For many people it seems that the morning prayer of Fajr is one of the toughest acts of worship to perform. The reason for this may be derived from both the physical activities that a person goes through and as well as the lack of spiritual commitment towards an obligatory act. Considering the life many youth live in the West, particularly university students, sleeping late – sometimes an hour or so before Fajr and then waking up late, takes a toll on the ability to get up and pray Fajr. For those who are working and need to wake up early in the morning, waking up for Fajr and performing Wudhu can easily take away an hour of their sleep and this mere thought can discourage them. Some unfortunately won’t get up, simply because they take the prayers lightly and will hit the snooze button a few times and then finally shut the alarm off to go back to sleep.
There are tons of tips, both physical and spiritual that can help a person wake up for Fajr. Taking in all the intricacies of how we live today, here are a few things that have worked for me and have now enabled me to wake up without any issues.
If you don’t have your intentions straight, you are going to have a hard time getting up. Develop a style of life that when night approaches you are consciously aware that you have to get up in the morning for prayers. Just like you schedule certain activities during your day, make Fajr part of your schedule and plan your day as well as night accordingly. Before going to sleep while having the intention of waking up for Fajr, make sure to recite the last verse from Surah Kahf: [18:110] Say: I am only a mortal like you; it is revealed to me that your god is one Allah, therefore whoever hopes to meet his Lord, he should do good deeds, and not join any one in the service of his Lord.
Amer Ibn Abdullah Ibne Khazaeh has reported on the authority of Imam Sadiq (as)
No man has ever recited that last verse of the Quranic Chapter, the Cave (Kahf), unless he wakes up at any hour he wishes. [Source]
2. Sleep Early
I was always an early sleeper – however once I started going university all that changed. Classes ending at 10 PM and reaching home at 11 PM would mean that I wouldn’t be sleeping any time soon. Of course now that I’m working sleeping late isn’t an option. However, something as straight forward as sleeping early is neglected by many. It has become a custom, especially amongst the youth to stay up extremely late, many doing nothing worthwhile. Those who are in universities and don’t have set morning hours may end up sleeping even around 2 or 3 AM – sometimes this is only an hour or two before Fajr. Even those that work can easily end up sleeping around mid-night or later. When you sleep late, you are bound to be tired and unwilling to wake up in the morning for Fajr. Even if you manage to wake up for Fajr despite sleeping late, it is the drowsiness that can kill the beauty of the prayers. The narrations have informed us that the Qur’anic verse prohibiting the approach towards prayers while in the state of intoxication also includes the intoxication of sleep.
[4:43] O you who believe! do not go near prayer when you are Intoxicated until you know (well) what you say,
Abu Ja`far (as) regarding the saying of Allah (swt) “Do not approach salat while you are intoxicated until you know what you are saying”. He said: From it is the intoxication of sleep. [Source, #1386]
Besides being able to get up for Fajr, you will notice that by waking up early your day will be a lot more productive as well.
3. Put Your Alarm Device Far Away
If you have your alarm set on your clock or phone by your side table, you’ll be very tempted to hit the dismiss or snooze button. Set your alarm and keep it at a distance where you have to literally get out of your bed to turn it off. I used to put it on a table at a distance from my bed, which ensured that I was out of the bed and my body had gone through enough physical motions to take you to the sink for Wudhu.
4. Keep Jaffari Islamic Center’s Website Open
For those who leave their PCs and Laptops on all night, the Islamic Shia Ithna Ashari Jamaat of Toronto (Jaffari Islamic Center in short!) has a cool feature on their website. If you leave their home page open, it will sound the Adhan at the time of Adhan and it is bound to wake you up.
5. Realize its Importance
Ultimately, nothing works more effectively than being able to realize the importance of the morning prayers. We cannot afford to take Fajr, or any other prayer for that matter lightly. Taking it lightly has been condemned and in one famous narration Imam Sadiq (as) has said that, “Our intercession will not reach those who consider prayer light (insignificant).” The Qur’an also condemns those who take their prayers lightly in the following verses: [107:4-5] So woe to the worshippers, Who are neglectful of their prayers.
Besides the fact that Fajr is one of the 5 obligatory daily prayers, the time between Fajr and sunrise has also been described as the time where angels distribute sustenance amongst the people.
Imam Ridha (as) in regards to the commentary of the verse which reads I swear by those (Angels who) distribute blessings by Our command [51:4], that “Surely the Angels distribute the sustenance of the progeny of Adam between the time of the Fajr and the sunrise. Thus, the person who is asleep during this time period has actually slept on his own sustenance.” [Source]
That’s a few tried and tested techniques that have worked for me in the past. I don’t know what they used to use 1400 years ago to wake up for Fajr, but they sure didn’t have alarm clocks like we do today. However over time, your body does naturally get adjusted to waking up at the time of Fajr. It will only be a matter of time when you won’t be needing “tips and techniques”, and rather making a sincere intention will make sure that you are up and ready to meet your Lord (swt).
If something different has worked for you, drop down the advice in the comments section below. Perhaps someone may benefit from them inshAllah.