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In the last few weeks, we have focused on the scientific angle of sleep and how sleep influences every area of our life. 

Today, I want to talk about sleep from the perspective of the Quran and Sunnah. 

What the Quran Says About Sleep

Islam is, no doubt the perfect way of life. In it, you find guidance to living a holistic life that is successful both in this world and the Aakhira. 

Sleep is a vital ingredient for our well-being and success. Hence Islam talks about it quite extensively. 

Prof. Ahmed BaHammam from King Saud University, Saudi Arabia has compiled an excellent research article called “Sleep from an Islamic Perspective”. In it, he details the Quranic perspective of sleep. Here are a few things that need a special mention: 

  • Sleep and its derivatives appear nine times in the Quran
  • There are five different types of sleep mentioned in the Quran, and these types correspond with sleep stages identified by modern science
  • The Quran discusses the beneficial effects of sleep. “Remember when He covered you with a slumber (Nu’ass) as a security from him” (Al-Quran, 8:11). This describes the fear and stress of the believers during the battle of Badr when slumber (Nu’ass) provided them with a feeling of security and relief from stress.
  • The Quran emphasises that sleep is made for our rest. “And we made your sleep (Subaat) as a thing for rest” (Al-Quran, 78.9)
  • In many verses, the Quran emphasises the importance of maintaining a pattern of light and darkness, which is necessary for our circadian rhythm. “And it is He who has made the night and the day in succession for whoever desires to remember or desires gratitude” (Al-Quran, 25.62)

And the most amazing Quranic ayah regarding sleep is, where Allah subuhanawuta’la declares sleep as one of His signs of greatness: “And among His signs is your sleep by night and by day and your seeking of His bounty, verily in that are Signs for those who listen” (Al Quran, 30:23)

What the Sunnah Says about Sleep

Prophet (SAW) emphasises the importance of getting enough sleep in dozens of hadiths.  

In a hadith in Sahih Bukhari, the Prophet (SAW) said, “If anyone of you feels drowsy while praying he should go to bed (sleep) till his slumber is over”. 

In another hadith, also mentioned in Sahih Bukhari, Prophet (SAW) saw a rope hanging in between the two pillars of the masjid. The rope was used by one of his wives to hold it when she felt tired while praying. Prophet (SAW) said “Don’t use it. Remove the rope. You should pray as long as you feel active, and when you get tired, sleep.”

And in numerous other hadiths, Prophet (SAW) ordered the Companions to take care of their body. To a sahabi who was praying the whole night, he (SAW) said, “Offer prayers and also sleep at night, as your body has a right on you.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari) 

Aisha (RA) narrated a story about a woman who was sitting with her when Prophet (SAW) entered the house. Allah’s Messenger (SAW) inquired about that lady, Aisha (RA) replied, “She is so and so”. She does not sleep at night because she is engaged in prayer. The Prophet said disapprovingly, “Do (good) deeds which are within your capacity. Allah never gets tired of giving rewards until you get tired of doing good deeds.” (Musnad Ahmed)

We see the same theme in all of these hadiths. The companions of the Prophet deprived their sleep for the worship of Allah. If there is one valid reason to deprive your sleep, then it should be for salah. Because prayer is better than sleep. Your Muaddin proclaims this fact every day at Fajr Adhan. 

Despite this, Prophet Muhammed (SAW) disapproved of their actions and repeatedly told them to take care of their health and to sleep. 

Now I want you to imagine, what would the Prophet (SAW) say about the reasons for our sleep deprivation. Netflix? Youtube? Late night shopping? Late-night socialisation? 

May Allah subuhanawuta’la grant us understanding and help us to prioritise our health over entertainment. 

Takeaway Lesson

Here are three essential takeaway lessons from this article: 

  1. The importance of good sleep becomes remarkably clear when looking at how specifically the Quran and Sunnah talk about it in detail and abundance.  
  2. Prophetic Sunnah teaches us the beautiful sleep-worship balance. 
  3. You owe your body rest even if you are worshipping, never mind the other things that take place during your night. 

Insha Allah, in the upcoming articles, we will look into the habits of the Prophet (SAW) and his sleeping pattern. 

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