Neither Slumber, Nor Sleep overtakes Allaah – Shaykh ibn Uthaymeen

In His Saying: { لا تأخُذُهُ سِنَةُُ وَلاَ نَوْمُُ}  Neither slumber, nor sleep overtakes Him, Allaah did not say (what means): “He does not sleep,” instead He said: { لا تأخُذُهُ } (which means) “does not overtake Him” in order to comprise the sleep which overcomes and that arising by choice. If you say, “Does not sleep,” it would imply that He does not sleep by choice. However, Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, does not sleep neither by ghalabah (overcoming) nor by choice, because sleep is an imperfect attribute which contradicts both the perfection of the Self and the perfection in relation to others.

The person who is given to sleep misses a lot of his work because of His sleeping. Consider, for example, the case of a person who has many people working for him and he sleeps a lot. He is unable to reckon with nor manage the business or other related matters. This is an imperfection with respect to others.

As regard to self-perfection, sleep is a deficiency because it  indicates that the person’s body got tired and thus he needed the sleep as a rest from what has passed, as well as a means to renew his activity to engage in what will come ahead. That is the why the people of al-Jannah do not sleep—because of the perfection of their lives and bodies. No illness or the like touches them.

If someone says, “We know that the person who does not sleep is unable to do so because of some kind of sickness or a defect, while you say that the lack of sleep is a perfection. Explain.”

We say, “This applies to the creature, and in this case perfection is a relative matter [with respect to Allaah it is perfection]. There is no doubt that the person who does not sleep because of an illness has a defect, and that is why he stays always in a state of languor and exhaustion. Thus his welfare will not be established. This is evident from the saying of Allaah, the Most High:

And have made your sleep as a thing for rest [Qur’aan, Soorat An-Naba’ (78:9)],

meaning that sleep is something that will discontinue the hardship and tiredness. If Allaah would sleep, and far is He above such imperfection, then this would necessitate that He needs to rest. In addition, the creation will be ruined because they are in need of Him; even the sleeping person is in need of Allaah. In fact, the Prophet (r) used to invoke Allaah at night when he was about to sleep:

If You take my soul, bestow mercy on it [and forgive it, as in another narration], and if You release it then protect it as You protect your righteous slaves .” [38]

In short, it is impossible that Allaah, the One free of all imperfections and the Most High, sleeps. The Prophet (r) said:

Verily Allaah does not sleep and it does not befit Him to sleep .” [39]

The word “لا ينْبَغِي” [does not befit] when used in the Qur’aan and sunnah means “the thing which is absolutely impossible to be,” as Allaah تعالى said:

But it is not befitting for (the Majesty of) ar-Rahmaan (Allaah) that He should beget a son (or offspring or children). [Qur’aan, Soorat Maryam (19:92)].

[It should be noted] that Allaah’s saying:

{ لا تأخُذُهُ سِنَةُُوَلاَ نَوْمُُ}

Neither slumber, nor sleep overtakes Him,

signifies as-sifaat as-salbiyyah (attributes of negation: negating any imperfection and implying perfection). The rule with respect to the Names and Attributes of Allaah, the Most High, is that there is no such thing as a pure attribute of negation. [40]  Indeed, when  as-sifaat as-salbiyyah are mentioned, it is because they imply the perfection of the attributes which are in contradiction to those of negation. [41]  So, because of the Perfection of Allaah’s Life and qayyoumiyyah , [42]  then neither slumber nor sleep overtake Him. [43]

Source : Tafseer Ayatul-Kursi By Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih Al-’Uthaymeen
With Related Points of Benefit From the Shaykh’s Commentary on Imaam ibn Taymeeyah’s Sharhul ’Aqeedatil-Waasitiyyah,  Prepared by  Dr. Saleh As-Saleh (rahimahullah)