Aspects Of Islamic Faith - 70: When One Is Too Tired To
Islamic Perspectives - Muslim Journals
& Information - By Adil Salahi
Zainab bint Jahsh, one of the Prophet’s wives, was
very devout. She was keen to offer voluntary prayers,
and to fast. Furthermore, she excelled in handiwork.
She did things and sold them, giving the proceeds to
charity. As her home was adjacent to the mosque, she
sometimes offered voluntary worship in the depth of
the night in the mosque.
Anas ibn Malik reports: “The Prophet (peace be upon
him) came one day into the mosque and found a rope
stretched between two pillars. He asked what was the
He was told that it was put up for Zainab, so that she
would hold on to it during her prayer when she felt
too tired. The Prophet said: ‘No. Take it off. Let
everyone pray when they feel fresh and comfortable.
When they feel tired, they should sit down.’” (Related
This is just an example of the fact that Islam does
not overburden its followers with worship duties.
Voluntary night worship is highly recommended. It
earns rich reward from God. Yet no one should go to
extreme lengths in offering such worship. It is not
right to test one’s endurance in worship. God has made
fasting one of the best rewarding acts of worship. We
fast in Ramadan as a duty, refraining from taking food
or drink for the length of the day, from dawn to dusk.
Yet when the fasting time is over, we enjoy a good
meal. We have another meal just before starting the
fast. Thus, we are able to cope without much strain.
Some people tried to make fasting harder, by taking a
drink at sunset and continuing the fast to the next
day. The Prophet made it clear that was wrong. He
issued clear orders that no one should do that.
The present hadith tells us a similar story with
regard to prayer. His wife, who was known for her
exemplary devotion, wanted to spend much of the night
in worship. After a while she was very tired and could
not stand up in prayer. The following day, she asked
for a rope to be tied to two pillars at a suitable
height for her. She felt that if fatigue overtakes her
and she is about to fall asleep, she could hold on to
the rope in order to keep awake.
Thus, her body would be crying for sleep but her mind
wanted her to continue her voluntary worship. The
Prophet disapproved. He was too kind to his people to
allow this. Moreover, he wanted them to approach
worship in a cheerful and comfortable frame of mind.
If worship becomes too tiring, people would soon feel
it a burden and might leave it altogether. Hence, he
told them to offer voluntary worship only when they
are fresh and alert.
This is in line with Quranic guidance. God says in the
Qur’an: “God does not charge a soul with more than it
can bear. In its favor shall be whatever good it does,
and against it whatever evil it does. Our Lord, do not
take us to task if we forget or unwittingly do wrong.
Our Lord, do not lay on us a burden such as that You
laid on those before us. Our Lord, do not burden us
with what we do not have the strength to bear. Pardon
us, and forgive us our sins, and bestow Your mercy on
us. You are our Lord Supreme; grant us victory against
the unbelievers.” (2: 286)
Such is the supplication of believers: that they
should not have a burden that is too hard. Hence, they
must not make worship too hard