The Blessings of Sleep…

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 don’t I just do what I want… 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 prayer?”

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 cannot be possible by following the life style based on desires and weaknesses… so what should we do? How to replace it 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 a beautiful pattern.

Following the Sunnah (the lifestyle) of the Prophet 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; and 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 “worldly” 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 to rest, has been for me a time to battle with the nafs… But Alhamdulillah… all praise and thanks to Allah… I have come across this beautiful and simple little book about the etiquettes of sleeping and waking in the light of the Sunnah of the Prophet which has completely solved this problem for me… by making me think of sleep as a blessing instead of a “problem”.

And so I want to share what I have learned from this book because to bring a positive change in your “thoughts” is the first step towards bringing any positive change in your life…

Sleep and Worship

Have you ever thought of turning your sleeping hours into worship? This means that while you are lying asleep in your bed, your book of deeds will remain open and bundles of rewards will keep on being added to it, despite the fact that you are not even “doing” anything!!! Isn’t that absolutely wonderful…to be paid (rewarded) for sleeping!!

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

So what are those etiquettes and how can we act on them?

Etiquette-1… The Right Thing at the Right Time

Night is for sleep and day is for work. If we want to have a balanced life then we must maintain this natural cycle. According to the Prophet the right time to go to sleep is after praying Isha:

“Indeed the Prophet used to disapprove of sleeping before Isha and (disapproved of) talking unnecessarily 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 get 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… Praying 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 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!

A lot of diseases, whether physical or psychological, are a consequence of a disturbed sleep cycle. Look at the majority of our youth… how they spend their nights? What is their waking time? And even if they do wake up for schools and colleges, what is their temperament? And then we blame their bad moods on the pressure of studies or the isolation caused by the generation gap and what and what not… Obviously we need to re-form our lives and connect to Allah more than we connect to the social media and all that stuff.

Etiquette-4… maintain a healthy balance

The Prophet 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 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.

Etiquette-6… “Turn off” the fire

A house in Madinah caught fire in the night and when the matter was reported to the Prophet , 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 so that we get the worldly benefit from it AND get rewarded for it too!

The Prophet 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 inshaAllah… as well as get rewarded for acting on a forgotten Sunnah of the Prophet

Etiquette-8… Prepare Water for wudhu and miswak
Make sure you have enough water for doing wudhu and prepare your miswak (tooth-stick) so that you are ready for worship as soon as you wake up. It will save you time and also get you in the right mood if you’ve got everything ready.

Each and every Sunnah of our Prophet is full of lessons if we contemplate on it and specially when we implement it and make it a part of our life then we find even more goodness in it than we had thought.

I have remained confused for a long time that why is acting on certain things so difficult for me when I have the true desire to do it? Like memorizing the Quran or doing some online courses which I would love to do but still I am not able to? Why? What is stopping me? I used to think that my intention is so sincere to work full time in the way of Allah… and still my dreams remain a dream… why?

This one “small” etiquette of preparing for worship before sleeping has taught me that when we have a desire to do something, then it should be followed with some preparation even if we are not going to do that thing immediately. And if we take no action towards it then it means our intention was just a wishful thought…

Therefore we must bridge this gap between “wish” and “intention” by taking some practical steps towards our “goals”. Islam is such a great religion that it connects your mind towards action even while sleeping!! That is how each and every thing we do with Allah consciousness becomes an act of worship…

Etiquette-9… Sleep with Wudhu.
Our Prophet
said: “when you go to bed then do wudhu like your wudhu for salah.”

Now this is one Sunnah which appears to be so difficult for “not-so-active” people like me but believe me this is a perfect cure for laziness! And it makes you feel so good when you imagine all the negative experiences and feelings being washed away from you… making you cool and clean inside out.

This Sunnah also has an amazing bonus which will make your laziness run away in a second… listen to this:

The Prophet said: “Who sleeps at night in wudhu, an angel spends all night in his bed, and whenever he wakes up during the night, the angel says: “O Allah forgive this slave of yours for he went to sleep in purity.”

Just the awareness that an angel is being appointed “specially-for-you” the whole night to make duas for you, is enough to motivate us to make a little effort for the sake of Allah and not listen to the lazy nafs…!!!

Etiquette-10… Wash your hands:

Half of our religion is cleanliness so those who are ill or have some other problem due to which they cannot do wudhu, they should at least wash their hands before sleeping. The wisdom in this becomes clear in the following Hadith:

The Prophet said: “the one who sleeps while there remained some grease on his hands and he didn’t wash it, then if something happens to him, he should not blame anyone except himself.”

This is especially beneficial for those who sleep in an environment where there are lot of insects etc which may get attracted by the smell of the greasy hand and bite on it.

Also you will see that if you regularly act on this as a Sunnah then there will come a time when you will be inclined to do the whole wudhu because water has an amazing spiritual impact and drives away laziness…

Etiquette-11… Put on “surma”(antimony or kohl)
“Surma” cleans and brightens the eyes so if you can acquire pure surma specially the type known as “ismid” then you should put it three times in each eye… according to this Hadith:

The Prophet said: “You must use “ismid” at the time of sleeping because surely it brightens the eyesight and grows the hair”

So in one action you can take care of two very important things: your eyesight and your hair…

What a pity it is that we don’t know these teachings of our Prophet and so we think that to be a good muslim is just to perform certain rituals… while the fact is that the more you study the Quran and Hadith, the more you will realize how important it is for us to develop a personality which is full of good health, cleanliness, and strong character, full of hope and optimism… bright and energetic… active and intelligent… not to appear superior but only for the sake of Allah…

Etiquette-12… dust your bed
Before you lie down on your bed, dust it with a cloth… or with the edge of your clothing… and say “Bismillah”… why? Because even if it appears clean, we never know what might have settled in it… like an insect or maybe some small animal like mice or lizards!

The Prophet said: “when anyone of you goes to his bed then he should take the corner of his dress and blow it on his bed and take the name of Allah because surely he doesn’t know what came after him in his bed”

Again this Sunnah is so easy and takes only a few moments of your time but it can save you from a lot of trouble. Plus the other benefit of doing so is that it increases our connection with our Prophet and fills our hearts with true love for the one who taught us all of these precautions which maybe even our parents did not teach us…

Etiquette-13… Put off the lamps

You might have read the latest research on the importance of complete darkness for a healthy sleep… but isn’t it amazing that our Prophet had this knowledge hundreds of years ago… and said: “put off the lamps at night when you go to sleep”

I myself used to have a great fear of darkness so I never went to sleep without having some light on in my room… but I had never thought that one reason for my poor sleep was the same light which I had thought would save me from unknown dangers!

So do read up on this topic to increase your knowledge but act on it with the intention of following the advice of your Prophet and you will feel the comfort of doing the best thing which came to you from the best individual who ever walked on the face of this earth… The light of your heart which will result from this feeling will be enough to dispel any fear or discomfort which might bother you in the darkness!!

