His private ṣalah would be even lengthier. He would weep and pray for hours on end in the night.
Abdullāh bin al-Shikh-khir (raḍiy Allahu ʿanhu) said, “I came to the Prophet ﷺ whilst he was praying. His inside was making a sound like the sound of the boiling of the cooking-pot [due to crying profusely]” (Nasa’i). In another narration, the sound was likened to the noise of a mill-stone (Abu Dawud).
The following ḥadīth is one of the most amazing accounts of the perfection and quality of the Prophet’s ﷺ ṣalāh:
Ḥudhayfah (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said, “I prayed with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ one night and he started reciting Sūrah al-Baqarah. I said to myself that he will do rukūʿ at the end of one hundred āyāt, but he carried on reciting. I then said to myself that he will perhaps recite the whole sūrah in a rakʿah, and he carried on reciting. (At the end of Sūrah al-Baqarah), I said to myself that he will (now) go into rukūʿ. However, he then started Sūrah al-Nisā’, and recited it. He then started Sūrah Āl ʿImrān and recited it slowly.
When he recited the āyāt which entailed the glorification of Allah (tasbīḥ), he glorified Him. When he recited the āyāt which entailed asking (duʿā’), he would ask Allah. And when he recited the āyāt which entailed the protection of Allah, he sought His protection.
He ﷺ then went into rukūʿ and said, ‘How Perfect is my Lord, the Magnificent.’ His bowing lasted about the same length of time as his standing. He then said, ‘May Allah respond to the one who has praised Him’, and he then stood for a long time, about the same length of time as he had spent in bowing. He then performed sajdah and said, ‘How Perfect is my Lord, the Most Exalted’, and his prostration lasted nearly the same length of time as his standing” (Muslim).
Allāhu Akbar! Go back and read this ḥadīth again to fully appreciate its significance. Can you imagine what the ṣalāh of Rasūlullāh ﷺ was like?
The above ḥadīth gives us a glimpse of the noble and pure love he ﷺ had for his Creator and Master (ʿazza wa jall). The Prophet ﷺ at the time was over the age of fifty. Despite this, along with the responsibilities he shouldered throughout the day, he still spent hours at night in standing, bowing and prostrating to his Lord.
It is not surprising then that the Prophet ﷺ said,
أَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ يَا بِلَالُ أَرِحْنَا بِهَا
“Declare that the time for prayer has come, Bilal, and give us rest by it.”