“Verily, the pious will be in the midst of gardens and springs, taking joy in the things which their Lord has given them. Verily, they were before this Muhsinun. They used to sleep but little of the night. And in the hours before dawn, they were asking for forgiveness, and from their properties was [given] the right of the beggar, and the deprived.”
Thus He described them as being awake at night, seeking forgiveness in the early hours of the morning, and spending from their wealth. Some of the Salaf would be asleep and something would come to them saying: Stand and pray. Don’t you know that the keys to Jannah lie with those who stand at night? They are its treasurers.
Standing at night entitles one to the highest levels in Jannah. Allaah said to His prophet (صلّى اللَّهُ عليه وسلّم), “And in some parts of the night offer the Salah with it (ie. recite the Qur’an), as an optional salah for you. It may be that your Lord will raise you to the highest level in Jannah.” (Isra: 79) Hence, He made the highest level in Jannah the reward for his (صلّى اللَّهُ عليه وسلّم) tahajjud at night.
‘Awn Ibn Abdullah said, “Indeed Allaah will enter into Jannah people who will be given until they cannot accept anymore. However, there will be people on the higher levels above them, and when they look at them they will recognize them. They will say, “Our Lord they are our brothers who used to be with us. By what were they favoured above us?” He would say, “Indeed they used to be hungry whilst you were all filled. They used to thirsty whilst you were all satiated, and they used to stand whilst you were all asleep” It also necessitates the pleasures of Jannah that no eye has ever seen anything similar to it in this life. Allaah says: “Their sides forsake their beds, to invoke their Lord in fear and hope, and they spend out of what We have bestowed on them. No person knows what is kept hidden for them of joy as a reward for what they used to do.” (As-Sajdah 16-17)
Al-Bukhari narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (صلّى اللَّهُ عليه وسلّم) said, “Allaah says I have prepared for My servants what no eye has seen, no ear has heard and no human heart can imagine.” Recite if you wish, “No person knows what is kept hidden for them of joy as a reward for what they used to do.”
(Al Bukhari 8/515 and Muslim 4/2174)
Some of the Salaf have said (regarding this ayah): They hid their deeds for Allaah’s sake so He hid their reward.
Al-Hasan Al-Basri was asked about how is it that those who perform tahajjud have the brightest faces. He replied, “That is because they seclude themselves in devotion to Allaah so He beautifies them with light from His light.” Karaz Ibn Wabrah said that it had reached him that Ka’b used to say, “The angels look down from the sky at (holding in esteem) those who make tahajjud just as you all look up to the stars in the sky.”
Some people complained to Ibn Mas’ud, “We are not able to stand at night.” He told them, “That is because your sins have distanced you all.” It was said to Al-Hasan Al-Basri, “It is very difficult for us to stand at night.” He said, “Your sins are holding you back.”
- Transcribed from: The Dispute of the Highest Angels | Ikhtiyar al-Awlaa fee Sharh Hadith Ikhtisaam al-Mala al-A’alaa | Al-Hafidh Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali