Quranic Reflection No 675. Āyat 73:6 – The Wonders of the Night Prayer


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Sūrat al-Muzzammil was the second or third surah revealed to the Holy Prophet.  When the Prophet sallallāhu ‘alayhi waālihi wasallam began his public invitation to Islam, the people of Quraysh opposed him and plotted against him. They ridiculed him and started a campaign of calling him a poet, a lunatic and a magician. When news of this reached the Prophet, he wrapped himself in a cloak and sought rest from the turmoil. It was at this time that angel Jibrail descended upon him and addressed him as the ‘Muzzammil’ (one wrapped in a cloak). The chapter exhorts the Prophet (s) to be patient and to gain inner strength through performing the night prayer. In this way he was provided with a shield that enabled him to overcome major hardships and immense sorrows. 

This verse elaborates on the effectiveness of the night prayer by highlighting two unique qualities found during the sacred hours of the night:

1, More firm in treading.  (أَشَدُّ وَطْئًا)

The word ‘wat’an’ means “setting foot on the ground, making it firm.” The acts of worship carried out in the night have a firmer impact upon the heart. During this time, the mind is clear and free from the engagements and distractions of the day. Allah ‘azza wajall is aware of the difficulty of waking up in the late hours of the night when most people are sleeping. He reminds the believers that actions carried out at this time penetrate the heart and prepare it to face the difficulties of the day. 

2, More upright in respect to speech. (وَأَقْوَمُ قِيلًا)

The second quality of the night is that it is ‘aqwam’which means “more upright.” During these hours, a person’s speech tends to be more accurate and upright as the heart is more present. Out of His mercy, Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā has made the night a time of peace following the hectic pace of the day. The night provides the perfect environment for an intimate conversation with the Creator. 

The night prayer was a very important part of the spiritual program of the Ahl al-Bayt (a). It is narrated in a tradition from Imam Ali ‘alayhis-salāmFrom the day I heard the Prophet of Allah (s) saying, ‘The night prayer is a light’, I have never missed it. Ibn Kawwa’ said to him, “Even on the night of harīr (referring to the most difficult night in the battle of Siffīn)?” He (a) said: Even on that night. (Majlisī, Bihār al-Anwār, 40:16). Imam al-Husayn (a) also requested Sayyidah Zaynab ‘alayhas-salām on the Day of Ashura, not to forget him in her night prayers.  

Whilst mentioning the reward for the night prayer, Imam Ja‘far al-Sādiq (a) said: Every single good deed that the servant carries out has a reward mentioned for it in the Quran, except for the night prayer. For verily the Almighty has not expressed its reward because of the great significance it holds with Him.’ The Imam (a) continues to say, ‘Their sides vacate their beds to supplicate their Lord in fear and hope (Q32:16) …No one knows what has been kept hidden for them of comfort as a reward for what they used to do. (Rayshahrī, Mīzān Al Hikmah – The Virtue of the Night Prayer – H. 2790).

In this last week of the holy month, we pray that may the Almighty grant us the tawfīq to continue the practice of saying the night prayer and enable us to taste the pleasures of the night worship. May He also relieve the people of Palestine from the oppression and sufferings they continue to endure. 

Resources: ‘Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān. Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed), Tafsīr-e Namūneh.