It goes under many names, depending on the traditions (hadiths) you wish to address but the goal is one; to rise in the middle of the night and to remember your Lord during the hours where everyone else is asleep.
“And from [part of] the night, pray beyond what is incumbent on you; maybe your lord will raise you to a position of great glory.” – Surat al Isra, Verse 79.
Realistically, it may prove to be difficult to do so at times, particularly in the summer where the nights are short, and we have to juggle work, family and general life commitments along side our religions duties. However, “Allah does not impose upon any soul a duty that it cannot bear.” (2:286) With this, what are the rewards and benefits of making that commitment and waking up in the night?
The most beloved of actions:
Narrated Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Al-‘As: “Allah’s Apostle told me, “The most beloved prayer to Allah is that of David and the most beloved fasts to Allah are those of David. He used to sleep for half of the night and then pray for one third of the night and again sleep for its sixth part and used to fast on alternate days.” – Sahih Bukhari: Volume 2, Book 21, Number 231
In the words of Allah (swt):
Imam Jafar Al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) has said: “The reward of every good action that a person with true faith performs has been mentioned in the Quran, except for Salatul Layl, since due to the importance (and high status) of it, Allah (SWT) has not explicitly mentioned it and has only said the following (in regards to it): “Those who forsake their beds to cry unto their Lord in fear and hope, and spend out of that which We have bestowed upon them.” Surah as-Sajdah (32:16)
The most beloved of actions:
The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) has said: “Two raka’ats of prayer recited in the darkness of the night are more beloved to me than the world and all that’s in it.” – Biharul Anwar: Volume 87, p. 152
Praying together for great reward:
The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) has said: “If a man waked his wife and orays during the night, or they pray two rak’ats together, they will be recorded among those who constantly make remembrance of Allah (swt).” – Sunan Abu Dawud
The time for prayer:
The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) has said: “Indeed Allah added a prayer for you, it is Witr (Witr is one of the names for Tahajjud), so pray it between Isha and Fajr.” – Shaikh al-Albanee: Al-Saheehah, p. 108
Reasons for not praying it:
The commander of the faithful (peace be upon him) has said: “Committing sins is one of the reasons for one to be unsuccessful in the performance of Salatul Layl.” – Biharul Anwar: Volume 87, p. 152
The 24 benefits:
Imam Jafar Al-Sadiq quotes Imam Ali (as) as saying that the Prophet (saws) said that a person who prays Salatul-Layl gets the following twenty-four kinds of benefits:
- Secures Allah’s pleasure.
- Makes friendship with Angels.
- Is the Sunnat of the Prophets (a.s.)
- Provides the means to pursue knowledge.
- Constitutes the root of our faith.
- Keeps one physically fit.
- Drives Shaytan away.
- Protects one from enemies.
- Serves as a means of acceptance of one’s Duas and good deeds.
- Increases one’s livelihood.
- Intercedes with the Angel of Death.
- Lights up the grave.
- Provides comfortable bedding in the grave.
- Helps answering with ease the questioning of Munkar and Nakir in the grave.
- Gives companionship in the grave.
- Provides shelter on the Day of Judgment.
- Crowns one on the Day of Reckoning.
- Clothes one on the Day of Resurrection.
- Provides one with light on the Day of Judgment.
- Forms a barrier against the fire of Hell.
- Gets Allah’s pardon on the Day of Judgment.
- Increases the weight of good deeds on the scale.
- Helps one crossing the Bridge of “Siraat” without any difficulty.
- Forms the key to the Paradise.