Ramadan: The Month of Standing Up at Night

by Aa'id 'Abdullâh al-Qarnî

  ‘O thou enwrapped one! Keep awake [in prayer] at night, all but a small part. Of half thereof or make it a little less than that, or add to it [at will]; and [during that time] recite the Quran calmly and distinctly, with thy mind attuned to its meaning’ (73:1-3).  

This is what Allah Almighty said to His Prophet. And, naturally, the noble messenger complied with the command of His Lord by standing long hours at night, crying profusely in all humiliation.

In the same manner, Allah ordered his beloved Prophet saws

  ‘And rise from thy sleep and pray during part of the night [as well], as a free offering from thee, and thy Sustainer may well raise thee to a glorious station [in the life to come]’ (17:79).  

Accordingly, in the same manner that your standing at night in this world will be glorious and honoured so too will it be on the Day of Judgement.

Ramadan is the month of fasting and standing at night. The sweetest nights and most precious hours are when the fasting people stand in the darkness of night.

  I said to the night, is there a secret in your depth?
Filled with conversation and unknown matters.

It said: I never throughout my life encountered
finer words,than the words of my
beloved in the early hours of the morning.

The nights of the fasting people are short because they are delightful. On the other extreme, the nights of the frivolous are long because they are unhealthy. The short ones are thus accompanied by extended concerns while the long ones contain momentary pleasures. Allah Almighty describes His righteous servants thus:

  ‘They would lie asleep during but a small part of the night’ (51:17).  

And:

  ‘In the hours of early dawn they were found praying for forgiveness’ (51:18).  

And:

  ‘Those who pray for forgiveness in the early hours of the morning’ (3:17).  

The sound of weeping used to be heard from among the Prophet’s companions, Migrants (Muhajirun) and Helpers (Ansars), whenever the darkness of night descended upon them. And, when day broke, they would become like bold and fearless lions. In other words they were like monks at night but when they met their enemies at day they were the bravest of the brave. The homes of the companions were, in fact, schools for training and the learning of how to recite the Quran. They became institutes of faith. Today the homes of many people have become barracks for music, vice, and refuges of perversion. May Allah save us from such evils.

When we lost the standing in prayer at night, our hearts became hard. Our tears dried up and our faith became weak. The Prophet said: ‘Whoever stands the nights of Ramadan in faith and consciousness, all the sins which he sent forth will be forgiven.’ Among the things that help one to stand at night in prayer is the calling to mind of the Momentous Day: when people will stand before the Lord of the worlds. The day when the graves will turn out their contents and all that were buried in bosoms will be revealed.

There are besides, other factors that help in standing at night. They include remembrance of the great reward and forgiveness of sins and wrong-doing. The righteous predecessors preoccupied themselves with standing at night. Among them were those who spent the nights bowing, prostrating themselves or standing before Allah. Among them were those who recited crying, who contemplated and hoped, and who were thankful and considerate. For why have you made your homes desolate places without any standing and praying at night? Why have you made it empty of Quranic recitations? Why have our homes complained because of the lack of prayers in them at night?

If nights set in, the hearts of the negligent sleep and the spirits of the playful die while the hearts of the believers come to life with wide awakened and fearful eyes. How can one who remembers the repose of the grave, the gathering of mankind and the decisive manifestation ever sleep? Surely no one ever expected that a generation of Muslims would spend their nights shamelessly in playing chess and listening to music. The Prophet said:

  ‘O servant of Allah do not be like such and such a person. He used to stand in prayer at nights and then he abandoned this practice.’


Taken from the Book: Thirty Lessons for those who Fast

Published by Message of Islam

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