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Praising God Before Going to Sleep

Adil Salahi

Arab News, 3/19/04

Carrying on with the theme of the praises, glorifications and supplications the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to say at different times of day and night, we mention a Hadith reported by Jabir ibn Abdullah, a companion of the Prophet who was very close to him and reported a very large number of his statements. Jabir says: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) used not to go to sleep before reading the two surahs, Al-Sajdah and Al-Mulk.” Abu Al-Zubayr, who reports this Hadith from Jabir, mentions that “these two surahs earn 70 good deeds more than any other surah in the Qur’an. Whoever recites them earns 70 good deeds, is given a rise of 70 steps; and 70 bad deeds are erased from his record.” (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad and Al-Nassaie).

All types of worship earn rich reward from God. This applies to prayer, fasting, zakah, reading the Qur’an, glorifying God and remembering Him. However the Prophet was keen to recite certain surahs or verses at particular times because of the meanings they stress. In this Hadith we are told that he used to read these two surah, which together run into five and a half pages of the Qur’an. There is strong emphasis in both surahs on the life to come, the resurrection as well as the reckoning and reward. Since sleep is a kind of death, as we lose consciousness of everything around us in both situations, the reminder of the hereafter is most apt at this particular time.

It is important to clarify how some surahs are said to be better than others. A number of scholars do not approve of the notion that certain parts of the Qur’an could be described as better than the rest. They say that this is contrary to the fact that all the Qur’an is God’s word and should be viewed as a complete whole, with every part of it equal to the rest. Other scholars agree that the Qur’an should be viewed in the same light, with no preference given to any part over the rest. However, they maintain that this does not contradict that God may give greater reward for reading certain surahs.

They also say that on certain occasions, or at certain times, reading a particular surah may be better. They cite the example of reading Surahs 32 and 76 in the two rak’ahs of fajr prayer on Fridays, or reading Surahs 87, 109 and 112 in the three rak’ahs of witr prayer everyday.

This is a valid point, but other scholars also mention that the result of reading a particular surah at a certain time is what may give it preference at that time. In this case, reading these two surahs before going to sleep is stated to ensure that one does not suffer torment in the grave after one’s death.

While a supplication to be spared such suffering after reading any part of the Qur’an may be certainly answered, it is hoped that reading these two surahs gives a greater chance of that, if God so wills.

Moreover, reading the Qur’an, or glorifying God and repeating some supplication and prayer before going to bed make it easier for a person to get to sleep. Abdullah ibn Masoud, a learned companion of the Prophet, says: “Being overtaken by sleep when glorifying God is brought about by Satan. You may try this if you wish. When you go to bed and you want to get to sleep straightaway, glorify God and praise Him.” (Related by Al-Nassaie, Abu Dawood and Al-Tirmidhi).

This is something we can try ourselves. Indeed scholars encourage people who complain from insomnia to read the Qur’an or engage in God’s glorification, and they would not take long to get to sleep. What the Prophet’s companion refers to in his statement is that Satan will help to get to sleep a person who is reading the Qur’an or praising God and glorifying Him, so that he would not earn more reward for his glorification and remembrance of God. Whether we can attach such influence to Satan is rather debatable, because he is stated in the Qur’an not to have any control on us, unless we give in to his promptings. However, when we read the Qur’an or glorify God, Satan feels depressed and he cannot come near us. As such, he would not be prompting us or keeping us awake. By leaving us alone, we will feel the pleasure and relaxation of what we are reading or saying, and such relaxation helps us to get to sleep faster.

The Prophet also teaches us to make sure that our beds are free of harm. He says: “When any of you wishes to go to bed, he should undo the edge of his robe and strike his bed with it, because he would not know what went into his bed after he left it.

He then lies on his right side and say: ‘In Your name I place my side. If You hold my soul, bestow on it Your mercy; and if You release it, then protect it with what You protect the righteous among Your servants.” (Related by Al-Bukahri, Muslim, Abu Dawood and Al-Nassaie).

To give the Arabic wording of this supplication, we add: “Bismika wada’tu janbi. Fa’in ihtabasta nafsi farhamha, wa in arsaltaha fahfazha bima tahfazu bihi ibadaka al-saliheen.”

The point about striking the bed with one’s garment is simply to shake it properly in order to ensure that no crawling or harmful creature is hidden into it. Perhaps this is unnecessary in modern homes and apartments, but following the Prophet’s example and doing his teaching earns reward from God.

In country homes, villages and in desert areas, the risk of something like a scorpion or a snake crawling into a bed where it finds warmth is very real. Striking the bed with one’s garment is bound to disturb such a creature and drive it away. Or at least the person will see it moving and take the necessary action to ensure his comfortable sleep.




Earth, a planet hungry for peace


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers (Ran Cohen, pmc, 5/24/03).


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers in the West Bank, like a Python. (Alquds,10/25/03).

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