Guidelines to help you observe Fajr Prayer
Most surely all praise belongs to Allah, we praise Him and we seek His Aid and Forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evils of our souls and from the evils of our actions. Whomsoever Allah guides there is none to misguides and whomsoever He misguides their is none to guide. I send prayers and blessing upon our leader Muhammed with the best of prayers and the most complete submission.
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 Isha 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:
ONE: To make sure to go to bed early as the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) used to discourage sleep before performing Isha prayer and especially engaging in conversation after it. Certain cases were excepted, some of which are enumerated by Imam Nawawi in his explanation of Muslim's account. Nawawi, may Allah 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.
TWO: To be assiduous in observing the Aadaab [good manners prescribed in Islam] as to what to do before sleep such as making Du'a [supplication] , bringing one's palms together, very mildly spitting into them and reciting the last three surah's of the Qur'an into them and them wiping them over one's face, head and body, being physically and religiously pure and performing a two rakah voluntary prayer after wudhu [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.
THREE: 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 stream lets of good deeds, thus bringing about an improvement both in personal conduct and at the interaction level with society at large. The lack of such stream lets 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.
FOUR: To keep away from Ma'asi [acts of disobedience to Allah] by protecting the eyes, the tongue, the hearing and all the senses from indulging in the perception of objects that Allah has made unlawful for us. As an alternative, one should concern himself with matters pertaining to the worship of Allah, such as devoting one's sight to the reading of Allah's Book, meditating over the creatures that Allah 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 persons inability to enjoy the blessings of piety. As Imam Ibn ul-Qayyim said, sins are wounds and some wounds can be fatal.
FIVE: To bear in mind the great reward for attending Fajr prayer in congregation on time, and the strong rebuke for him to fails to observe it and to satisfy its conditions. Uthman ibn 'Affaan related:
I heard Allah's Messenger (Sallallaahu Alaihi Wasallam) say: "He who prays Isha in Jama'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 Malik and the wording is that of Muslim who also reported it]
Similarly, Bukhari and Muslim and An-Nasa'i related on the authority of Ibn Mas'ud (Radiallahu 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 (Sallallahu Alaihi-wasallam) whereupon he said: "That was a man in whose ear Shaytan has urinated", or he said "in both his ears".
The urinating is literally true, as Imam Qurtubi says, since Shaytan urinates and has sexual intercourse and procreates in a manner that Allah 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 Allah for refuge from a lot as miserable as theirs. But, after all what do you expect from a person in whose heart Shaytan has urinated!!!
SIX: To realise 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 (Sallallaahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:
"Shaytan 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 Allah, 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 Malik, Bukhari, Muslim and Abu Dawud]
The time following Fajr prayer is full of goodness and blessings. At-Tirmidhi narrated upon the authority of Al Ghamdi that the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: "O Allah 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).
SEVEN: 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 hadith narrated by Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:
"Indeed, the most difficult of prayers to bear, for the hypocrites, are Isha [night] and Fajr prayers. If only they knew what they are missing , they would sooner come, even if crawling on their knees".
The most worthy companion, Abdullah and Ibn Mas'ud (Radiallahu Anhu) asserts "The only one indeed who misses them [i.e. Ishaa and Fajr prayers] is a confirmed hypocrite" (5). Ibn Umar (Radiallahu Anhu) said "When we find a man missing from the Isha 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 Iman [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 Allah's message, and basking happily in His gardens. He who prefers the pleasures of the bed to the pleasure of the communion with Allah is the real loser.
These are a few suggestions to help you wake up for Fajr prayer. May Allah make them useful. Glory be to Allah, Most Exalted over any false attributions and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of all Beings.
Written by an anonymous student of Islamic knowledge with an introduction by Sheik Abdullah Ibn Jibrin
1. Fath-ul-Bari 3/28
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