for all thinking people, there are many matters to reflect on in the creation of the night. our lord announced this to human beings in the following verse of the qur'an: "a sign for them is the night: we peel the day away from it and there they are in darkness." (surah ya sin: 37) one of these matters is hidden in the gradual disappearance of the light and the darkening of the sky. because of this slow transition, living things easily become accustomed to the differences in light and temperature between day and night and suffer no harm because of them. allah, with his supreme knowledge and power, has mercy on his slaves and all living things, and he gives this blessing to all people but most do not think of it even once in their lives.
when a person who lives by the values of the qur'an considers these things, he sees another proof of what allah revealed in verse 92 of surah yusuf: "… he is the most merciful of the merciful."
there is no doubt that the alternation of day and night is one of the countless blessings created by allah for humanity. in order to understand this better, our lord draws our attention to these things in the qur'an:
say: "what do you think? if allah made it permanent night for you till the day of rising, what god is there other than allah to bring you light? do you not then hear?"
say: "what do you think? if allah made it permanent day for you till the day of rising, what god is there other than allah to bring you night to rest in? do you not then see?'"(surat al-qasas: 71-72)
allah created the conditions, balances and systems necessary for day and night, in the absence of one of which, only allah could help. if allah wanted, he could create continual day or continual night, but living things could not survive under such conditions. if such conditions ever came about, life on earth would come to an end. there is no doubt that allah creates day and night in perfect order providing an environment in which living things can survive. this is a sign of his endless compassion and mercy. in the verse following the previous one, our lord says the following:
but part of his mercy is that he has made both night and day for you so that you can have your rest and seek his bounty, and so that hopefully you will be thankful. (surat al-qasas: 73)
it is only those who use their minds to consider the creation and who come to fear allah, that is, who live according to the qur'an, who reflect on the reasons for the orderly alteration of day and night. allah reveals this in a few verses:
in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are signs for people with intelligence. (surah al 'imran: 190)
in the alternation of night and day and what allah has created in the heavens and the earth there are signs for people who have taqwa. (surah yunus: 6)
in the creation of the heavens and earth, and the alternation of the night and day, and the ships which sail the seas to people's benefit, and the water which allah sends down from the sky by which he brings the earth to life when it was dead and scatters about in it creatures of every kind and the varying direction of the winds, and the clouds subservient between heaven and earth, there are signs for people who use their intellect. (surat al-baqara: 164)
allah has created human metabolism such that it needs to rest in the night and he reveals this in the following verses:
it is he who appointed the night for you, so that you could rest in it, and the day for seeing. there are certainly signs in that for people who listen. (surah yunus: 67)
allah is he who appointed the night for you so that you might rest in it, and the day for seeing. allah pours out his favour on mankind but most people do not show thanks. (surah ghafir: 61)
besides being a time for rest, the night has another very special quality. one of the reasons for the creation of night is that these hours of general peace and quiet around the world are productive for some acts of worship. compared to the active daytime, night-time is more conducive to thinking, reading and praying. allah reveals this in the qur'an:
certainly rising at night has a stronger effect and is more conducive to concentration. in the daytime much of your time is taken up by business matters. remember the name of your lord, and devote yourself to him completely. (surat al-muzzammil: 6-8)
it is easier to concentrate in the night in order to ponder the wonders of allah's creation, read the qur'an and pray. a believer who is aware of this will not spend the whole night asleep or resting. he will quietly by himself turn to allah for his needs, and for forgiveness of his errors and shortcomings. he will evaluate the day that has passed, review the mistakes he made in it; repent of his shortcomings and ask for forgiveness. he will pass his time in a way that pleases allah, remember him and try to draw close to him. he will think about many things such as allah's existence and majesty, the qur'an, the extraordinary design of the universe, living things on the earth with their flawless systems, the blessings that allah continually creates, the garden, the fire and eternity. the behaviour of a believer who devote a part of the night to worship is praised by allah in some verses of the qur'an:
(the slaves of the all-merciful are) … those who pass the night prostrating and standing before their lord. (surat al-furqan: 64)
their sides eschew their beds as they call on their lord in fear and ardent hope… (surat as-sajda: 16)
what of him who spends the night hours in prayer, prostrating and standing up, mindful of the hereafter, hoping for the mercy of his lord? say: "are they the same—those who know and those who do not know?" it is only people of intelligence who pay heed. (surat az-zumar: 9)
in this way, believers will have put into practice the sunnah of our prophet (saas) who spent a part of each night in prayer, contemplation and in worship. this is mentioned in one verse:
your lord knows that you stay up nearly two-thirds of the night or half of it, or a third of it and a group of those with you… (surat al-muzzammil: 20)
the tradition has been passed down to us that our prophet, may allah bless him and grant him peace, prayed that allah would give him good character and conduct; it is said that he prayed in these words:
"o allah, make my constitution and conduct good. o allah, save me from bad character and conduct." (imam ghazali's ihya ulum-id-din)
it must not be forgotten that, as we stated earlier, sleep is like death and, if allah willed, a person would not wake up again. for this reason, the last minutes before falling asleep may be the last occasion a person has to ask for forgiveness. allah reveals this in the qur'an:
allah takes back people's selves when their death arrives and those who have not yet died, while they are asleep. he keeps hold of those whose death has been decreed and sends the others back for a specified term. there are certainly signs in that for people who reflect. (surat az-zumar: 42)
a believer who lives according to the teachings of the qur'an knows the value of this opportunity granted to him—perhaps his last—before falling asleep. he keeps this in mind and sincerely draws near to allah; he asks forgiveness for his wrong actions, asks allah's help in all things and prays to him alone in the stillness of the night.