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Guidelines to help in waking up for Fajr


AsSalamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatu.

Mending the Rift: Guidelines to help you Observe Fajr Prayer

Written by:

An anonymous student of Islamic knowledge

“And then there followed after them (the prophets) an evil
generation who delayed the prayer and followed their lusts. Soon
will they face destruction, except he who repents, affirms his faith
and does deeds of righteousness. ” (Soorat Maryam: 59-60)

Most surely all praise belongs to Allaah, we praise Him and we seek
His Aid and Forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allaah from the evils of
our souls and from the evils of our actions. Whomsoever Allaah
guides there is none to misguide and whomsoever He misguides their
is none to guide. I send prayers and blessings upon our leader
Muhammad with the best of prayers and the most complete submission.

To proceed:

One of the ill-seeming phenomena and most serious precedents boding
impending danger and punishment, giving reason to fear and calling
for most urgent consideration on our part requiring immediate
investigation into its causes and treatment of its symptoms is the
fact that a growing number of observers of prayer deliberately shun
Fajr prayer in congregation and only perform it at times other than
its lawful time.

It may be the case that this is due to their wasting away long hours
at night engaged in idle and leisure pursuits. Our ancestors not
very long ago used to make a point of going to bed early, to lock
their doors after ishaa prayer and to make their dinner light so as
to be able to wake up for Fajr prayer in an energetic state. That is
why they led a happy, peaceful and healthy life experiencing the
real taste of life.

The advent of modern civilization spoiled both our religious
observances and our worldly arrangements. As a result, we have
fallen into laziness and inertia; our bodies grew fat and flabby; we
move about less frequently whilst showing a greater readiness to
sleep and a marked inability to perform the most trivial of manual
actions.

The present paper attempts therefore to suggest ways which may be of
help in inducing us to wake up for Fajr Prayer; for instance:

1. To make sure to go to bed early as the Prophet (sall-
Allaahu `alayhi wa sallam) used to discourage sleep before
performing ishaa prayer and especially engaging in conversation
after it. Certain cases were accepted, some of which are enumerated
by Imaam an-Nawawee in his explanation of Muslim’s account. An-
Nawawee, may Allaah have mercy upon him says:

“The reason why conversation after it is discouraged is the fear
lest it leads to staying awake for long , which might induce
drowsiness and difficulty with observing night prayers or Subh
[dawn] prayer in their permitted, preferred or best times. The
topics covered by this restriction are all fulfilling no good useful
purpose. However, as to useful verbal activities, such as the
pursuit of knowledge, listening to the wise tales of righteous
people, talking to one’s guest or bride, or members of one’s family
for the sake of company, interacting with travellers with a view to
protect themselves and their goods, embarking on talks designed to
conciliate between people or intercede before them in a good cause
or to enjoin good and forbid evil and admonish people by pointing to
a beneficial course of action to follow etc. There are no such
restrictions. ”

2. To be assiduous in observing the Aadaab [good manners prescribed
in Islam] as to what to do before sleep such as making Du’aa
[supplication] , bringing one’s palms together, very mildly spitting
into them and reciting the last three Soorah’s of the Qur’aan into
them and them wiping them over one’s face, head and body, being
physically and religiously pure and performing a two rak’ahs
voluntary prayer after wudhoo’ [ablution]. A Muslim has to ask his
wife, parents, relatives or neighbours to help waking him up. Once
waken up, he should not linger lazily for long in bed, lest he
acquires the vices of the hypocrites who come to prayer showing
ample signs of laziness and lack of enthusiasm.

3. To fill one’s heart with faith and good deeds. Once faith is
alive in the heart, it induces the person to do good deeds and
strive unremittingly hard. Faith is like a tree which only yields
good fruit when irrigated from the streamlets of good deeds, thus
bringing about an improvement both in personal conduct and at the
interactional level with society at large. The lack of such
streamlets or water supplies proportionately causes faith to wither
and wilt. The heart is highly sensitive to external hardening
stimuli, such as excess food or drink or aberrations in watching or
listening (letting your eyes and ears loose to what is unlawful for
them). You should therefore protect your heart from such external
allurements.

4. To keep away from Ma’aasi [acts of disobedience to Allaah] by
protecting the eyes, the tongue, the hearing and all the senses from
indulging in the perception of objects that Allaah has made unlawful
for us. As an alternative, one should concern himself with matters
pertaining to the worship of Allaah, such as devoting one’s sight to
the reading of Allaah’s Book, contemplating over the creatures that
Allaah has created in this universe, reading books of knowledge etc.

One member of the rightly guided early generations was asked about
the reason why people found it difficult to uphold voluntary prayers
at night. He answered: “Your sins have shackled you.” No doubt sins
can be a major cause for a person’s inability to enjoy the blessings
of piety. As Imaam ibn Qayyim said, sins are wounds and some wounds
can be fatal.

5. To bear in mind the great reward for attending Fajr prayer in
congregation on time, and the strong rebuke for him to fail to
observe it and to satisfy its conditions. Uthmaan ibn `Affaan (radia-
llaahu `anhu) related:

“I heard Allaah’s Messenger (sall-Allaahu `alayhi wa sallam)
saying: `He who prays Eshaa in Jamaa’ah [congregation] is as if he
has prayed for half the night. As to him who (also) prays Fajr in
congregation, it is as if he has prayed all night’.” (Narrated by
Maalik and the wording is that of Muslim who also reported it)

Similarly, Bukhaaree and Muslim and an-Nasaa’ee related on the
authority of Ibn Mas’ud (radia-llaahu `anhu) that he said:

“The case of a man who slept all the night up to sunrise (without
waking up for Fajr) was related to the Prophet (sall-Allaahu `alayhi
wa sallam) whereupon he said: `That was a man in whose ear Shaytaan
has urinated’, or he said: `in both his ears’.”

