Some ulama mention that the Sahaaaba used to do a lot of evil yet they still remained in a good state with their ikhlaas. This means they actually believed in what they were doing and were very truthful and honest.
Due to this sincerity and honesty they became Muslim. Allah sent the message to them and allowed them to conquer the world in a short space of time! And they were the simplest of people!
Ibn al Jawzi (rh) said: Know that the righteous forefathers were in seven ranks concerning praying at night:
First rank: They would pray the whole night and some of them would pray Fajr with the ablution of ‘Ishâ`.
Second rank: Some would pray half the night.
Third rank: They would pray third of the night, the prophet (prayer and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “The most beloved prayer to Allah is the prayer of Dawûd (as): He would sleep half the night, pray third of it and sleep sixth of it.” (Agreed upon)
Fourth rank: some would pray a sixth or fifth of the night.
Fifth rank: They would not consider certain timings, except they would pray until they feel sleepy, so they would sleep, but if they conscious again they will continue praying.
Sixth rank: Some would pray from the night four or two Rak’as.
Seventh rank: people who would pray between Maghrib and ‘Ishâ`, then pray in the last part of night, hence combining the two edges of night.
In Sahih Muslim it was reported that the Prophet (prayer and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “In the night there is an hour, no Muslim would match it with asking Allah good from this worldly life or the Hereafter, except He will give him it and that would be every night.”
(Reported by Muslim 757)
The Messenger of Allah (saw) observed: “Three (are the persons) with whom Allah would neither speak, nor would He absolve them on the Day of Resurrection.
Abu Mu’awiya added: He would not look at them and there is grievous torment for them: the aged adulterer, the liar king and the proud destitute.”
Muslim (2983) narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “The one who sponsors an orphan, whether it is a relative of his or not, he and I will be like these two in Paradise,” and Maalik pointed with his forefinger and middle finger.
“One who cares for widows and the poor is like those who fight in the way of Allah or those who spend their days fasting and their nights praying.” [Agreed upon, also in Adab al-Mufrad of Imaam Al-Bukhari in chapter “The Virtue of Those Who Care for Orphans”]
“Whoever removes a worldly grief from a believer, Allah will remove from him one of the griefs of the Day of Judgment” [Saheeh Muslim]
Du’a of Yunus (as)
“No Muslim recites this du’a concerning any matter but Allaah will answer him.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and classed as saheeh in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3383.
So use the du’a of Yunus (as) in your sujood in optional prayers.
The benefits of doing a lot of istighfar:
Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said,
“If anyone constantly seeks pardon (from Allah), Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide sustenance for him from where he expects not.” [Abu Dawud].
In another Hadith, Abdullah bin Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) narrates that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said:
“The one who (regularly) says Istighfaar, that is, frequently repent to Allah Ta’aala for sins committed, Allah Azza Wa-Jal will open a path from poverty and difficulties. All sorrow and hardship will be removed, and in its place prosperity and contentment granted. One will receive sustenance from unimagined and unexpected sources.”
اللَّهُمَّ لاَ تُؤَاخِذْنِي بِمَا يَقُولُونَ، وَ اغْفِرْ لِي مَا لاَ يَعْلَمُونَ [وَ اجْعَلْنِي خَيْرًا مِمَّا يَظُنُّونَ]
Allaahumma laa tu’aakhithnee bimaa yaqooloona, waghfir lee maa laa ya’lamoona [waj’alnee khayram-mimmaa yadhunnoon]
O Allah, do not call me to account for what they say and forgive me for what they have no knowledge of [and make me better than they imagine]. Al-Bukhari, Al-‘Adabul-Mufrad no. 761. See Al-Albani, Sahih Al-‘Adabul-Mufrad (no. 585).
The portion between brackets is from Al-Bayhaqi, Shu’ab Al-Iman 4/228, and comes another account.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The closest that a person is to his Lord is when he is prostrating, so say a great deal of du’aa’ then.” Narrated by Muslim, 482.
When hearing the crowing of a rooster, because of the hadeeth: “When you hear the crowing of a rooster, ask Allaah of His bounty, for he has seen an angel.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2304; Muslim, 2729.
When saying the du’aa’, “Laa ilaaha illa anta, subhaanaka, inni kuntu min al-zaalimeen ([none has
the right to be worshipped but You (O Allaah)], Glorified (and Exalted) be You [above all that (evil) they associate with You]! Truly, I have been of the wrongdoers – cf al-Anbiya’ 21:87]).”
It was narrated in a saheeh hadeeth that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The prayer of Dhu’l-Noon (Yoonus) which he said when he was in the belly of the whale: ‘Laa ilaaha illa anta, subhaanaka, inni kuntu min al-zaalimeen ([none has the right to be worshipped but You (O Allaah)], Glorified (and Exalted) be You [above all that (evil) they associate with You]! Truly, I have been of the wrongdoers.’
No Muslim recites this du’aa’ concerning any matter but Allaah will answer him.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and classed as saheeh in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3383.