Question: Asalamu Alaikum, Is it permissible to pray Tahajjud prayer one hour before Fajr starts?
Answer: In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate
The Night Vigil Prayer
The Night Vigil prayer is a voluntary (nafl) prayer which has been highly encouraged both in the Qur’an and the Hadith. Allah Most High refers to it, saying:
“And some part of the night keep vigil for it as an additional prayer for you; maybe that your Lord will raise you up to a praised position” [Qur’an, Isra:79].
“Your Lord knows that you and also a group of those with you stand [in prayer] at night a little less than two-thirds of the night, or half the night, or a third of the night” [Qur’an, al-Muzzamil:22].
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said:
“Allah (blessed and exalted is He) descends (i.e. Allah’s mercy descends) to the lowest heaven, when the last third of the night remains and says, ‘I am the king, which when they call upon Me I respond. Who is there to ask of Me, for I will give them. Who is there to seek forgiveness from Me, for I will forgive them…” [Tirmidhi].
The Time of the Night Vigil Prayer
If one prays a voluntary prayer anytime after ‘Isha it is called the ’Standing for the Night prayer’ (Qiyam Al-Lail) but if one first sleeps, then wake up and prayers this is called the Night Vigil prayer (Tahajjud).
Imam ‘Abdullah bin ‘Alawi al-Haddad mentions in The Book of Assistance: “Know that whoever prays (voluntary prayers) after ‘Isha has stood for the night prayer and some of the righteous predecessors would pray their nightly portion of prayer in the early part of the night. However, standing for the Night prayer after having slept entails harm for Satan, a striving against the lower self, and amazing inner reality. This is the Night Vigil prayer (tahajjud) prayer…”
Thus the best time for Tahajjud is the last third of the night [Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah].
Take the time between the Maghrib prayer and the Fajr prayer and divide it into three parts. The last part is the ideal time to pray.
However, it is permissible and rewarding to pray at any time of the night.
May Allah bless you
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani