Meaning of Neither Drowsiness Overtakes Him nor Sleep
Fatwa No: 370840

  • Fatwa Date:18-2-2018 - Jumaadaa Al-Aakhir 3, 1439
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Question

Asalamo AlaikumIn Ayat ul kursi it says slumber does not overtake him.There is a hadith in which it says that "“A woman from the tribe of Bani Asad was sitting with me, and the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, came to my house and said, ‘Who is this?’ I said, ‘She is so-and-so; she does not sleep at night because she is engaged in prayer.’ The Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, said, ‘Do (good) deeds within your capacity; Allaah never gets tired (of giving rewards) until you get tired (of doing good deeds).’” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]"Please explain this hadith to me?are slumber and tiredness 2 different things?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

Allah Says (what means): {Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep.} [Quran 2:255] Meaning, that Allah is not overtaken by drowsiness or sleep. Al-Qurtubi said in his Tafseer: “This is the view held by all the scholars.” [End of quote]

However, this does not contradict the Hadeeth that you quoted in the question; which includes the following expression “Allah never gets tired (of giving rewards) until you get tired (of doing good deeds)”; for the following two reasons:

1- The linguistic meaning of tiredness differs from that of drowsiness. The linguistic meaning of the word drowsiness is boredom. This is why another narration of the Hadeeth reported by Ahmad in Al-Musnad and At-Tabaraani, reads: “Allah does not get bored until you become bored.” Imam Ahmad also reported in Al-Musnad, that 'Aa'ishah, narrated that (once) Hawlaa' bint Tuwayt passed by her while the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) was with her and she said: “O Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) this is Hawlaa' bint Tuwayt and people claim that she does not sleep at night. Upon this, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: “(Oh) she does not sleep at night! Choose an act which you are capable of doing (continuously). By Allah, Allah does not get bored until you become bored.

2- The term “Allah does not get tired or bored until you become bored”, means that He does not stop His reward from you and recompensing you for your good deeds, and does not deal with you in a bored manner until you become bored and stop; so you should perform what you can continuously do in order for His Reward and His Favor to continue.

Also, the Hadeeth does not mean that obedience is tiring and hard. Rather, what is meant is that a person should not perform so many recommended acts of obedience, such as the night prayer and optional fasting, to an extent that this leads to boredom and abandoning all acts of obedience. Rather, one should do something and continue to do it. That mentioned woman was praying so many optional night prayers and did not sleep at night, and the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said to ‘Aa’ishah: stop praising her; you should only choose an act which you are capable of doing (continuously). An-Nawawi said about the interpretation of this Hadeeth:

The Prophet’s saying: “You should only choose an act which you are capable of doing (continuously), means acts which you can do continuously without being harmed. This narration proves that it is encouraged for one to perform acts of worship in a reasonable manner and avoid exaggeration; the Hadeeth is not specific to the prayer; rather, it applies to all acts of benevolence.” [End of quote]

‘Awn Al-Ma'bood reads: “(The Hadeeth means) perform deeds according to your ability and energy…..”.” [End of quote]

Also, Haashiyat As-Sindi ‘Ala Ibn Maajah reads: “The term “Which you are capable of doing” means deeds you are able to do continuously while being steadfast on doing it, and not what you can do sometimes and leave at some other times.” [End of quote]

Allah knows best.

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