When and how is tahajjud prayer performed and how is niyyah made?

The Details of the Question

When and how is tahajjud prayer performed and how is niyyah made?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Tahajjud prayer is performed at night after the night (isha) prayer. It is called "tahajjud" because it is performed by getting up after sleeping for a while. It is possible for a person who fears that he will not be able to get up at night because of tiredness to perform it before sleeping. It can be performed as two, four or eight rak'ahs. It is a very virtuous prayer and it is sunnah for the ummah. Allah Almighty ordered the Prophet (pbuh) this prayer as follows:   

“And pray in the small watches of the morning: (it would be) an additional prayer (or spiritual profit) for thee: soon will thy Lord raise thee to a Station of Praise and Glory!” (al-Isra, 17/79)

Niyyah for tahajjud prayer is made as follows: “I intend to perform tahajjud prayer for Allah’s sake.”

If a person intends to get up for tahajjud prayer, it is more virtuous for him to delay witr prayer and to perform it after tahajjud as the last prayer of the night. 

When tahajjud prayer and witr prayer are left to be performed late at night, it is necessary to perform tasbihat after the night prayer. Various supplications and dhikrs can be made after witr prayer.

Tahajjud prayer can be performed during the night up to the time for the morning prayer. What should a person who could not perform the tahajjud prayer before the time for the morning prayer started do?

Hz. Aisha narrates:

“When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) missed the night prayer due to pain or any other reason, he would observe twelve rak'ahs during the daytime.” (Muslim, Musafirin, 140)

This narration is from Hz. Umar:

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stated the following:

“Should anyone fall asleep and fail to recite his portion of the Quran, or a part of it and if he recites it between the morning prayer and the noon prayer, it will be recorded for him as though he has recited it during the night.” (Muslim, Musafirin, 142)

By the way, let us mention a hadith about a time when requests are accepted. Hz. Jabir narrates:

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stated the following:

“There is an hour during the night in which no Muslim individual will ask Allah for good in this world and the next without His giving it to him; and that applies to every night.” (Muslim, Musafirin, 166, 167)

Badiuzzaman Said Nursi states that the nighttime, which reminds man both the winter, and the grave, and the realm of barzakh, reminds man how needy the human spirit is for the mercy of Allah Almighty and that the tahajjud prayer performed at night is a necessary and indispensable light for the night of the grave and darkness of the realm of barzakh. (Sözler (Words), Dokuzuncu Söz (Ninth Word))

It is doubtless that every morning reminds us of the morning of Gathering. Yes as Badiuzzaman Said Nursi puts it, for sure, however reasonable and necessary and certain the morning of this night is, the Morning of the Resurrection and the spring following the Intermediate Realm are certain to the same degree!

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