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Wakefulness & Sleep (Part 4 of 6 – The Cause of Dis-ease)

As mentioned in the previous post, the body requires rest. Although sleep is essential, excess sleep is detrimental and discouraged as it leads to laziness. The Prophet of Allah (SAW) did not sleep throughout the night but did spend a portion of the night in prayer. 

Rasool’Allah (SAW) was instructed by the Most High, “Stand to pray by night, but not all night, half of it, or a little less, or a little more; and recite Qur’an in slow, measured rhythmic tones” – Al-Qur’an Surah 73 Al-Muzzammil.

Abdullah Ibn Amr bin Al-As (RA) narrated that the Prophet of Allah (SAW) told him, “The most beloved prayer to Allah is that of Prophet Dawud and the most beloved of fasts to Allah are that of Dawud. He used to sleep for half of the night and then pray for one third of the night and then sleep for its sixth part and used to fast alternate days” – Al-Bukhari Volume 2 Book 21 Number 231. 

Apart from refraining from excess sleep or lack of it, the Prophet (SAW) also advised on suitable times for sleep. The night has been created such that man can sleep during it. Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an, “He it is that has made you the night that you may rest in it, and the day to make things visible to you. Verily in this are signs for those who listen to His message” – Al-Qur’an Surah 10 Yunus.

Sleeping on a full stomach has strongly been discouraged. The best time to sleep is after food has been digested. The Prophet (SAW) has been reported to have said, “Digest your food with the remembrance of Allah (e.g. recitation of the Qur’an or Salah) and do not sleep upon it (before it has been digested) otherwise you will become hard-hearted” – Al-Firdaws. 

Sleep during the day has been detestable apart from a short nap during the midday heat (Qaylulah, siesta). Experts in the field of Tibb claim that sleeping during the day effects the complexion adversely, loosens the nervous system and can also hamper sexual potency. 

The Prophet (SAW) had a habit of resting for a short period during the midday heat.  

Umm Sulaym narrated that the Prophet (SAW) would come to their house and take a siesta so she would place down for him a piece of cloth. He would sweat a great deal so she would collect his sweat and add it to her perfume and collect it in bottles. The Prophet (SAW) once asked, “O Umm Sulaym, what are you doing?”. She replied, “It is your sweat; I intensify the scent of my perfume with it” – Sahih Muslim Volume 6 Book 43 Number 6058.

Sleeping throughout the night in a manner that Fajr salah is missed has an adverse effect not just spiritually but also physically and mentally leading to disorders such as mental health, i.e. depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc. 

Aby Hurayra (RA) narrates that the Prophet (SAW) said, “Satan puts three knots at the back of your head of any of you if he is asleep. On every knot he reads and exhales the following words, ‘The nigh is long, so stay asleep’. When one wakes up and remembers Allah, one knot of undone; and when one performs ablution, the second knot is undone; and when one prays the third knot is undone and one gets up energetic with a good heart in the morning; otherwise one gets up lazy and with a mischievous heart” – Al-Bukhari Volume 2 Book 21 Number 243. 

The Prophet (SAW) also discouraged sleeping before the night prayer. 

Abu Barza reports that the Prophet (SAW) disliked sleeping before the Ish’a prayer – Al-Buhkari Volume 1 Book 10 Number 522. 

The Prophet (SAW) also advised on the manner and posture of sleeping. He himself slept on his right side, facing the Qiblah. He forbade sleeping on the stomach. 

Ya’ish bin Tikhfah ibn Qays al-Ghifaari narrated that his father said, “When I was lying on my stomach in the masjid just before dawn, a man nudged me with his foot and said, “This manner of lying is hated by Allah”. I looked and saw that it was the Messenger of Allah (SAW)” – Sunan Abu Dawud Volume 5 Book 40 Number 5040.

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