بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
[Here’s Part 1.]
[Note: I haven’t mentioned the ahadeeth in this part either. If anyone wants a particular reference, please feel free to ask.]
Okay, suppose you’re already doing the fard and rawatib prayers.
What else can you do?
Note: Once again, you don’t have to do all of them at once. Start step by step and increase in them as much as you are able to do so.
These are the supererogatory prayers. [Look, this is what they’re officially called. I don’t even know the meaning of that word.]
They are less important than the rawatib. The four rakahs before Asr fall under this category, as do the two rakah before Maghrib.
The two rakahs after the two rakahs of rawatib after the Dhuhr (that was a mouthful) are also nawafil.
Are there more nawafil? I think so and I also read about there being some differences of opinion on which ones they are. However, these are the only ones that I am sure of.
As for the four rakahs that many people pray before Isha, I tried to find the evidence for it, but thus far have been unable to do so.
There is evidence for two of those rakahs, if they are prayed between the adhan and the iqaamah (as there is a well-known authentic hadeeth on this issue).
If anyone has more information on this issue, then please do share it with us.
This prayer starts about 20 minutes after sunrise and ends about 15-20 minutes before Dhuhr.
The minimum number of rakahs is 2.
What about the maximum, you ask? Well, there is a difference of opinion on this. Some scholars say 8, others say 12 and yet others say that there is no upper limit.
If you’re not sure, don’t exceed 8 rakaahs.
The best time to pray Dhuha is in its latest time.
Here’s a short article on the Dhuha prayer.
3) Tahajjud / Qiyam Al-Layl
Yes, they’re both the same prayer.
The time starts after Isha prayer* until the adhan of Fajr. [Witr is part of Qiyam al-Layl.]
[In two places, I’ve heard that it starts after Maghrib. I need to do more research on this issue though, insha-Allah.]
When is it best to do it? Well, in the last third of the night. [The night lasts from Maghrib until Fajr.]
Qiyam Al-Layl is the best prayer after the fard prayers. It’s also one of the most difficult prayers because of its timing.
However, I think everyone will agree that it is also the most satisfying prayer (when we actually manage to crawl out of bed and actually do it, I mean).
These days, we seemed to have singled out Ramadan for Qiyam Al-Layl which is most unfortunate.
The early Muslims were OBLIGATED to spend the WHOLE night in prayer. [Please read the explanation of Surah Al-Muzzammil.]
Why? In order to strengthen them.
Subhan Allah, we are so worried about not getting enough sleep. Due to this, we don’t pray Qiyam Al-Layl and we sleep after Fajr.
And we really don’t have much time in the day nor do we have that much energy.
All of this, despite us “taking care of our sleep”.
The early generations on the other hand, seemed to be more concerned about worshipping Allah. Because of this, it seems that the little sleep that they got was more blessed than the huge amount of sleep that we get.
Despite their “little” sleep, they didn’t have to sleep after Fajr, they had lots of time and lots of energy.
So, perhaps this Ramadan, we should worry less about our sleep and more about worshipping Allah and pleasing Him, and insha-Allah, we will see a big difference.
To be continued…
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
[Here’s Part 1.]
The Month of Istighfar (Seeking Forgiveness), Prayer, Laylatul Qadr (the Night of Decree) and Dawah (inviting to Islam)
إذا دخل رمضان فتحت أبواب الجنة وغلقت أبواب جهنم ، وسلسلت الشياطين
Narrated Abu Hurairah (radiallahu anhu): Allah’s Messenger (salallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 3, Hadeeth No. 123]
[Here’s an explanation of how the devils are chained up.]
الصلوات الخمس . والجمعة إلى الجمعة . ورمضان إلى رمضان . مكفرات ما بينهن . إذا اجتنب الكبائر
Abu Hurairah reported (radiallahu anhu): Verily the Messenger of Allah (salallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Five (daily) prayers and from one Friday prayer to the (next) Friday prayer, and from Ramadan to Ramadan are expiations for the (sins) committed in between (their intervals) provided one shuns the major sins.” [Saheeh Muslim, Hadeeth No. 450]
[Want to know more about major sins? I’ve provided two resources here.]
