The third period is the duljah: journeying in the last part of the night. The meaning here is performing deeds at the end of the night which is the time for asking for forgiveness. Allah, Exalted is He says, “And those who ask forgiveness in the early hours of the morning.” (Surah Ali Imran 3: 17) “And in the hours before dawn they would ask forgiveness.” (Surah ad-Dhariyat 51: 18) The period referred to in these verses is the last part of the time of the Descent in which Allah fulfills the needs of those asking and grants forgiveness to the pertinent. The middle of the night is reserved for the lovers who wish to spend time in intimacy with their Beloved and the end of the night is reserved for the sinners to seek forgiveness for their sins. Whoever is unable to join the striving of the lovers in the depth of the night should at least join the pertinent at the end of the night.
Some narrations mention that the Throne quivers during the last part of the night. Tawus said, ‘I cannot imagine that someone would sleep during the last part of the night!’ (Ibn Jawzi) In a hadith recorded by Tirmidhi it mentions, “Whoever fears will travel by night and whoever travels by night will reach their destination.” Journeying in the last part of the night cuts short the journey of the world and the Hereafter as is mentioned in the hadith recorded by Abu Dawud, “When you journey, journey at the end of the night for the earth is compacted by night.”
It is reported that al-Ashtar entered upon Ali Ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, after resting part of the night and found him standing in prayer. He said, ‘Leader of the Believers, fasting by day, praying by night, and toil between the two!’ When he had finished his prayer Ali said, ‘The journey to the Hereafter is long and it needs to be cut short by journeying by night,’ – this is the duljah!
The wife of Habib (Abu Muhammad al-Farisi) would wake him at night time and say, ‘Awake O Habib for the path is long and our provision is paltry. The caravan of the righteous has passed ahead of us and we have been left behind!’
O sleeper of the night for how long will you lie?
Awake my beloved for the Promised Time draws nigh.
For a portion of the night your Lord deify –
For sleep begets neither rest nor equanimity.
Whoever in slumber deep spends the night,
Will not have striven or arrived at the Destination right.
The Journey to Allah by Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali Pages 57-59