By: Samsul Nizar
Professor and Head of STAIN Bengkalis
Sleep is a requirement for all humans. For this purpose, Allah provides a night for His servants to sleep. However, some sleep at certain times out of routine (Sunnatullah). Because some work at night, have trouble sleeping, and even fall asleep while working. Typical slumber is limited to requirements. However, when reason, faith, humiliation, self-respect, and humanity are “asleep,” only a zombie or vampire-like spiritless society emerges.
Many people must spend much money to satisfy their need for rest. They start with providing a comfortable environment and extend to consuming high-quality medications or supplements to achieve optimal sleep quality. A drug may be discovered to allow humans to have their desired visions. Although some are willing to spend money to sleep, for a small number of people living below the poverty line, the need for slumber is a way to alleviate gnawing hunger. Even wealthy individuals need help sleeping due to their growing affluence.
Indeed, Allah provides all humanity with free sleep and dreams. However, not all humans can have deep slumber and beautiful dreams. Sleep and dreams manifest Allah’s mercy and contain teachings for intelligent humans (ulul albab). Allah expresses this in His words: “And among the signs of His authority are your sleep at night and during the day, and your desire for some of His bounty. Indeed, there are signs for those who heed in such occurrences” (QS. ar-Ruum: 23).
In addition to the night as the optimal time to sleep, some academicians divide the sleep time commonly utilised by humans into three periods: (1) Napping when the sun shines brightly during the day. Normally, the Prophet Muhammad sleeps in this manner. (2) Go to bed at dawn. This slumber must be terminated because it makes humanity sluggish and careless about the fortune of the world and the afterlife. (3) Sleep during the A.S.R. This time is poor for sleep and makes the body feeble. Allah describes the blessing of nighttime for sleep (rest) in His words: “And out of His mercy, He made for you the night and the day, so that you may rest during the night and seek some of His bounty (during the day) and be grateful” (QS. al-Qashash: 73).
Referring to the preceding verse, sleep and dreams contain numerous meanings and teachings, including:
First, slumber is a gift that must be acknowledged and utilised appropriately. A few humans do not use the night to sleep but rather to accumulate wealth as if there is not enough time to pursue the world. In health science, sleep is advantageous for calming and resting the body’s organs after an active day. Allah reminds us by saying, “And We make your sleep for rest” (Qur’an An-Naba’, verse 9).
The above utterances of Allah can be explained scientifically. The advancement of medical science demonstrates that adequate rest (sleep) is one of the most effective means of maintaining health. This method significantly enhances the body’s immune system. Allah provides sleep so that humans can conclude the digestive process following the ingestion of food. During slumber, the body’s natural heat permeates the entire body and aids in digestion.
Between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., bile is biologically active. In contrast, the liver begins functioning at 1 a.m. During this time, if a person is not sleeping and still eating, he has harmed his body’s ability to function. This is the obvious advantage of slumber (night) for humans. However, humans neglect to be grateful and utilise it wisely on occasion.
Second, slumber is a miniature (premature) demise. During slumber, there is little distinction between sleep and death. The only distinction is that humans continue to breathe while sleeping. Allah returns the spirit with the body when waking. The essence does not return to the body after death.
No human intervention is possible while he is asleep, and there is no assurance that he will awaken again. In light of this, the Prophet Muhammad instructed his followers to recite the following prayer upon awakening: “All praise be to Allah, Who has revived us after killing us, and to him all creatures will be resurrected” (HR. Bukhari).
Sleep should reawaken awareness of the approaching moment of mortality. When asleep, there is no distinction between the wealthy and the impoverished, officials and criminals, or other variations of social standing. Everyone is present in submission to Allah, the Life-Decider. No conceit, no arrogance, and neither envy nor jealousy exist. All things disintegrate in submission to His decrees. Because, so simply, Allah gives and takes the spirit of each servant.
You awaken from slumber with the realisation that you have inadequately provided for Allah’s promise. A realisation that erodes one’s inherent nature of avarice and injustice. The distance between life and mortality, wealth and poverty, power and misery, strength and weakness, and other variations are so small. Everything is visible while asleep and waking up. If pride is present when you are conscious, observe yourself when you are asleep. No power is left, only submission to the living and Allah, the Owner of Life.
