The situation of Muslims today necessitates the talk about the most important act of worship in Islaam which is Salaah (prayer). The Messenger of Allaah resorted to it whenever he became distressed about an issue. Prayer is the water spring that never dries and the treasure that never ends.
Brothers in faith! When one studies history and sees the conditions of the past nations, one will notice that this age is the most-gruesome in human history, the bloodiest and the most destructive. It is in fact paradoxical that things will be like this in a time when civilization, science and technology have reached and unsurpassed power. The present world with all its material progress and useful effects of its technology is still the most barbaric age of the human history. However, this surprise will disappear when the Muslim remembers the word of Allaah,
“They know only the outside appearance of the life of the world (i.e. the matters of their livelihood) and they are heedless of the Hereafter.” (Ar-Room 30: 7)
Yes! They are heedless of the hereafter. They forgot their Rabb and were oblivious of the purpose of their creation, they were dictatorial in their judgments, they make use of their intelligence, knowledge and science to invent destructive weapons and to struggle for the control of world resources.
It should be noted that if less than half of all these efforts were utilized in giving Allaah His dues and in search of His pleasure, people would have real peace and security, but most of them deny the truth, transgressed, kindled the fire of wars and contentions and caused a lot of financial and political problems. They also oppressed many nations and deny others their rights, so they were held responsible for what they used to do.
In this month of blessings, people of Islaam are announcing that the only gateway to reform lies in reforming the hearts and making them surrender completely to the will of Allaah. In Islaam, worship entails wide meanings; it includes sincere faith and a righteous deed. Allaah (s.w.t.) says,
“In the name of Allaah, Most-Beneficent, Most-Merciful. By the time. Verily! Man is in loss, except those who believe and do righteous good deeds and recommend one another to the truth and recommend one another to patience.” (Al-‘Asr 1-3)
Dear Muslims! Man is weak by nature. He can have no strength except by obeying his Rabb. He is faced by evil powers, confronted by lustful desires and fought from all angles by different kinds of difficulties. The only way to overcome these problems is to return to Allaah and seek refuge with Him.
Fellow Muslims! The situation of Muslims today necessitates the talk about the most important act of worship in Islaam which is Salaah (prayer). The Messenger of Allaah resorted to it whenever he became distressed about an issue. Prayer is the water spring that never dries and the treasure that never ends.
Prayer is the pillar of Islaam and the refuge place for the repentant and the scared. It is the light of the devoted slaves of Allaah. It removes the impurities of the hearts and enlightens them. Whoever is stronger in faith is better in prayer, longer in standing for Allaah in prayer and greater in certainty. The Messenger of Allaah said, “Prayer is the best matter; and let him who can pray as much as possible do that.”
Brothers in faith! Night prayers strengthen the bond between man and his Rabb. The messenger of Allaah said, “The best prayer after the obligatory ones is the night prayer.” (Muslim)
The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) did not only recommend the night prayer to his nation, but laid an excellent example for that. Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim reported that the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) used to stand in prayer in the night so long so that his feet would become swollen.”
In Ramadaan, the Messenger of Allaah used to pray more, when the last ten days came, he would pass the night in prayer, wake his household for prayer and exert himself for greater acts of worship. He said, “The time when man becomes nearest to his Rabb is in the middle of the last part of the night and if you can be among those who remember Allaah in this time, do that.” In fact, there is an hour in the night, which if any Muslim is fortunate to meet this hour and ask Allaah of anything, Allaah will give it to him and the hour is in every night.
It is by night prayers that dead hearts enlivened, spurred towards good deeds and prevented from evil acts. Ibn ‘Abbaas said, “Whoever loves to find the long standing of the day of Resurrection less difficult should let him show himself to Allaah in the darkness of the night prostrating and standing, fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Rabb.”
The slaves of Allaah spend their nights in prostration and standing; keeping themselves away from the comfort of their beds and subduing their slumber for the joy of moving closer to Allaah, with the hope to attain His promised bliss and out of fear His punishment. The real slaves of Allaah sleep little in the night. To them, night prayer has its sweetness. Abu Sulayman Ad-Daaraanee said, “Those who pray in the night enjoy when they are observing their night prayer more than what the people of pastime and fun enjoy from their pastime. If not because of the night, I would not have loved to remain in this world.” When Umar (r.a.) was dying, he said “I do not grieve on anything of this life except the night prayer.”
Night prayer is a break-off from this life to get in contact with Allaah. Those who engage in night prayer do not find any sweetness in sleep. They remember the loneliness of the grave and the horror of the Last Day.
