The Magnificence of Tahajjud Salaat
The Magnificence of Tahajjud Salaat
It is said that: "For every good deed that an obedient slave and servant performs for the Pleasure of his Glorious Creator and Sustainer - Almighty Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala, the reward for it is specified in the Most Holy and Glorious Qur'an. Except for the regular performance of Tahajjud Salaat which commands an unusually high reward on account of its great worth, the reward is only known to Rahmathul Liel Ala'meen."
Almighty Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala tells us about those who forsake the comfort of their warm beds in His Remembrance in verses 16 and 17 of Surah Sajda:
"They forsake their beds of sleep, while they call on their Lord, in fear and hope. And they spend (in charity) out of the sustenance which We have bestowed on them." "Now no person knows what delights of the eye are kept hidden (in reserve) for them - as a reward for their good deeds."
Men and women "breathless with adoration" shun soft comfortable beds and luxurious sleep. The limbs of their bodies are exercised in offices of devotion and Ibadah in the performance of Tahajjud Salaat that is offered after midnight in the small hours of the morning. "In fear and hope": In spiritual fear lest their dedication to Almighty Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala should not be sufficiently worthy to be accepted and a spiritual longing of hope that their shortcomings will be overlooked by the Mercy of Almighty Allah Azza Wajjal. Their adoration is not shown only in constant Ibadah, but also in practical service and charity, out of whatever gifts they may have received from the Glorious Creator.
"Delights of the eye": An idiom for that which pleases most and gives most satisfaction. In our present state we can scarcely imagine the real bliss that will come to us in the future. What can be the delight that Almighty Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala has kept in store for them, concealing it from the eyes of all? Had it been something similar to the flowing streams, the magnificent mansions, and diverse bounties of Jannah, He would have described it - as in the case of other deeds, of which (at least) the Mala'eeka are aware.
This shows that the reward for the regular performance of Tahajjud Salaat is above all these and of a different kind; its greatness stands beyond that which can be communicated to anyone, especially the inhabitants of this lowly world. Do not liken the blessings and the bounties of this Doonya to those of the Aghirah. Do not imagine that Jannah and the gardens therein are similar to the gardens of this Doonya, only somewhat vaster and of a greater degree of grandeur.
There is the abode of Divine beneficence and the house of the hospitality of Almighty Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala. The entire world is not comparable in grandeur to a single hair of a houri of Jannah. It is not even comparable to a thread of the garments made for its inhabitants. Despite all this, Almighty Allah has named none of these rewards for the regular performance of Tahajjud Salaat, and has only referred to the high station of theirs in the words of the verses quoted from Surah Sajda. But, alas, we are indolent, being not men of certitude. Otherwise, it would not have been possible for us to be neglectful to such a degree and to be so drowned in deep sleep till morning.
If the night vigils were to make us aware of the mysteries of Ibadah and were we to preoccupy our minds with the remembrance and contemplation of our Most Glorious Creator and Sustainer our nights would become mounts of ascent into the Divine Proximity. Our reward would be nothing other than the vision of the Absolute Beauty. Woe to us, we are negligent, we love our sleep and do not want to awake from slumber till the end of life and remain under the intoxication of nature. Woe to us, ever day increases in stupefaction. Woe to us who live on the animal plane, comprehending nothing but eating, drinking and lovemaking!
Whatever we do, even if it is performing our daily Salaat, that too is merely meant for catering to the needs of the belly. Do we imagine that the Salaat of Nabee Ebrahim Alayhis Salaam was similar to ours? He did not even speak to Sayyidina Jibra'eel Amin Alayhis Salaam of his wishes. He was Khalil-ul-Rahman - the friend of Almighty Allah Azza Wajjal and only turned to his Glorious Creator.
It is possible that after a period of performing regular Tahajjud Salaat and habituating ourselves to it, Rahmathul Liel Ala'meen will Insha'Allah help us and cover us with an invisible gesture of grace with the robe of His Rahma'h. In the Wasiyyah addressed to Hazrat Ali R.A. by our Beloved Nabee Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam, he said: "O Ali! I enjoin you regarding certain habits that you must safeguard." Then our Nabee Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam prayed: "O Allah succour him." Then (continuing his advise) he said:
"Observe the night vigil." "Observe the night vigil." "Observe the night vigil."
