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Saturday, 14 March 2015

Sleeping Posture in Islam and Judaism

Islam and Judaism agree that it is a transgression to sleep on the stomach. Judaism adds further this transgression also covers lying on the back.

From Halachipedia:

...Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 71:2 writes that one shouldn't sleep alone in a room. Mishna Brurah 239:9 writes that one shouldn’t sleep alone at night alone and this includes even sleeping in a room alone. However, Shaar HaTziyun 239:17 writes that one may leave the door ajar if there are others in the house. Yalkut Yosef (Brachot pg 669, Sherit Yosef vol 3 pg 369) also holds that it’s forbidden but writes that if there’s no other option one should leave a light on in the room. Rav Mordechai Eliyahu (comments to Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 71:2) agrees.

... SA OC 63:1 and Even Haezer 23:3 says that it is prohibited to sleep on one's back, but leaves out the prohibition to sleep on one's stomach but Mishna Brurah 239:6 says that it is a severe prohibition to sleep on your back or stomach and one should sleep on his side. Shalmat Chaim 226 says that children should be taught this at the age of nine.

Jewish law, "753. Men should train themselves to only sleep on their side, and it is a serious transgression for men to sleep lying on one's back or stomach. Shulchan Aruch w/Mishnah Brurah 239:1 MB6, SA EH 23:3"

754. It is beneficial for one to first sleep on one's left side and then to switch to one's right side {because the liver is on the right side and it will lean on and warm the stomach, helping for food to digest. Then, one should turn to lie on the right side so that the digested food will more easily pass out of the stomach.} One should also not turn from side to side during the night. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 71:5, Rambam Hilchos De'os 4 (source: Hilchos Krias Shema She'al Hamitah)

This strange law is carried over into Islam.

Hadith by David Solomon:

Chapter... Regarding a Man Lying On His Stomach

5040. It was narrated that Ya'ish bin Tii!ifah bin Qais A1-Ghifãri said: "My father was one of Ahab As-uffah. The Messenger of Allah said: 'Let us go to the house of 'Aishah.' So we went there, and he said: '0 'Aishah, feed us.' She brought some Jashishah 1' and we ate, then he said: '0 'Aishah, feed us.' She brought a small amount of Haisah, 21 the size of a pigeon, and we ate. Then he said: '0 'Aishah, give us to drink.' She brought a of milk, and we drank. Then he said: '0 'Aishah, give us to drink.' She brought a small cup and we drank. Then he said: 'If you wish, you may sleep here, or if you wish, you may go to the Masjid.' While I was lying on my stomach in the Masjid, due to a pain in my lungs, a man shook me with his foot and said: 'This is a way of lying that Allah hates.' I looked, and it was the Messenger of Allah.'

The Prophet Muhammed forbade sleeping on the stomach. This is a grave transgression according to the Mishnah. The Rabbi's say we must sleep on our left and also on our right side, but the right side being preferable. Islam agrees with sleeping on the right side.

5046. It was narrated from Mansur, who narrated from Sa'd bin 'Ubaidah, who said that Al-Bard' bin 'Azib narrated: The Messenger of Allah said to me: "When you go to your bed, perform Wudü' as for prayer, then lie down on your right side, and say...

The Messenger of Allah said to me: 'When you go to your bed in a state of purity, rest your head on your right hand," then he mentioned a similar report (as no. 5046). (Sahih)

"When one of you goes to his bed, let him dust off his bed with the inside of his lower garment, for he does not know what came onto it after him. Then let him lie down on his right side, and say ..."

One of the reasons to avoid sleeping on the back is to avoid erections according to Jewish halacha.

Halacha 19

It is forbidden for a person to intentionally cause himself to have an erection or to bring himself to [sexual] thoughts. If a [sexual] thought comes to his mind, he should divert his heart from profligate and destructive matters to the words of Torah53 which are "a beloved hind, arousing favor."54 For this reason, it is forbidden for a person to sleep on his back with his face upward,55 Instead, he should turn to the side slightly so that he will not develop an erection. (source: Chabad)

Judaism clarifies why it is not permissible to sleep on the stomach. It is a concern for "seminal" discharges.

From Sleep in Halacha by Aryeh Lebowitz

The gemara (Berachos 13b) suggests that a person should not sleep in a ", פרקד " position. This is generally understood to include either lying on one’s back (due to a concern that he will place himself in an embarrassing position), or lying on one’s stomach (due to a concern that he will have a seminal emission), or both.8

Medical science does not advocate sleeping on the stomach either due to the strain put on the spine and the twisting of the neck that occurs during sleep. It looks like there is more than one reason not to sleep on your stomach.

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