You might have wondered, at some point, why I chose to name this blog, “Between Dusk and Dawn”. It’s not just something that I picked out of a hat, neither was it planned as a mystical name to capture the attention of readers. It’s not the title of any book or sonnet I know, nor any great work of art. And no, there’s no movie by that name either!
The answer is simple – I love the beautiful period of time between the setting of the sun and its next rising. As the sun sinks into the horizon, the sky takes on a myriad shades and hues to merge gracefully into the enchanting, velvety darkness of night. If you step outdoors or look out your window after Maghrib, you’ll find every moment a pleasure – something new to discover and enjoy. The stars peek between the fading brightness, then appear one after the other in quick succession until – before you know it – you’re looking at a masterpiece of art!
The night passes by smoothly, punctuated by the adhaan for Isha’a and soon, it is time for the true purpose of night to be fulfilled – sleep and rest. It’s amazing how, when you observe the creation of Allah at this time, it is silent and at peace with itself – eager to rejuvenate for the following day. Among mankind too, those who have the intellect and the insight to understand this natural order would know that there is great wisdom, the Wisdom of their Maker, in moving with this pattern of night and day. A few hours of sleep at night are worth more than double their measure during the day, as any person who suffers from insomnia, or has to work the night shift will tell you.
However, the most beautiful wonder of all in the nighttime has been highlighted innumerable times in the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet(saw). What is this blessed quality of night? It is the opportunity, the beauty and the absolute joy of being able to turn to Allah in quiet seclusion, with nothing to distract and no chores to perform. We read about Prophets in the Quran who stayed up in worship a part of the night and the Seerah of the Prophet(saw) records how he too prayed Tahajjud, along with his companions. The Quran even specifically instructed the Prophet(saw) to awaken for the night prayer and gave the reason for it too – to be able to worship in Allah without distractions.
O you wrapped in garments (i.e. Prophet Muhammad SAW)! Stand (to pray) all night, except a little. Half of it, or a little less than that (see verse 20). Or a little more; and recite the Qur’ân (aloud) in a slow, (pleasant tone and) style. Verily, We shall send down to you a weighty Word (i.e. obligations, legal laws, etc.). Verily, the rising by night (for Tahajjud prayer) is very hard and most potent and good for governing (the soul), and most suitable for (understanding) the Word (of Allâh). Verily, there is for you by day prolonged occupation with ordinary duties, And remember the Name of your Lord and devote yourself to Him with a complete devotion. (He Alone is) the Lord of the east and the west, Lâ ilâha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He). So take Him Alone as Wakîl (Disposer of your affairs). (Quran: Surah 73: Verses 1-9)
Why the emphasis on the nighttime though? In the last third of the night, the hours of Tahajjud, the night is almost completely silent and at its darkest too. In these hours, if one is awake, the heart very naturally softens towards prayer and worship. It becomes easier to reflect upon ones deeds and wonder about the Hereafter, the accountability before Allah. Prayers are made with sincerity, not like an automaton in a hurry to roll up the prayer mat and run off to study or work. And when the Quran is recited, it is a joy to see how only the Words of Allah ring through the otherwise silent night – something that is not possible during the daytime. Then, as Allah invites man to ponder and reflect upon His Words of guidance, the receptive heart feels the tug and wants to give up wrongdoing and just please his Master through only saying, thinking and doing what He commands. It is this feeling – a refreshment of Iman – that carries the person who offers Tahajjud and Fajr, through the day ahead, ready to face the challenges and tests set by Allah.
Do you still wonder that I love the night? There’s more – I love the merging of night into day and all the changes that herald the rising of the sun. The beauty of the night lingers until the sun lights up the land and then, it’s a different story altogether. For me, dawn symbolizes a new beginning – a second chance to do things differently, re-prioritize my life, and focus on the Hereafter through perfecting my actions and my intentions in this life. Every few days, I try to spend a few minutes just observing the world around me at the time of dawn and I realize that truly in the Statement of Allah is the Absolute Truth:
Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed Signs for men of understanding. (Quran: Surah 3: verse 190)
For those forgo their Fajr prayer and wake up just to drag themselves off to school or work, they lose out on the Pleasure of Allah through obeying Him, His reward and the great joy and peace that the last hours of the night bring. May Allah guide them before the sun sets on their lives to rise on a certain day… but that Day would not be a day for second chances. Arising for Fajr is thus full of blessings – peace, joy, the Pleasure of Allah, avoiding His Wrath and thus, being saved, if Allah Wills, from the Fire. There is no catch to this amazing offer, is there?
Verily, the Muttaqûn will be in the midst of Gardens and Springs (in the Paradise), Taking joy in the things which their Lord has given them. Verily, they were before this Muhsinûn .They used to sleep but little by night [invoking their Lord (Allâh)] and praying, with fear and hope. (Quran: Surah 51: 15-18)
O Allah guide us all towards You, Your Worship and give us the Tawfeeq to performs acts which You love for us, and the Tahajjud to come closer to You. And O Allah, make us consistent in our amal and accept our meager deeds from us. O Allah, save us from the disgrace and humiliation of the Day of Judgment through your Mercy. O Allah, we are not such that we deserve anything but it is your Mercy alone that can guide us, enable us to do righteous deeds, earn your pleasure to protect us from the Fire! O Allah, shower us with Your Guidance and Your Mercy! Aameen!