The following acts are sunnah for one who wishes to perform the tahajjud prayers. Upon going to sleep, one should make the intention to perform the tahajjud prayers. Abu ad-Darda’ relates that the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam said: “Whoever goes to his bed with the intention of getting up and praying during the night, and sleep overcomes him until the moming comes, he will have recorded for him what he had intended, and his sleep will be a charity for him from his Lord.” This is related by an-Nasa’i and ibn Majah with a sahih chain. Upon waking, one should wipe one’s face, use a tooth-stick, and look to the sky and make the supplication which has been reported from the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam: “There is no God but Thee, Glory be to Thee, I seek forgiveness from You for my sins, and I ask for your mercy. O Allah, increase my knowledge and let my heart not swerve after You have guided me, and bestow mercy upon me from Thyself. All praise be to Allah who has given us back life after our death and unto Him is the resurrection.”
Then, one should recite the last ten ‘ayat of al-‘Imran, starting with, “Lo! In the creation of the heavens and the earth and [in] the difference of night and day are tokens (of His sovereignty) for men of understanding.” Then one should say, “O Allah, to You belongs the praise. You are the Light of the heavens and the earth and what is therein. And to You belongs the praise. You are the truth and Your promise is true. And the meeting with You is true.Â And the paradise is true. And the Fire is true. And the prophets are true. And Muhammad is true. And the Hour is true. O Allah, to You have I submitted. And in You have I believed. And in You have I put my trust. And to You have I turned. And by You I argue. And to You do I turn for my decisions. Forgive me of my former and latter sins, and those done in private and those done in public. You are Allah, there is no God besides Thee.”
One should begin Qiyam al-Layil with two quick rak’at and then one may pray whatever one wishes after that. ‘Aishah says: “When the Prophet prayed during the late-night, he would begin his prayers with two quick rak’at.” Both of these reports are related by Muslim.