The Salat al-Witr is one Rak`at and is the Salat and whispered supplication that completes the Salat al-Layl. As it has been mentioned in the ahadith, the Salat is the Me`raj of the believer, and the Salat al-Witr is the wave that carries the believer to the higher realms. It has been specifically mentioned in the ahadith that, “The more a person stands while in the Salat al-Witr will have to stand less on the Day of Judgement.” 1
The main item that carries one during this spiritual journey is the Qunut of the Salat al-Witr in which those who are the true servants of Allah, spend countless hours, engrossed in supplication and tears and asking forgiveness for their sins.
The Prophet of Islam Muhammad ibn `Abdullah (blessings of Allah be upon him and his family) has said: “Whichever of you prolongs the Qunut in his Salat al-Witr will have more ease on the Day of Judgement.”2
In the Wajib Salat, the Qunut is in place for the servant to supplicate to his Lord however in the Salat al-Witr, it is for asking forgiveness to Allah.3
The following verse of the Qur`an has been constantly mentioned in the ahadith in reference to asking forgiveness during the Salat and especially during the Salat al-Witr:
بِالأسْحاَرِ هُمْ يَسْتَغْفِرُونَ
During the Qunut of the Salat al-Witr, there are many supplications, which can be recited, and although it is not possible to list all of them here, we will mention the most important forms of seeking forgiveness.
At the time of asking forgiveness, one should lift his left hand for asking forgiveness and use the right hand to count the number of times5 and if one uses a tasbih made from the dirt of Kerbala, then the reward of the forgiveness is increased.
It has been related that the Prophet of Islam Muhammad ibn Abdullah (blessings of Allah be upon him and his family) would ask forgiveness 70 times during the Salat al-Witr.6
Imam Ja`far ibn Muhammad as- adiq (peace be upon him) has said: “Whosoever recites the following in the Salat al-Witr 70 times and continues to do so for one entire year will be counted by Allah as a Mustaghfirin bil ashar or one who used to ask forgiveness during the night time and will make Jannah Wajib upon that person.”7
أَسْتَغْفِرُ اللٌّهَ وَ أَتُوبُ إِلَيْهِ
In another hadith it has been mentioned that, “Whosoever says the following 100 times at the end of his Qunut and continues to do so for fourty nights will be counted as a Mustaghfirin bil ashar or one who used to ask forgiveness during the night time. 8
أَسْتَغْفِرُ اللٌّهَ وَ أَتُوبُ إِلَيْهِ
The Prophet of Islam Muhammad ibn `Abdullah (blessings of Allah be upon him and his family) used to ask for forgiveness 70 times in the Qunut of Salat al-Witr followed by reciting the below line seven times:
هٌذَا مَقٌامُ الْعٌائِذِ بِكَ مِنَ النٌّارِ
The method of asking forgiveness as taught to us by Amir al-Mo’minin `Ali ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon him) in the night as is follows:
1. Recite the following 70 times:
أَسْتَغْفِرُ اللٌّهَ رَبِّي وَأَتُوبُ إِلَيْهِ
“I seek repentance from Allah, my Lord and to Him I turn back.”
2. Followed by reciting the following seven times:
أَسْتَغْفِرُ اللٌّهَ الَّذِي لاٌ إِلٌهَ إِلاٌّ هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ وَأَتُوبُ إِلَيهِ
“I seek repentance from Allah the One whom there is no god except Him, the Living and Self-Subsisting and to Him I turn back.”10
One of the most important acts in the Qunut of the Salat al-Witr is supplication for forty believers (men or women) amongst one’s family, friends, those who have asked to be prayed for, the deceased and the Shi`a of Amir Al-Mo’minin `Ali ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon him). Whosoever does this will be assured that his supplications are answered.11
One should then say the following three hundred times:
Following this, the following should be said once:
رَبَّ اغْفِرْلِي وَارْحَمْنِي وَتُبْ عَلَيِّ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ التَّوٌابُ الرَّحِيمِ
“Lord, please forgive me and have mercy upon me and turn back towards me. Verily You are the Oft-Turning back, Most Merciful” 12
It has been mentioned that Imam `Ali ibn al-Husain as-Sajjad (peace be upon him) used to recite the following line three hundred times in his Qunut during the Salat al-Witr:
Allamah Majlisi has mentioned that the word (اَلْعَفْوُ) can also be recited as (اَلْعَفْوَ) (with a fathah instead of a dhammah) on the last letter.
* Please do not forget this humble servant of Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him) in your prayers and especially in the blessed Qunut of the Salat Al-Layl.