When to perform Tahajjud prayer during Ramadan?
The UAE's General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan, answers some common questions people ask about fasting during the month. Today we look at the timings for Tahajjud prayer.
When does the Tahajjud prayer time start and end these days? Will it start after 12:30 am or later and end on 4:10am? Because Fajr azaan time starts on 4:25am.
Tahajjud prayer is an optional/supererogatory prayer performed during the night after waking up from sleep, because the meaning of tahajjud is to give up hujud which means sleep, that is, to give up or leave off sleep. However, many Muslim jurists use tahajjud to mean prayer performed during the night in the general sense, that is, after or before sleeping. The learned Maliki scholar Al Dardir says in his commentary on the Khalil's Abridged Maliki Fiqh Manual: "(al-Tahajjud) - the prayer performed at night after sleeping, and it is (also) said, it is called tahajudd in the general sense (i.e. after or before sleeping)".
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The time of Tahajjud prayer is after one wakes up from sleep and before the adhan of Fajr prayer. However, the best time for performing Tahajjud prayer is the last part of the night, because of what has been reported on the authority of 'Amr ibn 'Abasah that he said, I asked: O Messenger of Allah, in which part of night the supplication is more likely to be accepted? He replied: In the last part: Pray as much as you like, for the prayer is attended by the angels and it is recorded till you offer the dawn prayer ..." (Sunan Abi Dawaud). If one divides the night up into two halves, one half for sleep and the other half for standing (in prayer), then the second half is better, because of what has been reported on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Our Lord, the Blessed and the Exalted, descends every night to the lowest heaven when one-third of the latter part of the night is left, and says: Who will call upon Me so that I may answer him? Who will ask Me so that I may give him? Who will ask Me forgiveness so that I may forgive him?" (Al Bukhari and Muslim).
The Hanafi and Shafi'i scholars say that if one divides the night up into three thirds, and he stands (in prayer) for one third and sleeps the other two thirds, then the middle third is better than the first and last, because people's heedlessness and unmindfullness during this period are more complete and more entrenched, and worship during this period is much better and the number of people praying during this period is less. This is why the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "the person remembering Allah amongst a group of heedless and unmindful people is like a green tree in midst a group of trees whose leaves have fallen off due to severe cold". The best time to perform tahajjud prayer in general, according to the Hanafi, Shafi'i and Hanbali scholars, is the 4th and 5th sixth of the night, because of what has been reported on the authority of 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "... And the prayer most loved by Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, is the prayer of Dawud, peace be upon him. He used to sleep half the night, stand (in prayer) for one-third of it, and sleep for one-sixth of it."
According to the Maliki scholars, the best time for Tahajjud is the last third of the night for the person whose habit is to wake up towards the end of the night. If a person's general habit is not to wake up towards the end of the night but to sleep until the break of dawn, then it is better to perform it during the first part of the night as a precaution (just in case is unable to wake up before the break of dawn).
Based on the aforementioned, if the adhan for 'Isha is 8:25 pm and the adhan for Fajr is 4:25 am, and the duration of nighttime between them is therefore 8 hours, that is, 480 minutes [a half being 240 minutes, a third 160 minutes, and a sixth 80 minutes]:
- the first half = 8:25 pm ('Isha adhan) to 12:25 am,
- the second half = 12:25 am to 4:25 am (Fajr adhan),
- the first third = 8:25 pm to 11:05 pm,
- the second third = 11:05 am to 1:45 am,
- the last third = 1:45 am to 4:25 am,
- the fourth sixth = 12:25 am to 1:45 am,
- the fifth sixth = 1:45 am to 3:05 am (80 minutes before Fajr adhan).
Based on the previous discussion, you can pray Tahajjud anytime during the night on condition you pray it after waking up from sleep and before the adhan of Fajr. Moreover, it is better, if you divide the night into two halves, to pray tahajjud in the second half, if you divide the night into three thirds, then it is better to pay it in the middle third according to the Hanafi and Shafi'i scholars. In general, it is better to pray it in the fourth and fifth sixth of the night according to the Hanafi, Shafi'i and Hanmbali scholars. For the Maliki scholars, it is better to pray it in the last third for the one whose habit is to wake up during that time, and in the first part of the night for the one whose habit is to sleep until Subh (break of dawn), and Allah knows best.
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