The Night Prayers (Qiyam al-Layl)

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The Night Prayers, or the Qiyam as it’s more commonly called, is one I look back on in fondness regardless of year. Perhaps it has more to do with the memories associated with it than the prayer itself, but it is a great memory to have nevertheless.

The Qiyam usually takes place during the last ten nights of Ramadhan and is conducted during the last quarter of the night, around 3am onwards – athough it may vary from mosque to mosque. I hold fond remembrance of watching young sleepy boys becoming alert when meeting their friends and playing with sparklers in the spirit of an incoming Eid and eating at nearby 24-hour fast food joints during the times of Qiyam. Personally, it is probably the one time a year when I or most of the muslims I know voluntarily wake up in the dead of the night to walk to the house of God to uphold prayers that are not even compulsory.

This then stems the question: What is so worth doing all that for?

The answer is simple.

“The Night of Power is greater than a thousand months. The angels and the Spirit descend therein by permission of their Lord for every matter. Peace it is until the emergence of dawn.” (97:3-97:5).

For the Night of Power – or better known as Lailatul Qadr.

It is the night the Holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w, and the significance of it cannot be overestimated. In fact, Abû Hurayra radiyallahu `anhu relates that the Holy Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam said: 

“Whosoever worshipped on Laylatul-Qadr, with faith and with a sincere intention, all of his previous sins are forgiven.”
(from al-Bukhârî and Muslim)

It is very famously known to be the one night that “is a better than a thousand months”, that is equivalent to a little more than 80 years. When we ponder over this, 80++ years is more than a life time – it is the rough estimate of a good, long life. So imagine if you were to have gotten the blessings and bounties of that one wondrous night – it will be as if you’d lived a lifetime full of good deeds, on top of the one you’re already living.

And all this for an hour or so spent in prayer? Seems a little too good to be true doesn’t it?

And it kind of is – while the rewards of Lailatul Qadr are true and waiting temptingly for those who seek it – the journey there is fraught with challenges.

And of course there will be difficulties- if something so great and powerful was so easily attained; it would lose its’ value.

Imagine if all you had to do to achieve Lailatul Qadr was to blink 10 times rapidly – everyone would get the rewards that promises to erase all your past sins and on top of that, add on blessings equivalent to a full life led!

The reason why the Night of Power is so highly coveted is because, like any other worthwhile endeavor, it is is hard to accomplish. Let’s take a look at some of the general obstacles one will face when on the quest for Lailatul Qadr.

Firstly- probably the most obvious and yet the hardest – is the battle to overcome fatigue. Waking up for sahur is one thing, but to be able to get up and look presentable and trudge to the mosque in the still, cooling night air? An almost impossible task for some. But remember this-

Abu Hurayrah (radhi allahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said:

“When one of you goes to sleep, Shaitaan ties three knots over the rear of his head, blowing into each knot, ‘You have a long night, so sleep on.” If he wakes up and mentions Allah, one knot loosens. If he makes wudhu (ablution for prayer), another knot loosens and if he prays, the third knot loosens and he becomes lively and good-natured; otherwise he gets up ill-natured and lazy.”
[Saheeh al-Bukharee and Saheeh Muslim]

Also, The Night Prayer consists of the imam reciting long verses from the Quran, and this could pose a struggle for anyone – much less someone who’d just woken up 15 minutes ago.

But when we remember the amazing rewards that comes from the worship that we choose to do… Definitely, prayer is better than sleep.

If possible, we should take the proper steps to ensure the best energy we can get for Qiyam al-Layl.

1) Try to take a short mid-day nap if you feel that staying up after 3am would be too taxing for you, especially if you have work or school to attend to the next day.

2) Do not over-eat during iftar. Food taken in excessive amounts can cause on to feel more fatigued than usual, due to the body using up all its’ energy digesting the food than storing it for use of worship later on. Remember; your body is not yours, and it will return to Allah one day.

3) One should not make sins in the day-time that will prevent him from the night prayer.

4) The heart should be free from malice.

5) Intentions should be adjusted.

Insya’Allah, if we conscientiously take care of all these factors, we would be able to conduct the Night Prayer with more ease.

 

The second factor that makes Lailatul Qadr so difficult to attain is also the cause for much head-scratching amongst many a scholar….

No one knows when Lailatul Qadr is.

No one.

Let’s just take a step back to analyze this, shall we? Here we are, dragging ourselves out of bed, spending the night in prayer at the mosque, so eagerly chasing something when we….. are not even sure when it is?

That just goes to show how coveted The Night Of Power is. Different opinions have arised on the exact day of Lailatul Qadr, some saying it’s on the 21st night of Ramadhan, or the 27th, on the odd days of Ramadhan etc…

But the bottomline is, its’ exact day will never be known.

Sometimes we feel it’s alright to uphold the prayers on the one night that seems to be the popular opinion, but what if you were wrong?  And can you imagine if you found out that you missed Lailatul Qadr by one night?

Such a waste isn’t it?

The challenge isn’t in finding the day it supposedly takes place – the challenge is in consistency.

Why give our 100% only on one night? We should be giving our all all the time – even if it’s just during the last ten days of Ramadhan.

The last ten nights of Ramadhan are upon us. Let us all strengthen ourselves, physically and spiritually, in the quest to achieve Lailatul Qadr and all that comes with it.

For we may not get the chance again – after all, all good things must come to an end – and the Night of Power only makes its’ mysterious appearance once a year.

 

 

For a concise information regarding all things Ramadhan, visit ramadan.sg for more info.

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