بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ بِجَمِیعِ مَحَامِدِه کُلِّهَا عَلَی جَمِیعِ نِعَمِهِ کُلِّهَا… اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ مالِکِ الْمُلْکِ مُجْرِی الْفُلْکِ مُسَخِّرِ الرِّیاحِ فالِقِ الاْصْباحِ دَیّانِ الدّینِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمینَ اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی حِلْمِهِ بَعْدَ عِلمِهِ وَالْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی عَفْوِهِ بَعْدَ
قُدْرَتِهِ وَالْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی طُولِ اَناتِهِ فی غَضَبِهِ وَهُوَ قادِرٌ عَلی ما یُریدُ
ثم الصلاه و السلام علی محمد عبده و رسوله ارسله بالهدی و دین الحق لیظهره علی الدین کله و لو کره المشرکون
اوصیکم عبادالله و نفسی بتقوی الله و اتباع امره و نهیه، و اخوفکم من عقابه
The 17th Virtue: vigilance
أَمَّا اللَّيْلَ فَصَافُّونَ أَقْدَامَهُمْ، تَالِينَ لِأَجْزَاءِ الْقُرْآنِ يُرَتِّلُونَهَا تَرْتِيلاً
When it is night (for prayer) they stand and recite the verses of the Quran with reflection and thought.
This phrase of the Amir al-Mu’minin carries two virtues from the virtues of the pious: first vigilance, and the other reciting the Qur’an.
Importance of vigilance
Our verses, traditions, and sayings of our mystics and scholars emphasise the awakening of night and solitude with God. Night worship, though it is one of the recommended deeds, should be sought from God for success. You will not find any human being that comes close to the summit of humanity and the nearness to God except by prayer and solitude with God at nights.
Allameh Tabatabai says that when I went to Najaf to study, I used to go to ayatollah Tabatabai’s house for some time, Once I was standing in front of a school where he was passing by from there. When he reached me, he put his hands on my shoulder and said, “Child! If you want the world, do night prayers, also if you want the hereafter too, pray at night. “
Night prayer, and litany with God are not specific to Muslims, but in all divine religions such privacy with the Creator of Being is one of the popular traditions. The Holy Quran says:
لَيْسُوا سَوَاءً مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ أُمَّةٌ قَائِمَةٌ يَتْلُونَ آيَاتِ اللَّهِ آنَاءَ اللَّيْلِ وَهُمْ يَسْجُدُونَ؛ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَبِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَيُسَارِعُونَ فِي الْخَيْرَاتِ وَأُولَئِكَ مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ. ﴿آل عمران:۱۱۳-4
They are not alike. Among the People of the Scripture is a community that is upright; they recite God’s revelations throughout the night, and they prostrate themselves.
They believe in God and the Last Day, and advocate righteousness and forbid evil, and are quick to do good deeds. These are among the righteous.
We have heard a lot about the night prayers of imam Ali, and his cries in prayer with God. According to the Holy Qur’an, one of the things that ‘Abdul-Rahman’ means, those whom God knows them to be worshipers, is always bound to do so is this night of vigil, prayer, and nocturnal worship:
وَعِبَادُ الرَّحْمَنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ هَوْنًا وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلَامًا؛ وَالَّذِينَ يَبِيتُونَ لِرَبِّهِمْ سُجَّدًاوَقِيَامًا ﴿فرقان:63-۶۴
The servants of the Merciful are those who walk the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, “Peace.” And those who pass the night prostrating themselves to their Lord and standing up.
The Holy Qur’an considers night time prayer not only as a symbol of piety and a people of paradise but also as the reason for their being in paradise.
إِنَّ الْمُتَّقِينَ فِي جَنَّاتٍ وَعُيُونٍ؛ آخِذِينَ مَا آتَاهُمْ رَبُّهُمْ إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا قَبْلَ ذَلِكَ مُحْسِنِينَ؛ كَانُوا قَلِيلًا مِنَ اللَّيْلِ مَا يَهْجَعُونَ؛ وَبِالْأَسْحَارِ هُمْ يَسْتَغْفِرُونَ ﴿ذاریات:15-۱۸
But the pious are amidst gardens and springs. Receiving what their Lord has given them. They were virtuous before that. They used to sleep a little at night. And at dawn, they would pray for pardon.
The night prayer, which is a highly recommended and blessed way for the believers to pray, is obligatory for the Prophet. In the verses of the Holy Qur’an, God commands the Prophet (peace be upon him) to pray and worship at the night time
وَمِنَ اللَّيْلِ فَتَهَجَّدْ بِهِ نَافِلَةً لَكَ عَسَى أَنْ يَبْعَثَكَ رَبُّكَ مَقَامًا مَحْمُودًا ﴿اسراء:۷۹
And keep vigil with it during parts of the night, as an extra prayer. Perhaps your Lord will raise you to a laudable position.
Before the beginning of his divine mission, the Prophet of Islam was so preoccupied with praying and solitude with God at night time that in the very first verses of the Holy Qur’an, the glorified God commands him to stay awake at night only part of the night:
يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُزَّمِّلُ؛ قُمِ اللَّيْلَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا؛ نِصْفَهُ أَوِ انْقُصْ مِنْهُ قَلِيلًا؛ أَوْ زِدْ عَلَيْهِوَرَتِّلِ الْقُرْآنَ تَرْتِيلًا؛ إِنَّا سَنُلْقِي عَلَيْكَ قَوْلًا ثَقِيلًا؛ إِنَّ نَاشِئَةَ اللَّيْلِ هِيَأَشَدُّ وَطْئًا وَأَقْوَمُ قِيلًا؛ إِنَّ لَكَ فِي النَّهَارِ سَبْحًا طَوِيلًا؛… إِنَّ رَبَّكَ يَعْلَمُ أَنَّكَتَقُومُ أَدْنَى مِنْ ثُلُثَيِ اللَّيْلِ وَنِصْفَهُ وَثُلُثَهُ وَطَائِفَةٌ مِنَ الَّذِينَ مَعَكَ …﴿مزمل
O you Enwrapped one. Stay up the night, except a little.For half of it, or reduce it a little. Or add to it; and chant the Quran rhythmically. We are about to give you a heavy message. The vigil of night is more effective, and better suited for recitation. In the daytime, you have lengthy work to do.
Your Lord knows that you stay up nearly two-thirds of the night, or half of it, or one-third of it, along with a group of those with you.
These verses show that the Prophet was so engrossed in a liturgical prayer with God that time went out of his hands! And in fact God tells his to rest a certain amount of night, because you will have important things in the day.