Teensie-Weensie Tafsir Gems: Slumber in times of hardship

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

So, for the month of the Quran, I thought that in addition to my regular posts, I would also put up some short posts with tafsir gems (mostly from Tafsir ibn Kathir).

Allah says:

إِذْ يُغَشِّيكُمُ النُّعَاسَ أَمَنَةً مِّنْهُ وَيُنَزِّلُ عَلَيْكُم مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً لِّيُطَهِّرَكُم بِهِ وَيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمْ رِجْزَ الشَّيْطَانِ وَلِيَرْبِطَ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِكُمْ وَيُثَبِّتَ بِهِ الْأَقْدَامَ

(Remember) when He covered you with a slumber as a security from Him, and He caused water (rain) to descend on you from the sky, to clean you thereby and to remove from you the Rijz (whispering, evil-suggestions, etc.) of Shaitan (Satan), and to strengthen your hearts, and make your feet firm thereby. [Surah Al-Anfal (8) :11]

People always equate hardships with a lack of good quality sleep but it’s actually the opposite.

Imam Ibn Kathir (rahimahullah) states in his explanation of this ayah (verse):

“Allah reminds the believers of the slumber that He sent down on them as security from the fear they suffered from, because of the multitude of their enemy and the sparseness of their forces. They were given the same favor during the battle of Uhud, which Allah described,

﴿ثُمَّ أَنزَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِّن بَعْدِ الْغَمِّ أَمَنَةً نُّعَاساً يَغْشَى طَآئِفَةً مِّنْكُمْ وَطَآئِفَةٌ قَدْ أَهَمَّتْهُمْ أَنْفُسُهُمْ﴾

(Then after the distress, He sent down security for you. Slumber overtook a party of you, while another party was thinking about themselves. ) (3:154)

Abu Talhah said, “I was among those who were overcome by slumber during (the battle of) Uhud. The sword fell from my hand several times, and I kept picking it up again, several times. I also saw the Companions’ heads nodding while in the rear guard.” Al-Hafiz Abu Yala narrated that Ali said, “Only Al-Miqdad had a horse during Badr, and at some point, I found that all of us fell asleep, except the Messenger of Allah . He was praying under a tree and crying until dawn.” Abdullah bin Masud said, “Slumber during battle is security from Allah, but during prayer, it is from Shaytan.” Qatadah said, “Slumber affects the head, while sleep affects the heart.”

Slumber overcame the believers on the day of Uhud, and this incident is very well-known. As for this Ayah (8:11), it is describing the battle of Badr, indicating that slumber also overcame the believers during Badr. Therefore, it appears that this will occur for the believers, whenever they are in distress, so that their hearts feel safe and sure of Allah’s aid, rewards, favor and mercy from Allah with them. Allah said in another Ayah,

﴿فَإِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْراً – إِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْراً ﴾

(Verily, along with every hardship is relief. Verily, along with every hardship is relief.) (94:5-6)

In the Sahih, it is recorded that on the day of Badr, while he was in the bunker with Abu Bakr, the Messenger and Abu Bakr were invoking Allah. Suddenly, slumber overcame the Messenger and he woke up smiling and declared,

«أَبْشِرْ يَا أَبَابَكْرٍ هَذَا جِبْرِيلُ عَلَى ثَنَايَاهُ النَّقْع»

(“Good news, O Abu Bakr! This is Jibril with dust on his shoulders.”

He left the shade while reciting Allah’s statement,

﴿سَيُهْزَمُ الْجَمْعُ وَيُوَلُّونَ الدُّبُرَ ﴾

(Their multitude will be put to flight, and they will show their backs.) (54:45)”

Yes, many people get insomnia when they are hit with trials but many others also get overcome by sleep.

I recall a friend of my mine telling me that she went to visit a lady whose son had just died and despite her distress, the lady kept falling asleep! My friend was very surprised and pointed out how Allah had caused the lady to fall asleep in such circumstances. And all praise is due to Him alone.

Slumber is not the only thing that those in the Battle of Badr got though. The ayah mentions some other things as well.

Ibn Kathir states:

“Allah said next,

﴿وَيُنَزِّلُ عَلَيْكُم مِّن السَّمَآءِ مَآءً﴾

(and He caused rain to descend on you from the sky.)

Ali ibn Abi Talhah reported that Ibn Abbas said, “When the Prophet arrived at Badr, he made camp. At the time, there was a sandy piece of land between the idolators and the water (the wells at Badr). Muslims felt weak and the Shaytan cast frustration into their hearts. He whispered to them, `You claim that you are Allah’s supporters and that His Messenger is among you! However, the idolators have taken over the water resource from you, while you pray needing purity.’ Allah sent down heavy rain, allowing the Muslims to drink and use it for purity. Allah also removed Shaytan’s whisper and made the sand firm when rain fell on it, and the Muslims walked on the sand along with their animals, until they reached the enemy. Allah supported His Prophet and the believers with a thousand angels on one side, five hundred under the command of Jibril and another five hundred under the command of Mikail on another side.”

An even a better narration is that collected by Imam Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Yasar, author of Al-Maghazi, may Allah have mercy upon him. Ibn Ishaq narrated that, Yazid bin Ruwman narrated to him that, Urwah bin Az-Zubayr said, “Allah sent rain down from the sky on a sandy valley. That rain made the area where the Messenger of Allah and his Companions camped firmer so that it did not hinder their movement. Meanwhile, the part that the Quraysh were camping on became difficult to move in.” Mujahid said, “Allah sent down the rain on the believers before slumber overtook them, and the rain settled the dust, made the ground firmer, made them feel at ease and their feet firmer.” Allah said next,

﴿لِّيُطَهِّرَكُمْ بِهِ﴾

(to clean you thereby) using it after answering the call of nature or needing to wash oneself, and this involves cleansing what is on the outside,

﴿وَيُذْهِبَ عَنكُمْ رِجْزَ الشَّيْطَـنِ﴾

(and to remove from you the Rijz of Shaytan,) such as his whispers and evil thoughts, this involves inner purification, whereas Allah’s statement about the residents of Paradise,

﴿عَـلِيَهُمْ ثِيَابُ سُندُسٍ خُضْرٌ وَإِسْتَبْرَقٌ وَحُلُّواْ أَسَاوِرَ مِن فِضَّةٍ﴾

(Their garments will be of fine green silk, and gold embroidery. They will be adorned with bracelets of silver) (76:21) involves outer appearance,

﴿وَسَقَـهُمْ رَبُّهُمْ شَرَاباً طَهُوراً﴾

(and their Lord will give them a pure drink.) (76:21) that purifies the anger, envy and hatred that they might have felt. This is the inner purity. Next, Allah said,

﴿وَلِيَرْبِطَ عَلَى قُلُوبِكُمْ﴾

(and to strengthen your hearts,) with patience and to encourage you to fight the enemies, and this is inner courage,

﴿وَيُثَبِّتَ بِهِ الاٌّقْدَامَ﴾

(and make your feet firm thereby) this involves outer courage. Allah know best.”

Amazing, isn’t it? This is just some tafsir gems from one scholar about one ayah (verse) in the Quran. Imagine then how deep and amazing the whole Book is?

Let’s try to spend this Ramadan on the Quran, in shaa Allah, because it is the Speech of Allah and the greatest miracle that our Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) recieved. After, if we don’t spend the month of the Quran on the Quran, when else will we spend time on it ?!

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