The great significance of Tahajjud Salaat may be understood from the following tradition: It is reported that our Beloved Nabee Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam asked Sayyidina Jibra'eel Amin Alayhis Salaam to exhort him to something. Sayyidina Jibra'eel Amin Alayhis Salaam said:
"O Muhammad Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam! Live you as you wish, for verily you will depart from this Doonya someday. And love whatever you like, for verily you will have to part from it. Act as you wish, for verily you will have to face it. Know that the distinction of a believer lies in his establishing the night vigil (Tahajjud Salaat) and his nobleness lies in refraining from (maligning) the people's honour."
The high degree of its significance can be understood from Sayyidina Jibra'eel Amin's recommending it to our Beloved Nabee Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam for had Sayyidina Jibra'eel Amin Alayhis Salaam deemed anything else as more important, he would have mentioned it while giving advice. It is said on the authority of Hazrat Abbas R.A. that our Beloved Nabee Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam said:
"Almighty Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala appoints the night vigil (Tahajjud Salaat) as sustenance for His slaves. Man or woman, when he/she wakes up at night with sincere devotion towards Almighty Allah, performs Wudhu, and performs Tahajjud Salaat for the Pleasure of Almighty Allah with the purity of intention, with wholeheartedness and with tearful eyes, Almighty Allah appoints seven rows of Mala'eeka to pray behind him/her. No one except Almighty Allah can count their number on each side of each row, which extends from the east to the west. When he/she concludes the Salaat, Almighty Allah writes grades for him/her equal to their number."
It is reported from Hazrat Anas R.A. that he heard our Beloved Nabee Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam say:
"Two Raka'ats of prayer performed in the middle of the night are dearer to me than the entire world and everything therein."
In a number of Ahadith it has been reported that Tahajjud Salaat is a Mu'min's honour and dignity, and is his/her adornment in the Akhirah, in the same way as children and wealth are the adornments of this world. Had there been no other merit besides this for Tahajjud Salaat, it would have been enough. We do not know what honour and distinction it is and what it means to possess the station of being befriended by Rahmathul Liel Ala'meen. All intellects fail to comprehend it.
Tahajjud Salaat bestows the most reward of all the Nawafils. One can perform anything from four, eight, twelve or twenty Raka'ats. The tradition in Bayhaqi relates that the performance of four Raka'ats is equal to four Raka'ats on Shab-e-Qadr. The performance brings a Muhmin near to Almighty Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala.
Kaffara (payments) of ones previous sins and is prohibitive for the future sins. (Ref: Tirmidhi Shareef). Almighty Allah Azza Wajjal bestows His Rahma'h (mercy) on those who willingly sacrifice the comfort of their sleep and warm beds for the remembrance and Pleasure of their Glorious Creator. (Refs. Abu Dawood, Nisai).
Rahmathul Liel Ala'meen sends out a message in the last part of the night announcing that if there is any appeal to Him it will be answered and if there is anyone seeking His forgiveness their Taubah will be accepted. The doors of Almighty Allah's Mercy are opened and this is the time when ones prayers and supplications are accepted. We should never ever become oblivious of the power and mysteries of Ibadah. If we cannot perform Tahajjud Salaat with sincerity of intention, we should at least strive for the delight that Almighty Allah has kept hidden from all the sights and recite the following prayer with full attention and sincerity of intention:
"O Almighty Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala! I humbly implore Thee to rescue me from the home of illusion and this abode of delirium. O Most Merciful Allah! Help me to return to the abode of eternity. Grant me the ability and preparedness to depart from this Doonya before such an opportunity is lost."
The light that we all seek through constant Ibadah in One Whose Brilliance illuminates the heavens and the earth as Almighty Allah declares in verse 35 of Surah An-Nur:
"Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth."
Does anyone know of any being in the entire realm of existence , or in the spheres of fancy and imagination, or in the realm of rational abstractions, which possesses the attributes of absolute perfection and absolute beauty except the Sacred Essence of the Supreme Majestic Source of the Cosmos? Does anybody know of any absolute, immaculate beauty, except that of the Absolute Beloved?
