Sleeping Habits of the Prophet (sa) – In the Light of Surah Al-Mulk

Sleeping Habits

Ahadeeth offer us ample advice for perfecting our lives according to the Islamic guidelines. Alhumdulillah, every minute aspect of our life is discussed, including such daily routine as sleeping. Let’s take a look at what the Sunnah says about the sleeping habits of the Prophet (sa).

Prophet Muhammad (sa) used to recite Surah Al-Mulk before sleeping and then go straight to bed after Isha, without engaging in useless talk. The Prophet (sa) said: “There is a Surah in the Quran, which contains thirty verses. It will plead for the one who recites it, until Allah (swt) forgives him.” (Tirmidhi)

This action of our beloved Prophet (sa) holds great wisdom. Let’s look deeper into this Surah and reflect upon why he specifically chose it to be recited at night. The Surah begins with a majestic introduction of Allah (swt), enlightening the reader about His three characteristics:

  1. Allah (swt) is Blessed.
  2. He is the Owner of the entire universe.
  3. He does whatever He wills.

These characteristics are important, because they explain the upcoming verse, which is the heart of this Surah: “Who created death and life that He may test you, which of you is best in deed. And He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving.” (Al-Mulk 67:2)

This verse explicitly defines the purpose of our creation, i.e., to perform the best of deeds in life. It is important to note here that Allah (swt) did not state that He wants to see which one of us does the most deeds! Every single night, we sleep with thoughts about the reason behind our creation, and this serves as a reminder for the next morning, assuring that our actions will be performed in accordance with this notion.

In the following two verses, Allah (swt) sets some standards for an Ahsan (best) deed. He commands us to inspect the sky keenly and inquires if there is any visible inconsistency or defect. Just as the creation of Allah (swt) is free from any imperfections, so should be an Ahsan deed. It should be free from ill-intentions and must be performed on the level of excellence.

In the next verse, Allah (swt) directs the attention of the reader towards the sky, manifesting that the aims and objectives of a believer’s life should always be as high as the sky. Another advantage of an Ahsan deed is that it serves as a weapon a believer uses against his/her greatest enemy: the Shaitan.

The verses that follow give a detailed description of Hell and clarify the reason why a person would end up there. Every single night the mind is fed with the idea of Hell, so that a person makes all the efforts possible to be safe from it. The reason for people eventually ending up in Hell would be that they did not follow or listen to the messengers. The only way to attain Jannah is by following the Sunnah, as the life of our Prophet (sa) is a compilation of Ahsan deeds.

Later verses illustrate that the actions of believers are outstanding not only in the company of others, but also when they are all alone. Next, Allah (swt) states that it is only Him, Who upholds the birds in the sky. Similarly, the people, who think they can achieve something in life without the help of Allah (swt), are blinded by delusion. Even if a believer reaches the height of an Ahsan deed, it is because of the mercy of Allah (swt). If He withdraws His support, then a person is left completely helpless.

Towards the end, Allah (swt) presents the reader with two aspects that, if reflected upon, would aid in performing Ahsan deeds. They are Shukr and remembrance of the afterlife. Verses twenty-eight and twenty-nine implant a significant lesson: it is not necessary that those, who do Ahsan deeds, will not be affected by calamites; whenever such a situation occurs, they should keep their trust in Allah (swt) and carry on with their work.

The last verse poses a simple question: if water – the most vital element for human sustenance – is seized, who has the authority to bring it back other than Allah (swt)? It explains the fact that humans are completely dependent on Allah (swt) for their survival, and they should live their lives in the manner Allah (swt) wants them to, which is by doing Ahsan deeds.

When we recite Surah Al-Mulk, we should know what we are reading, because only then we would be able to attain all of its benefits prescribed in the aforementioned Hadeeth.

Happily Ever After – The Life that Everyone Wants

Happily Ever After

Everyone wants to live happily ever after; however, not everyone can. For the young, the phrase ‘happily ever after’ usually translates into getting married. Shaykh ash-Shanqeeti, a teacher of great Ikhlas (sincerity) with over two hundred thousand students, was not married until 48 years of age. His students were after him to get married, but he refused out of fear of offending his mother. He got married after her death. When asked why he didn’t marry earlier, he replied: “The one who has Allah (swt) on his mind, the Quran in his heart and the problems of the Muslimeen on his shoulders has no time for marriage.”

