Tuesday 29 Ramadan 1442 - 11 May 2021
English

The minimum for praying qiyaam al-layl

Question

If a man prays two rak‘ahs or one rak‘ah on his own, out of faith and in hope of reward, every day after ‘Isha’ in Ramadan, will he be regarded as having prayed qiyaam in Ramadan out of faith and in hope of reward? If the answer is no, then is the answer different during the pandemic, because praying Taraweeh in congregation is currently banned, and it is easy for a man to pray eleven or nine rak‘ahs in congregation, whereas it is very hard for him to do that when praying on his own?

Answer

Praise be to Allah.

Firstly:

Qiyaam al-layl is a great act of worship in Ramadan and at other times, but it is more important in Ramadan, because the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever prays qiyaam in Ramadan out of faith and in hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (37) and Muslim (759).

The best of qiyaam is that which is in accordance with the way the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) did it, which is praying eight rak‘ahs, making them beautiful and long, then praying Witr with three rak‘ahs, because ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: He did not pray more, in Ramadan or at any other time, than eleven rak‘ahs. He would pray four, and do not ask how beautiful and long they were. Then he would pray four, and do not ask how beautiful and long they were. Then he would pray three. Narrated by al-Bukhaari (2013) and Muslim (738).

The minimum number of rak‘ahs for qiyaam is two; there is no maximum limit for it, because of the report narrated by al-Bukhaari (472) and Muslim (749) from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar, who said: A man asked the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) when he was on the minbar: What do you say about the night prayers [qiyaam]? He said: Two [rak‘ahs] by two, then when you fear that dawn is about to break, pray one [rak‘ah] and that will make what you have prayed odd-numbered.”

Abu Dawood (1451) and Ibn Maajah (1335) narrated that Abu Sa‘eed al-Khudri and Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with them) said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever wakes up at night and wakes his wife, and they pray two rak‘ahs together, they will be recorded among the men and women who remember Allah much.” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.

This hadith indicates that qiyaam al-layl may be done with two rak‘ahs.

Abu Dawood (1398) narrated that ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever prays qiyaam reciting ten verses will not be recorded as one of the heedless. Whoever prays qiyaam reciting one hundred verses will be recorded as one of the devout. Whoever prays qiyaam reciting one thousand verses will be recorded as one of the muqantireen.”

Al-Mundhiri said in at-Targheeb wa’t-Tarheeb: The phrase “one of the muqantireen” means: one of those for whom will be decreed a qintaar [huge amount] of reward, starting from the soorah Tabaarak allahi bi yadihi’l-mulk [i.e., Soorat al-Mulk] until the end of the Qur’an, one thousand verses. And Allah knows best. End quote.

Some of the fuqaha’ said: The minimum for qiyaam is eight rak‘ahs.

And some of them said that it means spending [the entire] night or most of it in prayer.

It says in ad-Durr al-Mukhtaar: The minimum for the night prayers, according to what it says in al-Jawharah, is eight [rak‘ahs]. End quote.

Ibn ‘Aabideen said in his commentary on ad-Durr al-Mukhtaar (2/25):  With regard to the words “The minimum for the night prayers, according to what it says in al-Jawharah, is eight [rak‘ahs]”, the reason why he said “according to what it says in al-Jawharah” is because in al-Haawi al-Qudsi he said: He may pray whatever he is able to, even if it is only two [rak‘ahs], but the Sunnah in [qiyaam al-layl] is to pray eight rak‘ahs with four tasleems. End quote. … He also said in it: This is based on the fact that the minimum the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) prayed in tahajjud was two rak‘ahs, and the maximum he prayed was eight rak‘ahs, quoting from what is mentioned in al-Mabsoot by as-Sarkhasi. Then, to support his shaykh, al-Muhaqqiq ibn al-Humaam, he quoted the hadiths which prove what his shaykh specified in al-Mabsoot and the hadith of Abu Dawood which proves that the minimum that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) prayed in tahajjud was four rak‘ahs, apart from the three rak‘ahs of Witr.

But towards the end, he narrated that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever wakes up at night and wakes his wife, and they pray two rak‘ahs together, they will be recorded among the men and women who remember Allah much.” Narrated by an-Nasaa’i, Ibn Maajah, Ibn Hibbaan in his Saheeh, and al-Haakim. Al-Mundhiri said: It is saheeh according to the conditions of al-Bukhaari and Muslim. End quote.

I say: we should say that the minimum for tahajjud is two rak‘ahs, the medium is four, and the maximum is eight. And Allah knows best.

In al-Fataawa al-Hindiyyah (1/112) it says: Among them [the prayers] is qiyaam al-layl, as is mentioned in al-Bahr ar-Raa’iq. The maximum that [the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him)] prayed in tahajjud was eight rak‘ahs and  the minimum was two rak‘ahs. This is what it says in Fath al-Qadeer, quoting from al-Mabsoot. End quote.

