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Q: What is the difference between Qiyam-ul-layl, Tahajjud, and Taraweeh?

Posted on: August 22, 2011


In The name of Allah,The Most Merciful,The Most gracious

Q: What is the difference between Qiyam-ul-layl, Tahajjud, and Taraweeh?

Qiyam-ul-layl (Night Prayer): Any Salah performed after isha and sunnah prayers.

Tahajjud: Any Salah performed after one sleeps during the night.

Taraweeh: Night prayers performed during the month of Ramadan.

Qiyam-ul-layl:

1. Its Virtue:
Allah سبحانه و تعالى says:

وَالَّذِينَ يَبِيتُونَ لِرَبِّهِمْ سُجَّدًا وَقِيَامًا
“And those who spend [part of] the night to their Lord prostrating and standing [in prayer].” (Al-Furqaan 25:64)

The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم said:

“Do not you ever disregard praying at night! Because it was the custom of righteous people before you. Worshipping at night brings one closer to Allah, atones for ones sins, keeps the body from illnesses, and prevents one from performing sinful acts.” (Tirmidhi)

2. A Sign of Goodness:
Abdullah ibn Omar (may Allah be pleased with him) for interpretation; let the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم know one of his dreams through Hafsa (may Allah be pleased with her), who was the sister of Abdullah and the wife of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم. The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said while interpreting the dream: “Abdullah is a great person. Yet, it would be superb if he prayed at night!”
From that day on, Abdullah never abandoned praying at night. (Bukhari)

3. The Best time for it:
The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم was once asked: “In which part of the night are the worships more likely to be accepted?” He صلى الله عليه و سلم replied: “The worships that are done in the second half of the night.” (Abu Dawood)

4. To be performed after awaking from sleep:
The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم said: “The most virtuous prayer except the obligatory prayers is the one offered by becoming awake after sleep at night.” (Muslim)

5. Lengthy Standing:

The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم used to pray at night until his feet would swell. He صلى الله عليه و سلم was once asked: “O Messenger of Allah! Why do you strain yourself though Allah declared in the Qur’an that you were forgiven of all your sins?” He صلى الله عليه و سلم replied: “Should not I be a thanking servant?” (Bukhari)

Q: Which is more virtuous in Qiyam-ul-layl, long standing or long sujood?
Answer: Long standing. Allah سبحانه و تعالى said:
وَقُومُوا لِلَّهِ قَانِتِينَ

“and stand before Allāh, devoutly obedient.” (Al-Baqarah 2:238)

6. Why is it hard to wake up?
The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said: “When you sleep Satan ties three knots on the back of your neck. He says to each knot ‘let a long night stay with you.’ When you wake up and cite the name of Allah one of the knots unties. When you make ablution another knot unties. Lastly, when you offer a prayer all of the knots untie. Thus, you wake up hale an hearty in the morning. Otherwise you wake up asleep and downhearted.” (Bukhari)

7. To help one another:

a. The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said: “If a man wakes up at night and also wakes his wife up to offer two units of prayer together, Allah registers their names among those who remember Allah most.” (Abu Dawood)
b. He صلى الله عليه و سلم also said: “Let Allah show mercy to the man who wakes up at night to pray , and also wakes his wife up to do so. Let Allah show mercy to the woman who wakes up at night to pray, and also wakes her husband up to do so!”

8. Sincerity is a must:

The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said: “There are many who worship at night, yet they get nothing out of it. They just stay awake.” (Ahmad)

9. Fiqh Scenarios:
i. Is it possible to pray Qiyam-ul-layl while holding the Qur’an?
– Yes, it is permissible, but no doubt that reciting from memory is better.
– Movement should be limited, the less movement the better.
– It is not acceptable to hold the Qur’an behind an Imam, it invalidates the prayer.
ii. Can someone make du’a in sujood in any language besides Arabic?
-Yes, according to Abu Hanifa, you can make du’a in any language.
iii. Is it permissible to perform Qiyam while sitting?
– Yes, but the reward will be less.

Salatul Taraweeh (Night Prayers during the month of Ramadan)

Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated, the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said: “Whoever spends the nights of Ramadan offering prayer with a sincere belief and hope that s/he will get reward for it, his/her past sins are forgiven.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

1. How did Salatul Taraweeh start? In 2 AH, when fasting became obligatory, the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم performed qiyam on his own in the masjid. Some of the companions joined him صلى الله عليه و سلم, then more joined him the next night and more the night after and so on. When it became popular, the Prophet stopped leading the people in qiyam for fear that it would then become obligatory and the people would not be able to do it.

2. What is the ruling on Salatul Taraweeh? Sunnah Mustahabah (highly recommended)

3. Where does the name Taraweeh come from? It comes from tarweehah which means the space of rest between every two rak’ah.

4. How many rak’ah is it? Four opinions:
1. Eight Rak’ah:
– Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said that that Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم never prayed more than eight rak’ah (plus three witr).
– This was the opinion of Shaykh Al-Albanee (may Allah have mercy on him), he said more than eight is an innovation (bid’ah).

2. Twenty Rak’ah:
– Umar ibn Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) brought the people together to perform Taraweeh and it was performed in twenty rak’ah (However, authenticity of the narrations are disputable) . 

3. Thirty-six Rak’ah:

- Imam Malik said there is no specific number, but thirty-six is the preferred. There is no textual evidence to this opinion.

4. No specific number:

- The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم never limited the number, he said: “Night prayer is two by two.”
– Ibn Taymiyah and Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on them) did not limit the number of rak’ahs, although, in terms of quality and quantity, they preferred eight rak’ah.
– Those who leave after eight rak’ah with an Imam who performs twenty do not get the reward mentioned in the saying of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم : “Whoever stands with the imaam until he finishes, it is equivalent to spending the whole night in prayer.”
(Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 806; Abu Dawood, 1375; al-Nasaa’i, 1605; Ibn Maajah, 1327. Classed as saheeh by al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Khuzaymah (3/337), Ibn Hibbaan (3/340) and al-Albaani in Irwa’ al-Ghaleel, 447.)

5. How should it be performed? Two by two units or four? Both are acceptable. However, the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said, “Night prayer is two by two.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

6. When is the best time for Taraweeh? If in congregation, then after isha. If individually, then in the last part of the night.

7. Is congregation a prerequisite for Taraweeh? No.

8. Can someone pray eight rak’ah behind an Imam who prays twenty? Yes.

9. Is performing it in a Masjid a prerequisite for its validity? No. It is better to pray it individually. However, if praying it individually will make one lazy, then they should pray it with the congregation.

10. How much of the Qur’an should be recited? It should be done with humility and in a tranquil manner. The recitation should not be too fast.


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2 Responses to "Q: What is the difference between Qiyam-ul-layl, Tahajjud, and Taraweeh?"

Jazak Allah khair , very interresting post .

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Just wondering if the fiqh scenarios have any evidences to support them? As I would like to be able to pray holding the Quran but I would like to see evidence to support this first… Jzk

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