin and growth hormone in the middle of the night. Thus a person needs to pass the early parts of the night sleeping (between 2:00 and 3:00 am). In order to be protected from the side effects of cortisol, heart beats, and adrenalin; and get the ultimate benefit from melatonin, people should be awake between 2:00 and 4:00 am and try to wake up before the first lights of the day. (Arslan Mayda md, p. 40)

[2] “Indeed I Have Not See A Paradise Whose Claimant Sleeps And A Hell Whose Escapee Sleeps.” Baqillani, P. 144

Source: An Excellent Exemplar, Osman Nuri Topbaş,  Erkam Publications

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