Reflection No. 3:17 on Q 51:16-17 – Salātul Layl

كَانُوا قَلِيلًا مِّنَ اللَّيْلِ مَا يَهْجَعُونَ  وَبِالْأَسْحَارِ هُمْ يَسْتَغْفِرُونَ

Kānū qalīlam minal-layli mā yahja‘ūna wabil-as-Hāri hum yastghfirūn

They used to sleep but little in the night. And in the early part of the morning they asked forgiveness. Sūratuz Zāriyāt (No. 51), Āyats 16-17

There are many verses of the Holy Qur’an which talk about the importance of worship in the later part of the night. The above verses describe it as the practice of the pious people. During most nights, these people do not sleep the entire night, and they wake up early to seek forgiveness from Allah.

During the day numerous affairs occupy the time and mind of the human being. We are preoccupied with many different responsibilities. It is difficult to have peace of mind and heart so necessary for good worship. But at night when the demands of the material world are quiet for a while, we can acquire a tranquil state which allows us to get attuned with the Creator. It is at this time that the human being acquires a special state of mind and energy which is very conducive to increasing spirituality and strengthening his connection with his Creator.  That is why the friends of Allah and those who seek nearness to Him always make the most of the last part of the night. They purify their souls, enliven their hearts, strengthen their will, and perfect their sincerity, through worship at this special time.

Salātul Layl/Tahajjud Salāt/Namaz-e Shab is one of the most effective ways of achieving closeness to Allah. It is worship with intense seeking of forgiveness, and is very necessary for spiritual elevation. This form of worship creates a light in the heart of the believer, a light which emanates from the Creator. The Holy Prophet (s) has said: When the servant of Allah turns to his Lord in the middle of the dark night, and whispers to Him, Allah establishes His light in his heart . . . then He tells the angels, “O my angels, look at my servant. He has turned to Me in the middle of the dark night while the false ones are playing, and the heedless ones are sleeping, bear witness that I have forgiven him.”

The month of Ramadan is the best time to form the habit of Salatul Layl. Even though the nights are short, when we wake up for suhūr, a little time must be set aside for this Night Prayer. If not the entire 11 Rakā‘ats of prayers, then at least the last three rakā‘ats should be recited. There is great joy for the believer who is able to do it, both in this world and in the Hereafter.  The Holy Prophet (s) has said: Three things bring happiness to the heart of a believer: a) Meeting brethren in faith  b) Breaking the fast  c) Waking up in the later part of the night [for Salatul Layl]. We are fortunate that during this special month we are able to partake in all these three forms of happiness.

Sources: Tafsir Namune, Aytaullah Nasir Makarim Shirazi (ed).
Mizanul Hikmah, Muhammadi Rayshahree