Of the routines done by every human on a daily basis is sleeping. Even though sleeping comes with a simple form, it owns a significant importance. In order to prove the importance of sleep in humans’ lives avoiding it for 48 hours would be enough. Consecutive sleepless nights as well as disturbed sleeps lead to highlighted challenges in life.
Holy Quran has reminded us of subjects of night and sleeping as well as whose importance in various forms. According to the final Holy Book, the night comes with various functions; thus, sleeping at night has highlighted importance in beings’ lives, that’s why the Lord has defined sedentary life as well as pacification and sleeping at nighttime.
Tip One) Night and its Functions
A natural phenomenon in direct contact with spirit is the concept of night. The night in addition to the day, days and their repetition, months and their repetition and years finally make up humans’ lives. Days and nights come with their specific functions. Humans’ moods are different at those times. Human beings are more pacified at night as it is made for relaxation while the day is made for activities. Holy Quran points to the pacification of the night saying: Of the Lord’s signs of mercy are that night is the time for pacification while the day is time for mercies collection:
“It is out of His Mercy that He has made for you Night and Day,- that ye may rest therein, and that ye may seek of his Grace;- and in order that ye may be grateful” (Holy Quran 28: 73)
Interpretations mostly refer to the significant function of the night time, i.e. relaxation and compensation for the lost powers. Humans usually do business in day time. They toil for their families’ livelihood reaching a relative prosperity this way. On the one hand, daily work leads to reduction in body strength; on the other hand, it is a reason for humans’ mind and spirit pain and fatigue. Therefore, it is urgent that a part of all-day-long is assigned for the lost powers’ regain as well as humans’ thoughts and spirit pacification. The manner of creation has defined a period of daily time for relaxation and energy restoration. According to such function, night time is a period for relaxation and energy restoration which is mentioned in another verse:
“He it is that hath made you the night that ye may rest therein, and the day to make things visible [to you]. Verily in this are signs for those who listen [to His Message].” (Holy Quran 10:67)
The Lord is the one who has created the night for the advantage of humans to pacify at it and take comfort out of daily pains. In the evenings, the daily work of humans is stagnated and they postpone the process of livelihood to the day after. The general attitude behind creation is that people stop working at night decreasing their actions yet postponing them to some other time.
Some other functions are defined for night time except pacification and restoration of the missing physical, intellectual and mental forces; the night is a time to get accustomed to the family, to sympathize with other and to fulfill desires.
One other important function for the night, which is fulfilled at midnight, is that it is considered to be an altar and a window to the sky for the passionate. The night is the time to communicate with God; it’s the king for the pious and darkness for the departed. The pious are compatible with the night and its lengthening is a dream for them; such concepts are mentioned in some other verses of Quran as follows: (Holy Quran: 40:61, 28: 72, 27:86)
A question comes up: which one is more important, the night or the day? In the Creator’s viewpoint the night comes with an originality making it better than the day. Let’s review the characteristics of the night:
• Living the night: one verse includes ‘Vigil’ in the Holy Quran only:
“And pray in the small watches of the morning: [it would be] an additional prayer [or spiritual profit] for thee: soon will thy Lord raise thee to a Station of Praise and Glory!” (Holy Quran 17:79)
Vigil means living the night or night prayers. The verse mentions an exclusive duties of the prophets which is to spend some part of the night for vigil which shall comes with saying prayers and reading Quran; such task comes for others as a non-compulsory tradition.
One of the specific features of the night is to vigil. Living the day in not mentioned in the Holy Quran yet midnight prayers are highlighted. Not only are interactions and distractions less at night but also the night comes with a specific pacification since it has a feature in which prayers are said better.
The reward for vigil is mentioned at the end of the verse which makes the servant reach “Glorious Status.” Since the word “glorious” is defined as an adjective for the word status, the conclusion is made that such a status is position praised by everyone; thus, no position is full of praise except for the fact that all humans enjoy it and the only position everyone would enjoy is Major Intervention in the Judgment Day. The narrations confirm such a matter as well.
The “Glorious Status” is rarely mentioned; an example is Ashura Prayers where humans ask the Lord to bestow him the glorious status which is, according to the next sentence, the martyrdom. The glorious status could be said to be martyrdom. On the other side, it is known that the martyr has the right to plead.
• A window to the sky: the night time is a phenomenon with two features. One of which is “اشد وطا” which is a metaphor meaning the will is stronger at night or the purity of the spirit or that tongue accompanies heart more at night.