This is the true ‘happily ever after’.

The prophets and the messengers tasted the sweetness of faith, though they faced trying times in their lives. Prophet Moosa (as) felt it when he was pursued by the Pharaoh. Prophet Ibrahim (as) felt it when he was thrown into the fire. Prophet Yusuf (as) felt it while he languished in prison. Prophet Muhammad (sa) felt it during his stay in the Cave of Thawr, while migrating to Madinah. Prophet Yunus (as) felt it when he was swallowed by the whale. The Sahabah felt it when atrocities were committed against them.

A renowned scholar of Islam Ibrahim ibn Adham has said: “We are living in such sweetness that if kings knew about it, they would fight us over it with their swords.” Note that he was a very poor man. This shows that happiness does not come from money.

Ibn Taymiyah, another scholar of Islam, has said: “There is a Paradise in this life. Those who do not enter it here shall not enter it in the Hereafter.” When he was thrown into prison, he said: “What can my enemies possibly do to me? My Paradise is in my heart; wherever I go, it goes with me, inseparable from me. For me, prison is a place of (religious) retreat (Itikaaf); execution is my opportunity for martyrdom (Shahadah); exile from my town is only a chance to travel (Siyahah).” For such scholars, real imprisonment was the imprisonment of the heart by Allah (swt).

In the contemporary world, we see a lot of people with plenty of money and fame. Yet they do not live ‘happily ever after’. Rather, they either die as lonely individuals or commit suicide out of depression. Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley are only a few examples.

On the other hand, we have one Surah in the Quran, whose recitation gives immense happiness and a feeling of being blessed. That is Surah Ad-Duha. Consider its first verse:

“By the forenoon (after sun-rise); and by the night when it is still (or darkens); Your Lord (O Muhammad [sa]) has neither forsaken you nor hated you.” (Ad-Duha 93:1-3)

This Surah was revealed when Prophet Muhammad (sa) had not received the revelation for six months, and was fearful that Allah (swt) might be angry with him. The first verse of the Surah instructs to look at the Sun and its brightness, and forget the doom and the gloom. Depressed people usually sleep during the day and stay awake during the night. Hence, the very first verse swears by the forenoon and then by darkness that Allah (swt) has not forgotten His Prophet (sa) nor is he angry with him. The Surah then goes on to mention three remedies for depression:

“Therefore, treat not the orphan with oppression, and repulse not the beggar; and proclaim the Grace of your Lord (i.e. the Prophethood and all other Graces).” (Ad-Duha 93:9-11)

The three sure-fire cures for depression include:

  • Consider the condition of the orphans and never say ‘no’ to them;
  • Don’t shun the poor; treat them kindly;
  • Enumerate the praises of Allah (swt).

When faced with any problem, one should do the above, plus recite as many invocations as possible, in order to rely upon Allah (swt) only. The Prophet (sa) once saw in the Masjid a Sahabi, who was worried about his debts. He (sa) taught him the following Dua to recite during such a time:

“Oh Allah! Truly I seek refuge in You from anxiety and grief; and I seek refuge in You from inability and laziness; and I seek refuge in You from miserliness and faint-heartedness; and I seek refuge in You from the burden of debt and the coercion of men.” (Abu Dawood)

Practical Ways to Achieve Happiness

Here are a few:

Stop looking in the rear-view mirror: Do not dwell on your past. If you keep looking back, while driving a car, you will crash.

Remain positive in the face of the negative: Every trying circumstance has something good in it. Renowned poet, Al-Mutanabbi, wrote some of his best poetry while he was sick. Good comes when you are least expecting it. Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Abi Sahl Abu Bakr al-Sarakhsi was an Islamic scholar, who was imprisoned by the Khaleefah. He spent fifteen years in prison. While in prison, he used to dictate to his students the content of his book “Al-Mabsoot”. He is known for his excellent memory, because of which he was able to quote the works of other scholars.

Be patient, when doing Dawah: Don’t let people get to you. Expect criticism, when you enjoin good and forbid evil. Persevere with sincere intentions. Remember: if people criticize you behind your back, they are only increasing your good deeds and decreasing their own.

Attributes of People who Think Positively

  • They are curious. They look at a goal and then think of ways to achieve it.
  • They have leadership qualities. They approach challenges maturely and take calculated risks.
  • They never give up. If they fail, they try even harder.
  • They are focused and have self-respect.

