The timing of Qiyaam
The time for praying Qiyaam is from after ‘Ishaa’ until Fajr, because the Prophet said: “Allah has added one more prayer for you, which is Witr, so pray it between the Ishaa’ and the Fajr prayers.” [Ahmad]
Praying at the end of the night is better, for those who can manage it, because the Prophet said: “Whoever is afraid that he will not get up at the end of the night, let him pray Witr at the beginning of the night, but whoever feels that he will be able to get up at the end of the night, let him pray Witr at the end of the night, for prayer at the end of the night is witnessed (by the angels), and that is better.” [Muslim]
If it is a matter of choosing between praying in congregation at the beginning of the night and praying alone at the end of the night, it is preferable to pray with the congregation, because that is counted as if one had prayed the whole night through.
This is what the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, did at the time of ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him. ‘Abdur-Rahmaan ibn ‘Abdul-Qaari, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “I went out with ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattaab, may Allah be pleased with him, to the mosque one night during Ramadan, and saw the people scattered throughout the mosque, some praying individually, and some praying in small groups. He said: ‘By Allah, I think that if I gathered all of them behind one Imaam it would be better.’ So he resolved to do that, and he gathered them behind Ubayy ibn Ka’b. Then I went with him on another night, and the people were all praying behind their Imaam, and ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said: ‘What a good thing this is. However, what they sleep and miss – meaning the latter part of the night – is better than what they are doing,’ – the people used to pray Qiyaam at the beginning of the night.”
How to pray Witr:
The Prophet said: “Do not make it resemble Al-Maghrib prayer.” Therefore the person who wants to pray three Rak’ahs for Witr must find a way to make it different (from Maghrib). There are two ways he can do this: either by concluding after the first two Rak’ahs, which is the best way; or by not sitting (for Tashahhud) after the first two Rak’ahs (i.e., praying three Rak’ahs non-stop).
Recitation during the three Rak’ahs of Witr
It is recommended to recite Chapter Al-A’la (87) in the first Rak’ah, Al-Kaafiroon (108) in the second Rak’ah, and Al-Ikhlaas (112) in the third Rak’ah. Sometimes Al-Falaq and An-Naas (113 and 114) may be added as well.
It was reported that the Prophet once recited one hundred Verses of Chapter An-Nisaa’ in one Rak’ah of Witr.
Du’aa’ (supplication of) Al-Qunoot
Before making prostration upon finishing the last Rak’ah, a person is recommended to humble himself before Allah by reciting the Du’aa’ which the Prophet taught to his grandson Al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, which is:
“Allahumma ihdinee feeman hadayta wa ‘aafinee feeman ‘aafayta wa tawallanee feeman tawallayta wa baarik le feema a’tayta wa qine sharra ma qadhayt, fa innaka taqdhe wa la yuqdha ‘alayk. Wa innahu la yathillu man waalayta wa la ya’izzu man ‘aadayt. Tabaarakta Rabbana wa ta’aalayt. La manja minka illa ilayk (O Allah, guide me along with those whom You have guided, pardon me along with those whom You have pardoned, be an ally to me along with those whom You are an ally to, and bless for me that which You have bestowed. Protect me from the evil You have decreed, for verily You decree and none can decree over You. For surety, he whom You show allegiance to is never abased and he whom You take an enemy is never honored. O our Lord, Blessed and Exalted are You. There is no refuge from You except with You).”
Sometimes one may exalt the mention of the Prophet by saying: (). There is nothing wrong with adding other Du’aa’s that are known from the Sunnah. Moreover, there is nothing wrong with reciting Qunoot after Rukoo’.
What should be said at the end of Witr
It is recommended to say at the end of Witr (before or after the Salaam): “Allahumma inne a’oothu bi ridhaaka min sakhatika wa bi mu’aafaatika min ‘uqoobatika, wa a’oothu bika minka. La uhse thanaa’an ‘alayka, anta kama athnayta ‘ala nafsik (O Allah, I seek refuge in Your good pleasure from Your wrath, and in Your protection from Your punishment. I seek refuge with You from You. I cannot praise You enough, and You are as You have praised Yourself)”.