Is there any difference between Tahajjud and Qiyamul Layl?

Is there any hadith which mentions the time for Tahajjud Salah? ie is it after sleeping in the latter portion of the night or is it mentioned anywhere that Tahajjud could be performed after Isha?


Sayyiduna Hajjaj ibn ‘Amr (radiyallahu’anhu) says:

“Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) would offer tahajjud salah after sleeping”

(Al-Mu’jamul Kabir, hadith: 3215)

Shaykhul hadith, Moulana Zakariyya Kandehlawi (rahimahullah) says: “Tahajjud refers to the salah one offers after awakening from a sleep. Offering nafl (voluntary) salah after Esha with the intention of salatul layl will also constitute tahajjud in the metaphorical sense.”

(Taqrir Bukhari, part.4, pg.24)

Mufti Muhammad Shafi’ ‘Uthmani (rahimahullah) has also provided a similar explanation. (See Ma’ariful Quran, Surah Isra, Ayah: 79, vol.5 pg. 503-504)

Literal meanings

Literally, qiyamul layl translates as: Standing at night, and tahajjud means: to wake up from a sleep. The word tahajjud also carries the meaning of remaining awake. (An-Nihayah, vol.2 pg.892 & Fathul Bari, hadith:1120)

The practice of the Muhaddithun 

The Muhaddithun generally mention the hadiths for both (salatul layl and tahajjud salah) in the same chapter.

For example, Imam Bukhari (rahimahullah) has labelled a chapter in his Sahih Bukhari as: “Kitabut Tahajjud

Under this he has included several chapters which have the word: qiyamul layl instead of tahajjud.

This shows that they viewed the hadiths that are usually cited in these chapters to refer to both, unless the hadith clearly specifies otherwise.

Hence, one who remains awake for a portion of the night engaged in salah and the one who awakens after spending a portion of the night in sleep and then engages in salah will both be termed as those who performed tahajjud.

It was the practice of the beloved grandsons of Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam); Sayyiduna Hasan and Sayyiduna Husayn (radiyallahu’anhuma) to take turns in remaining awake at night in salah. Sayyiduna Hasan would read salah during the first portion of the night, and Sayyiduna Husayn during the last portion.

(Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, hadith: 6680)

Hasan Basri (rahimahullah) said: “One who offers salah after esha has prayed tahajjud”(Tafsir Tabari, Surah Isra, Ayah: 79)

A technical difference

Some of the ‘Ulama have differentiated between the tahajjud salah and the qiyamul layl.

Imam Ahmad (rahiumahullah) has said:”Qiyamul layl happens between Maghrib and Dawn (subh sawdiq) whilst tahajjud happens after sleep.”

(Al Mubdi’ of Ibn Muflih Al-Hambali,  vol.1 pg.559, taken from introduction to Kitabut Tahajjud of Ibn Abid Dunya, pg.89)

Other Tabi’un have also stated that tahajjud is after sleeping.

(Tafsir Tabari, Surah Isra, Ayah: 79. Ibn Kathir -rahimahullah- prefers this too in his Tafsir; Surah Isra, Ayah: 79)

Some of the fuqaha (jurists) have preferred this.

(Raddul Muhtar, vol.2 pg.24, Fatawa Mahmudiyyah, vol.7, pg.234)

This is further supported by the following hadiths;

Sayyiduna Iyas ibn Mu’awiyah (radiyallahu’anhu) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) said:

“Read salatul layl even if it be for a short duration. Whatever (salah) is offered after Esha is considered as (qiyamul) layl”

(Al-Mu’jamul Kabir, hadith: 787)

Sayyiduna Hajjaj ibn ‘Amr (radiyallahu’anhu) said:

“…Tahajjud (salah) is that which is performed after sleeping. That was the practice of Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam)”

(Al-Mu’jamul Kabir, hadith: 3216)


Both of these (Salatul layl & Tahajjud salah) have their rewards, but undoubtedly, awakening after a sleep is more strenuous and more rewarding. This is therefore the ideal. There are numerous hadiths that specify the last part of the night as the most virtuous time to offer tahajjud.

One who is unable to wake up should offer nafl salah before sleeping. (Sahih Bukhari)

This too will be considered as tahajjud.

(See Ma’ariful Quran, Surah Isra, Ayah: 79, vol.5 pg. 503-504 & Taqrir Bukhari, part.4, pg.24)

Final note

Lastly, I would like to draw your attention to a narration that has been reported from several Sahabah (radiyallahu’anhum) that they said:

“Whoever offers four rak’ats (nafl) after Esha, will get the reward of offering these rak’ats on laylatul Qadr”

(Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, hadith: 7351-7357)

May Allah Ta’ala inspire us to practice on this too. Ameen.


And Allah Ta’ala Knows best,


Answered by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar


Checked by: Moulana Haroon Abasoomar