Factors That Facilitate Performance Of The Night Prayer
Shaykh Ahmed Fareed
Know that regular performance of the night prayer is very difficult except for those whom Allah `azza wa jall guides. There are seven external and internal factors that facilitate performance of this prayer.
1. Not eating and drinking a lot, so that one is not overcome by sleep. As some have said: “Do not eat a lot, so that you do not have to drink a lot and sleep a lot!”
2. Not preoccupying oneself during the day with daily tasks exhaust a person's physical and mental strength, for this also causes sleep.
3. Not leaving daily afternoon nap, so as to help oneself with it in performance of the night prayer.
4. Sinning as little as possible during the day, for sinning causes the heart to harden and prevents it from receiving mercy.
Even kings of this world do not allow seclusion and intimate discourse with them except to the people who obey them, whom they love and who are sincere to them.
Some said to Ibn Mas`ood, may Allah be pleased with him, “We are unable to perform the night prayer.” He told them: “Your sins are distancing you (from it).”
Someone said to al Hasan al Basri: “We are unable to perform the night prayer so prescribe me a cure.” He said, “Do not disobey Him during the day and He will help you stand before Him during the night.”
Ath-Thawri said, “I was prevented from standing in prayer at night for five months due to a sin I had committed.”
Al-Hasan al-Basri, may Allah have mercy on him, when he would enter the market and heard all that people say in it from shouting and vain talk, he would say:
“I think that these have bad nights.” All types of sins contribute to hardness of the heart and prevent from performance of the night prayer, even though some sins are more harmful than others, such as eating what is haram. On the other hand, eating what is halal, like few other things, cleans the heart and guides it to what is good. This is best known by those who watch and control their hearts, due to experiencing it, after the Sharee`ah's testimony to it. This is why some of them right said, “How many bites have prevented performance of the night prayer! How many glances have prevented recitation of a Quranic soorah! Verily the slave eats a bite or does an action and because of it he is prevented standing in performance of the sunnah (i.e. the night prayer).”
1. Protection of the heart from innovation, hatred towards Muslims
and superfluous worldly concerns. One preoccupied with this world is unable to
perform the night prayer and if he does, he does not think about his prayer, but
about his worldly concerns, wandering in his sinful thoughts (whisperings of
Shaytan). It has been said about such:
The guard informed me that you are sleeping
And you, even when you are awake, are sleeping.
2. Fear of sins and death and short hopes keep the heart alive, so that when the servant thinks about pits of the Hellfire and people's condition in the hereafter, his sleep immediately disappears. `Abdullah bin Rawaaha said: “Verily, when the servant of Allah is reminded of Paradise, his longing for it increases, and when he is reminded of the Fire, his sleep immediately disappears.”
3. Knowing the virtue of standing in prayer at night, as related in Quranic verses and traditions, until that knowledge intensifies one's hope and longing for its reward, and when that state is achieved, one's desire for higher levels in Paradise will also increase.