Truthful slaves of Allaah stay awake in the night praying and invoking their Rabb out of fear of His punishment and in hope for His blessing and
“No person knows what is kept hidden for them of joy as a reward for what they used to do.”
Though their intentions and requests may vary, night is their source of making pleas to their Rabb. Some seek nearness to Allaah, some are afraid of the Last Day and other seek forgiveness for their sins. Allaah then bestows His favours on them and grants them their requests and chooses them because they are contented with little sleep in the night and use the rest of the night in prayer, reading the Qur’aan and remembering of Allaah.
The night is the arena for the high-minded people. It is the provision for the journey of life. As for the low-minded people, their concern is for this world and they thereby forget the eternal life. Some of the righteous predecessors said, “How can a person who sleeps all night and spend all his day in pastime hope for salvation?” It is however a pity that youths of this age spend all their night and day in pastime and fun!
Brothers in faith! Inability to observe night prayers hardens the heart and makes one heedless of the word of Allaah. The Messenger of Allaah was told of a man who would sleep all the night. The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said, “Satan has urinated in the ears of such a man.”
Whoever does not have a particular act of worship he observes during the night is negligent of his own rights. Which type of depravity is greater than having an opportunity to converse with one’s Rabb and allow it to slip away through sleeping and low-mindedness?! We are not talking about those who spend their nights in forbidden things.
Brothers in Islaam! In these days there are generations of Muslims who spend their nights on useless things like watching immoral TV programmes like music and the like on satellite channels. That is the reason many households complain of lack of interest in night prayers. Somebody complained to Ibn Al-Aswad – one of the companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) – saying, “We are unable to pray in the night!” He answered, “Forsake your sins!”.
Endeavour dear brothers, to pray whatever you can in the night. Try to pray the congregational night prayer in Ramadaan and be constant in that, for it is by patience, perseverance, constancy and sincerity that you can achieve strength and help from your Rabb. Know that minutes of the night are valuable; do not therefore waste them in forgetfulness and shopping. Also, wake members of your family in the night to pray and repent for their sins. The Messenger of Allaah said, “May Allaah bless a man who wakes up in the night and prays; and wakes up his wife and she also prays. If she refuses to stand up, he sprinkles water on her face. May Allaah bless a woman who wakes up in the night and prays and wakes her husband up and he prays, and if he refuses to stand up, she sprinkles water on his face.”
“Say: ’shall I inform you of things far better than those? For the pious ones, there are gardens (Paradise) with their Rabb, underneath which rivers flow. Therein is their eternal home and purified wives. And Allaah will be pleased with them. And Allaah is All-Seer of the slaves.’ Those who say: ‘Our Rabb! We have indeed believed, so forgive us our sins and save us from the punishment of Fire.’ They are those who are the patients ones, those who are truthful and obedient with sincere devotion in worship to Allaah. Those who spend (in the way of Allaah) and those who pray and beg Allaah’s pardon in the last hours of the night.” (Aal-‘Imraan 3: 15-17).
You should also know dear brothers that one of the ways that make prayer easy is to turn back to Allaah with sincerity, to have good thought of Him, to hope for what is with Him and to refrain from committing sins. Also, eat little food, for whoever eats much food will feel heavy and sleep deeply. Wahb Ibn Munabbih said, “Satan loves none more than the one who eats much and sleeps much.” Free your heart from jealousy and hatred. Abstain from innovation, stick to Sunnah and let the fear of Allaah fill your heart. Know also that among the great facilitators of night prayer is the love of Allaah, His Messenger and His Book.
The period of night prayer extends from after the Ishaa prayer till dawn and the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) had prayed in all parts of the night. “Whoever wakes up his wife and prays together with her, both will be written among those men and women who remember Allaah much.”
As for the manners of night prayer, it is recommended that one starts with two light raka’ahs and then prays with a tasleem after every two raka’ahs. It is also recommended that longer recitation should be made. One should also try to observe long bowing and prostration and endeavour to remember Allaah a lot. However, one should not make things hard for himself. The Messenger of Allaah said, “You should do only what you can, for by Allaah! Allaah will not desist from answering your prayers until you become bored.”
You can also be encouraged to observe night prayers if you remember that you are in noble and preferable days, like this blessed month. The one who neglects many good deeds in this month is deprived and losses. These are some of the most hopeful days, so fear Allaah and make best use of your time and show Allaah the good that is in you.
Enjoy the blessings of your Rabb, spread salaam, feed people and pray in the night while other people are asleep, your will enter the Paradise of your Rabb with peace.
By Sheikh Saalih Bin Humaid
Khutbah (Friday Sermon) in Makkah Al Mukkaramah
Ramadaan 8, 1422 (November 23, 2001)