Ateneo de Davao University

Ateneo de Davao

Tahajjud and the hardships during Ramadhan

AS THE end of the Holy Month of Ramadhan comes near, the challenge to fast during the day, to perform the five obligatory prayers, to pray the taraweeh (refers to the extra prayers performed by Sunni Muslims at night during the month of Ramadhan), and the tahajjud (also known as the “night prayer” is a voluntary prayer performed by Muslims), leaves us with less than three to four hours of sleep at night.

For a person like me who suffers from migraine attacks when I lack sleep, these are the hardest part of fasting that I experience within the last ten days of Ramadhan.

Back in college, I used to complain a lot as to why do we need to “suffer” during the month of Ramadhan. I question the logic as to why we need to perform the rituals and prayers. I used to argue that it is impossible to fully perform these duties as a Muslim because physically we have our own limitations.

Take the case of those who need to go to work at eight in the morning. They need to stay awake even after Sahur (meal time before dawn) and Subhu prayer. Then, they need to stay focus for the whole working hours of the day. Some of them also needs to go home early to prepare the food for their family’s Iftar and evening meals. And they also need prepare for salat, taraweeh, and tahajjud.

But as I continue to study Islam and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), I realized that my negative thoughts about fasting and wanting to have more sleep than perform the night prayers were all wrong.

These rituals are essential in living a life of being a Muslim. They help us to have strong Imaan (faith) and Ibadat (worship).

Focusing on Tahajjud, I asked myself, how did Prophet Muhammad (SAW) perform the Tahajjud prayer?

According to Muslim scholars, “the Prophet wakes up after midnight. He sits in bed and washes his face. He then turns his gaze to the heavens and avails himself of the peace and quiet at night to meditate on Allah’s greatness and how it manifests itself in the majesty of His creation. He recites a ten-verse passage from SuratAal `Imran which begins with words: Verily in the creation of the heavens and Earth, and in the alternation of night and day are signs for those who understand (Aal `Imran 3:190).”

The Prophet (SAW) stands up and performs an ablution with small amount of water. Before he commences with the Tahajjud. He sometimes engages in the glorification of his Lord with the recitation of a number of remembrances. This prepares his mind and concentration for prayer.

According to Sheikh Abd Al-Wahhab Al-Turayri, “If we consider the Prophet’s state of mind, we realize that he is totally immersed in prayer while offering Tahajjud. His every thought and feeling are engaged and his communion with his Lord is total. It is as if his spirit has ascended to heaven and is being bathed in divine light while looking upon the throne of his Lord. It is as if he is having a private audience with Allah, so he extols His praises in the most emphatic way and beseeches Him with the most perfect supplications.”

Upon learning these things, I realized the value of discipline and strong conviction of the way we need to worship Allah (SWT). We need to discipline our mind and heart. We need to pray like as if we are directly having a conversation with Him.

In the past few years, I begun to practice this devotion every Ramadhan. I concentrate on the value of fasting and the prayers. I also think about the plight of the Muslims in the conflict affected areas. I think about the Muslim refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Palestine. Their Ramadhan is not different from the other Muslims. But their Ramadhan have a special flavor and atmosphere that is mix with alienation, displacement, and immense pain. They hope and pray to return home safely with their families. Some of them spend their Ramadhan in refugee camps.

Aside from that, I also think about the Filipino Muslims in our country who have longed to live a peaceful and productive lives. They too have a Ramadhan that has a painful flavor.

Then, I remember the passage from SuratAal `Imran which begins with words: “Verily in the creation of the heavens and Earth, and in the alternation of night and day are signs for those who understand (Aal `Imran 3:190)”. These are signs that we need to recognize. We need to address in any possible peaceful way.

The hardships that I experienced during this month is incomparable to their experiences. I am fortunate to have a home, family, and food on the table every Iftar and Sahur. Having these thoughts in mind, recognizing the signs in front of me, helps me to bear the hardships of fasting and the lack of sleep.

I offer my prayers to all Muslims in the world who are victims of oppression, racial and economic discrimination, and religious intolerance. I pray that Allah (SWT) accepts our good deeds and fasting during this month.