A simple calculation to understand the significance of our bedtime is that if an average person sleeps for 8 hrs daily then at the age of 60 he would have spent 20 years in sleeping… in other words about one third of our lives are spent in this “unconscious” state… and the only way to make up for this “loss” is to transform this time into a state of worship so that we gain rewards even while doing nothing!
This transformation comes from changing our perspective about sleep by thinking of it as a blessing from Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala) and by taking it as an opportunity to please Allah through following the etiquettes taught by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wassallam)
So what are those etiquettes and how can we act on them?
Etiquette-1… The first etiquette which I covered in my last article was that the Prophet (SAW) has taught us not to sleep before Isha prayer and not to indulge in any useless talk after Isha. The wisdom behind this Hadith is that if you sleep before praying Isha then you might miss this salah. And even if you do wake up to pray it then it will be very late and by the time you finish praying you will become so wide awake that it will not be possible to fall asleep again… and there is a great chance of missing fajr… in short, your whole routine will turn upside down!
And the other part of this Hadith calls for being careful of your speech after Isha… why? Because useless talk makes us heedless of Allah’s remembrance and destroys our peace of mind… therefore if you have to remain awake after Isha, make sure that you occupy this precious time in some beneficial activity like making it a family time in which you could impart some good things which you learned during the day or share some character building stories with your children.
Etiquette-2… Pray Witr…I used to think that witr was part of the Isha prayer but after learning the Quran and Hadith, I came to know that witr is a separate prayer which should preferably be prayed after Tahajjud because it is supposed to be the last prayer of the night. But it can be prayed right after Isha too because the Prophet (SAW) said: whoever is afraid that he might not stand (for salah) in the last part of night should pray witr in the first part (of night). The wisdom behind this Hadith is that the human heart cannot relax without having a sense of completion… and since witr is a completion of our daily prayers then either we should go to sleep with the clear intention to pray witr in Tahajjud… which is of course the best thing to do… but if for some reason like illness etc we are not able to take the best course then we should pray witr after Isha and go to sleep with a relaxed heart.
Etiquette-3… Sleep early to wake early
A true believer never does anything without purpose. And the purpose of his sleep is to regain his strength for the worship of Allah. So if you have the true intention of waking early for prayer then obviously you will go to bed early… the truth of our intentions is displayed in the actions we take!
Etiquette-4… maintain a healthy balance
The Prophet (SAW) once heard about a companion that he regularly prays all night and then fasts in the day, so he told him: “do not do so, stand in prayer and sleep too, fast but sometimes remain without fasting too because indeed your body has a right over you.”
The wisdom in this advice is that if we deprive ourselves from sleep and food then the quality of our worship cannot be good. Also Islam teaches us to maintain a healthy balance in our lives; and this balanced can only be achieved by giving each thing its due right. Most people keep debating whether giving Allah’s right is more important or is giving the rights of people a more worthy act? This Hadith proves how absurd it is to expect that Allah will allow us to neglect His worship for the sake of people (or vice versa) when He doesn’t even allow us to neglect our own body?
So the golden rule is to give right to all those who have a right over us... because if you neglect the rights of even one of them then you cannot attain the balance which is necessary for your peace and tranquillity and ultimately your success in both worlds… especially in the context of sleep we know how harmful it is to sleep with a heavy heart… or to remain awake because of a guilty conscience…
Etiquette-5… Close your doors with Bismillah
The Prophet (SAW) said: “do close your doors and remember Allah’s name, for indeed the shaitan cannot open the doors which are closed.”
Although it is so obvious that we all close our doors before sleeping so why do we need to be “taught” about such a basic thing? The reason is that we need to be conscious that simply closing our gates and doors cannot ensure our safety… the real thing which protects us is not the locks and chains on our doors but it is Allah who protects us. So we take all the precautions that we can but while doing so we take Allah’s name to remind ourselves of our actual Guardian and Protector.
The other thing is that we lock the doors because we think we need protection only against thieves and burglars or other such threats; and we hardly ever think that another far greater enemy is more worthy of our concern and caution… and that is the shaitan. So we need to thank Allah a lot for sending our Prophet (SAW) who has guided us to each and every single detail of our lives and makes us conscious of things about which we remain so ignorant…
Etiquette-6… “Turn off” the fire
A house in Madinah caught fire in the night and when the matter was reported to the Prophet (SAW), He said: “indeed this fire is your enemy so when you are going to sleep then extinguish it.”
So be careful of stoves and heaters… and turn them off before going to sleep. Even though it takes a minute to go to the kitchen and all the rooms to make sure they are turned off, but it can save you a lifetime of loss and regret. So don’t take it lightly!
At this point you should also think about the fire of the jahannum and analyze how often you do a good deed just so that you can “turn it off”?
Etiquette-7… Cover your utensils
Another thing which deserves our attention is our cooking and eating utensils. They need to be washed and covered before sleeping… why? There can be several scientific explanations but our first and foremost reason behind doing anything should be to follow the way of our Prophet (SAW) so that we get the worldly benefit from it AND get rewarded for it too!
The Prophet (SAW) said: “cover the dishes and tie up the waterskin, because surely during the year there is a night in which (contagious) diseases come down and wherever they find an open dish or waterskin, they get settled in it.”
We all know the destructive effects of such diseases and but few people know this most simple yet effective method of prevention. Just cover up your dishes and cups and glasses (or put them upside-down) as you take the final round before sleeping… and you will be saved from much pain in-sha-Allah… as well as get rewarded for acting on a forgotten Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW).
(more later in-sha-Allah)