For something we spend roughly one-third of our lives doing, and with no guarantee of waking up the next morning, it is a good idea to give some thought to the etiquette of sleeping. Let us understand the Divine perspective given through the Ahlul Bayt on this topic and make worthwhile adjustments in our sleeping habits as we strive to align each and every aspect of our lives with their teachings.
Whether we are among those who love to sleep at the most opportune moment or those sleep-deprived individuals who desire nothing more than for the head to hit the pillow, perhaps the last thing on our minds is a checklist before sleeping, FOR sleeping! Yet for something we spend roughly one-third of our lives doing, and with no guarantee of waking up the next morning, it is a good idea to give it some thought. Let us understand the etiquette of sleeping from the holy perspective given through the Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them), and make worthwhile adjustments in our sleeping habits as we strive to align each and every aspect of our lives with their teachings.
Time of Sleeping
Allama Muhammad Baqir Majlisi mentions in his book Tahdhib al-Islam, that it is undesirable to sleep between true dawn (when the time for Fajr salat sets in) and sunsrise, between Maghrib and Isha, and after Asr prayer. In fact, it is narrated from Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (peace be upon him) that sleeping during the morning hours is inauspicious and lessens livelihood. However, it is recommended to have a short nap before Dhuhr prayers during summer.
There are numerous other traditions which discourage sleeping in the early hours of the day. For those of us who stay up late and consequently cannot help but sleep through these early hours, the obvious solution is to get into the habit of sleeping on time! The following narration related from the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) will surely be a good source of motivation to do so – he has told us we should remain awake during the night only in three cases: for Salatul Layl (the Night Prayer), for the recitation of the Holy Qur’an and for studying, and for a newly-married bride who arrives in her husband’s house.
Position of Sleeping
Numerous traditions have related that it is recommended to sleep on the right side while facing the Qibla and keeping the right hand placed under the right cheek. Sleeping on the left side or lying on the stomach is Makruh and thus should be avoided.
Imam Ali (peace be upon him) narrates that there are four ways of sleeping: Prophets sleep with their eyes open, awaiting revelations from Allah; believers sleep reclining on the right side, facing the Qiblah; worldly kings and princes sleep reclining on the left side; and Satan and those who follow him sleep on their stomachs.
It follows from another tradition that Imam Ali advised that sleeping on one’s stomach is so undesirable that if one sees a person sleeping in such a position, he should be woken up and not allowed to sleep this way.
Imam Sadiq has said that a person who performs Wudhu before getting into bed, his bed becomes as good as a mosque. If he forgets to perform Wudhu and remembers it later on, he may perform Tayyamum on the sheet with which he is covering himself. If then, after performing Wudhu or Tayammum, he sleeps while doing Dhikr, his sleep will be as good as prayer.
This tradition reflects Salman al-Farsi’s response to the Holy Prophet when he asked who among his companions fasts all year round, spends the entire nights in prayers, and completes the Holy Qur’an every day. All but Salman al-Farsi remained quiet, who replied: “I fast for three days in every month, and Allah says for every virtuous deed, the reward is multiplied ten times: thus my fasts each month are equal to 30 fasts. I recite Surah Tawheed three times daily, and I heard the Holy Prophet say that whoever recites Surah Tawheed once gets the reward of reciting one third of the Qur’an, and whoever recites it three times gets the reward for reciting the entire Quran. As for spending the entire night in prayers, I have heard from the Holy Prophet that sleeping in a state of Wudhu is equal to standing up the entire night in prayers.”
Subhan’Allah, from the simple act of performing Wudhu before going to sleep, we can be blessed with the reward of an additional seven (or more or less) hours worth of prayers each day!
Accounting Our Deeds
According to narrations, the person who goes to sleep without accounting for his/her daily deeds is not among the followers of the Ahlul Bayt! The Imams have highly encouraged us to reflect on our deeds before going to sleep and particularly remember the sins we may have committed during the day. It is especially important to ask Allah for forgiveness of our sins, because we never know if we will even awaken from our sleep the next morning. Keeping that thought in mind, and with the help of Allah and a little bit of will power, we can hopefully refrain from committing those undesirable deeds in the future.