Etiquette-14… on the right side

Allah’s messenger taught us to always sleep on the right side. It has many benefits if you think about it but the thing which touches me most is that as soon as I turn on my right side, I can almost visualize my beloved Prophet in the same posture and that connects my heart to Allah with so much love and gratitude that He has blessed us with the Hadith through which we can follow and love our Prophet (SAW).

The most evident benefit in following this Sunnah is that it relieves the heart of excessive pressure and causes it to relax. And also in Islam most things are done by starting with the right side; maybe because it puts you in the right frame of mind!

It is permissible to turn sides during sleep or when you start feeling stiff and want to turn the other way… but always start with lying on your right side.

Etiquette-15… the right hand under the right cheek
This is another Sunnah of our Prophet
which enables us to truly relax and feel comforted… as you face towards the right side simply put your right hand under the right cheek.

Just doing this small act makes me feel like I am being protected by Allah from all that worries me or scares me… So imagine if you can feel it every night and truly relax with no worries on your mind, how beautiful your sleep can become and how positive you will feel in the morning!!

Etiquette-16… Do not lie upside down!

If sleeping on the right side can put you into the right perspective then imagine what will happen to your life if you sleep upside down… you don’t need to be a genius to figure out this simple equation, I’m sure!!

Our Prophet specifically said that this is disliked by Allah and its seriousness can be felt by the following Hadith:

A companion of the Prophet , Abu Dhar رضي الله عنه has narrated that once he was lying on his stomach when the Prophet walked past him, He touched him with his foot and said: “O my dear Jundub! Indeed this way of lying down belongs to the people of the fire.”

Can you see the beauty of our Prophet’s speech and the kindness in his warning? Just in one sentence he has expressed his love for his companion by using a nickname and simultaneously warned him about not to do something which resembles the people of the fire. This is why people listened to him and loved him more than anything else. Because He was caring for their well being… his warnings were not to let them down… his heart was full of love for them and it showed in the way he corrected them. He made them feel that he wanted to save them… he didn’t want them to get hurt by these bad habits…

Sadly we have failed to follow his footsteps and now when we want to inform others about their mistakes, we do it the wrong way and then we go around complaining that no one listens to us… Love and care are the ingredients which we all want for ourselves but are not ready to give to others…?

On the other hand we lack the humbleness required for self improvement. And so when someone points out our errors, even in a kind way, we become defensive and think it to be an attack on our “self-esteem”… But if you are really sincere about reaching your destination then you should thank the person who tells you that you are going in the wrong direction. So we should pray to Allah for our hearts to be free from the blindness of self-praise and self-righteousness so that we can really correct and improve our manners.

Etiquette-17… Make intention for Tahajjud

The Prophet never missed Tahajjud, because it was his special time to be with Allah and express his love and gratitude to Him. And so he advised his followers to do the same if they wanted to attain a strong connection with Allah and brighten up their lives with real and true faith.

But this cannot be achieved unless we make a firm and sincere intention for it…every day… every night…

It is narrated in a beautiful Hadith by Ayesha رضي الله عنه that the Prophet said: “whoever comes to his bed with the intention that he will get up to pray during the night, then is overcome by sleep and wakes up when it is morning (fajr time) then he will be rewarded for his intention and his sleep was a sadaqah on him from his Rabb…”

Does that mean that we just have to think about it and desire for it and be rewarded whether we wake up or not? Of course not…

To intend for something is that we really mean it… and that we have decided to do it… like when we have to go on a journey and intend to wake up at a specific time to catch a bus, train or airplane… do we just think and desire and then feel ok even when we miss that flight? Oh no! That is unthinkable isn’t it? So when you make intention for Tahajjud and hope to be rewarded then just analyze your heart and see whether you really mean it or is it just a wish?

And if you are not quite sure whether your intention is true or not then just monitor your actions and see if you are really making any effort or not… because when you have to take that flight you don’t just go to bed thinking about it? There are preparations which we do well in time… So what preparation do we need to wake up for Tahajjud?

1-To make a true intention for something, you must have a clear idea on why you want to do that thing? Therefore power up your intention for Tahajjud by reading about its benefits… or listen to lectures on this topic.

2- Make your time after Isha into a calm and peaceful zone which makes you easier to go to sleep early.

3- Follow the sunnahs/etiquettes of going to bed with the intention of getting up fresh for Tahajjud.

4- Prepare your place of worship where you can pray in peace and keep your Quran copy and books of duas handy.

5- On a daily basis take some time to memorize Quran which you can read in Tahajjud. The more you can recite the better!

6- On a daily basis invest some time and effort into learning Tajweed… which is the beautiful way of reciting Quran. The more you recite well, the better for your heart!

7- Keep making dua to Allah to bless you with this opportunity because it is the best time to focus on Allah and energize your heart and soul with His remembrance.

8- Protect yourself from sins… like hurting others or backbiting etc; because they reduce your chances of doing good deeds.

Etiquette-18- Remember Allah before sleeping

We all want our dreams to come true… this is probably our most passionate desire in this life to be able to do what we want to do. So here is the secret of achieving this:

Our beloved Prophet said: “whenever a Muslim goes to sleep with wudhu and Allah’s remembrance, and then wakes up during any part of the night and asks Allah for the goodness of this world and the hereafter…Allah will surely grant it to him.”

On the other hand there is the Hadith that “when a person comes to his bed and then does not remember Allah then it will be a cause of regret for him.”

Therefore to avoid regret and to gain success, let’s find out what are those golden words which we should be saying at this precious time before going to sleep:

1-The last two verses of Surah Al-Baqarah

At the end of chapter-2 of the Noble Quran there are two verses which are so powerful, that according to the Hadith of the Prophet wherever these two verses are recited, the shaitan cannot come near that place.

One other benefit is that whenever you make a dua after reciting these two verses then it is surely accepted. I am tempted to share a true story here that once my son got lost while we were in the market and I can still remember the horror of that incident how desperately we were trying to find him and there came a point when I felt so weak with despair that I just sat down and started making duas while wiping my tears of pain… then I remembered this Hadith and recited these two verses (which I had memorized thanks to Allah) and made dua with certainty that my Prophet had surely told the truth… and believe me that the next moment I saw my son walking towards me!! Alhamdulillah.

So when you read these verses try to learn their meaning too and feel their depth and power!

2- Surah Al-Kafiroon (chapter 110)

The Prophet recommended us to read this surah every night because it is a believer’s open declaration against all kinds of shirk… and reading its words makes us satisfied and content with our religion of worshipping ONLY Allah.

3- Surah Al-Ikhlas (chapter 112)

The Prophet said: “is there anyone of you who cannot read one third of the Quran every night?” The companions asked how is it possible? The Prophet responded: “Surah Al-Ikhlas is equivalent to one third of Quran.”

How easy it is to gain so much reward but then why are we not eager to get it? Because the shaitan puts doubts in our minds: how is it possible to get so much reward for such a small deed? We fail to realize that we should not evaluate things by their size… Even a person of basic intelligence knows that a small tiny little pearl or diamond is much more valuable than a huge piece of coal or wood… so then why do we not value the gems of Quran which are a million times more precious than all the diamonds and pearls of the world?

4- The last three surahs of the Quran.

