Sleep has always been a difficult thing for me to conquer… it is so frustrating when at the time of going to bed all my senses are bright and alert as if it is the start of the day instead of the end… so it is a complete jihad for me to put myself to bed in that state… it seems such a waste of time to sleep when I could do so much.
So why do I not just do as I feel and get myself to work? After all there is no one who is pushing me to go to sleep…
But the reason for me to do this jihad with the self is that when I used to keep awake at night then obviously I could not get up in the morning. This went on for years and years and it didn’t bother me because I had adjusted my work in my waking hours so there was no problem as such… but when I came to the way of Allah and started praying then I felt like such a hypocrite for not waking in the morning for fajr…
I remember those early days of “my islam” when I proudly announced to my father on my annual vacation to my hometown… “Abbu I have started praying… zuhr asr and maghrib…”
My “pride” went down as soon as I heard myself saying this… so I added this “valid” excuse… “you see Isha is too long and Fajr is at the hour when I cannot wake up…”
He replied to me with a loving “shabaash” (well done!!) and then said in such a calm way “do you know the hypocrites in Madinah did not pray the Isha and Fajr salah?”
Immediately my ego protested “Abbu does it mean I am a Munafiq (hypocrite) ?”
His reply was so loving, forgiving but deeply penetrating: “No my dearest daughter… you are not a munafiq but you are just repeating the action of the munafiqs”
Of course I didn’t turn over a new leaf overnight, but I became alert and conscious because of constantly feeling the guilt of following the footsteps of the hypocrites… until with the help of Allah I came out of this trap of my nafs and started praying the Isha and fajr too…
This was many years before I came to realize that I was following Islam without really understanding it… So I learned the Quran and found to my amazement that Allah doesn’t just want us to perform certain rituals but that He wants us to have a constantly improving character and productivity.
And this could not be possible by following the life style based on desires and weaknesses… so what should we do? How to replace this with an active and alert way of life? Obviously there must be a pattern for us to follow… a role-model?
Here comes the beautiful answer from Allah:
Laqad kaana lakum fi Rasullullahi uswatun hasanah
Surely there is for you in the (life of) Messenger of Allah (SAW) a beautiful pattern.
Following the Sunnah(the lifestyle) of the Prophet(SAW) is the answer to all the problems we face in life. Why? Because He was the most successful person on the face of this earth because He is the one who pleased Allah THE MOST. So obviously if we want to be successful and want to please Allah and be at peace with ourselves and with others then all we need to do is to follow the footsteps of the one whom Allah is recommending for us… it is as simple as that.
Not just in rituals but in all the aspects of life… even for little things like correcting my sleep pattern!!!
Previously I had been trying various tips and tricks to resolve this issue. But they only had a very temporary effect on my deeply rooted problem and so the night time, instead of being a time of relaxation, is for me a time of battle with the nafs… But Alhamdulillah… all praise and thanks to Allah… I have come across this beautiful and simple little book about the etiquette of sleeping and waking in the light of the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW). And it has changed my whole perspective about sleep which I will write about in my next article in sha Allah.