Regarding qiyaam al-layl, the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,
“The most excellent fast after the month of Ramadan is fasting in the month of Allah, Muharram. And the most excellent prayer after the obligatory prayer is the night prayer.”
The preferred number of Ra’kat for the night prayer is eleven or thirteen with prolonged standing:
“The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam prayed eleven Rak’aat and that was his prayer…”
In another narration, “He prayed, in the night, thirteen Rak’aat…”
*This includes Tahajjud nawafil and Witr
It is recommended that when a person gets up for qiyaam al-layl he cleans his teeth with a Siwaak and recites the last ayaat of Surah Aal-Imran from 190 until the end of the Surah.
It is recommended to supplicate using this authentic du’a of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:
“O Allah, for You is all praise. You are the custodian of the heavens and the earth and whatever is in them and for You is all praise. You are the Source of light of the heavens and the earth and whatever is in them and for You is all praise. Yours is the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is in them and for You is all praise. You are the King of the heavens and the earth and for You is all praise. You are Truth and Your promise is the truth and the meeting with You is true and Your Word is true and the Paradise is truth and the Fire is true and the Prophets are true and Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is true and the Hour is true.
O Allah, to You I have submitted and in You I have believed and on You I have placed my trust and to You I have repented and over You I have disputed and to You I have turned for judgment.
So, forgive me for my sins that have turned for judgment.
So, forgive me for my sins that have come to pass and of my sins that will come to pass and what I have concealed and what I have made public.
You are Al-Muqaddim and Al-Mu’akkhir. There is deity worthy of worship except You (or there is no deity worthy of worship other than You.”
*It has been recorded by Bukhari the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to read this du’a after making Takbeer.
Also from the Sunnah of qiyaam al-layl is to begin with two short Rak’ah so that you become active for what comes after. “When one of you stands up for the night prayer, begin with two light Rak’ah (i.e. short).”
It is recommended to begin with the authentic supplication established from the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:
It is recommended to lengthen the prayer:
The Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was asked, “Which prayer is the most excellent prayer?” He said, “That prayer in which there is prolonged Qunoot*.”
*The meaning of Qunoot here is qiyaam – the standing position in prayer. Refer to the explanation of this hadeeth in Saheeh Muslim by Imam An-Nawawee in which it is mentioned that the meaning of Qunoot in the hadeeth is qiyaam.
It is recommended to:
– Seek refuge in Allah on hearing or reading ayaat of punishment by saying: “I seek refuge in Allah from Allah’s punishment.”
– Ask for His Mercy on ayaat of mercy: “O Allah, I ask You from Your bounties.”
– Praise Him on ayaat of glorification. Say: “SubhanAllah!” (Far removed is Allah from any imperfection.)
This is from the hadeeth: …he salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam read slowly (with reflection). If he read an ayah of glorification, he glorified Him. If he read an ayah seeking refuge, he sought refuge in Him… [This hadeeth states the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam glorified Allah, requested Him and sought refuge in Him. However, no specific wording for how he did this was mentioned. Therefore, the Shaykh has given us some examples of what can be said.]
Things that help one to perform qiyaam al-layl:
– Supplication [i.e. to ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to assist you and make it easy for you.]
– Avoid staying up late at night.
– Rest between Dhuhr and ‘Asr (also known as qayloolah)
– Refrain from all forms of disobedience.
– Strive against one’s desires.
[Book: More than 1000 Sunan Every Day and Night (Adhkar Min Alf Sunnah Fee Al-Yawm Wa Al-Laylah, Dar-us-Salaam Publications)]