Attributes of People who Think Negatively

  • They have neither vision nor clarity.
  • They are followers, not leaders.
  • They dread challenges.
  • They avoid hard work.
  • They give up hope after every failure.
  • They are frustrated with life and have low self-esteem.

Unlocking the Positive

If you feel you tend to think negatively, follow these strategies for staying positive:

Develop a clear vision: Why are you here and what do you want to do? Define your purpose of life and follow it. Think about what gives you peace of mind and happiness, and make it your goal.

Goals: If defining a vision seems impossible, write down three main goals related to Allah (swt), your family and finances. Work on those.

Ask others: Ask people, who know you, to point out your strengths and weaknesses. Work on them.

Aim for Firdaws: Strive hard to achieve excellence and the highest level in Paradise called Firdaws.

Supplicate: Ask from Allah (swt): “Oh my Rabb! What do you want from me?”

Last, but not the least, think about what the word ‘create’ stands for: current, reality, explore, alternatives, take action.

Current: You want to do Dawah, and you want to enjoin good and forbid evil. This is your current goal.

Reality: You don’t know how or where to start.

Explore alternatives: You join an institute to learn Islamic knowledge first and then explore options to impart it from that institute only.

Take action: You search and explore your options, and choose an institute. Then, you enrol in it.

Don’t come to the end of your life wondering, why you were here in the first place. Take the first step today and ‘happily ever after’ will be no longer out of reach, Insha’Allah!

Adapted from a lectureshop organized by “LiveDeen”. Transcribed for “Hiba” by Umm Ibrahim.

HajjBound: Your Hajj information portal

hajjboundHow do I choose my Hajj package?

How do I choose my Hajj package?

As the first few flights to Jeddah take off this year, those who are not performing the Hajj this year but are planning to do so in the coming year might mull over this single very important issue: Choosing the Hajj package! This represents the interface of an aspiring Haji leading to the massive logistical operation spanning millions, which exists on the fringes of what will perhaps be one’s most mesmerizing spiritual experience ever.

For most, the choice is dictated by advice from friends and family members who have already performed Hajj. The amount of information that needs to be absorbed can be daunting, and the sources are varied and often unclear.

To facilitate this elementary yet highly significant part of your Hajj, an online service called HajjBound (www.hajjbound.com) has been introduced. HajjBound is a public service website that lists Hajj and Umrah packages offered by operators from across the globe in one place. The aim is to provide an easy-to-use interface for prospective pilgrims to plan their Hajj and Umrah, Insha’Allah.

HajjBound has a special focus on details and precision, often times providing greater insight into a package than available at an operator’s website. HajjBound augments basics with useful information like distances from important landmarks, TripAdvisor reviews, and specifics on room and board, etc. Ever wonder which package your favourite scholar is traveling with? Wonder no more. HajjBound provides a listing of Shuyukh and pairs them with the operators they travel with.

HajjBound does not want users to sift through lines of text in order to glean information. Information is presented in a visually intuitive fashion. You can scan your trip dates by inspecting a prominent colour-coded calendar. Camp locations in Mina, for instance, can be seen on a map and help develop a sense of its proximity to the Jamarat. Such visual elements go a long way in not just comparing Hajj packages, but also for developing a feel for the Manasik!

HajjBound provides an egalitarian listing. It does not discriminate between different operators and packages, in terms of inclusion or prominence. This is in line with their objective to provide unaltered and impartial information. Consistent with this objective is HajjBound’s policy not to inundate users with any online ads etc., so that aspiring Hujjaj may have a pleasant and focused experience.

If you have been for Hajj, consider being a part of this project. Post your reviews and experiences, and encourage others to do the same. HajjBound aspires to have a useful collection of reviews that aspiring Hujjaj can refer to in making their choices. This is a significant challenge since Hajj and Umrah reviews suffer from a negative bias. Reviews are generally left by disgruntled customers who seek a forum to vent their frustration. This is where your help, in the form of posting your own reviews, and encouraging friends and family to do so, is invaluable. Of course, once you are using the website, you can forward suggestions on how to improve it as well.

In the end, here is a small message from the Hajjbound team: “We hope that HajjBound is of some assistance to you in performing an Ibadah that if accepted has no reward except for Jannah. In doing so, we wish to be a tiny part of your Hajj and Umrah, and beseech you to find a mention for us in your Duas once there!”