2. "The rising by night is the firmest way to tread and the best corrective of speech" (73:6).
3. "Surely thy Lord knows that thou passest in prayer nearly two-thirds of the night, and (sometimes) half of it, and (sometimes) one-third of it, and also a part of those who are with thee" (73: 20).
Tahajjud, from hajada meaning he remained wakeful in the night, is the prayer which is offered during the latter part of the night, before daybreak. It is a supererogatory prayer, but special stress is laid on it in the Holy Qur'ān (vv. 1, 2). Witr, (lit. an odd number), originally a part of the Tahajjud prayer. is a supererogatory prayer of three rak'ahs, generally said after the 'Ishii' prayer. Tarāwīh (pl. of tarwihah meaning rest) is a supererogatory prayer of eight or twenty rak'ahs said during the month of Ramadzān immediately after the 'Ishā' prayer.
The Tahajjud prayer is said, after one has enjoyed sleep, during the latter third of the night (h. 1), This prayer consists of eleven rak'ahs (h. 2). but may be shortened to nine or seven or even less (hh. 3. 4), there being a break after every two rak'ahs. As all people could not afford to get up in the latter part of the night, three rak'ahs of witr were added to the 'Ishā' prayer, being the final act of devotion before going to sleep (hh. 5, 6). The last rak'ah of witr war, characterized by a special prayer offered before or after rukū' and called the qunūt (h. 7).
The Tarāwīh prayer really takes the place of Tahajjud, in the case of those who cannot get up for Tahajjud, in the month of Ramadzān. In its present form, it was introduced in the time of 'Umar (h. 8).
1 Abn Hurairah reported,
The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said,
"Our Lord, blessed and exalted is He, descends every night to the nearest heaven when the latter one-third of the night remains, (and) says, Is there any one who calls upon Me so that I may accept of him, who asks of Me so that I may grant him, who seeks forgiveness of Me so that I may forgive him?1
2 'Ā'ishah reported,
The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, used to say eleven rak'ahs of prayer--
1. Discussing the meaning of this hadīth under the word nazala, Ibn Athīr says: "descending and ascending, motion and state of rest, are the properties of matter, while Allāh is supremely exalted above this and hallowed; and the meaning is the descending of Divine mercy and grace and their nearness to servants". The statement is, therefore, metaphorical, and the significance is that the man who seeks communion with the Divine Being at such a time, when the whole of nature is in a state of quiet and the mind of man himself free generally from all anxieties and worries, will find Him nearest to his heart. Such a time is, therefore, fittest for communion with the Divine Being, and that is the time of Tahajjud prayer.
this was his prayer, see meant, at night; and he used to remain in sajdah so long, before he raised his head, that one of you could recite fifty verses; and he said two rak'ahs before the morning prayer, then he lay down on his right side until the mu'adhdhin came to him for the (congregational) prayer.2
3 Masrūq said,
I asked 'Ā'ishah about the prayer of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, at night. She said, (Sometimes) seven (rak'ahs), (sometimes) nine and (sometimes) eleven,
2. The Tahajjud prayer consists, according to this hadīth of eleven rak'ahs, but this number may, as explained in the next two, be reduced to nine or seven rak'ahs, or even less, when the time at hand before the break of the dawn does not suffice to complete the total.
besides the two (sunnah) rak'ahs of the Fajr.
4 Ibn 'Umar said,
A man asked the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, while he was on the pulpit, What dost thou say about the night prayer? He said:
"Two (rak'ahs) at a time; and when one of you knows (that) the dawn (is near), he should add one (rak'ah)-this will make his prayer witr."
5 Ibn 'Umar reported,
The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:
"Let the witr be your last prayer at night."
6 Abn Hurairah said,
The Messenger of Allāh,
peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, commanded me to say the witr before going to sleep.3
7 Al-Hasan ibn 'Alī said,
The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, taught me sentences to be repeated in the qunūt4 in witr:
"O Allāh! Guide me among those whom Thou hast guided, and preserve me among those whom Thou hast preserved, and befriend me among those whom Thou hast befriended, and bless me in whom Thou hast granted, and save me from the evil of what Thou hast ordered, for Thou dost order, and no order overrides Thy order; surely he is not disgraced whom Thou befriendest; blessed art Thou, our Lord! and highly exalted."
3. This is the practice now generally followed. The Holy Prophet himself made the witr a part of the Tahajjud prayer.
4. Qunūt means the being constantly obedient, and is technically applied to the prayer offered in a standing posture in the last rak'ah of any prayer, before or after the performance of the rukū'; in the congregational service it was offered by the imām after rising from the rukū' (B. 10: 126). There are other forms of the qunūt, prayer--in fact, any prayer may be offered as qunūt.
8 'Abd al-Rahmān said,
I went out with 'Umar ibn al-Khattāb to the mosque on a certain night in Ramadzān, and the people had formed themselves into different groups--one man saying prayer alone and another saying prayers with a number of people following his prayer. So 'Umar said, I think if I gather them together behind one reciter, it would be much better. Then he made his decision and gathered them together behind Ubayy ibn Ka'b. Then I went out with him on another night and the people were following the prayer of their reciter.
'Umar said, This innovation is very good; and the part (of the night) in which they sleep is better than that in which they stand saying prayers--he meant the latter part of the night; and the people stood praying in the first part.5
5. The prayer spoken of in this hadīth is the Tarāwīh prayer said in Ramadzān, The Holy Qur'ān is recited in this prayer, from the beginning, in such portions that the whole is finished by the end of the month. It is apparent from this hadīth that no such prayer was said by the Holy Prophet. A reference to H. viii:15 would show that when the Holy Prophet was in a state of i'tikāf in the month of Ramadzān, some people joined him when they saw him saying the tahajjud prayer , and thus, tahajjud was on that occasion said in congregation, though the Holy Prophet never meant it. This continued for three days, after which the Holy Prophet intentionally discontinued it.