Sleeping On the Right Side

‘Aisha, God be pleased with her, said: “After offering the first two traditional (Sunna) morning prayers at home, God’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم did sometimes lie down on his right side for a brief rest* before he joined the congregation (to lead them) in the dawn (fajr) prayers (at the mosque).” (Reported in sahïh Bukhãri). Someone said that the wisdom behind the idea of sleeping on the right side is to make one’s sleep light, for the heart leans towards its natural constitution on the upper left side of the body, and by sleeping on the right side, the heart will keep requiring a physical adjustment, hence making one’s sleep light.

By contrast, sleeping on the left side is conducive to sound sleep, and possibly the consequent neglect of one’s duties in this world, and since sleep is the little brother of death, therefore, it must not become constant. Since the dwellers of the heavenly paradise do not sleep, hence, in this world, and during his rest, the human being needs a guardian to protect him against the incursion of diseases, and to defend his body against unwarranted misfortunes, and since his guardian Lord has taken it upon Himself to provide for such protection, God’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم taught the believers the prayer of entrustment, seeking refuge, solicitation, and reverence to ascertain and substantiate their faith and surrender to God’s will. In the event that one is destined to die that night, making such prayer the last words he speaks will ensure him the death of a believer and the ultimate joy of dwelling in paradise. Such prophetic guidance is most advantageous for one’s heart, body and soul during wakefulness and sleep, and both in this world and in the hereafter. May God’s peace and blessings shower upon him eternally, for in his example is the best guidance for the believers.

As for his saying: “Lord, I submit myself to You,” it means I surrender myself and existence to You as a slave who recognizes his master and Owner. Then when he says: “I turn my face to You,” it includes one’s sincerity in turning himself wholly to his Lord and submitting it to His will and judgement. It also involves one’s recognition of his ineffectualness and his dependence on God Almighty for his resources and existence. God Almighty speaks on the subject of turning one’s face to his Lord, saying: { If they** argue with you, say: I turn my face towards my Lord, and those who follow me do the same. } (Qur’an 3 : 20). Here too, God Almighty speaks of one’s countenance, which is the most noble feature of the human being and the cardinal junction of his senses which elucidate his balance. Hence, this prayer means that Allah is the Lord, Cherisher and Sustainer of the creation, and the true servant intends Him, and offers his deeds to please Him. “I trust my destiny to You” means I beseech Your compassion and mercy, and Your choice is my pleasure. Such reliance upon one’s Lord brings the servant to the highest station of worship, and this prayer is most pleasing to his Lord. In fact, this is a rare achievement. Only the most pious of the pious ones can reach such state of absolute trust in His Lord and acceptance of His will. Then comes his prayer: “I put my trust in Your protection,” in other words: “I ask You to protect me from behind me” which denotes one’s absolute trust and feeling of strength by the presence of his Lord. This state is most pleasing and gratifying to one’s heart. In fact, one feels comfortable and at peace when he leans his back against an upright and firm support and he will not be afraid of falling.

Moreover, since the heart has two kinds of strength -that is (1) the power of determination, which is based on yearning; and (2) the power of aspiring for deliverance, which is based on awe and reverence, and since the human being is constantly seeking his own benefits and eschewing harm, therefore, he prayed: “Soliciting You, and fearing You.” The prayer then emerges to praise God Almighty, saying: “I have no escape from You but to seek refuge in You.” Hence, it is He alone Who has the power to save the servant from himself. This is similar to God’s Messenger’s صلى الله عليه و سلم other prayer: “I seek refuge in Your pleasure regarding Your displeasure, and I seek refuge in Your forgiveness versus Your punishment, and I seek refuge in You from You.” Here again, the servant recognizes that only Allah has such power to save him from any predicament, which plight can only come to effect by His will, for both trials and salvation are controlled by Him, and He alone has the power to prevent harm. He says: { If Allah afflicts you with evil, none can remove it but He. } (Qur’an 6 : 17) and He says: { Say: ‘Who can protect you from Allah if He intends to disadvantage you? And who can prevent Him from showing you mercy?’ } (Qur’an 33 : 17)

Lastly, the prayer is concluded by confirming one’s faith in Allah, His Book, and His Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم who is the surely of salvation, and of earning God’s mercy and blessings in this world and in the hereafter. This is his blessed tradition regarding his personal rest, and even if he had not said: ‘I am God’s Messenger,’ the testimony of his actions and purity would have proven it.

*Cf. Brief rest > microsleep.
**i.e., the disbelievers.

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