It is permissible to perform qiyam-ul-layl (night vigil) in a congregation at times other than Ramadan. It is not bid`ah (innovation) to perform it in congregation.

In his book Al-Mughni, Imam Ibn Qudamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “It is permissible to pray voluntary prayers in congregation and individually, because the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did both, but most of his voluntary prayers were offered individually. He led Hudhayfah in praying a voluntary prayer once, and Ibn `Abbas once, and Anas and his mother and the orphan once, and he led his companions in the house of `Utban once, and he led them during the night in Ramadan three times. These reports are all authentic.”

In his well-known book, Fiqh As-Sunnah, Sheikh Sayyed Sabiq states: “One should wake up one’s family for qiyam. Abu Hurairah quotes the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying: “May Allah bless the man who gets up during the night to pray and wakes up his wife and who, if she refuses to get up, sprinkles water on her face. And may Allah bless the woman who gets up during the night to pray and wakes up her husband and who, if he refuses, sprinkles water on his face.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also said: “If a man wakes his wife and prays during the night or they pray two rak`ahs together, they will be recorded among those (men and women) who (constantly) make remembrance of Allah.” This is related by Abu Dawud and others through an authentic chain of narrators.

Elaborating on the fact that it is not bid`ah (innovation) to perform qiyam in a congregation, the eminent Muslim scholar, Dr. `Ali Jum`ah, Professor of the Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University, states:

“There are two conditions which should exist in any act for it to be considered as rejected bid`ah: it is something new or innovated and it contradicts any Islamic principle stated in the Qur’an or Sunnah. In the Shafi`i book of Fiqh, Mughni al-Muhtaj, it is stated that ‘it is permissible to perform in congregation any prayer in which congregation was not originally demanded. This view is based on the fact that Caliph `Umar (may Allah pleased with him) gathered people to perform tarawih (or qiyam) in the mosque in congregation, though this was not the case during the Prophet’s lifetime.’”