The Night Prayer
Tahajjud prayer, prayers done in the deepest night, were a regular and unchanging practice of the Prophet Muhammad, may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him. Even if you can only do a little extra prayers performed at night are more valuable than during the day.
Best Time For Tahajjud
If you divide the night into six parts, the fourth and fifth parts are the best for prayer. If you divide the night in half, the second half is best. If into thirds, the middle part is best. With this said, Tahajjud is offered after ‘Isha and before Fajr.
It is recommended to begin your night Tahajjud with two brief rak‘ah, to have intended to make the Tahajjud before going to sleep, and to not make a practice of more prayer than you can regularly perform without harming yourself. As with all practices, it is important to make an intention to make Tahajjud and for a specific number of rak‘ah. If your intended number changes, whether fewer or greater, it is permissible to change your intention. It is also recommended to finish your worship in the night with Witr prayer after Tahajjud.
It Was Mandatory for the Prophet
It is said that worship in the quiet hours of the night was personally obligatory upon the Prophet but upon no one else. This order upon the Prophet is expressed in the words of the Qur’an in Surah al-Muzzammil, The Enwrapped:
yaa ‘ayyuha-l-muzzammil — qumi-l-layla ‘illa qalíla
Oh you enwrapped! Keep vigil the night, except a little;
nisfahuu ‘owi-n-qus minhuqalíla — ‘owzid ‘alayhi wa-rattili-l-qur’ana tartíla
half of it, or lessen it a little, or add to it a little; and chant the Qur’an in a slow, measured chant.
‘inna sanulqí ‘alayka qowlan thaqíla
Truly We shall charge you with a weighty Word.
‘inna nashi’ata-l-layli hiya ‘ashaddu wat’an wa-‘aqwamu qíla
Unquestionably rising at night is more powerful and that which is heard [in the hours of the night vigil] more certain.
‘inna laka fi-n-nahari sabhan tawíla
Indeed in the day you have a long line of duties [which take your time].
wa-dh-kuri-sma rabbika wa tabattal ‘ilayhi tabtíla
So remember the Name of your Lord and devote yourself to Him with utter devotion.