The other feature is "اقوم قیلا" is a metaphor meaning one’s presence of heart or departure from the world is much more at night. Therefore, the night comes with a feature not available in the day; the presence of heart, departure from the world, the purity of the spirit and humans’ connections to sky is more highlighted at night time:
“Truly the rising by night is most potent for governing [the soul], and most suitable for [framing] the Word [of Prayer and Praise].” (Holy Quran: 73:6)
• Miqat: No wonder Moses “stated place” happened in forty nights:
“Thus was completed the term [of communion] with his Lord forty nights.” (Holy Quran: 17:1)
• Levitation: Prophet Muhammad’s levitation occurred at night:
“Glory to [Allah] Who did take His servant for a Journey by night” (Holy Quran: 7:142)
• Destiny of World and Revelation of Quran: It’s no coincidence that the destiny of humans and the world is written in a night named “Ghadr Night” while the revelation of Quran happens at the same night:
“We have indeed revealed this [Message] in the Night of Power:” (Holy Quran: 97:1)
• Cover: Cover is one of the features of night. If night time is “clothing,” that’s why it covers the earth with darkness which is a divine destiny:
“And made the night as a covering,” (Holy Quran: 78:10)
The interpretation of the word cover in Holy Quran is clearly mentioned in some verses such as: Shams, 4 / Layl, 1 / Aaraff, 54. Thus, the night time comes with a feature which is covering the earth or the sun with its darkness; such is an act of God:
“Its night doth He endow with darkness,” (Holy Quran: 79:29)
An interesting in these verses is that the night requires the day which comes true quickly:
“He draweth the night as a veil o'er the day, each seeking the other in rapid succession” (Holy Quran: 7:54)
The blessed Allama Tabatabayi has used the verse to explain the fact that the essence of the Earth is defined with darkness, however, the day which appears due to the brilliance of the sun is estoppels as though the night pursues the day, raids and covers it just like clothes getting on bodies.
• Altar: various verses mention the Lord’s servitude at night. Even though a majority of the verses refer to prophet Muhammad, it could be said communication with the Lord could be patterned at night time:
“And during part of the night, [also,] celebrate His praises,” (Holy Quran: 50:40)
“And for part of the night also praise thou Him, and at the retreat of the stars!” (Holy Quran: 57:49)
“Stand [to prayer] by night, but not all night,” (Holy Quran: 73:2)
“And part of the night, prostrate thyself to Him; and glorify Him a long night through.” (Holy Quran: 76:26)
Additionally, a sing for the pious is that they pray the Lord in the middle of the night reading His letter:
“They rehearse the Signs of Allah all night long, and they prostrate themselves in adoration.” (Holy Quran: 3:113)
Those of piety and good-will sleep a little at night, repenting before the Lord at dawn:
“They were in the habit of sleeping but little by night. And in the hour of early dawn, they [were found] praying for Forgiveness;” (Holy Quran: 51:17-18)
• Sign: Zechariah was informed by the angles of the unseen world that he would have a son named Yahya. He asked the Lord for signs yet He showed signs of him as follows: Don’t Talk to People for Three Nights:
“Shall be that thou shalt speak to no man for three nights, although thou art not dumb.” (Holy Quran: 19:10)
In the end, Holy Quran points to the most important function of the night introducing it an apparatus for people’s pacification:
“And by the Night when it is still,” (Holy Quran: 93:2)
The word سجو in Arabic means pacification; thus, the night time is pacifying for humans in the Creator viewpoint.
the aforementioned subjects reveal the fact that the night time comes with various functions which are namely restoration of the lost power, pacification of mind and spirit, intimacy with the family, reduction of all sadness, vigil, a window to sky, Miqat, levitation, defining the fate of the world, day cover, pursuing the day, altar and a sign.
The Creator has entitled the night with an important function which is the night pacifies its followers, relieves their mind, attitude, soul and spirit yet reducing their pains, tiredness and weaknesses.
The night acts like a recharging device for humans; the time when humans enter the night, the phenomenon considers it a duty to recharge and reinforce people’s spirits.