Third, slumber represents the grave. Some humans slumber peacefully and appreciate the quality of their rest. The night is so brief for him that beautiful visions accompany it. Before you know it, daylight will illuminate the splendour of nature. However, there are also humans whose sleep is restless and tormented and who want the day to arrive faster—for him, the night lasted so long. Even though everyone is free to sleep, only some enjoy their slumber.
Fourth, sleep is evidence of human frailty and helplessness. If the possessor of the power becomes aware of his slumber, he will recognise his human frailty. The realisation is that sleeping alone cannot defend itself despite possessing sufficient strength. Someone else is required to care for him. Particularly when the eternal slumber (death) intensifies, all the grandeur, tenacity, strength, and power are now useless. Only hope for the assistance of others – who may be among the wronged – to cleanse, bury, and pray for him. The previously utilised “magic index finger” no longer functions. The “bodyguards” who pamper themselves like monarchs are no longer useful. The “conglomerates” that provided mounds of grease no longer exist. Not with the rhetoricians who assist the angels Munkar and Nakir in answering their queries. However, they will all be there in a moment, and we will forget who we were.
Fifth, slumber is a reflection and criterion of justice regarding the right to one’s organs. He will sacrifice his physical and mental rights to repose for a just man. In contrast, how much more so to his neighbour if he does wrong to himself? Allah reminds us in His words: “And let not your enmity for a people render you incapable of being just. Be just because justice is closer to religion.” (QS al-Maidah 8).
Referring to the preceding verse, justice encompasses justice with God, oneself, other humans, and the universe. A person who utilises sleep time judiciously is a reflection of fairness. A person must first be fair to himself before being fair to others. So long as he cannot be fair to himself, he cannot be fair to others or spread pleasure throughout the universe. The Prophet exemplifies the use of sleep time to give the body and spirit the right to rest. He utilised to fall asleep at the start of the night and awaken in the final third of the night. According to Aisha RA, “the Prophet of Allah SAW slept at the beginning of the night and awoke after the night. Then he prayed” (HR. Muttaqun).
The Prophet demonstrates a crystal-clear pattern of healthy living through slumber to his people. Justice for the liberties of the body and spirit is a measure of the quality of every servant’s character.
Sixth, slumber affords humans the chance to dream. Only sleeping humans are capable of dreaming. Without slumber, dreams cannot exist. As the adage goes, “Dreams are the flower of sleep.” Although dreams are free, not all humans are capable of dreaming, let alone achieving their desires. Theoretically, dreams are subliminal neural activity because the brain continues to function while resting when a stimulus arouses emotions and haunts the mind, ancient memories stored beneath the brain, or something that humans have never thought of dreaming.
Although dreams are limited to “sleeping flowers” and are subjective, there are dreams in which His servants receive the truth. As when Allah communicated His revelation to Muhammad through visions. Or when Allah granted His servant a dream encounter with the Prophet. The Prophet conveyed this through his words: “Whoever sees me in a dream, then he will see me in a state of consciousness, and the devil cannot resemble me” (HR. Bukhari).
Indeed, dreams teach humans to have hope (optimistic and dynamic hope), fantasising about a better future to make it a reality.
Only humans with aspirations will endeavour to achieve them. This is because visions inspire humans to construct a better future society. But humans without aspirations (who are pessimistic and stagnant) are comparable to a society of animals or robots who merely perform routine tasks. Nevertheless, there are also impossible aspirations with negative connotations. Such as dreams of wanting to be wealthy but lazy to work, dreams of heaven but never doing charity, dreams of being appreciated but his hobby is tyrannising, unable to act but only spread hatred, or other variants. For this reason, the Prophet issued the following warning through his words: “The person whose words are the most accurate has the most accurate dream” (HR. al-Thabrani).
Thus, the Prophet’s remarks regarding the relationship between speech and dreams are evident. Therefore, sleep and visions allow each servant to self-correct since the remaining human space is “asleep” despite being alert. “Asleep” despite the eyes being wide open and only able to see, the ears being limited to hearing, and the mouth containing only sustenance. Everything is helplessly colonised by the urge for “indifference” and can only “fall asleep,” which never awakens. Because the mouth is full, the stomach is full, and the wind causes the pupils to close. This choice leads him to become a person who has no dreams, dreams without taking action, or cannot dream but criticises those who do. To the extent that they exist (physically), these individuals are absent (spiritually deceased). Then, where is each individual’s position and choice? Only each self can account for its sleep and dreams.
Wa Allahua’lam bi al-Shawwab.
Translated by Riska Saputra
Alumni STAIN Bengkalis