Sleep, a Blessing from Allah

In general, people acknowledge that 6-8 hours of sleep at night is required daily.
However, this view is rejected by western scientists, notably, Dr Ray Meddis, a professor in the Department of Human Sciences, England University of Technology, who said that humans actually require only three hours of sleep.

No matter what the opinion is, sleep is looked upon as a blessing bestowed upon mankind by Allah Almighty, who has revealed to this effect, “From His Mercy (Allah”s) has He made night and day for you to rest and to seek bounty, so that you may give thanks.” (Surah Qasas).

Sleep has been defined as a state of unconsciousness, with the eyes closed for rest.
As to the question as to how many hours of sleep is required a day, actually there is no fixed method or anything specific concerning it.

However, many medical personal recommend sleeping for at least eight hours a day. The number of sleeping hours we acquire for the purpose of resting depends upon age, employment and the individual´s state or condition. This is because the number of hours a child takes is a lot in comparison to an adult. As for those who work using their brains, they will require far more sleep in comparison to those who perform physical work.

The night is the best time to sleep. This is based on the natural created state of mankind.

According to Islamic scholars and medical experts, the best time to sleep at night is around 10 pm. Whereas the time not favoured for sleeping is the time after ´Subuh´ right up to the rising sun; the time after ´Asr to sunset; and from ´Maghrib´ to ´Isha´.

According to them, sleeping during these times do not provide any benefit to the body, but in fact can bring about harm and is considered ´makruh´ (disliked) according to ´hukum´ (the law). For example, it is common for us to hear that if a person sleeps after Subuh, his bounty will be delayed and will have difficulty reaching him.

Whether it is a state of consciousness or unconsciousness, sleep has an impact on our metabolism as well as stimulates our defence system. As a result of such, excessive sleep is also not good for the body. This is because our body absorbs filth through moisture in the air.

Excessive sleep does not make us more active, but in fact does make us weak. Those who sleep a lot will weaken their hearts, increase their weight, waste their time, and acquire the attribute of laziness and carelessness. According to ´hukum´ excessive sleep is also considered something disliked (makruh) by Allah.

A good example of sufficient sleep can be witnessed through the example of Allah´s Messenger (s.a.w.). The Prophet normally went to bed early and then woke up some time later after midnight to perform ´Tahajud Prayer´, and then rested and waited for the light of dawn to perform the Subuh Prayer.

A subject that is synonymous with sleep is Tahajud Prayer. Tahajud Prayer is an act of worship which we perform during the late hours of the night. Islamic scholars state that Tahajud Prayer can deter kidney problems, which are known to attack those who sleep excessively and who wake up late.

Sleeping on one´s back is considered unhealthy. This is because such an approach will place pressure on the spine, and can also lead to a weak bladder. Thos who curl up will not be able to breathe effectively. Sleeping on the left is also unhealthy as it will place pressure on the heart, preventing smooth blood circulation to the brain, which can lead to sad or frightful dreams. The best position of sleep is to lie on one´s right side.

It is important for us to know and to remember in relation to this phenomenon of sleep, that if there is some desire or intention in one´s mind prior to sleep, then that matter will penetrate our thoughts throughout our sleep without us being conscious of such. For example, if a child falls asleep crying, it will generally wake up in a state of crying. As such, the emotional state prior to sleep will ultimately control whatever we experience in the world of sleep.

Allah´s Messenger (s.a.w.) encouraged his Ummah to recite and to reflect upon the verses of the Qur´an, namely ´Ayatul-Kursi´ (verses related to the Throne of Allah), and three closing Chapters of the Qur´an before sleeping. Maybe there are some who are mistaken in their thinking, believing such to be a chant, when in truth it is a means of remembering Allah´s greatness. These verses reflect the greatness and beauty of Allah´s attributes. Reflecting upon these attributes can enable us to purify our soul as well as secure the protection of Allah Almighty, against the influence of Satan and matters of loss to us.

Allah´s Messenger (s.a.w.) has provided us with the best example of supplication before sleeping, namely:

a) Do not delay sleeping after the Isha´ Prayer, unless there is something important, such as the acquisition of knowledge, entertaining one´s guest etc. Narrated Abu Barzah ( r.a.) that the Prophet (s.a.w.) disliked sleeping before Isha´.

b) To possess ablution prior to sleep. The Prophet (s.a.w.) is reported to have said, “If you are visited by sleep, perform ablution the way you perform it for prayer.”

c) Begin sleeping on your right side, for the Prophet (s.a.w.) has said to al-Barra< “Begin your sleep on your right side.”

d) Do not sleep on your back or on your tummy, because the Prophet (s.a.w.) has said, “Verily, sleeping on your tummy is similar to those who sleep in Hell.”

e) Make it a practice to recite supplications (doa) prior to sleeping and on waking up from sleep, as has been taught by the Prophet ( s.a.w.).

In short, the teachings of Islam in relation to sleep does emphasise that sleeping is a part of Allah´s blessings. Such are the teachings of Islam which are complete concerning all questions in relation to life.

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