What’s the Right Way to Perform Tahajjud?

QSalam. I want to know the opinion of scholars and the teachings of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) on how to perform Tahajjud (optional late night Prayers).


Short Answer: It is best to delay this prayer to the last third portion of the night, but it may be performed after `Isha’ prayer in the early part or the middle part of the night. One should begin with two quick rak`ahs and then pray whatever one wishes after that.


Salam Sanusi,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

Actually your question is important for every Muslim.

Tahajjud prayer is part of the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him-PBUH).

In his famous work, Fiqh As-Sunnah, Sheikh Sayyid Sabiq elaborates on the subject as follows:

Ordering His Messenger to perform Tahajjud, Allah Almighty says what means:

{And during a part of the night, pray Tahajjud beyond what is incumbent on you; maybe your Lord will raise you to a position of great glory.} (Al-Israa’ 17:79)

This order, although it was specifically directed to the Prophet, also refers to all Muslims, since the Prophet is a perfect example and guide for us in all matters.

Moreover, regularly performing Tahajjud prayers qualifies one as righteous and earns Allah’s bounty and mercy.

In praising those who perform the late-night prayers, Allah says what means:

{And they who pass the night prostrating themselves before their Lord and standing.} (Al-Furqan 25:64)

Next to these Quranic verses, there also exist a number of hadiths that reinforce the importance of Tahajjud.

Salman Al-Farsi quoted the Prophet (PBUH) as saying:

Observe the night prayer; it was the practice of the righteous before you and it brings you closer to your Lord. And it is penance for evil deeds and erases the sins and repels disease from the body. (At-Tabarani)

Etiquette of Prayer

The following acts are recommended for one who wishes to perform the Tahajjud prayer:

  • Upon going to sleep, one should make the intention to perform the prayers. Abu Ad-Darda’ quoted the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying: “Whoever goes to his bed with the intention of getting up and praying during the night, but, being overcome by sleep, fails to do that, he will have recorded for him what he has intended, and his sleep will be reckoned as a charity (an act of mercy) for him from his Lord.” (An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah)

On waking up, it is recommended that one wipes the face, use a toothbrush, and look to the sky and make the supplication which has been reported from the Prophet (PBUH).

Whenever the Prophet intended to go to bed, he would recite: “With Your name, O Allah, I die and I live.”

And when he woke up from his sleep, he would say: “All the Praises are for Allah Who has made us alive after He made us die (sleep) and unto Him is the Resurrection.” (Al-Bukhari)

  • One should begin with two quick rak`ahs and then one may pray whatever one wishes after that. `A’ishah said: “When the Prophet prayed during the late-night, he would begin his prayers with two quick rak`ahs.” (Muslim)
  • It is recommended that one wakes up one’s family, for Abu Hurairah quoted the Prophet (PBUH) as saying: “May Allah bless the man who gets up during the night to pray and wakes up his wife and who, if she refuses to get up, sprinkles water on her face. And may Allah bless the woman who gets up during the night to pray and wakes up her husband and who, if he refuses, sprinkles water on his face.” (Ahmad)
  • If one gets sleepy while performing Tahajjud, one should sleep. This is based on the hadith narrated by Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her), who quoted Allah’s Messenger as saying: “When one of you gets up during the night for prayer and his Quranic recital gets mixed up to the extent that he does not know what he says, he should lie down.” (Muslim.)

Recommended Time for Tahajjud

Tahajjud may be performed in the early part of the night, the middle part of the night, or the latter part of the night, but after the obligatory `Isha’ prayer (night prayer).

While describing the Prophet’s way of performing prayer, Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

If we wanted to see him praying during the night, we could see him praying. If we wanted to see him sleeping during the night, we could see him sleeping.

And sometimes he would fast for so many days that we thought he would not leave fasting throughout that month. And sometimes he would not fast (for so many days) that we thought he would not fast during that month. (Al-Bukhari, Ahmad, and An-Nasa’i.)

Best Time for Tahajjud

It is best to delay this prayer to the last third portion of the night. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said:

Our Lord descends to the lowest heaven during the last third of the night, inquiring: ‘Who will call on Me so that I may respond to him? Who is asking something of Me so I may give it to him? Who is asking for My forgiveness so I may forgive him?’ (Al-Bukhari)

The Prophet (PBUH) said:

The closest that a slave comes to his Lord is during the middle of the latter portion of the night. If you can be among those who remember Allah the Exalted One at that time, then do so. (At-Tirmidhi)

The Number of Rak`ahs in Tahajjud

Tahajjud prayer does not entail a specific number of rak`ahs that must be performed, nor is there any maximum limit that may be performed. It would be fulfilled even if one prayed just one rak`ah of Witr after `Isha’.

Samurah ibn Jundub (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

The Messenger of Allah ordered us to pray during the night, a little or a lot, and to make the last of the Prayer the Witr Prayer. (At-Tabarani and Al-Bazzar)

And Allah knows best.

I hope this helps.

Salam and please keep in touch.


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