I have a mission for you all! So very many of you, like myself, have watched Nouman Ali Khan’s lectures and had your eyes filled with tears and your hearts filled with faith. Can we please pay him back, I beg of you? His newborn son is in the ICU and he needs our prayers.
After midnight until just a bit before Fajr (dawn) is a time about which the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him) has stated that we are the closest to God. At that time He is anxious to hear us call out to Him in need. The Prophet ﷺ has said:
يَنْزِلُ رَبُّنَا تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى كُلَّ لَيْلَةٍ إِلَى السَّمَاءِ الدُّنْيَا حِينَ يَبْقَى ثُلُثُ اللَّيْلِ الْآخِرُ يَقُولُ: مَنْ يَدْعُونِي فَأَسْتَجِيبَ لَهُ مَنْ يَسْأَلُنِي فَأُعْطِيَهُ مَنْ يَسْتَغْفِرُنِي فَأَغْفِرَ لَهُ ؟
“Our Blessed Lord the Most High descends towards the skies of the earth when there remains a third of the night left and proclaims: ‘Who is calling out to Me that I might answer them? Who is asking of Me so that I might give to them? Who is seeking My Forgiveness so that I might forgive them?’”
That gives me chills, glazes my eyes, and fills my heart. Every single night He is calling out to you.
Now the best mode of praying tahajjud (the pre-dawn prayer) is the prayer of David, King of the Children of Israel. The Prophet ﷺ said:
أَحَبُّ الصَّلاَةِ إِلَى اللَّهِ صَلاَةُ دَاوُدَ عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ ، وَأَحَبُّ الصِّيَامِ إِلَى اللَّهِ صِيَامُ دَاوُدَ ، وَكَانَ يَنَامُ نِصْفَ اللَّيْلِ وَيَقُومُ ثُلُثَهُ وَيَنَامُ سُدُسَهُ ، وَيَصُومُ يَوْمًا وَيُفْطِرُ يَوْمًا
“The most beloved prayer to God is the prayer of David, upon him be peace. And the most beloved fasting to God is the fast of David. He used to sleep for half the night, then stand in prayer for a third of it, then sleep for a sixth of it. He would alternate between fasting a day and then not fasting a day.”
You can pray between 2 and 10 rak`ah (unit of prayer) tahajjud (but the Sunnah—tradition of the Prophet ﷺ—is to not exceed 10) then pray 2 shafa` and 1 witr. Please note that our Hanafi brethren join shafa` into witr making it a 3 rak`ah witr prayer.
So at a minimum you will pray a total of 5 rak`ah (2 tahajjud + 2 shafa` + 1 witr) and a maximum of 13 (10 tahajjud + 2 shafa` + 1 witr). Note that the numbers 5 and 13 are odd numbers. The word ‘witr’ itself means numerically odd. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ وِتْرٌ يُحِبُّ الْوِتْرَ ، فَأَوْتِرُوا يَا أَهْلَ الْقُرْآنِ
“God is numerically odd as One (witrun), He loves the numerically odd (al-witra), so perform the numerically odd prayer, O People of the Qur’an!”
Of the best supplications to make for tahajjud is the following prayer that the Prophet ﷺ used to make as Ibn `Abbas reported:
كَانَ النَّبِيُّ ﷺ إِذَا قَامَ مِنْ اللَّيْلِ يَتَهَجَّدُ قَالَ:
اللَّهُمَّ لَكَ الْحَمْدُ أَنْتَ قَيِّمُ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَنْ فِيهِنَّ، وَلَكَ الْحَمْدُ لَكَ مُلْكُ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَنْ فِيهِنَّ، وَلَكَ الْحَمْدُ أَنْتَ نُورُ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ، وَلَكَ الْحَمْدُ أَنْتَ مَلِكُ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ، وَلَكَ الْحَمْدُ أَنْتَ الْحَقُّ، وَوَعْدُكَ الْحَقُّ، وَلِقَاؤُكَ حَقٌّ، وَقَوْلُكَ حَقٌّ، وَالْجَنَّةُ حَقٌّ وَالنَّارُ حَقٌّ، وَالنَّبِيُّونَ حَقٌّ، وَمُحَمَّدٌ ﷺ حَقٌّ، وَالسَّاعَةُ حَقٌّ.
اللَّهُمَّ لَكَ أَسْلَمْتُ، وَبِكَ آمَنْتُ، وَعَلَيْكَ تَوَكَّلْتُ، وَإِلَيْكَ أَنَبْتُ، وَبِكَ خَاصَمْتُ وَإِلَيْكَ حَاكَمْتُ، فَاغْفِرْ لِي مَا قَدَّمْتُ وَمَا أَخَّرْتُ، وَمَا أَسْرَرْتُ وَمَا أَعْلَنْتُ، أَنْتَ الْمُقَدِّمُ وَأَنْتَ الْمُؤَخِّرُ، لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ —أَوْ لَا إِلَهَ غَيْرُكَ
“When the Prophet ﷺ would rise in the night from sleep in order to pray tahajjud he would supplicate: ‘O God, for You is all praise, for You are the Constant of the Heavens and the Earth and all who are therein. For You is all praise as Yours is the dominion of the Heavens and the Earth and all who are therein. For You is all praise, for You are the Light of the Heavens and the Earth and all who are therein. For You is all praise, for You are the Sovereign of the Heavens and the Earth. For You is all praise, for You are the Truth. Your promise is the truth. Our meeting with You is true. Your statements are true. Paradise is true. The Fire is true. The Prophets are true. Muhammad ﷺ is true. The Final Hour is true. O God, for You I have committed to Islam, and in You have I believed, and upon You have I placed my trust, and to You do I turn, and with You do I confront those who oppose me, and to you do I present my decisions. Please forgive me for what I have done and what I do and for what I conceal and what I reveal. You are the First and You are the Last. There is no god other than You.’”
According Ibn Hajar in his Fath al-Bari, a narration from Imam Malik as reported by Ibn al-Zubayr from Tawus states that this was the first thing the Prophet ﷺ would supplicate with when he woke up for tahajjud before initiating the salah (prayer). He also gives the opinion of Ibn Khuzaymah that the Prophet ﷺ would supplicate with this after initiating takbir (the opening phrase “Allahu Akbar—God is Greater”) of the salah (takbirah al-ihram). Remember for voluntary supererogatory prayers such as this, you are allowed to hold a sheet of paper or a book to recite from if you don’t have the prayers you wish to recite memorized. So you can print out this du`a’ (supplication) and hold it and read from it in your salah.
So I am asking for you to interrupt your sleep for at least just one night and pray at least 2 rak`ah plus your 3 regular rak`ah you do with witr. It’s maybe 10 or 15 minutes of your time then you can go back to sleep. Can you do that and beg God to heal and strengthen the little baby boy of our friend, brother and teacher, Nouman Ali Khan?
I have given you all this information about tahajjud that—TRUST ME—is worth more than all the wealth of the world. This information can and will help you for the rest of your life. Can you spend one night using this information to help little baby Khalid?
When you’ve accepted and fulfilled this sacred mission, please say in the comments that you have done it. Maybe Nouman will stumble across this and seeing how many people have prayed for him will give him and his family hope and strength.
Jazākum Allāhu khayran (may God reward you for the good). Thank you.