9: Careful Sleep


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This Ramadan…

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This Ramadan… I will be careful with my sleep.

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“… They rise from their beds, to invoke their Lord in fear and in hope, and they spend out of what We have provided them…” [32:16]

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If you’re like many of us, then you’re struggling to find balance in your life during Ramadan, and especially with regards to sleep. How do you get enough rest so you can function throughout the day? How do you avoid sleeping too much so can put in worship at night?

We found the following tips helpful with regards to guarding sleep, and hope that you will, too:

— You’re going to have to sleep sometime, so make your intention that your sleep will also be a form of worship. You’re sleeping so you can wake up and continue your worship of Allah. Seek reward from Allah even when sleeping.

Make wudoo’ before going to sleep, as was recommended by the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wasallam. [1]

— As you’re going to sleep at night, begin with reciting your athkar. If you find you can’t sleep right away, continue to make thikr. Make du’aa to Allah. Use the time — the night and the dark — as a quite moment of seclusion to speak with Allah and empty the contents of your heart to Him.

Sincerely ask Allah to put barakah (blessing) into your sleep. Although there are a certain number of “recommended” hours of sleep, we know that Allah is able to bless us with the same amount of benefit and rest in a shorter amount of sleep time, if He chooses to, subhanahu wa ta’ala.

One of the scholars didn’t want to become sleepy when praying at night, so he used to make this du’aa in his salah,

اللهم اشفني من النوم بقليل

O Allah, cure me of my need to sleep with just a little of it (i.e. with needing just a little sleep).”

Sleep in accordance with the sunnah: Start by lying on your right side with your hand under your head, and if you can’t fall asleep that way, turn onto your back or left side. Don’t sleep on your stomach, as the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wasallam described sleeping on the stomach as the way the people of hellfire sleep. [2]

And reflect on this: If the essence of sleep is to take a break from the day’s toil and give your body physical rest, shouldn’t you be able to sleep in whatever way you prefer? Yet even in terms of sleep, Islam gives guidelines. Why?

So that we know that even our bodies belong to Allah.

This Ramadan, make a conscious effort to guard your sleep. As some of the scholars used to say:

“Save your rest for your grave, and cut down on your entertainment and sleep… because coming up is a long slumber whose daybreak is the Day of Judgment.”

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[1] The Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wasallam said: “When you go to bed, do wudoo’ as for prayer.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

The scholar Ibn Hajar said: The apparent meaning is that it is recommended for everyone who wants to go to sleep to renew his wudoo’, even if he already has wudoo’. Or it may be interpreted as applying only to the one who has broken his wudoo’.

[2] Ya’eesh ibn Tihfah al-Ghifaari reported that his father said:

“I stayed as a guest with the Messenger of Allah salla Allahu alayhi wasallam with those of the poor whom he hosted. The Messenger of Allah came out in the night to check up on his guests, and saw me lying on my stomach. He prodded me with his foot and said, ‘Do not lie in this manner, for it is a way of lying that Allah hates.’”

According to another report, the Prophetsalla Allahu alayhi wasallam prodded him with his foot and woke him up, and said, “Do not lie like this, for this is how the people of Hell lie.”

[Reported by Ahmad, al-Tirmidhi, and Abu Dawood. Also reported in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2270-2271]