This is not written by me but authored by Sister Ray and edited by SHamsiya Noorul Quloob. If you’re interested, please visit this link: http://www.theidealmuslimah.com/qiyam-14-tips-to-consistently-pray-the-night-prayer/
Islam teaches us to gain knowledge as it is the path to Jannah; but knowledge and inspiration alone is not the end goal, it is just the means to reach it. The purpose is to gain knowledge so that we are humbled and inspired enough to carry out righteous actions, while also having an understanding of their importance. Why is a righteous action, such as performing Qiyam, so important to be accompanied by knowledge? Performing Qiyam without knowing its virtues will have you doing the action in vain, and likewise, having the knowledge of the virtues of Qiyam is a great motivator but it is not useful until the action is implemented. They are both our responsibility to make use of since Allah subhanahu wata’aa’aa gave us the ability to both learn and act. For many of us, we may find it easier to gain the knowledge and feel the inspiration, but more difficult to use them towards carrying out the action. Here are some very helpful tips to help you pick up and maintain the habit of consistently praying the night prayer, insha’Allah!
1) REFLECT ON THE BENEFITS OF QIYAM
Read about and reflect on how Qiyam gives you great success both in this dunya and the akhirah (PART 1 and PART 2). Gaining knowledge on the importance and benefits will inspire you to perform the night prayers, and reviewing them from time to time helps you place your efforts towards it each night and maintain this habit for a lifetime. After all, in each good deed we do, we need to do so with the pure hope and sincere intention of seeking its rewards from Allah subhanahu wata’aa’aa. The point after finding inspiration, is to apply the practice!
2) START WITH THE MINIMUM TWO
When you first start to implement the night prayer, start by performing only two rak’aat each night to make sure that you are not overwhelming yourself. Then, gradually add more rak’aat to your night prayer, increasing them two by two. With time you will feel that you are enjoying this, and that two rak’aat are not enough! There is no maximum limit, but the sunnah of the prophet salallahu aleyhi wasallam was to pray 8 rak’aat each night. You may choose to increase it later or not. But it is simply applying the habit that is important. So make sure to keep within the boundaries that you can maintain, as the prophet salallahu aleyhi wasallam said: “The most beloved of actions to Allah are the most constant, even if little.” [Bukhari]. Increasing the amount gradually will help you to easily and consistently pray each night, rather than tiring yourself out and eventually quitting. The prophet salallahu aleyhi wasallam said: “O Abd Allah! Do not be like so-and-so. He used to pray at night and then left it.” [Bukhari]. The key is to set realistic goals and not cross the bounds of overwhelming yourself – even if it is one verse that gets you pondering about your life, that one verse is enough.
3) AVOID SINS
Avoid sins so that you are not shackled by them at night and can get up for Qiyam; and in return, praying will help you continue avoiding them. Sufyan Al-Thawri once said: “I have missed Qiyam for 5 months because of a sin I once committed.” When we hold fast to our night prayers, it becomes our “shield from sin” [Tirmidhi]. Asking for forgiveness and repenting in the night are one of the best ways to free ourselves from the chains of our sins, but being burdened by and insisting on sin makes it much more difficult for us to seek such forgiveness in the nights.
4) REALIZE ALLAH SUBHANAHU WATA’AA’AA IS CALLING YOU
The mentality we should maintain when we make the intention to perform Qiyam is that this is a call from Allah subhanahu wata’aa’aa. When we realize that He is seeking us at night and this is His call to success, we will also realize that we need to respond. We are responding to the One who has no need for us, but we are in need of worshiping Him.
5) MAKE QIYAM A JOY IN YOUR LIFE
Qiyam was a great source of joy and pleasure for the early Muslims, and their inspiring examples express how much they really enjoyed it.
Abdullah ibn Wahb said: “Every type of pleasure is enjoyed only once, except for acts of worship, which are enjoyed three times: when you do it, when you remember it, and when you are given the reward for it.”