In al-Fawaakih ad-Dawaani (1/201) it says: In the case of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), tahajjud was obligatory, because of the report narrated by al-Bayhaqi: “There are three things which are obligatory for me and voluntary for you: tahajjud, which is qiyaam al-layl, Witr, and Duha.” The minimum of what was obligatory for the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) of that was two rak‘ahs. End quote.

In al-Mawsoo‘ah al-Kuwaitiyyah (14/88) it says: The fuqaha’ are unanimously agreed that the minimum is two brief rak‘ahs, because of the report narrated by Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “If one of you gets up to pray at night, let him start his prayer with two brief rak‘ahs.” End quote.

Al-‘Ayni said in ‘Umdat al-Qaari (1/228): Does the phrase “Whoever spends Laylat al-Qadr in prayer” mean that one is required to stay up all night, or could it be sufficient to do the minimum that may be called qiyaam (voluntary prayer at night)?

I say: The minimum is sufficient, and this is the view of some leading scholars, to the extent that it was said that the obligatory prayer of ‘Isha’ is sufficient to include a person as having prayed qiyaam. But what appears to be the case according to custom is that it cannot be said that someone prayed qiyaam unless he stayed up for the entire night, or most of it. End quote.

The correct view is what we have noted above, which is that praying qiyaam may be achieved by praying  two rak‘ahs.

Secondly:

There is a report which indicates that the minimum of qiyaam is one rak‘ah, but it is not saheeh.

It was narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) instructed us to pray at night, and he urged us to do that to the extent that he said: “You should offer voluntary prayer at night, even if it is only one rak‘ah.” Narrated by at-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer and al-Awsat.

This report was classed as da‘eef (weak) by al-Albaani in Da‘eef at-Targheeb wa’t-Tarheeb (365).

It was narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: I mentioned qiyaam al-layl, and some of them said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Half of it, or one third of it, or one quarter of it, the time between two milkings of a she-camel, or the time between two milkings of milking a ewe.” Narrated by Abu Ya‘la. 

Classed as da‘eef (weak) by al-Albaani in Da‘eef at-Targheeb wa’t-Tarheeb (364).

“the time between two milkings of a she-camel” – that was because they would milk the she-camel, then leave her for a while to allow the calf to suckle, so she would begin to produce more milk.

End quote from Fayd al-Qadeer (6/173).

It should be understood that Witr does not come under the heading of qiyaam al-layl, so it cannot be understood from the fact that it is valid to pray Witr with one rak‘ah, that the minimum for qiyaam is one rak‘ah too.

It says in Kashshaaf al-Qinaa‘ (5/23): Is Witr part of qiyaam al-layl or something else? There are two possibilities, the most likely which is the second, which is that Witr is not part of qiyaam al-layl, because of the hadith quoted by Ibn ‘Aqeel: “Witr, tahajjud and two rak‘ahs of Fajr.” Shaykh Taqiy ad-Deen said: Here our companions differentiated between Witr and qiyaam al-layl. End quote.

See also the answer to question no. 52875, entitled: Is Witr prayer different from the night prayer?

Thirdly:

It is no secret that this great act of worship requires effort and preparation, especially in Ramadan, and the more prayers a person does, the greater his reward will be, because for every prostration Allah will raise the person one degree in status, as Muslim (488) narrated that Ma‘daan ibn Abi Talhah al-Ya‘muri said: I met Thawbaan, the freed slave of the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), and said: Tell me of a deed that I may do, by which Allah may admit me to Paradise – or he said: Tell me of the most beloved of deeds to Allah. He remained silent. I asked him (again) and he remained silent. I asked him a third time and he said: I asked the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) about that and he said: “You should prostrate to Allah a great deal, for you will not perform one prostration to Allah but Allah will raise you one degree in status thereby and erase one sin for you.” Ma’daan said: Then I met Abu’l-Darda’ and asked him (the same question), and he said the same as Thawbaan had said to me.

It is most unfortunate for a person to limit himself to doing two rak‘ahs, except for a serious reason that may happen on some nights, such as if he is too tired, or too busy doing work that prevents him from praying and he is unable to delay the work until another time when he is free. But when one is able to do it and is free, SC not praying more may be indicative of weak resolve, or it may be a sign of carelessness and weak faith.

So strive hard and persist, make your intention sincerely for the sake of Allah alone, and strive against your nafs which is inclined to be lazy; push yourself to do acts of worship until it becomes easy for you to do them.

We ask Allah to guide and help us and you.

And Allah knows best.

Was this answer helpful?

Source: Islam Q&A