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.