Muhammad ibn al-Munkadir said: “There is nothing left of the joys of this life except three: qiyaam al-layl, meeting one’s brothers in faith, and praying in congregation.”
Even as Omar bin Khattab radiallahu anhu was dying, he did not forget his passion for Qiyam, and said “I do not grieve on anything of this life except the night prayer.”
So keep in mind that this beautiful act is not meant to be a burden on you, but rather a joy. There is nothing else of this dunya more worthy of missing – no play, work, people, hobbies, nor activities of this world.
6) AVOID EXCESSIVE EATING AND DRINKING
Sufyan al-Thawri said: “You should eat little, so that you will be able to pray Qiyam al-layl.” Try to avoid filling up your stomach with food and liquid because it will make you lazy and want to sleep a lot, and if you do that, you will miss out on a lot of great opportunities in life including Qiyam.
7) AVOID EXCESSIVE DAYTIME WORK
If you exhaust yourself all throughout the day, you will likely crash at night, falling into deep sleep and becoming too tired to rise for the night prayer. Make sure that you give yourself enough time to rest during a tiring day, and do not work yourself too hard for too long without a break. Try to spread out all your tasks and errands throughout your days, and be productive so that you do not procrastinate your work and have a workload to deal with on the last day.
8) TAKE A NAP
Taking a nap before Duhr (the early afternoon) is from the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad salallahu aleyhi wasallam, referred to as a Qaylulah. It helps you to not sleep excessively and so heavily at night so that you can wake up for Qiyam. Sometimes, you will have those exhausting days as much as you try to avoid them, so making sure to take a short nap (30 to 60 minutes) will surely help balance out your day. Today, science has followed the sunnah and shows how important napping is for our health. Aside from allowing us to wake up for Qiyam, it also helps increase our alertness and productivity throughout the day, and maintains good blood pressure to decrease risk of heart attacks and stroke. Just remind yourself, Allah subhanahu wata’aa’aa does not want to burden you and keep you up at night overwhelming yourself. He wants to ease the religion for you – taking a nap with the intention of praying Qiyam alone gains you the ajr insha’Allah. Islam is all about balance and moderation!
9) USE IT AS A MONITORING TOOL
When you go through downhills and find that you can’t wake up for Qiyam, ask yourself, are you sinning or doing something displeasing to Allah subhanahu wata’aa’aa? If so, make the intention to purify yourself and you will find that when you truly do want to improve from your heart, Allah subhanahu wata’aa’aa makes it much easier for you to get up at night and grants you that opportunity. This is the first indication of your imaan getting back in check. Constantly checking ourselves and improving our shortcomings is a sign of us being truthful to ourselves and how we are doing as slaves of Allah.
The Almighty says: “O you who believe! Fear Allah and keep your duty to Him. And let every person look to what he has sent forth for the morrow, and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what you do.”
[Surat Al-Ĥashr 59: Verse 18]
Allah is aware of all that we do, but we are commanded to also be aware of our own doings. Imam Ibn al-Qayyim said: “If the slave is responsible and accountable for everything, even his hearing, sight and innermost thoughts, then he should check on himself before he is brought to account.”
10) STRIVE AGAINST YOURSELF
Successful individuals who achieve their goals are those who go beyond their comfort zone and make the effort to strive against themselves. This is one of the best means to help you get up for the night prayer. It is easy to let ourselves flow with our desires towards destruction; but once we strive against ourselves, we insist on righteousness and demand to be the ones in control.
Allah subhanahu wata’aa’aa says: “And as for those who strive hard in Our Cause, We will surely guide them to Our Paths. And verily, Allah is with the muhsinoon (good-doers).”
