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Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) - 50: Prayers As The Night Begins

Islamic Perspectives - Muslim Journals

Arab News & Information - By Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghazali

When the long day is over and its hard toil comes to a close, Muslims finish their day with the last of their five obligatory prayers. During the lifetime of the Prophet (peace be upon him), everyone went back home to relax and rest. The question to ask is how did Muhammad (peace be upon him) spend his nights? Think of any of the great philosophers of divinity and their devotion: Had any of them done throughout their long days a portion of what Muhammad did in his nights, he would have made a remarkable achievement. The best description of Muhammad in this context is the worshipping Prophet.' The start of the night meant for him a new phase of drawing closer to God. Scholars of Hadith have reported a gem of his glorifications and supplications at night. We will only be able to quote a few of these.

Two of the Prophet's companions report that when he went to bed, he said: "It is in Your name, my Lord, that I live and I die." Abu Hurayrah quotes the Prophet as saying: "When any of you goes to bed, he should say: In Your name, my Lord, do I place myself and with Your help I rise again. If You withhold my soul, have mercy on me, and if You let me live, protect me as You protect Your pious servants.'" This sort of address to God provides us with an insight into the Qur'anic verse that says: "God takes away people's souls upon their death, and the souls of the living during their sleep. He keeps with Him the souls of those whose death He has ordained and sends back the others until their appointed time." (39: 42) Reflection on the meaning of the Qur'anic verse and the Prophet's supplication will make a believer realize that his soul is in God's hand. His life is a gift from God that he receives at every minute. He goes to bed but may not rise until the Day of Resurrection. Should this be the case, he prays for God's mercy. If he rises in the morning, he hopes to enjoy God's care and protection. It is the best approach to life, totally free of conceit.

Al-Bara ibn Azib quotes the Prophet as saying: "When you want to go to bed, perform your ablutions as you do when you want to pray. Then lie on your right side, and say: My Lord, to You do I submit myself; in Your hand do I place my affairs; Your support do I seek, in hope and fear of You. All shelter and safety come from You. I believe in Your book that You have revealed and in Your Prophet whom You have sent.' Should you die during the night, you are certain to have died believing in the true faith."

What does repeating these words every night give us? When we close our eyes and get ready to sleep, we put our will aside and leave everything for a short or long while. Many are those who feel that they are going into the unknown. A believer, however, surrenders himself to his Lord, placing his life affairs in His hand and seeking His protection. Only God can look after him then. Who else can be relied upon to protect him from all evil?

As they go to bed, some people try to take account of what they did in their day, balancing gain against loss, good actions against errors. The supplication the Prophet has taught us relieves us of such a hard task. It places all our hopes and fears in God's hand as we assert one major point in our address to God: "I believe in Your book that You have revealed and in Your Prophet whom You have sent." That is the true faith that gives a Muslim a very comfortable night.

Another Hadith mentions that the Prophet used to say as he went to bed: "My Lord, You are the Lord of the heavens and earth, the Lord of the great Throne, our Lord and the Lord of everything. You are the One who splits the grains and the fruit-stones (to let plants and trees grow). You are the One who revealed the Torah, the Gospel and the Qur'an. I appeal to You to protect me from evil, as You are the One who controls everything. You are the First and there was none before You. You are the last and there will be none after You. You are the Outer and there is nothing above You, and You are the Inner and there is nothing beneath You. Help us to repay our debts and save us from poverty."

 

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