Our Beloved Nabee Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam had a special fondness for Tahajjud Salaat. It was during this prayer that his feet used to swell up due to long stretches of standing in Qiyam. Those who are familiar with the lives of the illustrious Sahaba Ridwanullahi Ta'ala Alayhim Ajma'een and have a good grasp of the traditions, Islamic history, and the Sunnah of Almighty Allah's Beloved Nabee Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam will know how zealously vigilant they were in the regular performance of Tahajjud Salaat. Salatul Tahajjud had become a distinguishing feature of their programme of life, so much so that in the court of Emperor Heraclius it was said:
"They were worshippers by night and horsemen by day."
Imaan Hassen Al-Basri R.A. reported: "When the call of Truth came to them they affirmed it whole-heartedly and the conviction of it sank into the depths of their souls. Not only did their hearts but their bodies, their minds and their eyes bow in complete submission. By Allah! If you had seen them you would have thought that they were a people who had beheld everything with their own eyes. They heard the Word of Rahmathul Liel Ala'meen and submitted totally and completely. Almighty Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala has praised them in verses 63 and 64 of Surah Al-Furqan:
"The (faithful) slaves of Allah Most Gracious are those who walk upon the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them they say, "Peace". Those who spend the night in adoration of Allah prostrate and standing."
Imaam Hassen Al-Basri R.A. also said: "These are the ones who remain standing erect in prayer for the sake of their Glorious Creator and cover their faces with dust, tears run down their cheeks and in whose hearts the love and fear of Almighty Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala is embedded. There must have been something for which they had deprived themselves of the sleep of the nights and which made their hearts tremble with the great Muhabbat of Allah."
The regular performance of Tahajjud Salaat had become the practice and distinguishing mark of all virtuous men, theologists, Mujahids, reformers and preachers. They obtained the energy and the fuel for the whole day's work from the sublime form of the night vigil. One who had not seen them at their devotions in the dark and silent hours of the night, could never know from where they derived their strength, enthusiasm and their superhuman capacity to endure cheerfully, day in and day out, the privations and hardships of religious preaching and endeavour. Salatul Tahajjud is a most beautiful gift given to us. Let us strive to awaken our hearts and inform it of the truth narrated from our Beloved Nabee Muhammad Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam who said:
"This world is the farmland of the Akhirah."
If we do not sow the seeds of righteous deeds in the few days of our life here on this Doonya, the opportunity will be lost forever. When we reach the threshold of the other world and death seizes us, deeds come to an end and all hopes are extinguished. If, Allah forbid, we continue to remain in the slavery of lusts and the captivity of various carnal desires until the Angel of Death arrives, it is possible that Shaythaan may achieve his ultimate objective of wresting away our faith. Let us wear the girdle of servitude to Almighty Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala - the Most Merciful and the Most Glorious, that we may Insha'Allah be free from every kind of servitude and slavery, that we may attain to the absolute kingdom of Rahmatul Liel Ala'meen in both worlds.
This Doonya is a Mu'min's prison and is not the abode of Divine award and the place of the manifestations of Almighty Allah's Kingdom. Let us clear our hearts of the dust from the mirror of our spirit and turn our hearts attention to the focal point of Absolute Perfection. Only then will we witness its effects in this world itself and our hearts will attain such an expanse that it will become the realm of the manifestations of Almighty Allah's total Sovereignty, thus becoming greater than all the worlds. Let us pay heed to the promise that Almighty Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala has made to us in verse 8 of Surah At-Tahrim:
"O you who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance: In the hope that Your Lord will remove from you your evil deeds, and admit you to gardens beneath which rivers flow, - The Day that Allah will not permit the Prophet and those who believe with him to be humiliated. Their Light will run forward before them and by their right hands, while they say, "Our Allah! Perfect our Light for us, and grant us forgiveness: For Thou has power over all things."
O Almighty Allah Azza Wajjal! forgive the Ummah of Your Beloved Nabee Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam. Unite their hearts with mutual love, set right their mutual affairs and grant them victory over Thine enemies. Ameen!
(Moulana Abdul Hamid Lachporia Saheb,Canada)