﴾He splits the sky at dawn, and appoints the night as a time of
stillness and the Sun and Moon as a means of reckoning.﴿
The Arabic word sakanan, which appears in the original of the above verse, means
"repose, rest, time to withdraw to rest, time for a break." As indicated by
Allah, night is the time when human beings rest. The hormone melatonin, secreted
at night, prepares the body for sleep by slowing down peoples’ physical
movements, making them sleepy and tired, and functioning as a natural
tranquillizer that eases their minds.1
During sleep, heartbeat and respiration rhythms slow down and blood pressure
falls. In the morning, the production of the hormones stops and the body is
stimulated to awaken.2
At the same time, sleep allows the body’s muscles and tissues to repair
themselves and the body to replace old or dead cells. Since energy expenditure
is reduced during sleep, the body stores energy throughout the night. Several
chemicals vital for the immune system and growth hormones are also secreted
In the event that people fail to get enough sleep, therefore, the immune system
is immediately affected and the body becomes more susceptible to sickness. If
people are unable to sleep for two nights, they will find it harder to
concentrate and their error levels will rise. If they are deprived of sleep for
three nights, they will begin to hallucinate and be unable to think logically.4
Night is as much a time for rest for other living things as it is for human
beings. This situation, referred to by Allah in the verse "the night as a time
of stillness," indicates a fact that cannot be observed by the naked eye: Many
activities that take place during the day slow down and rest during the night.
In plants, for instance, perspiration in leaves and photosynthesis begin to rise
when the sun rises.
In the afternoon, the situation is reversed. In other words, photosynthesis
slows down and respiration increases, because perspiration is accelerated as the
temperature rises. At night time, as the temperature falls, perspiration slows
down and the plant rests. Most plants would die if just one night failed to take
place. From that point of view, night means rest and reinvigoration for plants,
just as it does for human beings.5
Movement at the molecular level also declines at night. The radiation emitted by
the Sun during the day activates the atoms and molecules in Earth’s atmosphere
and causes them to achieve higher energy levels. As darkness falls, the atoms
and molecules fall to lower energy levels and start to give off radiation.6
These facts are, in all probability, indicated Surat al-An’am 96 and reveal yet
another of the Qur’an’s countless miracles. (Allah knows best.)
1- “Melatoning the
Growth Hormone,” Health Journal,www.bodyandfitness.com/Beauty/Anti-Aging/melatonin1.htm.
2- “Melatonin,” www.stenlake.com.au/ShowDocument.asp?DocumentId=53.
4- Marshall Brain, “How Sleep Works,” http://fitness.howstuffworks.com/sleep.htm?printable=1.
5-“Light, Temperature and Humidity,” Texas Agricultural Extension Service, Texas
A&M University System College Station, Texas, http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/greenhouse/nursery/guides/ornamentals/light.html.
6- “Night-time on Venus”, 18 January 2001, http://beta.physicsweb.org/article/news/5/1/10.