Beautifully spoken, Khajeh Abd-Al-Allah Ansari illustrates the conversation among day and night as follows:
In the sense world, the world-brightening day was showing off before the heart-broken night that “Alas, the night; I come with the brilliant such whose brilliance is illuminating. O’ the night, I own the attribute of having gold and silver, doing contracts of passion and fear. O’ the night, I own the attributes of Friday prayers and five-time daily ones. I own the 30-day fasting of those in need. O’ the night, Jihad and Hajj depend on me; the praise of all Eids are on me. O’ the night, I am the mine of munificence, the announcer of the Doom’s day, the constellation I have is invaluable? My world-brightening knowledge is the true sign and is the sighted daytime
The night turned to the Lord weeping oh Lord if the day is the gorgeous servant, for your virtue victor the dark me over him.
The Great virtuous Lord turned to the day saying: “O’ the day, don’t show off before this heart-broken night once more as the night is the curtain of virtue, the attractor of mercy, the garden of faith, the garden for the pious ears, the haven for prophets, the sanctuary for the authorities, the altar for servants, the sanctuary for the ascetic, the treasure of secrets, the ship for the good, the fall for the virtue and Sormeh for the insight eye brilliance.”
In another debate between the day and night after day’s showoff, Khajeh illustrates night’s reply as follows:
“O’ the day, I have no fear to be dark. The cover of Kaaba, the house of God, Hajar Al-Asvad (the Black Stone), the Lord’s Dexter are all dark. O’ the day, I have no fear to be dark, the pencil is dark and an assistant for scholars. Satin is black and an adornment for preachers. O’ the day, I have no fear to be dark, the touchstone is dark and honor for exchangers. O’ the day, I have no fear to be dark. Olives are black and healing for the sick; the pupil of the eyes are black and raider of the passionate hearts. Myrobalan is dark and painkiller of the sick. The flag of Muharram is dark and beautiful. The hair and eyebrow is dark and attractive for hearts. O’ the day, I have no fear to be dark. The mole in the face is dark and of high quality. The hair of the sweethearts is dark and extremely popular.”
Second Tip) Night Sleep and Its Importance
Sleeping is one of the natural, physiological needs of human body. In case any disturbance occurs during sleep, one’s body and soul would be affected by distress. Having the right amount of sleep leads to n increase in one’s point of tolerance and his ability to face disturbing stimulus. The significance of sleeping is so immense that sleeping could be said to be a treatment. Insomnia leads to organic problems such as affliction, fatigue and sloth in everyone. On the other hand, unrest and anxiety in any form would be a reason for insomnia; therefore, a direct link is between sleeping and relaxation which is unrest is the origin of insomnia and bad sleep causes distress. Insomnia could be source for mental disorders, nightmares, various awakening and blood pressure as well. Every aspects of human body, i.e. the flesh, brain, mind and soul, require sleeping and the Lord has appointed sleeping a reason for body and soul pacification. The day is assigned for activities while the night is a cover and sleeping the key to pacification:
“And He it is Who makes the Night as a Robe for you, and Sleep as Repose, and makes the Day [as it were] a Resurrection.” (Holy Quran: 25: 47)
Third Tip) The Night and Residence
Majority of verses in connection with the word “Pacification,” are mentioned in relation with the night. The Holy Quran has related 6 out of 15 repetition of the word to the night, in 5 of which the preposition “inside” is used:
“He it is That hath made you the night that ye may rest therein, and the day to make things visible [to you]. Verily in this are signs for those who listen [to His Message].” (Holy Quran: 10: 67)
In the previous verse the scope of the Lord’s ownership was mentioned which point to the fact that the scope of His ownership is as large as the whole universe and beyond. Hence, the Lord is the sole owner and one form of monotheism is that of ownership. Polytheism is unacceptable in the concept of ownership and the universe accepts not polytheism. In the following, the Holy Quran refers to the importance of night and day, for instance, mentioning the functionality of each. In the Creator’s viewpoint, the night is made for residence yet the day for brightness and motions. The interpretation for the letter ل in the Arabic word لِتَسْکنُواْ is used to describe extremity while the interpretation for “inside” is helpful within, meaning the extreme point in the creation of the night is residence in it; hence, it could be said: “the Lord has created the night for residence.”
According to interpretations humans are usually active during the day, trying to catch livelihood which requires motion; physical movements undermines energy of the body. The Lord created the night and entitled it with darkness so that people stop working and compensate for their pains and sufferings. Some of night respite restores the lost physical energies. Provided that the night didn’t exist, people would work so much that they would perish.
Ala Al-Din Baghdadi defines residence at night:
“Residence has roots in stability after an activity.”