Hazrat Ayesha (RA) narrates that when the Prophet came to rest upon his bed at night, he would join his hands together and read the last three surahs of Quran and blew upon his hands… then wiped his hands over his head, face and the entire body… he repeated this procedure three times.

This Sunnah may appear to be long in writing but takes only a minute or two… and the act of blowing the powerful words on your hands and wiping over the whole body makes you feel like putting a great protective shield all over yourself. If you can discipline yourself for a few days and make it a habit then I assure you that you won’t ever think of going to sleep without it.

5- The “Ayat-ul-Kursi”
This is no doubt the most magnificent ayat (2:255) of the Quran. The greatest verse of the greatest book… and that is why we read it so much… but since we have memorized it without knowing the meaning therefore we don’t realize its significance in our lives.

I would strongly recommend that you do yourself a favour and learn the meaning of these awesome words and listen to its explanation, so that when you recite this ayah, your heart can be moved by its awesome power and magnificence… and you can feel the comfort of its protection… Because this one ayat can protect us from all dangers and the biggest danger is the shaitan…

According to a Hadith, the shaitan has himself admitted the fact that he cannot come near a person who reads Ayat-ul-Kursi before sleeping.

6- the “Tasbihaat-e-Fatimahرضي الله عنه

This is a remedy for all types of tiredness and fatigue.

Fatimah رضي الله عنه the beloved daughter of our Prophet , once developed some painful blisters in her hands due to grinding grains on the mill. So she asked for a servant to help her with the house work. When the Prophet came to know of her request, he went to her house and said: “Should I not tell you something that’s better than what you have asked for? Whenever you lie down on your bed say “Subhaan Allah” 33 times, then say “Alhamdulillah” 33 times and then say “Allahu Akbar” 34 times… this is better for you than a servant.”

There are many things to be learned from this Hadith but the main thing which touched my heart is that often we look for physical cures for physical problems… but the miracle of Allah’s words heals all our wounds… beginning from their physical aspect and going deep down into the psychological as well as the spiritual aspect.

The Prophet could have easily given her a servant but that would have only given her a temporary relief… as compared to this “eternal” gift… which would not only relieve Fatimah رضي الله عنه from her fatigue but would keep refreshing all His followers for all times to come. This was the wisdom and mercy of our Prophet for which we should love him more than we love our parents or even our own selves…

7- Surah As-Sajdah and Surah Al-Mulk

In a Hadith we find that Prophet did not go to sleep until he had recited these two surahs (which are chapter-32 and 67 respectively). If you contemplate on the message contained in these two surahs you will find the amazing similarity in their theme… while at the same time each one is unique in its style and words.

Basically they remind us about the reality of this world and the hereafter as well as our purpose of life and death… and how our perception will change in the hereafter when everything will become visible… when we see the hellfire… all our excuses and self justifications are going to disappear and each one of us will truly realize what he did for the hereafter… no more self-deceptions and illusions…

In both these surahs Allah has clearly shown how the wrong doers will stand in shame and regret in front of Him… begging to be pardoned but their acceptance of their sins will do them no good…

It is ironic how the same act of accepting our errors in this world is so much appreciated by Allah and has huge rewards… But there in that day of judgement, it will be of no value at all… because everything is good only in its own time… after the “expiry date” it has no benefit. But the problem is that since we don’t know our expiry date we choose to forget it even exists!!

So the real purpose of reading these surahs is to remind our hearts of the need to be sincere to Allah and to seek his forgiveness for our wrong deeds before it is too late…

Duas of our Prophet

So how do we seek forgiveness of Allah and what do we say to Him? The most effective way to do so is to learn the duas which our Prophet used to say at the time of sleeping… let us have a look at them one by one:

Dua-1- 

بِاسْمِكَ رَبِّي وَضَعْتُ جَنْبِي، وَبِكَ أَرْفَعُهُ، فَإِنْ أَمْسَكْتَ نَفْسِي فَاغْفِرْلهَا، وَإِنْ أَرْسَلْتَهَا فَاحْفَظْهَا، بِمَا تَحْفَظُ بِهِ عِبَادَكَ الصَّالِحِين

With Your Name my Lord, I lay myself down; and with Your Name I rise. And if You take my soul, then forgive it, and if You send it back then protect it as You protect Your righteous slaves.

How clearly we are being taught that sleep is not something to take lightly… rather we are handing over our soul to Allah… and only He knows whether He will return it to us in the morning or not. So this dua makes us focus on this reality of our helplessness in front of Allah and makes us value these last moments of consciousness and use them in the best deed… which is to remember Allah and ask forgiveness for our sins; because we never know whether we will get any more chances of remembering Allah or not…

Dua-2-

“الْحَمْدُ للهِ الَّذِي أَطْعَمَنَا وَسَقَانَا، وَكَفَانَا، وَآوَانَا، فَكَمْ مِمَّنْ لَا كَافِيَ لَهُ وَلَا مُؤْويَ”.

Praise is to Allah Who has provided us with food and with drink , and is sufficient for us and gave us an abode… for how many are there with no one to suffice them nor anyone to give them shelter.

Now this dua teaches us to count our blessings and be thankful to Allah who provided us with all that we have. Indeed gratitude is the key to satisfaction and motivates us to focus our thoughts on what we are doing for Allah and his creatures… instead of just having an attitude of self pity and complaining about “what is not being done” for us!!

So the duas of the Prophet are not just words to recite unknowingly; rather each dua is a treasure in itself… helping us to build our faith and character by bringing a positive change in our thinking.

Dua-3- 
“اللَّهُمَّ أَسْلَمْتُ نَفْسِي إِلَيْكَ، وَفَوَّضْتُ أَمْرِي إِلَيْكَ، وَوَجَّهْتُ وَجْهِي إِلَيْكَ، وَأَلْجَأْتُ ظَهْرِي إِلَيْكَ، رَغْبَةً وَرَهْبَةً إِلَيْكَ، لَا مَلْجَأَ وَلّا مَنْجَا مِنْكَ إِلَّا إِلَيْكَ، آمَنْتُ بِكِتَابِكَ الَّذِي أَنزلت وَبِنَبِيِّكَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلْتَ”.


Allah, I submit myself to You, and I entrust my affairs to You, and I turn my face to You, and lay myself down depending upon You, hoping in You and fearing You . There is no refuge and no escape (from your anger and punishment), except to You. I believe in Your Book (the Qur’an) that You revealed, and the Prophet whom You sent.

What a beautiful dua this is… full of assurance in Allah’s protection and His mercy. Imagine the absolute trust of our Prophet in Allah. He did not rely upon the fact that since he was the most beloved messenger of Allah so he could just relax and go to sleep without seeking Allah’s protection and care… Just look at the Prophet’s humble expressions in this dua and compare it with our own carefree attitude… we think that if we have done a few good deeds and have attained some piety then that is enough for our salvation… this is just a deception of our egos and we must come out of it by the help of these eye-opening duas… because these awesome words open the eyes of your heart even while you are closing your eyes for sleeping!!