The urinating is literally true, as Imaam Qurtubi says, since
Shaytaan urinates and has sexual intercourse and procreates in a
manner that Allaah alone knows [1]. To ascertain for yourself the
truth of this assertion, look at the faces of those who come to deal
in their daily business without having prayed Fajr in congregation
at due time; look at their faces at working hours. You will surely
ask Allaah for refuge from a lot as miserable as theirs. But, after
all what do you expect from a person in whose ears Shaytaan has
urinated!!!

6. To realize the bad effects resulting from one’s failure to pray
Fajr, such as the melancholic and depressive state of mind and the
loss of many religious and worldly benefits, and the good effects
resulting from managing to perform it. In this respect the Prophet
(sall-Allaahu `alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Shaytaan ties three knots on the crown of any one of you in your
sleep. He says upon each knot that he ties: `You have a long night
before you, therefore sleep.’ But if you wake up and mention Allaah,
Most Exalted in remembrance one knot will be untied. If you then
make ablution another knot will be undone. If you then proceed to
pray the last knot will be disentangled. Thus, you will feel in the
morning energetic and in good spirits. Otherwise you will feel in a
despicable state, lazy.” [Narrated by Maalik, Bukhaaree, Muslim and
Abu Daawood]

There is full goodness and blessing in the time following Fajr
prayer. The Prophet (sall-Allaahu `alayhi wa sallam) made good use
of it occupy himself with the remembrance of Allaah until sunrise,
whereupon he would pray two rak’ahs.

The rightly guided generations were very committed to the observance
of this good Sunnah [tradition]. For instance, Shaykh-ul-Islam ibn
Taymiyyah is reported by his student, Ibn Qayyim to be in the habit
of engaging in Allaah’s remembrance after Fajr prayer and to
say: “Verily there is in the Dunyah [this world] a garden the
shunner of which will not enter Paradise in the Hereafter.” By this
he means that the pleasure of the communion with Allaah through
remembrance cannot be compared with all the pleasures of this world
put together. He, may Allaah bless his soul, is also reported as
saying: “This is my main sustenance; if I fail to have enough of it
I will lose my vital energy.” [2]

The time following Fajr prayer is full of goodness and blessings. At-
Tirmidhee narrated upon the authority of Sakhr Ibn Wadaa’ah al-
Ghamidee that the Prophet (sall-Allaahu `alayhi wa sallam) said:

“O Allaah bless my Ummah in its early rising!” And whenever he
dispatched an expedition or army he sent them early at the beginning
of the day. Sakhr was a merchant who always sent his merchandise
early in morning thus, becoming wealthy [3].

That is why we find the craftsmen and traders are particular about
making good use of this time. Those who sleep up to the late morning
have denied themselves the blessings of this early hour.

There are many benefits to the health derived from waking up for
Fajr prayer. For instance, the highest proportion of ozone gas (O3)
in the atmosphere is registered at dawn. It then gradually fades
away until complete disappearance by sunrise. This gas has a very
beneficial effect on the nervous system as it vivifies the brain and
energizes the muscles such that when a person inhales the beautiful
breeze of the dawn, known as the SABAA wind, he will experience a
pleasure that is unparalleled at any other time of the day or night
[4].

7. To lose no time to categorically clear yourself from the stigma
of hypocrisy. Because of the difficulty of waking for this time,
praying Fajr in congregation provides evidence that a person has
firm faith and is free from hypocrisy. That is why in a hadeeth
narrated by Bukhaaree and Muslim, the Prophet (sall-Allaahu `alayhi
wa sallam) said:

“Indeed, the most difficult of prayers to bear, for the hypocrites,
are Eshaa [night] and Fajr prayers. If only they knew what they are
missing, they would sooner come, even if crawling on their knees.”

The noble companion, `Abdullaah ibn Mas’ud (radia-
llaahu `anhu) asserts: “The only one indeed who misses them [i.e.
Eshaa and Fajr prayers] is a confirmed hypocrite.” [5] Ibn `Umar
(radia-llaahu `anhu) said: “When we find a man missing from the
Eshaa and Fajr prayers we nurture suspicions about him.” [6]

If you want a criterion for evaluating a person’s degree of faith
and truthfulness monitor his observance of Fajr prayer. If he passes
the test, that should be taken as a sign indicating the strength of
his Eemaan [belief, faith]. Let us then testify to his truthfulness
since he managed to achieve the greatest victory over himself and to
be superior to the pleasure of sleeping in bed. If he fails the
test, this is an index to his weakness in faith, a hardness in his
heart, an indulgence in self-gratification and a defeat against his
own whims.

How is it then that he who indulges in sleep and misses prayer
should conceivably feel comfortable while people are delighting in
the mosques in the company of the Qur’aan, listening rapturously to
Allaah’s message, and basking happily in His gardens. He who prefers
the pleasures of the bed to the pleasure of the communion with
Allaah is the real loser.

These are a few suggestions to help you wake up for Fajr prayer. May
Allaah make them useful. Glory be to Allaah, Most Exalted over any
false attributions and thanks be to Allaah, the Lord of all Beings.

Footnotes:

1. Fat-hul-Baaree 3/28

2. Al-Waabil us-Sayyib no.53

3. Saheeh Sunan at-Tirmidhee

4. “With Medicine in the Noble Qur’aan” p.108 by Abdul-Hameed Dayyaab

5. Reported by Muslim, Abu Daawood, Ibn Maajah and Nasaa’ee

6. Saheeh at-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb no.169

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