Relation Between Sleep and Death

The Glorified Allah commands: “So We said: Strike it (the dead body) with part of it (the sacrificed cow), this is how Allah brings the dead to life, and He shows you His signs so that you may understand.” (Al-Baqara/The Cow 2:73)

The expression: “…this is how Allah brings the dead to life” is important. A man cannot be brought back to life with the strike of a piece of meat. Maybe a sleeping person can be woken up that way. Then, the dead’s coming to life might be similar to waking of a sleeping person. Because according to the verses death is like a long sleep, grave like a sleeping place, and resurrection after death like waking up. A verse says:
And He it is Who takes your souls at night (in sleep), and He knows what you acquire in the day, then He raises you up therein that an appointed term may be fulfilled; then to Him is your return, then He will inform you of what you were doing” (Al-An’am/The Cattle 6:60).

Resurrection from death is like rising from bed, and The Horn is like awaking trumpet. The verse above relates a person who was just killed and whose body has not been corrupted yet. The Glorified Allah with His endless power has repaired the damaged organ and has sent his soul back to the body. This is how the resurrection of humans will be accomplished; first the person’s body will be brought back to an alive state, than his soul will be sent to the body and he will be back to life as if he would be waking up.

Human has been created out of wet soil (tiyn). The Glorified Allah commands:
Who made good everything that He has created, and He began the creation of human from mud (tiyn). Then He made his offspring from a non-durable water, a drained  extract.” (As-Sajda/The Prostration 32:7-8)

Tiyn is the mixture of water and soil[1]. If water is not mixed with soil, life cannot go on. This is the way the nature produces nutrition. Thus, not only Adam but all human beings are created out of soil. A core extracted from nutrition of human creates the human seed. The seed is placed in the mother’s womb and develops with the nutrition that comes from soil. Thus, body is fed by soil and water till the moment it dies. Everything leaving the body becomes soil. The recreation will be from soil, too, and it will be like human beings growing out of earth like plants. The Glorified Allah commands:
From it We created you and into it We shall send you back and from it will We extract you a second time” (Ta-Ha 20:55)

1. The Soul  
After the body reaches a stage in the mother’s womb, Allah blows him a soul. The previous verses continue this way:
Then Allah equalized that fetus (to other human beings as for its organs) and breathed into him from His soul. Thus, He made for you hearing and eyes with vision and hearts (that make decision); little are you grateful!” (As-Sajda/The Prostration 32:9)

2. Death and Sleep
Body is a home for the soul. The soul departs at sleep and returns when it is time to get up. A dead body is like a collapsed house. The soul does not come back to it, till the moment it is recreated. This is what this verse decrees:
Allah takes the souls at the time of death, and takes those that do not die during their sleep. He withholds those for whom He decreed death and sends the others back for an appointed term.” (Az-Zumar/The Throngs 39:42)

Both the words ‘mawt’ and ‘wafaat’ are mentioned in this verse. The word ‘anfus (sing. nafs)’ in this case is both the subject of the verb يتوفي= yatawaffa (the accomplisher), and the object of the verbs موت=mawt and منام=manam (the one affected by sleep). According to this, there are two nafs in a person; the one that is caused to ‘wafaat’ , and the one that sleeps everyday and dies when the time comes. With a careful study of the relations between the verses, it is noticed that the nafs that sleeps and dies is ‘the body’, while the one that is caused to ‘wafaat’ is ‘the soul’.

The root of the word ‘wafaat’ is ‘wafa=وفى’. The Arabic word wafa stands for ‘accomplishment’. To cause to wafaat, which is توفي’=tawaffi’, is ‘causing to have something accomplished’. Since there is nothing the soul will do during sleep or after death, Allah extracts the soul from the body in both cases.
موت=mawt is the loss of vitality; death.

The one that sleeps and dies is the body, while the soul neither sleeps nor dies. Human is composed of body and soul. Each of them is called ‘nafs’. The Qur’an demonstrates the speech of a soul departing his dying body:
When death comes to one of them, he says: Send me back, my Lord, send me back;
Haply I may do righteous deeds in that (world) which I have left. Never! It is but a (mere) word he speaks; and behind them is a barrier until the day they are resurrected.
” (Al-Mu’minun/The Believers 23:99-100)

The soul and the body are paired in the mother’s womb for the first time. The Glorified Allah commands:
And Allah created you of soil, then of fertilized ovum, then He made you pairs. [2] ” (Fatir/Initiator 35:11)

When the body is recreated in the hereafter, the second pairing is going to occur. This is the time described in the verse (At-Takwir/The Folding Up 81:7) as: ‘وَإِذَا النُّفُوسُ زُوِّجَتْ : when the nufus (sing. nafs) are paired’.
Sleep is essential to be able to rest. Death is essential to be able to have a body suitable for the life in the hereafter which does not age, deform, get sick, or die. From the person’s eye, death and resurrection are like blinking an eye. Allah the Almighty decrees:
“And the command for the Hour is only as a blink of the eye or even nearer. Indeed, Allah sets measures regarding everything.” (An-Nahl/The Bee 16:77)

الْبَصَرِلَمْح means blink [3]. In an eye blink, the open eye is closed and opened again. This is the way Allah describes resemblance of the time between worldly life and the hereafter. Person closes his eye at death and opens it in the hereafter.

Resurrection occurs on this world. The soul pairs with its body once more and the person opens his eye feeling as if awaken after his sleep. Those who conceal the truth suppose the chastisement in the grave as a nightmare, and say:
“On the Day He will summon you and you will respond with praise of Him (that He called you)…” (Al-Isra/The Night Journey 17:52)

And when they see the suffering that comes, they say:
“They will say, “Woe to us! Who has raised us up from our sleeping place?”” (Ya-Seen 36:52)
According to human perception, death is the same as sleep. This is what the mentioned verses express.


[1] Raghib al-Esfahani, Art. طين
[2] That means, genders are determined after fertilization.
[3] لَمَحَ البَرْقُ ولَمَعَ، ولَمَحَ البَصَرُ، ولَمَحَهُ ببَصَرِه واللَّمْحةُ: النَّظْرة Al-Halil b. Ahmad (100-175 h.) Al-Ayn, (thk: Mehdi al-Mahzumi, Ibrahim as-Samraî), Iran 1409/1988.
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Date: Nov 7, 2014