One reason for our carefree attitude about life and death is that we don’t really recognize the power which Allah has on us. On one hand we claim to believe in this fact but simultaneously we act as if we are the masters of our own lives. This contradiction between our faith and actions is due to the fact that we don’t really recognize Allah even though we think we do…

True faith can only be achieved by recognizing the power of Allah and His magnificence and absolute authority over all matters of our lives. Therefore one of the duas which the Prophet taught us to say before sleeping is all about glorifying Allah and remembering our need of Him:

Dua-4-

“اللَّهُمَّ رَبَّ السَّمَاوَاتِ السَّبْعِ وَرَبَّ الْعَرْشِ الْعَظِيمِ، رَبَّنَا وَرَبَّ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ، فَالِقَ الْحَبِّ وَالنَّوَى، وَمُنْزِلَ التَّوْرَاةِ وَالْإِنجِيلِ، وَالْفُرْقَانِ، أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ أّنْتَ آخِذٌ بِنَاصِيَتهِ. اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ الأَوَّلُ فَلَيْسَ قَبْلَكَ شَيْءٌ، وَأَنْتَ الْآخِرُ فَلَيْسَ بَعْدَكَ شَيْءٌ، وَأَنْتَ الظَّاهِرُ فَلَيْسَ فَوْقَكَ شَيْءٌ، وَأَنْتَ الْبَاطِنُ فَلَيْسَ دُونَكَ شَيْءٌ، اقْضِ عَنَّا الدَّيْنَ وَأَغْنِنَا مِنَ الْفَقْرِ”.

Allah! Lord of the seven heavens and Lord of the Magnificent Throne. Our Lord, and the Lord of all things. Splitter of the grain and the date-stone, Revealer of the Torah and the Injeel and the Furqan (the Qur’an), I seek refuge in You from the evil of everything that You shall seize by the forelock. O Allah You are the First and nothing has come before you, and You are the Last, and nothing may come after You. You are the Most High, nothing is above You and You are the Most Near and nothing is nearer than You. Remove our debts from us and enrich us against poverty. 

If someone asks me what is the one thing in this world that serves as the greatest reminder of the hereafter… then certainly it is death. That is why we see that in several narrations the Prophet has instructed us to remember death frequently. Because it is like a compass which keeps us in the right direction… when we have the end in mind then we are less likely to lose the way…

Dua-5-

“اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّكَ خَلَقْتَ نَفْسِي وَأَنْتَ تَوَفَّاهَا، لَكَ مَمَاتُهَا وَمَحْيَاهَا، إِنْ أَحْيَيْتَهَا فَاحْفَظْهَا، وَإِنْ أَمَتَّهَا فََاغْفِرْ لَهَا، اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ الْعَافِيَةَ”.

Allah, You have created my soul and You take it back. Unto You is its death and its life . If You give it life then protect it , and if You cause it to die then forgive it. O Allah, I ask You for safety.

There are two enemies who constantly move us away from our purpose… but they have no “real” power over us except that they give us the wrong ideas and we follow them without analysing whether they are beneficial for us or not. Those enemies are the shaitan (devil) and our “self”… the shaitan wants to destroy us because of his jealousy and enmity… while our “self” leads us away from success because of its attraction towards desires. So we have no choice but to keep fighting these enemies if we truly want to succeed in life… But we cannot win this battle without seeking help from Allah… so even while we are about to sleep we should ask Allah to protect us:

Dua-6-

“اللَّهُمَّ عَالِمَ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ فَاطِرَ السَّمَاواتِ والْأَرْضَ، رَبَّ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَمَلِكُهُ، أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ، أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِّ نَفْسِي، وَمِنْ شَرِّ الشَّيْطَانِ وَشِرْكِهِ

Allah, Knower of the unseen and the evident , Maker of the heavens and the earth , Lord of everything and its Master, I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but You . I seek refuge in You from the evil of my “self” and from the evil of Satan and his helpers.

Just to add a little after thought… do you notice in this dua that the evil of “self” comes before Shaitan? Well this means that if we can control the desires of our nafs and not get carried away by our “weaknesses”… then shaitan cannot have any power over us. So do fulfil your desires but only the necessary ones. Don’t become a slave of your “self”.

Dua-7 and 8

Submission to Allah is the essence of our faith. The following dua is a reflection of our Prophet’s complete submission to Allah. As He went to bed he would turn on his right side and place his right hand under the right side of his beautiful face… and said:


“بِاسْمِكَ اللَّهُمَّ أَمُوتُ وَأَحْيَا”.

With Your Name , O Allah , I die and I live.

And then in the same posture he would say the following dua three times:

“اللَّهُمَّ قِنِي عَذَابَكَ يَوْمَ تَبْعَثُ عِبَادَكَ”.

Allah, save me from Your punishment on the Day that You resurrect Your slaves.

Dua-9-

When you love someone then no matter how much you do for them, it doesn’t look enough to you and secondly it doesn’t tire you… why? Because human nature is such that it never tires of pleasure… and doing something for someone you love is a source of pleasure. Therefore someone who loves Allah will find so much pleasure in remembering Him that it will never tire him to do so… That is why the Prophet would keep saying Allah’s name until he went to sleep… and if we want to have the same kind of love for Allah then we should follow this beautiful Hadith:

The Prophet‘s companion, Rabee’ah bin Kaab رضي الله عنه narrates: “I used to serve the Prophet during the day and would spend the night by his door and I would hear the Prophet as he remembered Allah by saying “SubhanAllah SubhanAllah Subhana Rabbi” (How Perfect is Allah, How Perfect is Allah, How Perfect is My Rabb)… And He kept saying this until sleep overcame me and I went to sleep.”

This was the last act from the Sunnah of the Prophet before going to sleep. But the story doesn’t end here because there are certain situations that can happen to us during sleep… and for that too we need to follow the way of our Prophet to gain rewards through those experiences!

Feeling hungry…

Maybe for us it is unthinkable to go to sleep hungry but if you study the life of our Prophet then you will see that many days would pass before he could have a proper meal… most of the time it was just dates and water. But was there any resentment in his heart? Or any negative feeling? Or any self pity? No not all… because He had complete belief and trust in Allah’s love for him and the wisdom of Allah’s decisions for him… This is true faith which makes a person praise Allah at all times… and be grateful to Him whether in happiness or in pain.

It has been narrated by Hazrat Ayesha رضي الله عنه that when the Prophet used to turn sides in his sleep due to extreme hunger, he would say the following dua:

“لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللهُ الْوَاحِدُ الْقَهَّارُ، رَبُّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفَّارُ”.

There is none worthy of worship but Allah, the One, the All Compelling Subduer, Lord of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, the All-Mighty, the All-Forgiving.

Sometimes we also get restless due to not eating well… and then feel hunger pangs during the night… so what we do is, we move around the house, disturbing everybody and stuff ourselves with whatever snack we can find… often going back to sleep without even cleaning our teeth…

This untimely snacking not only puts undue pressure on the heart and liver, but also disturbs the sleep cycle, so that it becomes difficult to wake up for fajr.

Therefore the best thing to do is to learn this short little dua and instead of adding weight to the already over-weight bodies, focus on adding some good points for the hereafter!!

