Tahajjud is also known as the “night prayer” and is a voluntary prayer. It is not one of the five obligatory prayers required of all Muslims, but it has been recorded that Prophet Muhammad performed it regularly and encouraged his companions to offer it for its many rewards and benefits.

Importance

Prophet Muhammad prayed this very regularly, and since Allah is closest to Earth as the night progresses, a night prayer is considered a way to get closer to Allah.

Time

At night after Isha and before Fajr. It is considered the later into the night that it is prayed, the more rewarding it is, since it’s more tempting to sleep the later it gets into the night, and the last part of the night is also the time that Allah is closest to the Earth.

“There was no specific time in which the Prophet would perform his late night Prayer; but he used to do whatever was easiest for him.”
Narrated by Ibn Hajar

Prophet Muhammad said “Our Lord descends to the lowest heaven during the last third of the night, inquiring: ‘Who will call on Me so that I may respond to him? Who is asking something of Me so I may give it to him? Who is asking for My forgiveness so I may forgive him?’”
Sahih Bukhari, Narrated by Abu Huraira

Prophet Muhammad said “The closest that a slave comes to his Lord is during the middle of the latter portion of the night. If you can be among those who remember Allah the Exalted One at that time, then do so.”
At-Tirmidhi, Narrated by Amr Ibn Absah

Number Of Rakahs

There is no specific number of Rakah’s, but generally at least 2 are recommended, followed by Witr prayer.

How To Pray

Upon going to sleep, one should try to make the intention to perform the Tahajjud (this is not necessary though).

Prophet Muhammad said “Whoever goes to his bed with the intention of getting up and praying during the night, but, being overcome by sleep, fails to do that, he will have recorded for him what he has intended, and his sleep will be reckoned as a charity (an act of mercy) for him from his Lord.”
An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah, Narrated by Abu Ad-Darda

On waking up, it is recommended that one wipes the face, use a toothbrush, and look to the sky and make the supplication which has been reported from Prophet Muhammad :

“Whenever Prophet Muhammad intended to go to bed, he would recite: (With Your name, O Allah, I die and I live).” And when he woke up from his sleep, he would say: (All the Praises are for Allah Who has made us alive after He made us die (sleep) and unto Him is the Resurrection.)”
Sahih Bukhari, Narrated by Abu Hudhaifa

One should begin with two quick rak`ahs and then one may pray whatever one wishes after that.

“When Prophet Muhammad prayed during the late-night, he would begin his Prayers with two quick rak`ahs.”
Sahih Muslim, Narrated by Aisha

It is recommended that one wakes up one’s family.

Prophet Muhammad said: “May Allah bless the man who gets up during the night to pray and wakes up his wife and who, if she refuses to get up, sprinkles water on her face. And may Allah bless the woman who gets up during the night to pray and wakes up her husband and who, if he refuses, sprinkles water on his face.”
Ahmad, Narrated by Abu Huraira


Quran Quotes

“And during a part of the night, pray Tahajjud beyond what is incumbent on you; perhaps your Lord will raise you to a position of great glory. (Al-Israa’ 17:79)
Quran, Surah Al Israa, 17:79

And they who pass the night prostrating themselves before their Lord and standing. (Al-Furqan 25:64)
Quran, Surah Al Furqan, 25:64


Hadith Quotes

Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) reports that Prophet Muhammad  said:  “The best prayer after the obligatory prayers is the night prayer.”
[Muslim]

Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him) reports that Prophet Muhammad  was asjed:  “What prayer is most virtuous, after the obligatory prayers?”
He replied: “Prayer in the depths of the night.”
[Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i, Ibn Majah]

Abd Allah ibn Salam (Allah be pleased with him) reports that Prophet Muhammad  said: “O people! Spread the salams, feed others, maintain family ties, and pray at night when others sleep and you will enter Heaven safely.”
[Tirmidhi, Hakim]

Abu Umama al-Bahili (Allah be pleased with him) reports that Prophet Muhammad  said “Hold fast to night prayer, for it was the way of the righteous before you, a way of drawing closer to your Lord, an expiation for wrong deeds, and a shield from sin.” In some narrations, there is an addition, “And it repels sickness from the body.”
[Tirmidhi, and others]