The lasting benefits of forsaking your bed

MOST of us, if not all, have an enormously comfy bed to retreat to at the end of the working day. My bed, in particular, is so plush that sometimes I struggle to extricate myself from it. I have lots of soft pillows and more than one fuzzy blanket to keep me warm as I drift to sleep each night with my air conditioner blasting full throttle.

By Sumayyah Meehan

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Published: Fri 28 Sep 2007, 9:48 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:05 AM

For me, as perhaps for you, simply the concept of stretching out and relaxing in my bed is a temptation that helps get me through yet another hot and sweaty day. We, as humans, are creatures of comfort seeking softness where we can find it. However, a simple thing as a cozy bed can be a complex barrier to worshipping Allah and adhering to the Sunnah as we are supposed to do. The nighttime is an excellent opportunity for worship and praying to Allah. It is almost like a hidden treasure, which you have to wade through your blankets to find!

Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran:

"Their limbs do forsake their beds of sleep, while they call on their Lord, in Fear and Hope: and they spend (in charity) out of the sustenance which We have bestowed on them."(32:16)

And also:

"They used to sleep but little by night [invoking their Rubb (Allah) and praying, with fear and hope].'' (51:17)

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself was so keen on worshipping at night that he slept on a thin mat on the floor. His pillow was made out of leather and stuffed with leaves from the date palm tree. That was his bed. There was nothing posh about it and simply due to the fact that it was so basic, and probably uncomfortable, Muhammad (pbuh) was able to rise in the night to perform prayers and other acts of worship like supplications or remembrance of Allah. Muhammad (pbuh) even once refused the gift of a fine wool bed that someone wanted to give him.

The Night Prayer

There are five obligatory daily prayers in Islam, the last being the early evening prayer, or Isha prayer. However, there is another prayer, called Tahajjud that many Muslims miss out on performing due to poor sleep habits, laziness and the inability to fight off the desire to sleep. The Tahajjud prayer is a voluntary prayer but is literally worth its' weight in gold.

Abu Hurairah narrated that Muhammad (pbuh) said:

"Our Lord descends to the lowest heaven during the last third of the night, inquiring: 'Who will call on Me so that I may respond to him? Who is asking something of Me so I may give it to him? Who is asking for My forgiveness so I may forgive him?"

Whoever prays Tahajjud with sincere devotion and piety towards Allah will get no less than having their prayers answered. The Tahajjud prayer consists of two rakats, as per the Sunnah of Muhammad (pbuh), and then is followed by however many rakats you wish to perform. It could be only two rakats more or even eight rakats more.

If you think about it, the night prayer is an excellent time to focus on worship. The hustle and bustle of your day is over. You're not running late for a meeting or have to worry about the mundane things of daily life. The night is peaceful. You can focus on your prayer without interruption. It is a time to also get closer to God and seek salvation.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: "Observe the night prayer, it was the practice of the righteous before you and it brings you closer to your Lord and it is penance for evil deeds and erases the sins and repels disease from the body."

It is essential to state that in this holy month of Ramadan the Tahajjud prayer is called the Taraweeh prayer (Qiyam), which usually consists of eight rakats (unit of prayer) plus Witr. Although, some Muslims perform a maximum of twenty rakats during the Taraweeh prayers. The prayer is basically the same although the number of rakats may vary.

The Night of Power

The absolute most excellent night for worshipping Allah comes only once a year in the Islamic calendar. It is called 'Laylat al Qadr', or the Night of Power, and is found in the last 10 odd numbered nights of Ramadan. Muslims from all over the world will be increasing their acts of worship throughout the last 10 nights of Ramadan, which are just around the corner! The reason no one knows the exact day is because when Muhammad (pbuh) was coming to tell his people about the exact day he found that two men were arguing about it. So, he never revealed it because it was "raised up" which means the knowledge went back to Allah. However, Muhammad (pbuh) did give us a few hints.

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:

"On the morning following Laylat Al Qadr the sun rises not having any rays, as if it were a brass dish, until it rises up."

And also:

" Laylat Al Qadr is calm and pleasant, neither hot nor cold, the sun arises on its morning being feeble and red."

Towards the end of Ramadan, we all start getting extremely tired and begin busying ourselves with shopping in preparation for the Eid holidays. However, we must be vigilant in maintaining some of our stamina to seek out this most precious night as the holy month of Ramadan begins to wind down. Will you be one to stay all snuggled up in your bed? Or will you rise for the sake of Allah in utter love and devotion of the Lord of this World? You decide.

Sumayyah Meehan is a Kuwait-based American writer who embraced Islam. She can be reached at abidhjs@msn.com



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