Waking up

To wake up in the middle of night is the most precious opportunity to make the dua which is most dear to your heart because it will certainly be accepted. Our Prophet said that if someone wakes up during the night and says the following words then any dua which he makes after them will be accepted:

لا الهَ اِلَّا اللّهُ وَحْدَهُ لا شَرِيْكَ لَهْ، لَهُ الْمُلْكُ وَ لَهُ الْحَمْدُ وَهُوَ عَلى كُلِّ شَئ ٍ قَدِيْرٌ الْحَمْدُ لِلّه وسُبْحَان لِلّه وَلآ اِلهَ اِلّا اللّهُ، وَ اللّهُ اَكْبَرُ وَلا حَوْلَ وَلاَ قُوَّة  اِلَّا بِاللّه

There is no God except Allah, the One and Only, no partners has He, for Him is the dominion and for Him is all praise and He is the owner of destiny upon all things. All praise and thanks to Allah and how perfect is Allah and there is no God except Allah and Allah is the Greatest… And there is no power and no might except with Allah.

I would suggest that you make a habit of writing your duas that are important to you and so this act of writing will sort of engrave this thing in your heart so much that when you wake up in the night you will remember to make your dream-duas!!!

Bad dreams

Nightmares might cause you to wake up in fear and confusion. Take protection of Allah by spitting on your left side three times and say the following dua:

من شرِ الشيطانِ و شرِھا اعوذ باللہِ

I seek protection with Allah from the shaitan and its evil.

Most people are quite confused about this topic although the teachings of our Prophet are very simple and clear. He said in a Hadith that all good dreams are from Allah so if you see a good dream, do not share it except with a trusted friend. And if you see a bad dream, do not share it with anyone and it will not harm you.

Being scared

Fear during sleep is something which not only disturbs our night but also hampers our productivity for the next day… So the Prophet taught us the following dua which can free our hearts from all useless fears and make it strong and powerful:

“أَعُوذُ بِكَلِمَاتِ اللهِ التَّامَّاتِ مِنْ غَضَبِهِ وَعِقَابِهِ، وَشَرِّ عِبَادِهِ، وَمِنْ هَمَزَاتِ الشَّيَاطِينِ وَأَنْ يَحْضُرُونِ”.

I seek refuge in the Perfect Words of Allah from His anger and His punishment, from the evil of His slaves and from the taunts of devils and from their presence.

This dua also makes us realize that the greatest thing to fear, and avoid at all costs, is Allah’s anger and punishment but the shaitan keeps us occupied in useless fears… which have no meaning and no benefit. These fears make us weak and indecisive… hampering our progress in the way of Allah… making us lose precious opportunities to use our talents and skills for the sake of Allah. So get rid of these fears by using the shield of this awesome dua.

Another point to remember is that shaitan puts these fears not only in the weak-hearted people but also the brave ones. A companion of the Prophet who was famed for his bravery… Khalid bin Waleed رضي الله عنه once shared his problem with the Prophet that he used to be scared during the night and would take up his sword and kill the imaginary enemy who was scaring him… so the Prophet said to him: “should I not teach you the words which the angel Jibraeel has himself taught me?” He said “why not!” So the Prophet told him to say these words:

أَعُوذُ بِكَلِمَاتِ اللهِ التَّامَّاتِ الَّتِي لَا يُجَاوِزُهُنَّ بَرٌّ وَلَا فَاجِرٌ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا خَلَقَ ، وَبَرَأَ ، وَذَرَأَ ،وَمِنْ شَرِّ مَا يَنْزِلُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ وَمِنْ شَرِّ مَا يَعْرُجُ فِيهَا ، وَمِنْ شَرِّ مَا ذَرَأَ فِي الأَرْضِ وَمِنْ شَرِّ مَا يَخْرُجُ مِنْهَا ،وَمِنْ شَرِّ فِتَنِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ ، وَمِنْ شَرِّ كُلِّ طَارِقٍ إِلَّا طَارِقًا يَطْرُقُ بِخَيْرٍ ، يَا رَحْمَنُ

I seek refuge with Allah’s perfect words which no righteous or unrighteous person can transgress, from all the evil of all that He has created, and made and originated. (I seek refuge) from the evil of what descends from the sky and the evil that rises up to it. And (I seek refuge) from the evil of what is spread on Earth and the evil that springs from it. And I seek refuge from the evil of the tribulations of night and day, and the evil of one who visits at night except the one who brings good, O Merciful One.

Fear of hardships at night

This is another trick of the shaitan with which he plays with our emotions. Have you ever met someone who is afraid of the night? Afraid of enemies, especially at night? Such people are so terrified of hardships that even in day to day life they are hesitant to make even the smallest decisions… because they are scared that whatever step they take will land them into some problem or the other? Often we start criticizing such people and even if we want to help them we don’t know how to do that. Our goodwill is limited to “advices” like: “you should really get rid of this self-damaging thought process”… or… “come on don’t be such a coward” etc. We may tell them “what” to do but we don’t tell them “how”… Well here is a most simple dua which is guaranteed to heal this disease…

It has been reported in a Hadith that Allah’s Messenger said:

He who is afraid to face hardship at night and is afraid of fighting the enemy then he should frequently say these words:

سُبْحَان لِلّه والْحَمْدُ لِلّه وَلآ اِلهَ اِلّا اللّهُ، وَ اللّهُ اَكْبَر

Perfect is Allah and all praise and gratitude is for Allah and there is no one worthy of worship except Allah and Allah is the most Great.

All these duas make me think that the solution to all our problems is to recognize the greatness of Allah and His perfection. We feel sad or lonely or scared because we forget that we have Allah, who is so great who is so merciful…

Sleeplessness…

Although the above mentioned etiquettes of sleeping are enough to cure you of sleeplessness but if for some reason you still have difficulty going to sleep, try the following tips:

1- Take a cup of hot milk and add one teaspoon almond oil… this is a wonderful remedy to calm your nerves helping you to feel comfortable and sleepy. If you don’t have almond oil then even plain milk is good.

2- Avoid tea, coffee, soft drinks, chocolates and other junk food before bedtime as it disturbs your system and makes you restless and uneasy. Also avoid having dinner shortly before bedtime. The best time for the meal is between Maghrib and Isha prayer. Remember to take a little walk after dinner for better digestion.

3- Reading a good book in bed is the best therapy for a good sleep.

4- Take care of the environment of your room. It should be un-cluttered, quiet, dark and smelling nice and fresh.

5- Make sure your pillow and mattress is of suitable thickness and firmness.

6- Massaging your feet can take away the restlessness.

7- Taking a shower is a good idea, especially in the summers.

8- A hot bath in the winters is also highly recommended for a deep restful sleep.

9- Make your heart peaceful by remembering and feeling grateful for all the favours which Allah blessed you with during the day.

10- Also release all the negativity from your heart by forgiving all those who hurt you during the day… and by asking Allah to forgive you for all the mistakes you made. This will surely make you peaceful and comfortable and you will fall asleep with a clean heart.

