Tahajjud & Witr Prayers
Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Badat
Assalamu Alaykum, firstly, I would like to commend your organization in doing such an amazing job in trying to enlighten our knowledge in Islam. I pray to Allah (s.w.a.) to reward you all endlessly in this world and the Akhirah, for all your efforts, Inshallah). My questions are with reference to the Tahajjud prayers. I would really appreciate your answers for the following:
I normally wake up 30 minutes before fajr to do my Tahajud prayers. Is it a must for us to sleep after Isha and then wake up for Tahajud. For instance these days the Fajr is getting earlier and earlier so can we maybe stay awake a bit longer after Isha and before going to bed pray the Tahajud prayers.
I have had many occasions where I have been unable to wake up for Tahajud prayers and what I normally do is pray it in the morning after the sun is completely up. Now I know you have mentioned in one of your answers that if you are not able to wake up for Tahajjud, you can offer two rakaats after Isha with the intention of praying Tahajud. But, having said that, what about those who want to wake up and are not sure if they'll wake up or not. Do we just pray the witr and make the intention of waking up for Tahajud and go to sleep, and then if we're not able to get up, just do it after sun has completely risen?
I'm scared that if I don't pray my witr and am not able to wake up for Tahajjud then I would miss my witr as well. So what would we do then?
Lastly, till what time can we pray the Tahajud salat, is it OK to pray it while the Azan for Fajr is going on. Jazak Allah Khairun
Jazakumullahu Khairan for contacting us at the Mathabah Foundation. We thank you for your prayers, encouragement and the opportunity to serve you for the sake of Almighty Allah.
In response to your concerns, please note the following:
- The most appropriate way of offering Tahajjud (nightly vigil prayer) is to offer them after waking up from sleep. However scholars do agree that it is not an absolute requirement to first go to bed after Esha prayer. Hence it would be permissible to stay awake after Esha prayers and perform the Tahajjud prayers before going to bed. The timing for Tahajjud prayer is after Esha to just before the beginning time for Fajr. One can perform Tahajjud prayers anytime during this period. "And in some parts of the night offer the salah (prayer) with it (reciting the verses of the Quran), as an additional prayer (Tahajjud)" (Holy Quran 17:79)
- If one is absolutely sure, one will most probably get up to perform Tahajjud prayers, then the witr can be delayed to after Tahajjud. However, if one is unsure than, they should be performing their tahajjud (as many rakaa'ahs as possible, in sets of two rakaa'as) and then offer the witr prayer before sleeping. After doing this, if one is able to get up, they simply perform some additional rakaa'ahs of Tahajjud. Witr is not to be repeated as it was already performed after Esha. If one is unable to get up for Tahajjud, if they wish they may perform some nafl (optional prayers) to make up for what was missed, preferably after sunrise before midday or anytime during the day. By doing this, one will obtain the reward of the tahajjud Insha Allah. It should be kept in mind that making up for missed nafl prayers is not binding, but is praiseworthy. Umar Ibn Khattab (ra) reported the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, "Should anyone fall asleep at night and fail to recite his portion of the Qur'an (or night prayers), or a part of it, if he recites it between the Fajr prayer and the Dhuhr prayer, it will be recorded for him as though he had recited it during the night''. (Saheeh Muslim). `Aishah (ra) narrates, "When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) missed the optional night Salat (Tahajjud) due to pain or any other reason, he would perform twelve Rakaa`ahs during the day time." (Saheeh Muslim).
- As mentioned above, if you fear you will be unable to wake up and by doing so will miss witr, it would be best to perform at least the witr along with Esha before going to bed. Jaabir (ra) stated that the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said, "The one who fears not able to stand in prayer during the last portion of the night (before early dawn), must perform the witr prayer at its beginning (first part of the night after Esha), and the one who is certain of standing in prayer in its last portion (of the night - before dawn) must perform the witr at the end of the night". (Saheeh Muslim).
- As specified earlier, the timing for Tahajjud is from after Esha to just before the beginning time for Fajr. The tahajjud prayer is not to be performed during the adhaan of Fajr (or after fajr time begins). The nafl during or after the beginning time of fajr, up until sunrise, is disliked and will not serve as the tahajjud prayer. Hafsa (ra) states, "The Prophet of Allah (pbuh) would not perform any salah when fajr (time) would commence except the two rakaa'ahs (sunnah) of fajr." (Saheeh Muslim)
And Allah Knows Best