Sweeter Than Sleep A Short Story by

She wakes to the galaxy of Styrofoam forming her popcorn-ceiling and wonders why she can discern the intricacies of it before dawn? Groaning, she covers her face in shame; the sun has risen, but He needs not light to see what she has failed to do. The makeshift shelter of her hands is dismantled and gropes for the blanket that once appeared a comfort, making sleep seem sweeter. But throughout the globe, wherever the submitters reside, men from among them called out before dawn, Salah is better than sleep. How, then, can sleep stand to be sweeter?

Guilt and regret wracks her heart and mind while she washes her limbs. Waiting within, a crafty whisperer emerges, seizing upon this vulnerable worshipper. It rebukes her for her audacity, how can you face Him while you have transgressed so egregiously? It advises her to withdraw from this activity. You have sinned enormously, it purrs, abandon hope for surely you are doomed! Eyes wide in terror, she looks at the mirror to see the reflection that is her face. Doomed? Me? She is almost fooled but shakes her head. No. No? it whispers back boldly, taunting her. No, she responds with firm resolve.

“O son of Adam, so long as you call on Me and put your hope in Me, I will forgive whatever you have done, and I will not mind. O son of Adam, even if your sins were to reach the clouds of the sky, and you were to then seek My forgiveness, I would forgive you and I will not mind. O son of Adam, if you were to come to me with an earth full of sins, and you were to meet Me not associating anything in worship with Me, I will come to you with an earth full of forgiveness.”
[al-Mundhiri, Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Ibn Rajab]

The sinister whisperer withdraws for now, defeated. She must patrol her mind. He will not rest for long and once he has strategized an alternate attack plan, he will strike with intensified ferocity.

She unfolds her prayer mat and arranges herself in perfect formation. Head bowed, eyes on the floor, mouth in motion, she recites two chapters. She bows, rises and falls into prostration. Prostration. It is said that when a believer is in prostration he or she is never closer to God than in that moment. The prayer mat accumulates moisture while she laments her misused time. Sleep over Salah. She contextualizes her transgression for the sake of progress.

After she has made up her missed prayer, she lifts her palms skyward, constructing a transitory bowl; in reverence she supplicates:

“Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and have mercy upon us, we will surely be among the losers.”
[7:23]

Later that night, by the light of her lamp, she can see the galaxy of Styrofoam adorning her ceiling once more. The thought of missing the pre-dawn prayer again consumes her mind. Frenzied by the thought, alarm clocks are poised for ringing, dispersed throughout her room, far from her bed to stop the sleepy spirit from silencing the siren. Alarms of the human variety have been granted permission to employ any instrument necessary to rouse her. Even douses of water are fair game. The comforting blanket is only permitted to function as a warm embrace for a term appointed.

Early to bed and early to rise makes a [believer spiritually] healthy, wealthy and wise.