And this brings us to the end of the topic… but in life we see that every end is, in fact, the beginning of the next step… and so we should move on to explore what are the etiquettes of waking up so that we can achieve the complete satisfaction of knowing that our sleep has been a truly rewarding experience… both in this world and in the hereafter…

The Etiquettes of Waking up…

Waking up in the morning is actually the start of a new life… because Allah gives us back the soul which he took away at night. But because this miracle happens to us every single day, we take it as a routine matter and hardly ever think about it. Just imagine for a moment that you could see a dead person come back to life… how amazed you would be! But the same thing happens to your own self and you don’t even realize it?

In the Quran Allah says:

Allah takes the souls at the time of their death, and those that do not die [He takes their souls] during their sleep. Then He keeps those (souls) for which He has decreed death and releases the other (souls) for a specified term. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought. (39:42)

So when you realize that waking up is such a tremendous favour of Allah that He has allowed you to witness yet another day of life in which you have the countless opportunities to earn the benefits of both this world and the hereafter, then surely you would think of how to thank Allah for this blessing and how to make this experience into an act of worship?

Early to Bed, Early to Rise…The first rule of success in life is to wake up early. Because the early hours have been blessed by Allah in a special way; and what you can accomplish in that time is far more valuable than any other time of the 24 hour cycle.

But for many people getting up early in the morning is too difficult… why? Mostly it is because they have accepted it as a difficulty instead of recognizing it as a golden opportunity for success. Therefore if you want to be super productive and energetic to reap the maximum benefit from this short life; then you have to change your perspective first. A great scholar, Maulana Waheed-ud-Din has written in one of his books:

“Most of your problems start in your own mind and you can put an end to them in the same place”

So think about the numerous benefits of waking up early and BELIEVE that Allah has given you the ability to set your own time-table. You might have failed to do so until now because you believed it to be impossible for you. And once you start fighting this wrong belief and prepare to become strong against your desire of comfort; while seeking Allah’s help then surely He will make you experience the beauty of the early mornings… and you will see that your effort was worth it (in-sha-Allah)

Other tips for waking up early:

1- Sleep early and follow the etiquettes and supplications of going to bed.

2- Make a habit of taking “qailula”… a short nap in the afternoon daily.

3- Make a firm intention of waking up at a specific time.

4- Use an alarm clock… or if you use your phone then disable the snooze button if you can. Put the alarm clock at a distance so that you will have to get out of the bed to stop it.

5- Turn on the light as soon as you wake up. It will make you alert.

6- Turn off the fan or air conditioner and fold up the blanket.

7- If you feel too sleepy then sprinkle a few drops of water on your face. You might keep a little water in a cup on the bedside table for this purpose.

8- Learn the significance of the Tahajjud and Fajr prayer and motivate yourself to achieve these goals.

Waking up in the morning can be transformed into an amazing experience of worship if we follow the beautiful etiquettes from the Sunnah of the Prophet . The same time which we usually spend in tossing and turning in bed, not wanting to get up and feeling burdened by laziness and lethargy… can be made most productive simply by following these simple but meaningful acts:

Etiquette-1- Remove the traces of sleep from the face…
Our Beloved Prophet
 used to wipe his hands over his face to remove the effects of sleep. The wisdom in this act of Sunnah is that the touch of the hands stimulates the nerves of the face and makes one feel alert and active. You can try it just now… at this moment… stop reading and wipe your hands over your face… how did you feel? For myself it makes me feel comforted, refreshed and re-energized. So remember to act on this Sunnah first thing in the morning to say goodbye to sleep and welcome to the new day with a new energy. This will not only refresh your mood but will also fill your heart with pleasure that you started your day with an act of worship…

Etiquette-2- To Remember Allah upon waking…

The first thing that a believer does after regaining consciousness is that he remembers Allah; because he knows that it is Allah who gave him life once again and it is Allah who deserves his first and foremost attention. Our Prophet said, “Satan puts three knots at the back of the head of a person when he is asleep. On every knot he reads and blows the following words, ‘The night is long, so stay asleep.’ When one wakes up and remembers Allah, one knot is undone; and when one performs ablution, the second knot is undone, and when one prays salah the third knot is undone and one gets up energetic with a good heart in the morning; otherwise one gets up with a lazy and polluted heart.

It is important to note here that you are more likely to remember Allah if you went to sleep with His remembrance. Otherwise you will wake up with the same issues which were hovering over your heart the night before. That is why one rule which I try to live by is never to fall into arguments before sleeping. Because it will ruin your peace and you won’t feel good when you wake up. So always take special care of the time after Isha and make it as stress-free as possible. Focus on Allah and keep saying his name while you fall asleep so that when you wake up the next morning you will remember Him.

So what were the words with which our Prophet remembered Allah in the morning?

Dua-1- Gratitude for Coming back to Life

According to a Hadith the Prophet  used to say the following dua when he woke up from sleep:

الحَمْدُ لِلهِ الَّذِي أَحْيَانَا بَعْدَ مَا أَمَاتَنَا وَإِلَيْهِ النُّشُورُ

All praise is for Allah who gave us life after causing us to die, and unto Him is the resurrection.

Notice how in just a few words our Prophet has expressed his deep gratitude and awareness of Allah’s favour on us… of giving us a new life… and also the fact that one day we will face the final awakening… that is “the day” for which all our days should be spent. That is the day when we will “really” and truly wake up because there will be no more illusions…Therefore to remind ourselves of the ultimate awakening, first thing in the morning, is so crucial for us to straighten up our thoughts and to focus on spending our time wisely.

Dua-2- Gratitude for the Restoration of health and abilities

This dua from the Prophet is also very beautiful and meaningful:

الْحَمْدُ لِلهِ الَّذِي عَافَانِي فِي جَسَدِي وَرَدَّ عَليَّ رُوْحِي وَأَذِنَ لِي بِذِكْرِهِ

All praise is for Allah who restored to me my health and returned my soul and has allowed me to remember Him.

The realization that Allah has “chosen” to give me back my health and “allowed” me to remember Him is such a powerful medicine which kills all the germs of arrogance and heedlessness. Normally we recognize health as Allah’s blessing but we never think that the ability to remember Allah is also a favour on us… so instead of feeling proud of our piety, we should be grateful to Allah that He has saved us from forgetting Him. So you see how beautiful is the Sunnah of our Prophet  that it makes us wise and thoughtful right from the start of the new day so that we don’t lose our way.

3- Recite the end of Surah Aal-e-Imraan

When our Prophet  used to wake up from sleep he would recite the last ten verses of Surah Aal-e-Imran. If you contemplate on the meaning of these ayaat, you will see that they begin by acknowledging the fact that Allah has put tremendous signs in the universe for the people to understand Him and His power but only those people see these signs who use their intellect… these are the ones who remember Allah at all times… whether they are standing, sitting or lying down… and their remembrance is not just restricted to use of words… but they ponder on the creation of the heavens and the earth; and they admit that Allah has not created all of this without any purpose. They are not deceived by the illusions of self praise because they realize that only Allah is perfect… so they pray to Him to be saved from the fire because they realize that none of their deeds are perfect.

