Many years ago, I decided I would make it my mission to wake up regularly for Fajr prayers. On the first few attempts, I slept straight through. Either the alarm didn’t go off or the snooze button was turned off to my surprise but ultimately I failed to wake up and ended up reading khaza.
I then decided to get my younger brother to wake me up in exchange for some sweets and the occasional playtime on my gamer. To my disappointment, that plan failed as well.
Finally, I requested my Mother to wake me up and this time the plan was successful and all through high school, I successfully woke up for Fajr. But then it was time for me to head off to College and since, I had relied on my mother to wake me up, I wasn’t conditioned to wake up on my own. So predictably, I missed out on Fajr for the entire first month. This did not sit well with me. I guess, I had grown a deep conscious and gotten used to praying Fajr. Although my room mates tried to make me feel less guilty by using the reasoning that it’s the niyat that matters or that they said I had tried. But, I was besieged with a guilt that would hypothetically compare to when you envision a house and allow someone else to build it and when it comes time to live in it the house crumbles. Here the reasoning of niyat wouldn’t exactly cut it for me.
So, I turned to the teaching of our beloved Prophet Mohammed (saw) for inspiration. During my research, I realized the significance of Fajr prayers illustrated in Sura Fajr, 89:1 in which Allah – SWT takes an oath on Fajr. Furthermore while researching, I came across the hadith by Jundub ibn Abdullah, which states the Prophet (saw) saying, “He who performs the Fajr will be under the protection of Allah.” Quoted from Sahih Muslim, Book 5 Hadith 329. I also found out that it was the habit of the Prophet to recite the Qurʾān before resting for the night.
Therefore, I followed a seven-step process based on three essential elements, which are as follows:
Physical – Mental – Spiritual
The Physical preparation for me entailed:
1· Sleeping early as recommended by Prophet Muhammad (saw) reported in (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 568). The benefit here is self – explanatory. Sleeping early allows enough rest for your body, where as sleeping late will leave you lethargic at Fajr and during the remainder of the day, effecting your productivity and your long – term health.
2· Setting up multiple alarms is like having a plan A, B and a plan C. If you miss one, there are others as back up. But it’s a great idea to set them at least five minutes apart.
3· Setting up a wake-up time with the operator of my phone service provider as a cheaper alternative to having my mother calling me long distance every day, especially as most fellow students will agree that we have thrift budgets.
Next, my Mental Preparation entailed:
4· Making Wudhu before sleeping recommended by Prophet Muhammad (saw) reported in (Ṣaḥīḥ Ibn Ḥibbān, 1051; al-Muʿjam al-Kabīr, 13620). As, wudhu purifies the soul and cleans the body of dirt and filth.
5 Making Niyat for Fajr. I found making the intent to wake up for Fajr set me up subconsciously.
6· Reciting Surah Mulk recommended by Prophet Muhammad (saw) in (Sunan al-Tirmidhī, 2892). Again, this really doesn’t need further clarification but personally for me it worked as an added blessing, since among the many significances of this sura it is said that an angel stands guard besides the reciter of this sura.
Finally, My Spiritual preparation entailed:
7· Asking Allah (SWT) to assist in waking up for Fajr. Anything asked sincerely of Allah (SWT) is granted in this life or in the afterlife.
So, I’m happy to report that it has been twenty-three years since I started following this seven-step plan and it has proved very effective for me. And, what I am about to share next may come as a surprise to some, that I have found this seven-step process effective to the point that I sometimes even wake up for Fajr despite the limited sleeping time.
Just like the routine, we follow before praying like performing ablution, focusing and concentrating in our prayers the key is to discipline one’s self into following a consistent routine that works for you.