Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Assalam alaykum
Can I pray the night-vigil prayer (tahajjud) 5 minutes before the entry of true dawn (fajr)?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
Yes, you can pray the night-vigil prayer (tahajjud) even minutes before the entry of true dawn (fajr).
The night-vigil prayer (tahajjud) is generally that which is prayed after the nightfall prayer (‘isha), and after having slept. Praying in this manner was the habitual practice of the Noble Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace). As for night prayer (qiyam al-layl), this is more inclusive, and accordingly, the night-vigil prayer (tahajjud) is a subset of it.
The false dawn (fajr kadhib) is the vertical stream of light which appears on the horizon briefly, and then disappears. Shortly thereafter, true dawn (fajr sadiq), or the time for the normal dawn prayer (fajr), enters. Hence, praying during the false dawn or before or after it, and until the time of dawn, is permitted without dislike.
(Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar ‘ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar; Zada, Sharh Shir’at al-Islam (357))
And Allah Most High knows best.
[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorised the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.