Q. What is the meaning of term ‘Qiyam-ul-Layl’ and how is it different from ‘Taraweeh’?

A. (#DrZakirNaik): As far as the word ‘qiyam-ul-layl’ is concerned it is broken into two words – ‘qiyam’ and ‘al-layl’. ‘Qiyam’ mean to stand and ‘al-layl’ means the night. So literally it means standing in the night but in the shariya (in Islamic context) it means it is a voluntary prayer which is prayed after Isha and before the break of dawn. And as we are aware Isha starts after the redness of sky disappears after sunset and you can pray the ‘qiyam-ul-layl’ just before the break of dawn i.e. just before the Fajar. So the word ‘qiyam-ul-layl’ was given because the person in this voluntary prayer he recites long verses of the Quran. So the standing is long so it is called standing in the night, and there are various different words called for the same ‘qiyam-ul-layl’. For example it is also called as ‘Salaat-ul-layl’ meaning the prayer at night. It is also called as ‘tahajud’. It is also called as ‘witr’ and also as ‘Taraweeh’. ‘Tahajud’ comes from the word ‘tahajada’ which means to wake up. So when a person sleeps and wakes up to pray it is called as ‘tahajud’ also. The other word used is ‘witr’ which means odd and Prophet always said that after Isha salaah we should offer ‘witr’ in odd rakats. The other word used is ‘taraweeh’ which comes from the Arabic word ‘rah’ which means to rest which means to relax. Because after few generations after the Prophet people when they used to read the ‘qiyam-ul-layl’ in the Ramadan especially this word ‘taraweeh’ is specifically used for ‘qiyam-ul-layl’ in Ramadan. So when they used to pray ‘qiyam-ul-layl’ in Ramadan after four rakats they used to rest. So this word ‘taraweeh’ from that onwards it got stuck to this ‘qiyam-ul-layl’ in Ramadan. Normally after four rakats they used to rest. And this has continued because one used to pray for long hours. And even now though they pray for short time yet in ‘qiyam-ul-layl’ in Ramadan they rest and the word is still used as ‘Taraweeh’ but at the time of Prophet this word ‘taraweeh’ was never used. Even the sahabas never used this word. It came later on. So the more appropriate word is ‘qiyam-ul-layl’. But if a person when he reads for long time the ‘qiyam-ul-layl’ in Ramadan if he wants he can rest but it is not forbidden to rest. A person is tired he can rest but it is not compulsory that he has to rest either.


6 thoughts on “Q. What is the meaning of term ‘Qiyam-ul-Layl’ and how is it different from ‘Taraweeh’?

  1. Assalamu Alaikkum,

    I have a question. For thahajjud, should I have niyyat before sleep or can I do thahajjud even I get up accidentally without any previous intention. Please reply. Jazakh Allah khair


    • You can have Niyaaa ( intention ) before you begin the Tahajjud salat. You may wake at night & make ablution & after begin the odd Rakat salat atleast 3 for tahajjud . But before tahajjud begins make intention in mind & heart to make tahajjud salat & then do 3 rakats


  2. Sorry but Doctor Zakirs answer is confusing.

    My understanding from his answer is Kiam Ullayel is another name for Tarawee which (Kiam Ullayel) is in my understanding a voluntary prayer (naval) then why is Tarawee regarded as Sunnat Muakkadah, when it is actually another name for Kiam Ullayel.

    Something doesn’t add up.


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