كان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إذا دخل العشر شد مئزره ، وأحيا ليله ، وأيقظ أهله
Narrated Aishah (radiallahu anha): “With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Prophet used to tighten his waist belt (i.e. work hard) and used to pray all the night, and used to keep his family awake for the prayers.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 3, Hadeeth No. 241]
سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول لرمضان : من قامه إيمانا واحتسابا ، غفر له ما تقدم من ذنبه
Narrated Abu Hurairah (radiallahu anhu): I heard Allah’s Messenger (salallahu alaihi wasallam) saying regarding Ramadan, “Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 3, Hadeeth No. 226]
من قام ليلة القدر إيمانا واحتسابا ، غفر له ما تقدم من ذنبه ، ومن صام رمضان إيمانا واحتسابا غفر له ما تقدم من ذنبه
Narrated Abu Hurairah (radiallahu anhu): The Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “Whoever established prayers on Laylatul Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven; and whoever fasts in the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 3, Hadeeth No. 125]
“We sent it (this Quran) down on a blessed night (i.e. the night of Qadr). Verily, We are ever warning [mankind that Our Torment will reach those who disbelieve in Our Oneness of Lordship and in Our Oneness of worship].” [Surah Ad-Dukhan (44) : 3]
An entire surah (chapter) was revealed concerning this great night:
“Verily! We have sent it (this Quran) down in the night of Al-Qadr (Decree) “
“And what will make you know what the night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is?”
“The night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand months (i.e. worshipping Allah in that night is better than worshipping Him a thousand months, (i.e. 83 years and 4 months).”
“Therein descend the angels and the Ruh (Jibreel) by Allah’s Permission with all Decrees.”
“Peace! (All that night, there is Peace and Goodness from Allah to His believing slaves) until the appearance of dawn.”
[Surah Al-Qadr (97) : 1-5]
Yes indeed. We are what our salah is.
What do I mean by that?
It means that our level of righteousness can be checked by the quality of our prayers.
Allah has mentioned many traits of the believers in the Quran. The first action of the limbs that is usually mentioned is the salah.
Also, the believers don’t just pray, rather they establish the salah and pray with khushoo (humility).
What are the proofs? The Quran is replete with references to the salah. This time I’m not going to provide the references because I’d like you to open up the Quran and search for yourself, insha-Allah.
So, what does all of this mean? Well, if we want to determine how “pious” we are, we should ask ourselves the following questions:
1) Do we consistently pray the five obligatory prayers at their proper times? Do we try to pray them at their earliest times? Do we do the adhkar (remembrances) after the salah?
2) Do we consistently pray the rawaatib (sunnah) prayers?
3) Do we ever pray tahajjud (the night prayers)? Are we consistent? Do we ever pray any of those long Ramadan-type Qiyam Al-Layl prayers outside of Ramadan?
4) Do we ever pray any of the other prayers like Dhuha, the 2 rakahs after entering the masjid, the 2 rakahs after doing wudhoo, etc?
5) Does our prayer resemble the prayer of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam)? Do we pray according to the Quran and the Sunnah, or the way that “we were taught”?
6) How much focus do we have in the salah? Do we feel a sense of contentment and joy during our salah? Do we look forward to praying or is it a drag for us?
Yes, I know. These questions are very depressing. It depressed me just to write them but I had do because we all need to ask ourselves these questions.
I’ve noticed that when my salah quality is good, everything in my life is going well. And if the quality sucks, then my life seems very bad.
Think about it and you might realise that it is the same case with you.
One of the reasons that Ramadan is such a nice month for us is because we are so focused on the prayers. Our day revolves around them and we have more khushoo in them as compared to outside Ramadan.
So, we all need to work on our salah.
Why? Because we are what our salah is.
Qiyamul layl is the night prayer. It is not confined to Ramadan as some mistakenly believe. In Ramadan though, we obviously do pray more than in the other months.
Here’s a nice video series by Brother Abu Taubah where he explains Brother Muhammad Jibaly’s book “Qiyaaul Layl”:
[Note: Regarding the issue of taraweeh being 8 or 20 rakaahs, I believe that this series takes the 8 rakaah side, if I’m not mistaken and that’s fine. However, there are also many scholars that permitted praying more than 8, saying that the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) left it open. Some scholars would even pray 100 rakaahs at night!
Also, the reason the early scholars would pray more than 8 is so that there would be more sajdahs and rukoos. Also, this way the older people would stand less. They didn’t do it so that we could pray a REALLY short 8 rakaah taraweeh in order to go shopping. (I used to do that before and I know that many people still do this!)]