Praying salah five times a day is an obligation upon every Muslim and the second pillar of Islam. It is salah that differentiates us from people of other beliefs and moreover, it is a means of invoking Allah (SWT) and seeking His pleasure. The Fajr salah, the first of the five daily prayers that is offered at dawn each day, is one of the prayers most loved by Allah (SWT).
Praying Fajr salah has been given a lot of merit and importance, so much so that it has been narrated by ‘Aishah (RA) that Rasulullah (SAW) said, “The two (sunnah) rakahs of Fajr are better than this world and all it contains.” (Ahmed)
While the rewards for performing Fajr are tremendous, likewise the seriousness of missing it is huge. In another narration, Abu Hurairah (RA) reported that Muhammad (SAW) said: “Do not leave the two rakahs of Fajr, even if you are being attacked by cavalry.” (Ahmed)
The stronger your iman is, the quicker and easier it is for you to wake up to pray when dawn breaks and thus defeat Shaytan. The Prophet (SAW) said, “During your sleep, Shaytan knots three knots at the back of the head of each of you, and he breathes the following words at each knot, ‘The night is long, so keep on sleeping.’ If that person wakes up and celebrates the praises of Allah, then one knot is undone, and when he performs ablution the second knot is undone, and when he prays, all the knots are undone, and he gets up in the morning lively and in good spirits, otherwise he gets up in low spirits and lethargic.” (Bukhari)
The time of Fajr is a blessed time; Allah (SWT) even takes an oath in the Holy Qur’an, “By the dawn.” ( Al-Fajr:1)
There is no better way to start your day than Fajr salah, simply because you sacrifice your sleep for the sake of Allah (SWT) whilst others are sleeping. Few people find it hard to wake up if there is a plane to catch the next morning or if they have an appointment to go to. However, there are many who find it challenging to wake up for Fajr salah, due to a number of reasons.
In this regard, the following 10 tips can help one to wake up and pray Fajr on time:
1. Make a sincere intention and du’a, asking Allah (SWT) to give you the strength and willpower to wake up for Fajr. Also recite Ayatul Kursi and other du’as before going to sleep.
2. Set your alarm for the right time, preferably away from your bed, meaning you’re forced to get up. Do not be tempted to press the snooze button and close your eyes, ‘just for a few more minutes’! If you have problems, set several alarm clocks. You can also install various apps on your phone which will automatically buzz at the time of salah according to your location.
3. It is a cliché, but going to sleep early and getting a good night’s rest really helps. Therefore, the earlier you sleep, the easier it gets to wake up for Fajr. It is Sunnah to sleep after ‘Isha.
4. Avoid committing sins as much as possible. This will help keep you motivated to continue pleasing Allah (SWT) and strengthen your desire to do good actions.
5. Fill your heart with the importance and love for praying Fajr and the fear of missing it. Keep a constant reminder of the virtues and rewards of Fajr, like a book, hadith or scholarly saying regarding the importance of Fajr.
6. Drink plenty of water before going to sleep. If your alarm won’t wake you, perhaps your bladder will! (There are also a lot of health benefits from drinking water before bed).
7. Don’t eat right before going to sleep. This will make you feel lazy and want to sleep longer, making it difficult to wake up easily.
8. Seek the help of your family and friends. Have a Fajr buddy – have someone or even several people call or message you to help you wake up. Help each other benefit from the rewards of Fajr by sharing reminders. It is stated in a hadith, “Whoever directs someone to a good, then he will have the reward equal to the doer of the action.” (Muslim). It is also stated in the Qur’an, “And remind, for indeed the reminder benefits the believers.” (Adh-Dhariyat:55)
9. When you wake up, it’s Sunnah to rub both palms on the face and eyes so that sleep disappears. Thereafter, recite the du’a for waking up.
10. Immediately go to make wudhu after you’ve woken up and relieved yourself. Once that water hits your face, it’s sure to make your sleepiness dissipate.
The Messenger (SAW) has said: “Whoever prays the two cooler prayer times (Fajr and ‘Asr) will enter Paradise.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) Fajr and ‘Asr are specified since they are two times when one can easily miss the prayer: whether they are asleep during Fajr, or engrossed in trade and work at ‘Asr. The hope to be saved from the fire of Hell and to be entered into Jannah should be enough to motivate us to perform Fajr salah on time.
If you’re not used to waking up for Fajr, but are sincere about doing so, it may take some time for it to come with ease. Don’t become discouraged. Once you establish a good routine and develop good habits, especially based on the Sunnah, waking up for Fajr will be like second nature to you. Have faith and remember, not only are there great rewards from Allah (SWT) that come with praying Fajr on time, but it will also help to increase your iman and taqwa throughout the day. Allah (SWT) is keeping you connected to Him through your desire to worship Him and your regret when you falter, but this connection doesn’t come without effort and yearning on your part. In the end, every step we are enabled to take towards Him is really only by His grace and mercy.
May Allah (SWT) make us all among those who pray Fajr punctually and consistently, out of submission and gratitude, Ameen.
In the next part of the series, Rafeeah Laher examines the beauty of the Dhuhr prayer.
Rafeeah Laher is a freelance writer based in Johannesburg, South Africa. She kindly requests you to please keep her in your du’as.