The advent of modern civilisation 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 used to discourage sleep before performing Ishaa 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 Allaah have mercy upon him says:
The reason why converation 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'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 rakah 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.
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 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.
FOUR: To keep away from Ma'aasi [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 Allaah, such as devoting one's sight to the reading of Allaah's Book, meditating 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 persons inability to enjoy the blessings of piety. As Imaam 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. Uthmaan ibn 'Affaan related:
I heard Allah's Messenger say: "He who prays Ishaa 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, Bukhaaaree and Muslim and An-Nasaaee related on the authority of Ibn Mas'ud (radiallaahu-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 whereupon he said: "That was a man in whose ear Shaytaan has urinated", or he said "in both his ears".