In regards to the Qiyām al-Layl, the affair is as it comes in the hadith of the mother of the believers ‘Aishah (May Allāh be pleased with her), “He didn’t do more than eleven raka’ah.” This is what he (ﷺ) did. This shows that this amount is better. However in the manner he (ﷺ) performed it; with long recitations, and long periods of standing.
He (ﷺ) didn’t restrict for his Ummah an amount of raka’ah in the night prayer to go beyond. Rather he (ﷺ) said, “The night prayer is in two’s, if you fear that the dawn will arrive, close it with one raka’ah of witr.”
And that which is confirmed by his action shows that it is preferred and it is better. However, it doesn’t show a restriction in the amount of raka’ah in the night prayer without increasing the amount.
If a Muslim prays the night prayer in a masjid with the Imām, then let him be diligent in standing with the Imām until he finishes, because in several masājid based on the Sunnah and upon the speech of the Prophet (ﷺ),“The night prayer is in two’s.” lighten the load on the people by adding the number of raka'āt, because in the increase of raka’āt there is alleviation.
When a specific portion of the Qur'ān is recited in two raka’ah then he apportions it into four raka'āt, then this is considered something of alleviation, because in this he makes sujūd and he sits. He gets some sort of alleviation from this.
This increase is somewhat of alleviation. If he stands with the Imām and he increases the amount, then his increasing of this amount is based on the speech of the Prophet (ﷺ), “The night prayer is in two’s.”
Whoever follows the Imām, it’s upon him to stand with him until he finishes. So that he attains the virtue that comes from the speech of our Prophet (ﷺ), “Whoever stands (and prays) with the imam until he finishes, Allāh will record for him (a reward) as if he spent the whole night in prayer.”
So let him seize it and not miss out on this tremendous virtue. If he leaves before the Imām finishes, then he misses out on what comes in this ḥadīth. “Whoever stands (and prays) with the imam until he finishes, Allāh will record for him (a reward) as if he spent the whole night in prayer.”
From our senior scholars who have passed away are those who viewed that it is better not to go beyond this amount of eleven raka’āt. However, if they came to a masjid they would pray until the Imām finished. And we’ve seen many of our Mashāyikh upon that, while viewing that it is better not to go beyond eleven raka’āt. However, if he prayed with someone who increased it, he didn’t see that his actions were an innovation or an opposition to the Sunnah or that this is something impermissible because there is a valid basis from the Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ) from his (ﷺ) saying, “The night prayer is in two’s.”
In summary, the Muslim should be diligent upon the Qiyām al-Layl in Ramadhān, in the masājid, in congregation and he stands with the Imām until he finishes.
Published: Jun 27, 2016
Translator: Abu Owais, Zaky Balaswad
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