Ibn ‘Abbaas Radiyallahu ‘Anhu reports that he once slept at the house of his aunt Maymunah (during his childhood). She slept on the width of the cushion and Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallarn slept on the length of the cushion. (Qaadi ‘Iyaad and others have translated pillow as a bed. When the original word means pillow and it is possible to use it in such a manner, it is not necessary to translate it as a bed. For instance, Sayyidina Rasulullah Saliallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam must have slept on the length of the pillow facing the qiblah, and Sayyidina Ibn ‘Abbaas Radiyallahu ‘Anhu on the breadth of it, putting his head on the qiblah side). Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam (after having a little conversation with his wife) slept till the middle of the night, or till a little before that. Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam then awakened and began wiping off the signs of sleep from his face. He then recited the last ten aayaat of Surah Aali ‘Imraan (Inna fi khalqis samaawaati wal ard). (The ‘ulama say a little of the Qur-aan should be recited after awakening, as this creates strength and it is mustahab to recite these aayaat). He got up and went to a leather bag that was hanging and (took water in a utensil from it) performed wudu from it. He then commenced his salaah. ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbaas Radiyallahu ‘Anhu says: ‘I also got up (performed wudu) and stood next to-him (on his left). Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam put his right hand on my head and caught my ear and twisted it (A muqtadi should stand on the right side of an Imaam. The ear was twisted to remind him. In one narration it is stated that, I began to sleep, so Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam caught my ear. In another narration it is stated he caught my ear and pulled me to his right side, so that I might stand on the right according to the sunnah). He performed two rak’ahs, then two rak’ahs, then two rak’ahs, then two, rak’ahs, then two rak’ahs, then two rak’ahs. Ma’n (a narrator of this hadith) says Rasulullah Sallallahu’Alayhi Wasallam recited two two rak’ahs six times (the total of twelve rak’ahs. Mulla ‘Ali Qaari has written that according to the madh-hab of Imaam Aa’zam Abu Hanifah, in tahajjud prayers there are twelve rak’ahs). He then performed the witr salaah and slept. When the mu-adh-dhin (Sayyidina Bilaal Radiyallahu’Anhu) came to him, he got up and recited two short rak’ahs and went for the fajr salaah.
It is stated that Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam performed different amounts of rak’ahs in tahajjud. These are according to different times. If there was time he performed more rak’ahs, otherwise less rak’ahs were performed. There are no specified amount of rak’ahs for tahajjud. Many a time Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam performed less rak’ahs, although there was time to Perform more rak’ahs. He certainly recited lengthy portions from the Qur-aan, as is mentioned in the different ahaadith in this chapter.