DO YOU STRUGGLE to leave your cozy, comfy bed in the middle of the night to make the tahajjud prayers? Then here are some tips that can help.
A Cost / Benefit Analysis
It was a simple encounter…but to my soul it served as the kiss of life. And then nothing remained the same…
Beginning to drench oneself in the realization and ecstasy of Allah’s blessings and His remembrance, a novice finds that he has to forsake many an ardent interest which actually are an expense to the spirit…giving up music, movies, anger; donning Hijab, sporting a beard…hey, you name it.
But once our wills derive strength to express submissiveness to Allah—now even if someone comes and says that they’ll grant us all that’s in the world for going back and just listening to a single song—then too, Inshâ’Allah, I can utterly assert, that it won’t make us relapse into all that filth. It’s all engendered by a deep humbling sentiment within ‘God-consciousness’ (taqwa).
A Work in Progress
However, some eight, nine years in the brewing, I would say I’m yet not a good Muslim in the least. Yes, life changed indeed, but still an immense lot needs to be set right and for that I know I need to keep repenting to the All-Merciful.
And one thing that makes me the most remorseful is something that is still and continues to be an uphill struggle for me, a task that I have to do daily but yet very grudgingly—may Allah forgive me—that is to leave my cozy, comfy bed in the middle of the night to perform the Night Prayers (Ṣalât Al-Layl).
I’m very well acquainted with how simply amazing is the very experience of offering Ṣalât Al-Layl. Let me relate it through an example: Once when I was back from Hajj, I used to find myself habitually mesmerized and lost in the thoughts of watching the Kaʿabah, performing Țawwâf, drinking Zamzam and so on and so forth.
Although I had left my two very young toddlers behind me—and being back with them was evidently remarkable—but yet the thoughts of pilgrimage used to keep me in a trance. And then I used to offer Ṣalât Al-Layl in my house, and used to enjoy the sweet whispers with my Lord so much, and would think that this time is so special that even if I lived to perform a thousand Hajj, I doubt I would be able to reproduce the charm of the immense feeling of love that showers upon my soul at this time of night.
I felt as if all of heaven’s inhabitants were celebrating, dancing joyously with my spirits.
Comprehending the Stakes
Yet I wonder, and I wonder hard, why getting up at night takes such a toll on me although, alḥamdulillâh, I’m seldom, if ever, of the lazy genus who keeps trying to sneak out some time for rest. I really believe in keeping myself in a struggle, trying to max out on my limited time on this earth, and thus I am also mostly found guilty of not having been able to do as much as could have been possible.
And so almost every night I remind myself:
Our Lord, most Exalted, most High, comes down to the lowest heaven during the last third of each night and announces (reassuringly): Whoever makes duʿâ’, I shall answer it. Whoever asks (for something ḥalâl) I shall grant it; and whoever seeks forgiveness, I shall forgive him. (Bukhâri)
If somebody is to grant a favor onto us, we will not let any time go to waste, lest that fair chance slip through our hands. They can call us at any odd time (or ‘even’ time, too) and without even giving it a second thought, there we will be, all prim and prepared to receive it.
However, when it is the Lord of all lords calling out to us, what happens then? Either foregoing sleep and abandoning warm beds is too arduous a task for us, or, perhaps we are not aware of Allah’s might, not sure whether he can even dispense our affairs just right.
Example of the Prophet and His Companions
Nonetheless, surely every one of us wants to live a pure life. We all wish to purify ourselves and make our lives free of sins and mistakes, as we all would like to meet Allah, our Lord, without sins. So those who observe and enjoy night prayer are the people who work hard on this course of action. It is about these people that Allah says:
They used to sleep but a little of the night, And in the hours before dawn they would ask for forgiveness. [Sûrat Al-Thâriyât, 51:17-18]
Their limbs do forsake their beds of sleep, while they call on their Lord, in fear and hope. [Sûrat Al-Sajdah, 32: 16]
So standing long in prayer, reading not just the short Sûrahs but the longer ones too, is the practice of the pious. They love making their conversations with Allah longer, deeper and more meaningful.
The Companion Ḥuthaifah ibn Al-Yamân said:
I prayed with the Prophet one night. He started with [Sûrat] Al-Baqarah, so I thought that he would make rukûʿafter that. Then he started [Sûrat] Al-Nisâ’ and recited it. Then he started [Sûrat] Âl ʿImrân and recited it. He would recite slowly. (Muslim)
Benefits of Night-Life
These times in the night can also be spent in thikr (remembrance of Allah), tadabbur (reflection), as well as meditation and recitation of the Holy Quran. The devout servants, conscious of their sins, will continue to beseech Allah during their prostrations. They will continue to engage in a heart talk with Him. Allah loves to hear from us. So the believers beg Him to keep them away from misfortunes in this world and in the Afterlife. They ask Allah to make them patient and steadfast in their islam, overlooking their shortcomings, periods of neglect and laziness.
Apart from securing Allah’s pleasure, praying Ṣalât Al-Layl also increases one’s livelihood, as well as helps one passes easily through sakarât al-mawt (grueling pain a dying person suffers at the time of death) and finds happiness in Barzakh (the Spiritual world where the departed souls stay either in happiness or misery, until the Day of Resurrection). It is another great Sunnah that keeps one physically fit, drives the Satan away as well as protects one from enemies.
Confronting the Cozy, Comfy Bed Syndrome
“Well…,” some might be thinking, “even getting up for Fajr prayer is not easy for us, so how can we train ourselves for getting up even earlier than that?”
Here’s how: Getting up for Ṣalât Al-Layl or getting up for Fajr—each takes about the same amount of effort, and by performing Ṣalât Al-Layl (even if getting up just thirty or twenty minutes before the time of Fajr), one can easily stay up till the time of Fajr Prayer and be sure of not having missed the time frame of their farḍ Prayer, too.
To be continued, inshâ’Allah…