How should Qiyaam Al-Layl be performed?

In the name of Allah (The One). I send the peace and blessings upon his messenger (Al-Mustafa), upon his family, companions, and those who follow him in righteousness until The Day of Judgement (Yowm Al-Qiyaamah). To proceed:

Questioner: How should Qiyaam Al-Layl (the night prayer) be performed? I hope you could please clarify that for me as well as when should the dua (supplication) be performed?

Shaykh Abdul-Aziz bin Baaz answered: Qiyaam Al-Layl is a Sunnah Muakkadah (affirmed Sunnah) that the Prophet ﷺ did as well as the best of people (i.e., the his companions ﷺ). Allah ‘azza wa jal (mighty and majestic) said to His Prophet ﷺ,

“O you wrapped in garments (i.e. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ)! Stand (to pray) the entirety of the night, only briefly (resting).” — Surah Al-Muzzamil (73) : 1-2

He, subhaanahu (glory be to Him), said addressing His prophet ﷺ,

“And from [part of] the night, pray with it as additional [worship] for you.” — Surah Al-Isra (17) : 79

And He praised the believing worshipers of Al-Rahman (the Most-Merciful, i.e., Allah) with that when He said,

“And those who spend [part of] the night to their Lord prostrating and standing [in prayer].” — Surah Al-Furqan (25) : 64

He also said about the Muttaqeen (those who fear Allah),

“They used to sleep but little of the night, and in the hours before dawn they would ask forgiveness.” — Surah Al-Dhariyat (51) : 17-18

Qiyaam Al-Layl is a Sunnah Muakkadah whether it’s in the beginning, middle, or end of the night according to whatever is the easiest. Therefore Witr (the odd prayer) is Sunnah and the smallest number it can be is one rak’ah (unit of prayer).

If one gets up at night and reads what is easy for him from the Qur’an and prays Witr with three, five, seven, nine, eleven, or thirteen rak’ahs then it is all ok. The Prophet ﷺ prayed Witr like this. Maybe he prayed three, maybe seven, maybe five, maybe nine, maybe eleven, maybe thirteen making tasleem (saying As-Salaamu ‘Alaykum wa RahmatuAllah on your right and left sides) with every two rak’ahs. This is what is preferable but it was also reported that he prayed three rak’ahs all together making only one tasleem and sitting at the end of it. So there is no problem, the Prophet ﷺ sometimes did it but it is preferable to make tasleem after two because the Prophet ﷺ said, “The night prayer is two and two. If one of you is fearful of the morning (approaching) then pray just one rak’ah, making odd (in number) what you had already prayed” [agreed upon].

Therefore, it is Sunnah to pray two and two, and if one fears the morning then make Witr with one. ‘Aisha (radiAllahu ‘anha — may Allah be pleased with her) said: The Prophet ﷺ used to pray Witr as eleven rak’ahs, in other words all of the time, and used to make tasleem with every two ﷺ.

The original Arabic text of this article can be found at:

And the peace and blessings are upon our prophet Muhammad, upon his family and companions.


About Abdul-Malik Merchant
Muslim. Husband. Father. Associate Imam @ISBCC. UQU grad. Boston resident. DC native. Biker. Goofy. Straight up.

2 Responses to How should Qiyaam Al-Layl be performed?

  1. warda says:

    very educative

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