Details of Prophet’s SAW Qiyaam: What Did He Read ?


taught by Sh Omar Suleiman on ILMFLIX

What did the Prophet (saw) used to read in his salah?

In Tirmidhi, an authentic hadith, Abu Hurayrah said that once the Prophet saw sent a group of people out on an expedition. As he was sending them out, he’d appoint a leader amongst them. As he gathered them, he said “Who amongst you memorizes the most Quran? The youngest among them said he memorized surah Al Baqarah. Prophet saw made him Ameer of them. Another man responded to the Prophet saw “Yaa Rasulullah saw, nothing prevented me from learning Al Baqarah except if I were to stand and recite it I wouldn’t be able to stand for qiyam.” (he put surah Al Baqarah off because of this) Prophet saw said, “Learn the Quran and read it. The example of one who learns the Quran and stands up at night and recites it is like a bottle of musk that is open. It spreads its sweet scent everywhere around it. The example of one who memorized the Quran but doesn’t stand and recite it at night, is like a shut bottle of musk.” Standing up and reciting Quran is a way of maintaining it in your memory.

His qiyam was so long that Abu Waail narrates that Ibn Masood said that, “One night I prayed behind saw and I had a sinful feeling. What is that sinful feeling? I thought to myself, “Let me sit down and leave Prophet saw praying.” [how can I get out of this qiyaam?] [this is Ibn Masood who if you want to hear the Quran fresh as it was revealed, let him listen to Ibn Masood. Ibn Masood loves reciting Quran!] [Sahih Bukhari]

Hudhayfa ibn Yaman narrated, “I stood up to pray behind Prophet saw and he recited in 1st rakaah surah Al Baqarah, he’d stop at every single ayah, make dua and move on to the next one. I thought to myself, I wonder if he’s going to finish at a 100 and Prophet saw kept reading, I thought to myself if he was going to finish at 200, and the Prophet saw kept reading and I thought to myself if he was going to stop at surah Al Baqarah and Prophet saw finished Al Baqarah and started surah An Nisaa. I wondered if he’d stop at 100, but he kept going. I thought to myself that now he will stop at An Nisaa, but then Prophet saw started Ali Imran. Prophet saw went back to surah An Nisaa and finished entire surah and then after that he went into ruku. [Muslim] In another extended narration in Musnad Imam Ahmad, in 2nd rakaah he read Al Maaidah and al An’aam.

From a fiqhi perspective, in nafl prayers, you can do different order of surah. In mandatory prayers there is a difference of opinion whether you can recite in a different order or not.

In one of the extended narration, in Musnad Imam Ahmad, Prophet saw recited surah Al Maaidah and An’aam in the 2nd rakaat. Umm Salamah said, “One time, the Prophet saw was sick and I thought he’d make his qiyam light but he recited the 7 long surah(8 surah after Al Fatihah, from Al Baqarah to At-Taubah minus Anfaal) in the 1st rakaah.” That’s why you can’t love Allah the way Prophet saw love Allah. It’s impossible to love Allah the way Prophet saw loved Allah.

Ibn Jawzi said, “That’s why when Allah says

Sahih International

Say, [O Muhammad], “If you should love Allah , then follow me, [so] Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” [Aali Imran 3:31]

After Allah commands you to follow sunnah, Allah says Allah is ghafoor Raheem .” You’ll fall short when you strive to follow sunnah.

Sometimes Prophet saw didn’t read that long.

Ibn Abbas said, “In every rakaat he (saw) took about the length of surah Muzammil (with remembrance and dua).”

Ibn Masood says that a man came to him and said to him, “Last night I read them all [surah mufassal Qaf –to the end of Quran] in 1 rakaah [he was bragging]. Ibn Masood said, “Then you were reading like someone reads poetry (reading fast). The Prophet saw used to read some of surah mufassal, particularly from family of hameem.” [He loves them] [Sunan An Nasaai]

So what do we take for ourselves?

Abdullah Ibn Amr Ibn AaSs said that the Prophet saw said, “Whoever stands up reading 10 ayat, he won’t be written with Allah as the heedless. And whoever stands up and prays with 100 ayat he will be written as those who are qaaniteen (devout- special station with Allah). And whoever reads 1000 ayaat he will be written as one who is piling treasures (qintaar).”

Surah al-Falaq and An-Naas are a total of 11 ayah.

Sh Omar went through several different dictionaries to find definition of Qintaar. Qintaar – some scholars of Arabic said it’s 4000 gold coins piled, some said anything between 4000-80,000.

We’re all capable of doing that at least once. It may sound daunting to us, but Allah granted us shorter surah towards end of Quran.