Literally, stability means when one stops moving and reaches the level residence after an activity. The aforementioned ideas could be concluded with the fact that residence at night is a reason for “physical pacification.”
Some may rest on the belief that the night means sheer darkness which is fixed and “a counterexample” does not exist for such a matter; needless to say, it is clear that the rise of darkness is part of the Earth requires thousands, maybe infinite, number of existential factors whose tangibility depend on the permission of the Lord so that the sun doesn’t shine on the Earth, in the last circle of elements, leading to a blessed privilege for humanity’s pacification in that area:
“It is Allah Who has made the Night for you, that ye may rest therein, and the days as that which helps [you] to see. Verily Allah is full of Grace and Bounty to men: yet most men give no thanks.” (Holy Quran: 40:61)
Two important divine privileges are mentioned in the verse: the night and the day. The day is brightening and is fitted to work, endeavors and activity. The two privileges are bestowed to humans as bounties so that they pay attention to which and thank God for them. However, the majority of humans are careless and the feeling of thankfulness does not appear in them. Truly, if darkness took over or the brilliance of the sun brightens the Earth, life would be different yet longevity was impossible for humans. Interpretations about residence at night mention two meanings:
Firstly, daily endeavors loosen the forces in the physical body and causing tiredness. Hence, the body requires motionlessness to restore lost forces. The Lord appointed the night for humans to have their “physical pacification” returned; perhaps sleeping could be analyzed in the same regard.
Secondly, human’s five senses are activated during the day as he sees, hears, tastes, smells and touches. Human’s senses come with a capacity. Provided they are over-utilized, they get painful. The Lord created the night for eyes to pause what they do, no sound for ears to hear and, in the following, one’s apparent senses almost stop working. Instead, he lies and the sleeping takes over for sensory forces rest and repair as though the darkness and sleeping is a recharging device for humans. Therefore, the verses of residence at night tell us that night and sleeping causes sensory forces to be compensated for and “peace of mind” shows up:
“He it is that cleaveth the day-break [from the dark]: He makes the night for rest and tranquility, and the sun and moon for the reckoning [of time]: Such is the judgment and ordering of [Him], the Exalted in Power, the Omniscient.” (Holy Quran: 6:96)
Allah has names; it is derived from the holy verse that a mixture of two names of “Exalted” and the “Omniscient” makes us the process of “Destiny.” The Lord created the universe and defined infinite traits for every element of it and the whole universe; for instance, when should they exist, where do they come true, which elements are they in relation with and, generally speaking, how shall they appear and how leave the universe. Among the determinations of the Lord is the fact that the night is appointed to be still with the functionality of “pacification.”
Not only do interpretations refer to the presupposed meanings as well as the physical and mental pacification but also they define two formats for residence, one of which is physical pacification while the other is the sort of pacification takes over thinking, mind and attitude of humanity. That’s why, plenty of animals, besides humans, leave what they do at night and take haven to relax. During sleep, one’s pulse, breathing and blood circulation slow down, his understanding degrades, nervous system pacifies and, long story short, the whole body and mind relax in order to reach to previous energy levels.
It is worth mentioning that the other three verses (Ghosas, 72, 73 / Naml, 86) express aforementioned ideas. The first point to notice is the fact that in all six verses the verb “make” is mentioned; secondly, the purpose of the night is defines to be residence; thirdly, in all cases day and night are defined to be a sign as well as the concept of thankfulness. The Lord shows signs around the world and, basically, the whole universe is a sign of Him and humans shall be worthy of signs. Since humanity is made up to physique and mind they get weakened by all the movements; hence, the Creator has stipulated the night for pacification for another sign of Him appears in the universe.
Fourth tip) Lack of Sleep to Praise God
The religious leaders had the tradition to stay awake a majority of the night being awake, praising the Lord, reading Quran and saying midnight prayers. They would adorn their spirit, remove rust of heart and begin the day with an illuminating conscience this was in order to make constructive social interactions. A companion of Imam Reza (P.B.U.H) defines his tradition as follows:
“[Imam Reza] was not sleeping much at night while spending a majority of the time at nights for vigil. Besides, he would help the people in need and a unique figure in such an act.”
In relation to his manner of sleeping an interesting tip is found. Abi Jarir Qomi says: “Once, I asked Imam Reza about his pillow and bed. The Imam replied his father was sleeping on a bed of birds’ feathers and he would do so.”