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:
- Allah (swt) is Blessed.
- He is the Owner of the entire universe.
- 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.