The Timing of Qiyaam
The time for praying qiyaam is from after ‘Isha until Fajr, because the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Allah has added one more prayer for you, which is witr, so pray it between Salaat al-‘Isha’ and Salaat al-Fajr.”
Praying at the end of the night is better, for those who can manage it, because the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Whoever is afraid that he will not get up at the end of the night, let him pray witr at the beginning of the night, but whoever feels that he will be able to get up at the end of the night, let him pray witr at the end of the night, for prayer at the end of the night is witnessed [by the angels], and that is better.”
If it is the matter of choosing between praying in congregation at the beginning of the night and praying alone at the end of the night, it is preferable to pray with the jamaa’ah, because that is counted as if one had prayed the whole night through.
This is what the Sahaabah did at the time of ‘Umar radhiAllahu ‘anhu. ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn ‘Abd al-Qaari said, “I went out with ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab to the mosque one night during Ramadan, and saw the people scattered throughout the mosque, some praying individually, and some praying in small groups. He said, ‘By Allah, I think that if I gathered all of them behind one reader it would be better.’ So he resolved to do that, and he gathered them behind Ubayy ibn Ka’b. Then I went with him on another night, and the people were all praying behind their reader, and ‘Umar said, ‘What a good innovation this is. What they sleep and miss – meaning the latter part of the night – is better than what they are doing,’ – the people used to pray qiyaam at the beginning of the night.”
Zayd ibn Wahb said, “‘Abd-Allah used to lead us in prayer in Ramadan, and he used to finish at night.”
The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam forbade praying witr as three rak’ahs, and explained this by saying, “Do not make it resemble Salaat al-Maghrib.” Therefore the person who wants to pray three rak’ahs for witr must find a way to make it different (from Maghrib). There are two ways he can do this: either by giving salaam after the first two rak’ahs, which is the best way; or by not sitting after the first two rak’ahs (i.e., praying three rak’ahs non-stop). And Allah knows best.
Recitation During Three Rak’ahs of Witr
It is Sunnah to recite Sabbih bi ismi Rabbika al-‘A’laa in the first rak’ah, Qul Yaa ayyuha’l-Kaafiroon in the second rak’ah, and Qul Huwa Allahu ahad in the third rak’ah. Sometimes Qul a’oodhu bi Rabbi’l-Falaq and Qul a’oodhu bi Rabbi’l-Naas may be added as well.
It was reported in a saheeh report that the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam once recited one hundred ayaat of Surat al-Nisa’ in one rak’ah of witr.
A person may also humble himself before Allah by reciting the du’a which the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam taught to his grandson al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali radhiAllahu ‘anhu, which is:
اللَّهُمَّ اهْدِنِي فِيمَنْ هَدَيْتَ ، وَعَافِنِي فِيمَنْ عَافَيْتَ ، وَتَوَلَّنِي فِيمَنْ تَوَلَّيْتَ ، وَبَارِكْ لِي فِيمَا أَعْطَيْتَ ، وَقِنِي شَرَّ مَا قَضَيْتَ ،إِنَّكَ تَقْضِي وَلَا يُقْضَى عَلَيْكَ ، إِنَّهُ لَا يَذِلُّ مَنْ وَالَيْتَ ، وَلَا يَعِزُّ مَنْ عَادَيْتَ ، تَبَارَكْتَ رَبَّـنَا وَتَعَالَيْتَ
“Allaahumma’hdinee fiman hadayta wa ‘aafinee fiman ‘aafayta wa tawallanee fiman tawallayta wa baarik lee fimaa a’tayta wa qinee sharra maa qadayt, fa innaka taqdee wa laa yuqdaa ‘alayk. Wa innahu laa yadhillu man waalayta wa laa ya’izzu man ‘aadayt. Tabaarakta Rabbanaa wa ta’aalayt.
O Allah, guide me along with those whom You have guided, pardon me along with those whom You have pardoned, be an ally to me along with those whom You are an ally to, and bless for me that which You have bestowed. Protect me from the evil You have decreed for verily You decree and none can decree over You. For surety, he whom You show allegiance to is never abased and he whom You take an enemy is never honored and mighty. O our Lord, Blessed and Exalted are You.”
Sometimes one may send blessings on the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and there is nothing wrong with adding other du’as that are known from the Sunnah.
What should be said at the End of Witr
It is Sunnah to say at the end of witr (before or after the salaam):
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِرِضَاكَ مِنْ سَخَطِكَ ، وَبِمُعَافَاتِكَ مِنْ عُقُوبَتِكَ ، وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْكَ ، لَا أَحْصِي ثَنَاءً عَلَيْكَ ، أَنْتَ كَمَا أَثْنَيْتَ عَلَى نَفْسِكَ
Allahumma innee a’oodhu bi ridaaka min sakhatika wa bi mu’aafaatika min ‘aqoobatika, wa a’oodhu bika minka. La uhsee thanaa’an ‘alayka, anta kamaa athnayta ‘ala nafsik
“O Allah, I seek refuge in Your good pleasure from Your wrath, and in Your protection from Your punishment. I seek refuge with You from You. I cannot praise You enough, and You are as You have praised Yourself.”
When he gave salaam at the end of witr, he said: “Subhaan il-Malik il-Quddoos, subhaan il-Malik il-Quddoos, subhaan il-Malik il-Quddoos (Glory be to the Sovereign, the Most Holy), elongating the syllables, and raising his voice the third time.
Two Rak’ahs after Witr
A person may pray two rak’ahs after witr if he wishes, because it is proven that the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did this. Indeed, he said, “This travelling is exhausting and difficult, so after any one of you prays witr, let him pray two rak’ahs. If he wakes up, this is fine, otherwise these two rak’ahs will be counted for him.
Published with slight modifications. Originally published at this link.