Reciting these verses really opens the eyes of our hearts… And make us connect to Allah in hope and fear… providing for us the perfect balance for walking on the tightrope of this world.

Dua-4- Ask Allah for enlightenment…

When the Prophet used to wake up he said the following words:

“اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْ فِي قَلْبِي نُوراً، وَفِي بَصَرِي نُوراً، وَفِي سَمْعِي نُوراً وَعَنْ يَمِينِي نُوراً وعن یساری نُوراً وفوقی نُوراً وتحتی نُوراً وأَمَامِي نُوراً، وَخَلْفِِي نُوراً، واجْعَلْ لِي نُوراً

O Allah place light in my heart, and light in my sight, and light in my hearing, and light to my right and light to my left and light above me and beneath me, and light in front of me and light behind me… and grant light for me.

This dua is a great reminder that to protect ourselves from getting lost in the darkness of evil and sins, we need to have the light of Allah’s guidance in our hearts, eyes and ears. So we have to keep checking all the time what are we collecting through our eyes and ears? Are the things I am watching and hearing making my heart submissive to Allah? Are the thoughts of my heart making me love and fear Allah, or are they causing me to be forgetful of Him? So you have to keep an eye on your activities all the time.

Similarly to pray for light to surround us on all sides means to have a good environment… and good environment means good friends (or if you cannot find good people then surround yourself with good books etc)… who make you remember Allah… who remind you to be obedient to Allah… who support you in the way of Allah. Also good environment means to be free of all things which might lead you towards Allah’s disobedience.

We can only make an effort but the real power to give us this environment is with Allah. And He will give this light to those who seek it in duas and who make all their efforts to stay away from all things that are against the true faith.

Dua-5- To read the two “protecting surahs”…
It has been narrated by Uqbah Bin Amir
رضي الله عنه that the Prophet said to him:

“Should I not teach you two such surahs which are better than all the surahs which people read?”

So the Prophet taught him Surah Al-Falaq and Surah An-Naas. Then it was time for Prayer and the Prophet read these same surahs in the prayer. Afterwards when the Prophet walked past Uqbah Bin Amir, he said to him:

“O Uqbah! What did you understand? Read these two surahs while sleeping and also when you wake up.”

While it is our tendency to feel scared and helpless when we think of the dangers surrounding us; the fact is that Allah did not leave us unprotected… The last two surahs of the Quran have been given to us to ensure our protection but the problem is that we don’t understand their awesome power… and that’s because we have just memorized these words without understanding and we read them without contemplating on their meaning. So in order to understand their true worth and to really feel the shield of their protection we must put in a little effort to understand these two surahs by reading some tafseer or better by listening to some audio explanation. Become a strong person by reciting them morning and night and after all prayers too… inshaAllah.

Etiquette-3- Wash up your hands…

It has been narrated by Abu Huraira رضي الله عنه that the Prophetsaid:

“When any one of you wakes up then he should wash his hand before he puts it into the water for wudhu because no one knows where his hand was during the night.”

This Hadith of the Prophet makes us realize that purity is so important in our religion. We cannot just assume our hands to be clean after getting up from sleep because we don’t know what they might have touched while we were not conscious… so the best thing to do it to wash our hands before touching anything else… specially where running water is not available and you have to use water from a bucket then do wash your hand before putting it in the rest of the water.

Etiquette-4- Clean your mouth…

The first thing which the Prophet did after getting up was to use Miswak… a tooth-stick… which not only cleans the teeth but also wipes away the germs from the whole mouth.

I love this Sunnah of the Prophet so much because it not only makes me fresh and active, but also multiplies the rewards of my salah many times… The bonus is that you are saved from unnecessary visits to the dentist

Etiquette-5- Blow your nose…

It seems like an understood thing that since we will be doing wudhu so we will naturally be cleaning our nose too… so why mention it as a separate Sunnah? The reason is that if the Prophet hadn’t specifically told us the following Hadith we might have taken it for granted and not given it its due care…

“The Prophet  said: when anyone of you wakes up from his sleep, then he should blow/rinse his nose three times because surely the shaitan spends the night in it.”

Now imagine if someone told you that a cockroach or lizard was sitting on your nose during the night… how extra conscious you would be to wash away the filth? It will not be like an ordinary, semi-conscious washing, isn’t it?

So if the Prophet told us that such an “un-clean” enemy was residing in our nose then surely we will clean it extra consciously.

Another point which comes to my mind is that by following this Hadith we also become aware of the importance of cleaning this passage which takes air into our lungs and out again… something which we hardly ever think of…
Therefore the acts of sunnah are not just for our spiritual benefit but also take care of the physical aspect of our lives. So live by them and gain the rewards of both the worlds… inshaAllah

The Best Time to Wake up

Between the bedtime and the time for Fajr prayer, there is an extra special time slot for those who want to come closer to their Lord and develop a strong faith in Him. This is the time of Tahajjud about which Allah says:

إِنَّ نَاشِئَةَ اللَّيْلِ هِيَ أَشَدُّ وَطْئًا وَأَقْوَمُ قِيلًا

Truly the rising by night is most potent for governing (the soul), and most suitable for (framing) the Word (of Prayer and Praise).

إِنَّ لَكَ فِي النَّهَارِ سَبْحًا طَوِيلًا 

True, there is for you during the day prolonged occupation with ordinary duties
وَاذْكُرِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ وَتَبَتَّلْ إِلَيْهِ تَبْتِيلًا 

But keep in remembrance the name of your Lord and devote yourself to Him whole-heartedly.

Our Beloved Prophet said:

“The most blessed prayer after the obligatory prayers is the prayer in the middle of the night.”

In another Hadith He  said:

“The Lord is the closest to His slave in the last part of the night. So if you are able to be of those who remember Allah in those moments, then do so.”

If we know the benefits of something then our heart feels more inclined towards that thing; that is why our Prophet told us about the following advantages which a person receives if he makes the extra effort to worship Allah during the early hours:

“Make the standing in the night prayer a must for yourself… because it was the way of your pious predecessors and a way to get closeness to your Rabb. It is a compensation for your bad deeds and a hindrance from doing sins.”

Therefore Tahajjud is the perfect cure for those who worry about not being good enough as a muslim… or don’t feel the closeness of Allah… or feel burdened by the sins of their past… or want to stay away from sins…

Acceptance of duas

We remain so concerned for the acceptance of our duas and keep requesting others to make dua for us but how many of us are willing to sacrifice our sleep to get what we want?

The Prophet has said:

“Our Master and Lord, most blessed and most high, descends to the sky of the world in the last third part of every night and says: ‘Who wants to make dua so I should accept his dua? Who wants to ask something from me
so I should give him? Who wants forgiveness from me so I should forgive him?”

Then there is this other Hadith which makes me yearn for this precious time:

“Surely during the night there is a moment which is not granted to a Muslim who asks Allah for something from the goodness of this world and the hereafter, except that Allah gives it to him… and this moment occurs every night.”

