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How Praying Tahajjud Is a Form of Self-Love

by in Ramadan on 26th March, 2021


Allah descends at sunset on that night to the lowest heaven and says, ‘Is there no one who will ask Me for forgiveness, that I may forgive him? Is there no one who will ask Me for provision so that I may provide for him? Is there no one who is afflicted by trouble, that I may relieve him?’ And so on, until dawn comes.’”  [Sunan Ibn Majah]

Self-love, self-care, self-compassion, self-acceptance, self-awareness…these are just some of the ‘self-’ words I read and hear about often.

Whether it’s through conversations with family and friends or through social media, an article or a podcast, there is a lot of emphasis on ‘the self’. 

Growing up, I didn’t quite understand the full meaning of some of these words. The idea of the self almost conjured up this image of serving only oneself and the ego. My understanding of Islam was that as Muslims, we should step away from this self-serving notion that life is about ‘me, myself and I’.  Allah SWT enlightens us about the ‘Nafs’ or self/soul in the Qur’an, especially in the context of the stages of the ‘Nafs’There are three ways in which the ‘Nafs’ is described in the Qur’an and we can be in any of these three states.  

Indeed, the nafs that overwhelmingly commands a person to do sin. [Qur’an 12:53]

This first type of ‘self’ is called Nafs Al-Ammarah, or the soul that commands. Nafs Al-Ammarah is the spirit that steers the self.  It’s taking action without thinking things through clearly. The ‘Nafs’ commands and tells us what to do.  The desires and wishes of the ‘Nafs’ dominate us.  If this idea is then applied to the self, it can be perceived as being negative. For example, because I need self-care and to look after myself, I can justify spending money every week buying myself whatever I wish. Or self-love may be defined as cutting difficult people out of my life because I have no desire to be around them, and if I am, then it negates the concept of loving myself. Soon the idea of the self turns into protecting the ego, as the ego then becomes in charge.     

The second type is called Nafs Al-Lawwamma:

And I do call to witness the Nafs that blames. [Qur’an 75:2]

This is the soul that takes accountability for its actions.  It becomes self-aware and feels remorse and guilt to the point the person begins to change.  There is continuous conflict with the ‘Nafs’ to stay away from anything that displeases Allah.

But what if we could use The Self to reach Nafs Al-Mutma’innah, or the reassured soul?

To the righteous it will be said ‘oh reassured soul, return to your Lord well pleased and pleasing to Him.’ [Qur’an 89:27-28]

Nafs Al-Mutma’innah is the ‘Nafs’ that has reached a state of contentment. It is at peace and tranquillity and desires good things.  Content with the decree of Allah Almighty and inclined to give more to others and to have more love and compassion.

This is where I believe Tahajjud plays a significant role in our lives.  This is how I perceive the self when it comes to Tahajjud:  

  • Self-love is when I gently wake up my sleepy soul in the early hours and remind it there is someone waiting to listen to me. As-Sami (The All-Hearing) descends to the lowest heavens to hear all about my problems, my worries, my anxieties and He will do it all without judgement. When there is someone listening to me without judgement then I feel heard, whole and ready to give my love to others.  
  • Self-care is the peace my soul experiences when the world sleeps and I talk to Allah SWT in the darkness of the night. I talk to Al-Wali (The Protecting Friend) and all my fears and insecurities melt away. Like the melting snow on a sunny day.  
  • Self-compassion is slowing down and Tahajjud is the perfect time for that. During this alone time, I seek Allah’s forgiveness and accept my imperfections. Allah SWT knows how hard I am trying, and the middle of the night is the time I can drown out the noise and the negativity about myself. Through developing this self-compassion, I can be more compassionate towards others.  
  • Self-acceptance is reminding myself I am worthy and contributing to the world around me. I may not be where I want to be at, but I can accept where I am at this moment in time. I sit before Allah SWT and remind myself of how far I have come and that the Almighty has honoured me with guidance, health, wealth, love, family, friends and countless other blessings.    
  • Self-awareness – Allah SWT is Al-Wahab (The Bestower) and through Tahajjud, He has given me the gift of self-reflection and self-awareness. Tahajjud gives me the strength to reflect and become more self-aware. I sit and remember Allah SWT and His names. I reflect on the day or week that has passed, and the days to come. I work through what I was thinking, feeling and, subsequently, what I was acting upon.  I ask myself whether I would be this self-aware if it were not for this beautiful gift of Tahajjud.  

Ramadan is the perfect time to establish a relationship with Tahajjud.  With it, you receive two immense gifts: strengthening your connection with Allah SWT and developing a strong sense of self-awareness, acceptance, compassion and love. I pray that Tahajjud can be a path for our souls to reach the status of nafs Al-Mutma’innah and that we are inspired to wake up for this special prayer during Ramadan and beyond.

Aaisha Mukhtar

Aaisha Mukhtar

Aaisha is a senior quantity surveyor working in the construction industry. She believes the key to a successful life is nourishing the mind, body and soul using Quranic and Prophetic practices as well as secular practices to enhance our understanding of ourselves and our connection to Allah. In her spare time she makes her own raw chocolate filled medjool dates and other refined sugar free snacks IG: @majesticmedjewels