Duas before Sleeping
The Prophet once told Lady Fatima (peace be upon her) to recite the entire Qur’an, perform one Hajj and one Umrah, make all the believers pleased with her, and receive the intercession of all the Prophets before going to bed every single night. When she asked how such a feat could be accomplished, he taught her that reciting Sura Tawheed three times would be equivalent to the reward of reciting the whole Qur’an, reciting Tasbehaat Arba three times would equal the reward of one Hajj and one Umrah, asking for the forgiveness of the believers will make all of them pleased with her, and sending peace and blessings upon the Prophets would guarantee her their intercession on the Day of Judgment!
Imam Sadiq has said, “One who starts the night with the Tasbih of Lady Fatima (recites it before going to sleep) will be counted among those men and women who remember Allah much.”
Other recommendations include :
- Reciting the du’a Yaf’alullaahu Maa Yashaau Bi Qudratihee, Wa Yahkumu Maa Yureedu Bi Izzatihee is said to earn the reward of 1000 units of prayer.
- Imam Sadiq has said that for the one who recites Surah Qadr and Surah Tawheed eleven times each before going to bed, his sins will be pardoned during the next fifty years!
- Imam Baqir (peace be upon him) has said that the supplication which must not be missed before going to bed is: A’udu Li-Nafsee Wa Ahlee Wa Maalee Bi-Kalimaatillahit Taammaati Min Kulli Shaytaanin Wa Haatin Wa Min Kulli A’ynil Laammatin. Translation: “I safeguard my life, my family, and my property with complete words of Allah from every devil, harmful animal, and evil eye.”
- Imaam Sadiq said that anyone who recites this Du’a three times while going to sleep will be cleansed of sins as if he has been born again: Al-Hamdulillaahil-Ladhee Alaa Faqahar, Wal Hamdu Lillaahil-Ladhee Batwana Fa Khabar, Wal Hamdu Lillaahil-Ladhee Malaka Fa Qadar, Wal Hamdu Lillaahil-Ladhee Yuhyil Mawta Wa Yumeetul Ahyaa’a Wahuwa Alaa Kulli Shay’in Qadeer. Translation: “All praise if for Allah Who is High and possesses Mastery; all praise is for Him only, Who is hidden but well aware of everything; all praise if for Allah Who is the Master and has all power; all praise is for Allah Who raises up the dead and makes the living die; and He holds power over everything.”
These are only a few of the many recommended supplications to be recited before sleeping. A more comprehensive list can be found here.
Several traditions also narrate that the Holy Prophet has said, “Sweep the beds at the time of sleeping, so that any harmful insects settled in it may be thrown away and you may remain safe from harm.” It is a good idea to sweep your pillow also!
The Holy Prophet also advised that at the time of sleeping, hands should not be greasy or smeared with food, or else Satan will over sway and may cause the person to become mad. It is further advised to brush one’s teeth, go to the bathroom, and to cleanse oneself from sweat and unpleasant odors before sleeping.
Disadvantages of Excessive Sleeping
Imam Sadiq said that there are three things to which Allah bears enmity: excessive and unnecessary sleeping, laughing without a proper cause, and eating when the stomach is full. He also said that the first disobedience of Allah which people committed lies in the following six things: love of the world, love of kingdom, love of women, love of food, love of ease, and love of sleep.
It is also narrated from Imam Baqir in a Hadith al-Qudsi that Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) prayed to Allah: “O Allah, who among the people do you bear enmity most?” He was replied, “O Musa, that man who sleeps from night till morning like a dead man and spends the whole day in rubbish matters.”
The narrations in this article are taken from Allama Muhammad Baqir Majlisi’s book Tahdhib ul-Islam, as well as from duas.org.