A way to give Thanks to Allah:

Tahajjud is an act of gratitude in itself. According to a Hadith when the feet of our Prophetgot swollen due to lengthy prayers at night, he was asked why did he worship so long at night, when he had already been forgiven? Our Prophet  answered: “Should I not then be a grateful slave?”

So these words are a reminder for all of us to see what is our level of gratitude to Allah? If we think that we are already free of sins… or we are already following a very righteous way of life… or all our duas have been granted to us… should we not then be grateful slaves?

I will end this topic with this beautiful Hadith which literally moves my heart every time I read it. The Prophet said:

“Surely in the Paradise there are tall palaces, such that the outer side is visible from inside and the inside is visible from the outside.” So a villager asked: “O messenger of Allah! Who are these for?” He said: “For those with a pleasant/beautiful speech, and who feed others, and who pray to Allah at night while the people are asleep.”

Therefore if you want these high rise palaces… a place of great honour; that too in Jannah… then focus on beautifying the way you talk… the way you cook and serve food… and the way you pray…

The Importance of the Fajr prayer

Shortage of time is a problem which we talk about quite a lot… especially when it comes to learning Quran or Hadith or doing some course to learn tafseer or memorize Quran or improve our recitation etc. We say we are already too busy in our routine chores and can hardly manage to do all our jobs on time. How can we spare time for “other” things? Well the answer is that all of us get the same amount of time but there are people who achieve a lot more than others… how? Because they live a life of discipline and focus… and one of the most important rule which they abide by is to get up early in the morning and make use of this “high quality” time. In Islamic terminology we call it the time of “barakah”… barakah means to be filled with an abundance of goodness and blessings. In fact our Prophetmade special dua for us:

“O Allah put “barakah” for my Ummah in their mornings.”

This barakah is like a beautifully wrapped gift which Allah sends for us every single day of our lives but how many of us are willing to get up and open it and use its countless advantages? So many of our physical, psychological and spiritual problems can be solved simply by making use of this barakah… If we use our mind and body when they are at their maximum capacity for work, then we can achieve much more… and this will lead to an inner satisfaction which cannot be replaced by any other “medicine” in the world.

Previously I used to think that the high achievers have a natural tendency to fight desires or maybe they don’t have desires at all… but now I have realized the fact that they are also human and have weaknesses but the only difference is that they have decided not to follow the temptations and make utmost struggle to do the right thing in all situations.

So whenever I feel the temptation to get back in the bed after praying fajr… I “tell” myself that whatever I want from sleep… whether it is comfort or warmth or energy… all of it is found not in the bed but by staying out of it and doing some meaningful work which is loved by Allah… And whenever I am able to win against my desire and put myself to work… I get not only what I desire but something even greater than that… and that is the happiness of making Allah pleased with me… and this is one thing which has no other parallel in this world… But of course if you are not feeling well due to some illness or pain… then surely you can take some rest after praying fajr. Allah doesn’t want hardship for us but He also doesn’t like us to be lazy and lethargic for no valid reason.

This reminds me of the beautiful Hadith of our Prophet in which he said:

“The two rakahs of fajr are better than this world and all that is in it.”

Imagine all the valuable things of this world… gold and diamonds and pearls… beautiful houses… grand palaces… exquisite dresses… luxurious cars… private jets… all the luxuries of the world put together on one side and place the two rakahs of fajr on the other side… and still this seemingly small act will be more worthy… more precious and more valuable… The Prophet and His companions realized this fact and that is why we see that there was no self pity in their lives… they were never crying for their lack of material luxuries because they knew that they had something which was far more precious and worth having… and this was the secret of their strong hearts, strong minds, and strong bodies…

While we have all the luxuries and still we are not satisfied… not grateful… not happy… because we have fed our bodies with food… meal after meal… but the hearts do not get the food of Allah’s remembrance… and so it gets weak and miserable. But we can always turn back to Allah and make our hearts strong and happy. All we need is to take the first step. Allah rewards us beyond measure… like in the following Hadith:

“Whoever prays fajr in congregation; then keeps sitting in remembering Allah till sunrise, and then prays two rakah… then for him is the reward of a complete Hajj and Umrah…”

So if you dream of going to the House of Allah and have not been able to do so… then remember that Allah will give you the same reward by acting on this Sunnah. If you think you cannot do it daily then at least once a week let your heart experience the pleasure of Umrah and Hajj… inshaAllah.

Sometimes we hear things like it is enough to be a good human and so we don’t need to follow the “rituals”… Look at the following Hadith and decide what the definition of a “good” person is?

The Prophet said:

“When ever the sun rises all the creation of Allah does the “tasbeeh” (praise and glorification) of Allah except the devils and the “aata” type of people”

A companion asked: “who are these “aata” type of people?”

The Prophet said: “the worst among the human beings”

So where would we like to stand?… among the best or the worst?

Another Hadith to really make our hearts alert and active for praying fajr is as follows:

It was mentioned to the Prophet that a person kept sleeping till the morning and did not wake up for fajr. The Prophet said: “the devil urinated in his ears!”

You must have experienced that if on some day you oversleep and get up to find that the sun has risen and you didn’t remember to set the alarm or whatever… the whole body feels like beaten up and the head is full of heaviness and everything looks gloomy… well now we know the reason… so make sure that you never allow the devil to use you in such a way…

So this completes our cycle of worshipping Allah through our sleeping and waking… except for one small thing and that is the short nap in the afternoon called “Qailoolah”…

Qailoolah…the Power Nap

Most of the people are usually following one of the two extremes. And both of them are harmful.

One is to not take a nap at all… making yourself unnecessarily stressed and washed out through perpetual work.

Second is to sleep for a couple of hours… making yourself drowsy and unable to concentrate on any meaningful task the whole evening.

Islam teaches us the perfect balance by taking a rest which allows us to work even better than before.

Allah’s Messenger said: Do take “qailoolah” because indeed the devils don’t take “qailoolah”.

The best thing I learned about Qaliloolah is that you don’t have to sleep… it just means that you close down all your activity and relax for a few minutes with your eyes closed. If you can lie down, its better; but even if you don’t have that much space in your work place, then you can even put your head down on the desk and rest… for 5 to 15 minutes.

This short nap acts like a medicine which heals you both physically and spiritually. It’s a highly rewarding experience because on one hand you feel physically re-charged and re-energized and on the other hand you feel spiritually uplifted because you know that you are doing it to follow your Prophet and so you are going to be rewarded for it too!!

All praise and thanks is for Allah who taught me to think and act positively about sleep and also allowed me to write about it. I pray that this message reaches to all the people so that they can experience the delight and satisfaction of this blessing of Allah and also recognize His Power and Mercy by reflecting on His signs in alternating cycle of the night and the day…

Surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the alternation of the night and the day are signs for people of intellect… those who remember Allah standing, and sitting and (lying down) upon their sides… And who contemplate in the creation of the heavens and the earth… O our Lord! You have not created all of this aimlessly… Exalted are You… so protect us from the punishment of the fire… (3: 190-191)

to listen to the audio lectures on this topic visit the following link:

http://www.farhathashmi.com/sonay-jagnay-kay-aadaab-o-azkaar/

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