Question # 210: Is sleeping between the early Witr and Qiyaam (al-layl) assumed?

Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: Tahajjud, Witr and Taraweeh all come under the heading of qiyaam al-layl (night prayers) or Taraweeh, but Taraweeh refers specifically to qiyaam al-layl in Ramadan. There are two opinions concerning tahajjud; the first is that it means praying at any time of the night and the second is that it is prayer after sleeping. 

Long Answer: Tahajjud, Witr and Taraweeh all come under the heading of qiyaam al-layl (night prayers) or Taraweeh, but Taraweeh refers specifically to qiyaam al-layl in Ramadan. Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked: What is the difference between Taraweeh, Qiyaam and Tahajjud? He replied: “Prayer at night is called tahajjud or qiyaam al-layl… With regard to Taraweeh, the scholars use this word to refer to qiyaam al-layl in Ramadan at the beginning of the night, which should be made light and not lengthy. It may also be called tahajjud or qiyaam al-layl.” (Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn Baaz)

…There are two opinions concerning [tahajjud]. The first is that it means praying at any time of the night, which is the view of the majority of fuqaha’. The second is that it is prayer after sleeping. (al-Mawsoo‘ah al-Fiqhiyyah)

Al-Qurtubi (may Allah have mercy on him) said in his commentary on the ayah: “And in some parts of the night (also) offer the Salah (prayer) with it (i.e. recite the Qur’an in the prayer) as an additional prayer (Tahajjud optional prayer Nawafil) for you (O Muhammad. It may be that your Lord will raise you to Maqam Mahmud (a station of praise and glory, i.e., the honor of intercession on the Day of Resurrection)” (Soorah al-Isra’, 17:97): “Tahajjud comes from hujood, which is doing one thing and the opposite, it so the word hajada may mean he slept or it may mean he stayed up at night, which are opposites. Tahajjud means waking up after sleeping, and it became a name for prayer, because the individual wakes up for it. So tahajjud means getting up to pray at night. This meaning was given by al-Aswad, ‘Ilqimah, ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn al-Aswad and others.

Ismaa‘eel ibn Ishaaq al-Qaadi narrated from the hadith of al-Hajjaaj ibn ‘Amr (رضي الله عنه) that he said: Does one of you think that if he gets up and spends the entire night in prayer that he had prayed tahajjud? Rather tahajjud is praying after sleeping, then praying after sleeping, then praying after sleeping. This is how the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) prayed.

And it was said tahajjud means sleep, as it is said in Arabic, Tahajjada al-rajul, meaning the man stayed up, and alqa al-hujood, i.e., sleep. And the one who gets up to pray is called mutahajjid.” (Tafseer al-Tabari)

(The above reply is based on various answers by Islamqa.info)

The following acts are sunnah for one who wishes to perform the tahajjud prayers. Upon going to sleep, one should make the intention to perform the tahajjud prayers. Abu ad-Darda’ (رضي الله عنه) relates that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whoever goes to his bed with the intention of getting up and praying during the night, and sleep overcomes him until the morning comes, he will have recorded for him what he had intended, and his sleep will be a charity for him from his Lord.” (This is related by an-Nasa’i and ibn Majah with a sahih chain) (‘Fiqh Us-Sunnah’ by As-Sayyid Sabiq)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam