Is it Permissible to Stay Up Late in the Pursuit of Knowledge?
Answered by Mawlana Ilyas Patel
I was wondering if staying late in the pursuit of knowledge was permissible. I am a teenage girl who is a night owl and thus wants to seek knowledge at night. The problem is my parents don’t want me to sleep late; what does one do in such a case?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate
Undoubtedly, staying up late to pursue knowledge is permissible and not sinful. There are many examples of past and present. However, it is all about balance, and one needs to look into it deeper, short term and long term. If your parents want you to sleep early, then you should try to keep them pleased and follow their advice.
The Night is Made for Sleep
Allah Most High says, “He is the One Who has made the night for you as a cover and made sleep for resting and the day for rising.” [Quran, 25:47]
“And of His Signs is your sleeping at night and your seeking His Bounty during the day. Indeed there are Signs in this for those who hearken.” [Quran, 30:23]
Sleeping is usually done at night. However, it is also possible to sleep during the day. Some people are night studiers, like in your case, because of the quietness and fewer distractions. Some are early morning or day studies, where one is refreshed with a clearer absorbing mind, natural light keeping one alert, and not disrupting the night sleep schedule.
Night Studiers and Early Morning Studiers
There are many examples of night studiers and early morning/ day studiers throughout history, from scholars, pious Muslims, etc. However, research proves that early morning and day studying is more beneficial for absorbing knowledge and long-term good health. This is why most scholars and pious Muslims slept early and woke up in the morning to worship Allah Most High, perform Tahajjud, do His remembrance, meditate, and study.
The prophetic traditions related to sleeping and waking will help us realize a whole night’s rest in preparation for a productive day of worshiping Allah and performing good deeds, starting with the Fajr prayer.
Abu Barza’ (Allah be pleased with him) reported the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) disliked sleeping before the evening prayer and talking after it. [Bukhari]
‘A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) would not sleep before the evening prayer, and he would not stay up after it. [Ibn Maja]
Night Was Divided in Two Sleep Systems for a Millenia
Research shows that much of humanity for millennia slept in two shifts, a two-sleep system– once in the evening and once in the morning. But why? And how did the habit disappear? This started disappearing starting from the early 19th Century. As with other recent shifts in our behavior, such as a move towards depending on clock time, the answer is the Industrial Revolution. See the link below.
The summary is it is nothing wrong with studying at night because there is less noise, and one might find more energy, and that is fine, and no sin shall occur. But from a health and well-being perspective and according to how humans were created by Allah, sleeping at night, if possible, would be the best, and in your case, it will assure and please your parents. Please read the article on tips to wake up early and its benefits.
May Allah Most High give you a way to compromise with your parents and have a mutual understanding without having to stay up at night and study and instead wake up early when your mind is more precise.
Check these links:
The forgotten medieval habit of ‘two sleeps’ – BBC Future
Is It Permissible to Sleep during the Day and Be Up at Night to Avoid Family? (seekersguidance.org)
Can You Give Me Tips to Wake Up Early? – SeekersGuidance
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I pray this helps with your question.
[Mawlana] Ilyas Patel
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Mawlana Ilyas Patel is a traditionally-trained scholar who has studied within UK, India, Pakistan, Syria, Jordan and Turkey.
He started his early education in UK. He went onto complete hifz of Qur’an in India, then enrolled into an Islamic seminary in UK where he studied the secular and Alimiyyah sciences. He then travelled to Karachi, Pakistan.
He has been an Imam in Rep of Ireland for a number of years. He has taught hifz of the Qur’an, Tajwid, Fiqh and many other Islamic sciences to both children and adults onsite and online extensively in UK and Ireland. He was teaching at a local Islamic seminary for 12 years in the UK where he was a librarian and a teacher of Islamic sciences.
He currently resides in UK with his wife. His personal interest is love of books and gardening.