[Surat Ash-Shu`arā’ 29: Verse 69]
The night prayer especially requires that we strive against ourselves, because night time is a time for resting from the day, and sacrificing our desire for sleep is a great struggle. The prophet salallahu aleyhi wasallam also explains the virtue of striving against oneself: “When a man from my ummah gets up to pray at night, striving against his own self to get up and purify himself, there are knots on him. When he washes his hands in wudoo’, one knot is undone. When he washes his face, another knot is undone. When he wipes his head another knot is undone. When he washes his feet, another knot is undone. Then Allah says to those who are veiled (in the Unseen): ‘Look at this slave of Mine, he is striving against his own self and asking of Me. Whatever My slave asks of Me shall be his.” [Ahmad]
11) MAKE IT ESSENTIAL IN YOUR LIFE
Don’t take Qiyam as a light matter and degrade its worth, because “it’s just a sunnah”. The sahabah, when they learned or witnessed a sunnah of the prophet salallahu aleyhi wasallam, were quick in implementing it into their lives and making it essential as well. If you want to consistently pray the night prayer, you must first make it an essential part of your life and have hope in the hereafter so that you do not leave the habit so easily. With this intention, our efforts will not be wasted insha’Allah. Remember that Qiyam was once an obligation in the early stages of Islam, which should remind you of its greatness, as Aisha radiAllahu anha said: “Allah made Qiyam obligatory at the beginning of this surah (Al-Muzzamil), so the Prophet salallahu aleyhi wasallam and his companions prayed Qiyam for a year, and Allah withheld the end of this surah for twelve months, until He revealed something at the end of this surah to make things easier, so Qiyam al-layl became voluntary after it had been obligatory.” [Muslim]
12) KEEP IT SECRET
To help purify your intention and maintain the true motivation to pray the nights, try to keep this act a secret hidden between you and Allah subhanahu wata’aa’aa just as the salaf did. This protects you from shaytan getting in the way and encouraging you to show off and gain people’s admiration for your worship, and keeps you doing it for the pleasure of Allah subhanahu wata’aa’aa alone. You do not want this to turn into a habit in which you pray when others are around, but quickly lose that motivation when you are alone. Although, this does not mean that you need to go to the extremes of hiding such a deed. If you think that sharing how you are praying Qiyam will encourage your family and friends to do the same, then gain that extra reward and do so.
13) TODAY BEFORE TOMORROW
Make a pledge to yourself now that you will get up to pray Qiyam – starting with tonight and continuing on a daily basis. If you are the type of person that stays up late anyways, then drop what occupies you at night for a few minutes, and just do it. Don’t leave this without thinking to yourself, how and with whom do you like to spend your nights? Don’t let shaytan visit you with his whispers, “I will, I will” – let the reminders and words from Allah subhanahu wata’aa’aa and His prophet salallahu aleyhi wasallam be the ones that cross your mind and make the determination now. Think of how much shaytan will hate it, and Allah subhanahu wata’aa’aa will love it for obeying Him. The best time to pick up a good habit is always now.
14) REMEMBER THE PROPHET’S SALALLAHU ALEYHI WASALLAM WISH
When we truly love someone, we love to know of their wishes and respect them enough make them come true. The Prophet salallahu aleyhi wasallam, our most beloved brother in Islam, once said about his companion: “Abdullah is a good man. I wish he prayed Tahajjud.” After that, Abdullah used to sleep but a little at night.” [Bukhari]
Imagine Prophet Muhammad salallahu aleyhi wasallam right now being pleased with you for following his sunnah, and he tells you he thinks you are a good person but wishes you just prayed Tahajjud. Would you not be so inspired to go that extra mile to add that missing thing to the good person you already are?
Your journey with Qiyam will have its ups and downs, just like it did with the early righteous Muslims. So keep making the effort to consistently maintain this habit – sacrifice a low desire of yours, supplicate a higher desire of your heart, and leave the night putting complete trust in Allah subhanahu wata’aa’aa for its immense rewards.
Peace and blessings upon our beloved prophet salallahu aleyhi wasallam who has set an excellent example for his devotion to Qiyam.
Thank you for the sister who shared this.