evebitestheapple

My ex-career as a muslimah

Fringe Benefits – Part 2 March 6, 2011

Filed under: Fringe Benefits — evebitestheapple @ 5:09 am

Note: Refer to the Original post of the ‘Fringe Benefits’ series as the starting point.

Narrated Aisha: Muhammad would include in the adhan for the Fajr prayer:  “As-salatu khayrum minan nawm – Prayer is better than sleep, As-salatu khayrum minan nawm – Prayer is better than sleep”.

Um, no it’s not.

Being Muslim means losing out on alot of sleep. From prayers that start early in the morning, to prayers that end late in the evening depending on the season, to extra late-night prayers, Muslims can easily be the third group of most sleep-deprived individuals. Corporate executives and college students beat them out by a fraction.

Sleeping is a heavily regulated practice in Islam. What to say before sleeping, what to say upon waking, what position to sleep in, what happens to people while they sleep, what should happen to people who oversleep, what really happens to people who oversleep, activities that are better than sleep, what to say if you awaken while sleep, what to say if you have a nightmare while sleep, the best types of mattresses to sleep on, origins of dreams while sleep, and the best times of day to sleep. There’s probably more exquisite knowledge to sleeping, I am just not aware of those gems.

“And we have made your sleep as a thing for rest” Surah 78:9

Really? It doesn’t seem that way. With the pressure to avoid oversleeping, to get up in the last third of the night, to stay up late for Isha, and get up early for Fajr, and not have shaytans peeing in the ears, the last thing a true believer can expect to get from sleep is rest. Ramadhan is especially taxing on sleep so much so it is advised to take yearly vacations during the last ten nights just so a Muslim can observe praying all night.

All these  things used to make me wonder how Allah could be so clueless about his creation and the importance of sleep to humans. Since Allah is considered to be the creator of everything, how could He not know about the different time zones on earth and that some of his creatures would wind up staying up later than others thus missing out on sleep? Why make the best prayers, like that of Dawud, in the last third of the night during the time when humans are most likely entering their deepest sleep? Why does Al-Musawwir, the Fashioner, decree for people to have sleep diseases and then punish them by having shaytans urinate in their ears when they overlseep?

The study of circadian rhythms and the biological clock of the human body reveals that lack of light induces a natural response in humans to drop off to sleep. While this may seem like common sense to the average individual it must not be because Allah prescribed prayers well into the evening for Isha. Electricity did not exist during the Muhammad’s time so I imagine that natural response to go to sleep would kick in after Maghrib yet humans had to light fire to continue doing tasks and wait for Isha. How could such fundamental principles of Allah’s creation escape Him about sleep?

I moved to a state in the Eastern Time Zone a few years ago and that one hour difference means a whole lot. Isha was coming in almost as late as 10 p.m. in the summer which meant everyone had sit up and wait to go to bed. It takes me an hour to really start drifting into a deep sleep so that means it could be at least 11 p.m. before hitting restful stages of sleep. Combine that with early morning Fajr and you have women who can’t wait to see their menstrual cycle show up just so we can get some rest. 

Then there’s the added stress of reconciling this issue with raising children who are of praying age. Either you force them to stay up late to pray or you let them go to bed setting the precedence that they can delay salat. I wonder how many Muslim parents get notes from their child’s school about them falling asleep in class. That is another problem that was missed by Al-Alim, the All-Knowing.

Since apostating, I no longer have to worry about these things that don’t make much sense. I sleep on my stomach and past 5 a.m.. I can go to bed earlier and not have to prop my eyelids up at night with toothpicks to stay awake for prayer. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I turn over and go back to sleep. I don’t spit three times or make any special duas. I wake up and blow my nose because of allergies not because I think the shaytan is resting there. If I want to miss out on sleep in the last third of the night, I can do it while having a blast at the club instead of praying 13 rakats that I gain nothing. I can lay down as soon as I sit on the bed because I no longer have to spend a half-hour reciting various duas, surahs, and wiping over my body. I wipe my bed down because there are crumbs in it and not because the shaytan snuck in nap while I wasn’t there.

“Towards the end of his life it was narrated by Umar that Muhammad said: Do you know something about this night of yours, for at the end of one hundred years from now no one, who is on earth today, will survive”. (Bukhari and Muslim) taken from Riyahd-us-saleheen

Another miscalculation by the Muhammad/Allah duo. I have survived their madness and awoke from the slumber of Islam. And I won’t lose a wink of sleep over it.

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7 Responses to “Fringe Benefits – Part 2”

  1. Sig Says:

    Another thing a lot of Muslim mothers and dads did: Let their children skip fajr so that they could get the full night’s rest a lot of kids need. We should have felt guilty about it, but oddly, I didn’t. I knew my kids could NOT handle waking up like that at that particular time of the early morning and still function at school.

  2. Becky Says:

    I always followed the “Allah wants to make the deen easy for you”, rule of thumb. In summer I’d often pray Maghrib and Isha together – and go to bed at 9pm, instead of staying up till midnight to pray Isha (living in Denmark, Isha is VERY late, and Fajr is at 2.30am!) I pretty much always combined my prayers and didn’t feel guilty about it.

  3. rasheed Says:

    This only fits the lifestyle of many muslims in the UK that can reach the mosque for at least 3 salat. Fajr, Maghrub & Isha. You know who they can do this? Because they dont work. Peeps like me in I.T who manage complex networks cant afford to come in sleep-deprived & expect to function at a high level. I remember when I tried to do this and my job was 1*1/2 hrs away. I was late every morning, because of waking up for fajr & Id been there less than 1 month. I always felt tired, always felt like sleeping at work. How could this be beneficial if my job would be in jeopardy? But my akhis always told me its better to lose a job, pray & please Allah than it is to have one without being able to pray. Something about more baraka being in your money. Believe me my wages goes just as quick every month regardless of praying or not.

    And with fasting in summer, not being able to pray Isha till around 23:00 then having to stuff your gullet with as much food because fajr was steadily approaching at 2:00am. I never done a summer mind you but thats what my wife & her family went through. Then in the searing heat of summer not be able to drink water. If this was anything other than religion people would say we are endangering our health. And get this, some people encourage their kids to join in because the kids want to. Winter fasts were never an issue for me & to be honest I always wondered how I would do the summer ones but now I don’t have to worry….

    • I’ve never fasted Ramadhan during summer but I have done a sunnah fast during summer. I think I started to hallucinate after the thirteenth hour. Heaven help you if miss suhoor.

  4. N. Says:

    I recently came across a series of animated videos that showed Muslims how to be more ‘productive’ with their lives, and one of them reminded me of your post, so I thought you might be interested in watching it. It’s terribly propagandistic in my opinion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHX1n0CRpQI

    The rest of the videos are just as bad.

    • I remember seeing a similar video when I was Muslim. I think it was somthing like “Time Traveller’ series by the folks that run Al-Maghrib Institute. I gave them an ‘A for effort’ trying to make Muslims feel happy about not getting enough sleep.

      • N. Says:

        I feel really sorry for Muslims, justifying the most outrageous habits by any means. And yet, it makes sense; when rules and restrictions are placed upon you, you’d better force yourself to reason them out and even love and defend them, in order to stay sane (i.e., endless prayers, hijab, etc)


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