Spiritual Corner

The Concise Method of Reciting Salāt al-Layl

The Tahajjud Prayer (Salaat al-Layl, Namaz-e-Shab) ranks first and foremost in importance among all other optional (Sunnat) prayers. Tahajjud means to abandon sleep so as to pray Salat. The Quran refers to it in Surah 17:79 and says, "And (during part) of the night, abandon sleep and keep vigil to pray Salat, in addition to the regular obligatory prayer. Your Rabb (the Sustainer) may (as a reward) elevate you to the position of High Distinction, Glory and Praise."

The verse quoted above which prescribes Salaat al-Layl has been placed immediately next to the verse (17:78) which prescribes the regular daily obligatory Salat. Therefore, it underscores the great importance of Salatul-Layl. Although optional, Tahajjud is considered "nearest to obligatory (Wajib) prayer."

While advising Imam 'Ali (as), the Prophet repeated three times, "'Alayka Bis-Salatul-Layl" which means, "incumbent upon you (O! Ali) is Salat al-Layl." This Hadith underscores further the importance of Salatul-Layl. Therefore, we should try never to miss it.

Merits
Imam Jaffar Sadiq(as) quotes Imam Ali(as) as saying that the Prophet(sawaw) said that a person who prays Salat al-Layl gets the following twenty four kinds of benefits:
  1. Secures Allah's pleasure.
  2. Makes friendship with Angels.
  3. Is the Sunnat of the Prophets (as)
  4. Provides the means to pursue knowledge.
  5. Constitutes the root of our faith.
  6. Keeps one physically fit.
  7. Drives Shaytan away.
  8. Protects one from enemies.
  9. Serves as a means of acceptance of one's Duas and good deeds.
  10. Increases one's livelihood.
  11. Intercedes with the Angel of Death.
  12. Lights up the grave.
  13. Provides comfortable bedding in the grave.
  14. Helps answering with ease the questioning of Munkar and Nakir in the grave.
  15. Gives companionship in the grave.
  16. Provides shelter on the Day of Judgment.
  17. Crowns one on the Day of Reckoning.
  18. Clothes one on the Day of Resurrection.
  19. Provides one with light on the Day of Judgment.
  20. Forms a barrier against the fire of Hell.
  21. Gets Allah's pardon on the Day of Judgment.
  22. Increases the weight of good deeds on the scale.
  23. Helps one crossing the Bridge of "Siraat" without any difficulty.
  24. Forms the key to the Paradise


Time
The time for praying Salat al-Layl is from midnight (midnight is reckoned as the time which is exactly half the time between sunset and the actual dawn) to the time of Adhan for Fajr prayers. Some ulema consider it permissible to pray Salat al-Layl starting after Isha prayer.

Method
Salaat al-Layl is made up of eleven Rak'ats

  1. The first eight Rak'ats are prayed as normal in pairs of two Rak'ats each with the Niyyah of Nawafilatul-Layl.
    After the first eight Rak'ats, recite tasbih of Janabe Fatemah Zahra(as) as follows:
    • 34 times Allaho Akbar
    • 33 times Alhamdo lillah
    • 33 times Subhan Allah
    • Then prostrate and recite "Shukran Lillāhe" 3 times.

  2. The next two Rak'ats are prayed with the Niyyah of Salaat al-Shaf'a.
    Note: Qunoot, recited, normally, in the second Rak'at of every Salaat, is a Mustahab (recommended) act in all Salaat, Wajib (obligatory) as well as Sunnat (including Nafilah). However, its recitation in Salaat al-Shaf'a is a matter of Ishkal. Nevertheless, it can be recited with the Niyyah of Raja' al-Matlubiyyah, meaning, to seek Allah's pleasure (Qurbatan ilal Llah). (Minhaaj al-Salihin - Ayatullah Al-Sistani Dama-Dhilluhu)

  3. The remaining one Rak'at is prayed with the Niyyah of Salaat al-Witr.
    In the last one Rak'at, Qunoot is recited before Rukuu and the Salaat is completed as usual with Tashahhud and Salaam. The last one Rak'at is prayed as follows:
    • Make Niyyah and say Takbiratul Ihram.

    • Recite:
      • Sūrah al-Fātiah - once;
      • Sūrah al-Ikhlās - three times;
      • Sūrah al-Falaq - three times;
      • Sūrah al-Nās - three times;

      Note: If one does not know the last two Surahs mentioned above, then it is sufficient to recite Sūrah al-Ikhlās, three times.

    • Say Takbir and raise both hands for Qunoot.
      You may recite any Dua. However, it is recommended to recite the following Dua.
      بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ

      bismillā alrrahmāni alrrahīmi
      In the name of Allāh the Beneficent, the Merciful.>
      لآ اِلَهَ اِلاَّ اللّهُ الْحَلِيْمُ الْكَرِيْمُ

      lā ilāha illallāhul halimul karim
      There is none worth worshipping but Allah Who is Forbearing and Generous
      لآ اِلَهَ اِلاَّ اللّهُ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيْمُ

      lā ilāha illallāhul 'aliyyul 'azim
      There is none worth worshipping but Allah Who is Most High and Great
      سُبْحَانَ اللّهِ رَبِّ السَّمَاوَاتِ السَّبْعِ

      subhānallāhi rabbis samāwātis sab'
      Glory be to Allah, Who is the Sustainer of the seven heavens and of the seven earth
      وَ رَبِّ الاَرْضِيْنَ السَّبْعِ

      wa rabbil 'arzinas sab'
      And Who is the Sustainer of all the things
      وَ مَا فِيْهِنَّ وَ مَا بَيْنَهُنَّ

      wa maa fihinna wa mā baynahunna
      in them, and between them,
      وَ رَبُّ الْعَرْشِ الْعَظِيْمِ

      wa rabbul 'arshil 'azim
      And who is the Lord of the great 'Arsh (Divine Center of Authority & Power)
      وَ الْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْنَ

      wal hamdul lillāhi rabbil 'aalamin
      And all praise for Allah, the Sustainer of the worlds.

    • Then, raise hands and pray for forgiveness of forty [40] or more Mu'mineen/Mu'minaat who are either dead or alive, in the following manner.
      اَللّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ ل

      allahummagh firli... (Name)...
      O Allah, forgive ... giving the names of Mu'mineen/Mu'minaat.
      (In each case saying, Allahummagh Firli ......)

    • Continuing with the Qunoot, while still raising the hands, recite the following Istighfar seventy [70] times:
      اَسْتَغْفِرُ اللهَ وَاَتُوبُ اِلَيْهِ

      astaghfirullah rabbi wa atūbu ilayh
      I seek forgiveness of Allah my Lord and I turn to Him


    • Continuing with the Qunoot, while still raising the hands, recite the following dua seven [7] times:
      هذَا مَقَامُ الْعَآئِذِ بِكَ مِنَ النَّارِ

      hādhaa maqāmul 'aaidhi mika minannār
      This is the position of one who seeks refuge in You from the fire [of Hell]

    • Continuing yet further while still raising the hands, recite three hundred [300] times:
      اَلْعَفْوَ

      Al-'Afwa
      (I ask for) forgiveness


  4. Finally, complete the Salat in the normal way by going to Rukuu followed by Sajdah, Tashahhud and Salaam, ending Salaat al-Layl.


  5. As a Taqibaat after the Salat, recite
    Tasbih of Janabe Fatemah Zahra(as),
    34 times Allahu Akbar;
    33 times Al-Hamdu Lillah:
    33 times Subhanallah,
    followed by Sajdah of Shukr.
    Next, recite Ayatul Kursi.
    Finally, for the second time, perform Sajdah of Shukr.