Introduction

Damascus is a beautiful city. Jasmine vines and bright purple bougainvillea flowers grow on balconies all over the city and jacaranda trees sneak up in the small spaces between blocks and buildings. I used to live in a twelve-story cement block building that stood in a row of at least ten other buildings almost exactly like it. At maghrib time, the sun would go down and the buildings’ windows would light up with crystal chandeliers and fluorescent lights. People would go about the evening work of children’s homework, supper, and soap operas all up and down the floors. It was a beautiful sight to see these buildings’ eyes open and fluttering with life. Then, as the evening waned, the buildings would grow dark with sleep.
About an hour before fajr, my light, and my neighbor’s light would turn back on. I could see her window across the little garden that separated our buildings. And I would look at the other darkened windows, closed eyes, and grow sad for the Muslim ummah. I often thought on these nights of the saying of Kaʿb al-Aḥbār who said, “The angels look down from heaven upon those who pray tahajjud as you look at the stars of the sky,”[1] and thought how very dark the earth must look to the angels. 

Light of the earth

Tahajjud defined

Tahajjud effects

The Prophetic practice

The prayer of the companions

Pandemic

Keystone habit

Exhaustion

How to struggle to your feet at night

Ramadan is the perfect time to practice

Intentional positive change 

Notes