100 ayaat is roughly from surah Az-zalzalah till the end of the Quran (99 exactly). If you read surah Bayyinah till the end of the Quran, you will have passed 100 ayaat. 1000 ayaat is from surah Al Mulk to the end of the Quran. The last 20 juz of Quran is exactly 1000 ayaat! It’s doable. It’s hard but just think about that goal, that this is an accomplishment I want to attain.

Abu Ayyub Ansari said that Prophet saw said, “Would anyone of you like to recite one third of the Quran during the night ? Then whenever you wake up at night, read in your salah, qul huwallahu ahad. Allahu samad, lam yalid walam yulad walam yakulahu kufuwan ahad.”[Sahih in Tirmidhi]

ibn Hajr in his sharh, he said that, and it was narrated from the salaf that he’d recite nothing but qul huwallahu ahad. Qatadah ibn Nu’maan would recite that over and over again because of that hadith.

The importance is contemplation on the ayaat you are reciting. Aishah [Tirmidhi authentic] said, “The Prophet saw once stood up for an entire night reciting 1 ayah of Quran.”

Abu Dhaar said, “One night, I prayed with Prophet saw and Prophet saw read one ayah over and over again.”

Sahih International

If You should punish them – indeed they are Your servants; but if You forgive them – indeed it is You who is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.[Al Maaidah 5:118]

And he’d make dua for his ummah. He spent days serving the ummah and spent the night reading that ayah till morning came. It’s amazing that that was what Prophet saw felt compelled to recite over and over again. This was also the habit of some of the sahabah.

Urwah ibn Zubayr once entered upon his aunt Aishah, “I once entered upon my aunt Aishah, and she is my aunt and I found her standing and praying at night and she was reciting an ayat from surah Tuur

Sahih International

So Allah conferred favor upon us and protected us from the punishment of the Scorching Fire.  [Tuur 52:27]


She would read that ayah and she would make dua and cried and made dua and cried. I stood behind her t get her attention but to no avail. She kept reading the same ayah, making dua and crying. Until I left her and I went to the marketplace. I came back and found her in the same state, reciting the same ayah.”

Umar Abdul Azeez’ wife Fatima said, “There is one ayah in the Quran I hoped he’d never come across at night, because if he read that ayah it was like taking a bird and throwing water at a bird (it would panic). I thought I’d wake up a widow the next morning and ummah would wake up without khalifah and that ayah is in surah Shuraa (a group in paradise and a group in hellfire). He’d recite and cry so much that I thought he’d die.”

Ibn Abi Mulaika said, “Once I traveled with ibn Abbas from Makkah to Madinah. every night he’d try to recite Qaf (one of favorite surah of Prophet saw, he referenced it in every khutbah). Every night Ibn Abbas would get to

Sahih International

And the intoxication of death will bring the truth; that is what you were trying to avoid. [Qaf 50:19]


He’d start crying and make dua. In the entire journey from Makkah to Madinah, he’d never pass that ayah, he’d recite it over and over.”

Abu Hanifah spent entire night reciting,

Sahih International

And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.[Az-Zalzalah 99:8]

from Isha till Fajr.


Suleiman At-Tamimi spent entire night reading,

Sahih International

But when they see it approaching, the faces of those who disbelieve will be distressed, and it will be said, “This is that for which you used to call.”[Al Mulk 67:27]

All these ayaat show us something special. If you can stand up and contemplate and reflct with one ayah, it’s better for you than standing up and reciting 1,000 ayaat without contemplate. We all have that sweet spot in Quran, so use that when doing qiyam. Whatever is going to bring you the most contemplating and humility, use those ayaat. It’s only befitting that before you stand up to pray at night, read the tafseer of what you’re going to read at night, read at least the translation. Understand whatever you’re going to be praying with so that whenever your pray with it, you’ll find a greater understanding.

A number of times, Prophet saw made dua with every single ayah. In narration of Abu Hudhayfah r.a., “Whenever Prophet saw came across an ayah that glorified Allah, he’d stop and say Subhanallah and then would make dua. If he came across an ayat that reflect the greatness of Allah, he’d say Allahu Akbar and made dua. If he same across an ayah that mentions seeking refuge in Allah, he’d seek refuge in Allah.”

Abu Layla r.a. said, “One time I prayed behind Prophet saw and every time he’d come across an ayat about hellfire, he’d say “a3uuzhubillahi minannaar, wa waylul li ahlinnaar [I seek refuge from the hellfire, and woe to the people of hellfire].”

اعُوذُبِ الّلَهِ مِنَ النَّار وَ وَيل لاَِهلِ النَّار

This is my notes from the ILF class Stranger In the Night, taught by Sh. Omar Suleiman. I thought I’d share my notes this way (piece meal)  on top of uploading them as 1 big file. It will also motivate me to actually finish cleaning it up in sha Allah! May it be of benefit. Ameen.


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