al-Tha‘alabi: Types of Sleep

The prolific anthologist ‘Abd al-Mansūr ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Muhammad al-Tha‘alabi (961-1038) was the author of the encyclopedic lexicon, Fiqh al-lugha wa-asrār al-‘arabīya (Fundamentals of Language and the Secrets of Arabic). In this original work, al-Tha‘alabi organizes vocabulary according to remarkably subtle distinctions. 

To honor the long nights of the present season, let us begin with sleep.

Types of Sleep

The first stage of sleep is al-nu‘ās (drowsiness), which is when a person needs to sleep. Then comes al-wasan (nodding off), which is when the drowsiness becomes heavy. Then comes al-tarnīq (dimming), which is when the drowsiness makes the eyes begin to shut. Then come al-kurā and al-ghumḍ, which is when a person is between sleeping and waking. Then comes al-taghfīq, which is the kind of sleep when you hear people talking (this by way of al-Aṣma‘ī). Then comes al-ighfā’, which is light rest. Then comes al-tahwīn, al-ghirār and al-tahjā‘, which is a short kind of sleep. Then al-ruqād, which is a long sleep. Then al-hujūd, al-hujū‘, and al-hubū‘, which are forms of deep slumber. Finally there is al-tasbīkh, the soundest form of slumber.

Fiqh al-lugha wa-asrār al-‘arabīya, ed. Yāsīn al-Ayūbī (Saydā’: al-Maktaba al-‘Usrīya, 2008), p. 205.