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Sleeping and missing salaat al-fajr

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Sleeping and missing salaat al-fajr -

by Shaykh Munajjid - may Allah reward him with

goodness.

A brother complained: “I miss

salaat al-Fajr on most days, and I hardly ever pray it at the right time.

Usually I do not wake up until after the sun has risen, or at best I wake up

after the time for praying fajr in jamaa’ah. I have tried to wake up at the

right time, with no success. What is the solution to this problem?”

All praise be to Allaah. The

solution to this problem, like others, has two aspects: theoretical and

practical.

The theoretical aspect may be

further broken down into two points:

(1) The Muslim should know the

great status of salaat al-fajr in the sight of Allaah, may He be glorified.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah

be upon him) said: “Whoever prays the dawn prayer in congregation, it is as if

he had prayed the whole night long.” (Muslim, p. 454, no. 656; al-Tirmidhi,

221).

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon

him) also said:

“The most burdensome prayers for

the hypocrites are salaat al-’isha’ and salaat al-fajr, but if they only knew

what they contain, they would come even if they had to crawl.” (Reported by

Imaam Ahmad, al-Musnad, 2/424; Saheeh al-Jaami’,

133).

“Whoever prays fajr is under the

protection of Allaah. Do not put yourselves in a situation where Allaah has to

call you to account for your negligence.” (Reported by al-Tabaraani, 7/267;

Saheeh al-Jaami’, no. 6344).

“Angels come to you in shifts by

night and by day. They meet at salaat al-fajr and salaat al-‘asr, then those

who had stayed with you at night ascend, and are asked by the One Who knows

better than they: ‘How did you find My servants?’ They say, ‘We left them when

they were praying, and we came to them when they were praying.’” (Reported by

al-Bukhaari, al-Fath, 2/33).

“The best of prayers in the sight

of Allaah is the dawn prayer on Friday, in congregation.” (Reported by Abu

Na’eem in al-Hilyah, 7/207, and in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah,

1566).

According to a saheeh hadeeth:

“Whoever prays al-Bardayn will enter Paradise.” (Reported by

al-Bukhaari, al-Fath, 2/52). Al-Bardayn are fajr and

‘asr.

(2) The Muslim should understand

the seriousness of missing salaat al-fajr. This is explained by the hadeeth

already quoted:

“The most burdensome prayers for

the hypocrites are salaat al-’isha’ and salaat al-Fajr…”

In al-Saheeh, it is

reported that Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with them both) said: “If we

did not see a person at fajr and ‘isha’ prayers, we would think badly of him.”

(Reported by al-Tabaraani in al-Mu’jam al-Kabeer, 12/271. Al-Haythami

said, the men of al-Tabaraani are muwaththaqoon (trustworthy).

al-Majma’, 2/40). They thought badly of a person who was absent from

these two prayers because regular performance of them is an indication of a

person’s faith and a measure of his sincerity. Other prayers may be easier to

do because they are more convenient to a person’s circumstances and fit in

with his work and his sleep, but only those who are determined and sincere,

people whom one hopes are good people, will be able to pray fajr and ‘isha’

regularly in congregation.

Another hadeeth which indicates

the seriousness of missing salaat al-fajr is: “Whoever prays fajr is under the

protection of Allaah. Do not put yourselves in a situation where Allaah has to

call you to account for your negligence, because whoever finds himself in this

situation will be sorted out and then thrown on his face in the Fire of Hell.”

(Reported by Muslim, p. 454).

These two points are sufficient to

guarantee that the Muslim’s heart will burn with the concern to ensure that he

does not miss fajr. The first motivates him to strive to earn the reward for

fajr, and the second acts as a warning that will deter him from committing the

sin of negligence.

The practical aspect of dealing

with this problem includes a number of steps which the Muslim can take in

order to get used to performing salaat al-fajr regularly in congregation.

These steps include:

Sleeping early. According to a

saheeh hadeeth, the Prophet (peace and

blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to dislike sleeping before ‘isha’

and talking afterwards. The Muslim should not sleep before salaat

al-’isha’ because it is obvious that most of those who sleep before it

will spend the rest of the night feeling so tired and heavy that it will

be as if they are ill.

Also, the Muslim should not

talk after ‘isha’, and the scholars have explained the reason why doing so

is disliked: it is because doing so leads to people staying up late, which

in turns leads to the fear that they will sleep and miss qiyaam

al-layl, or the correct or preferred time for fajr prayer.

The kind of talk that is

disliked after ‘isha’, as the commentators explain, is that in which there

is no clear benefit, but if there is some benefit – such as studying and

gaining knowledge, learning stories of righteous people, speaking to a

guest, spending time with one’s wife and family, speaking to travellers

and taking care of them and their luggage, or any other permissible reason

– then there is nothing wrong with it. This has no connection with the

reasons for which many people stay up late nowadays, to do wrong and

commit sin! So the Muslim should sleep early, so that he can wake up

refreshed to pray fajr and avoid the kind of late nights that make him too

tired to get up and pray fajr in congregation.

It is a fact that people

differ with regard to their need for sleep, so it is not possible to

dictate a set number of hours that people should sleep, but each person

should stick to the time that will give him enough sleep to wake up

refreshed for salaat al-fajr. If a person knows from experience that

sleeping after 11 p.m., for example, will mean that he cannot get up for

fajr, then from an Islamic point of view he should not sleep any later

than that… and so on.

Making sure that one is clean

(taahir) and reciting adhkaar (prayers) before sleeping.

This helps a person to get up for fajr.

Having a sincere intention and

being determined, when going to sleep, that one will get up for fajr. But

a person who goes to sleep hoping that the alarm will not go off, and that

no one will come and wake him up, will not – with such a corrupt intention

– be able to get up to pray fajr whilst he still has this bad

intention.

Remembering Allaah as soon as

one wakes up. Some people may initially wake up, then they go back to

sleep again. But if a person remembers Allaah straight after waking up,

this will loosen one of the knots of Shaytaan, and will motivate him to

get up. When he performs wudoo’, his determination becomes stronger, and

Shaytaan is driven further away, and when he prays, his shaytaan is

defeated, his balance (of good deeds) becomes heavier, and he will feel

happy and energetic.

Seeking help from one’s family

and friends to pray fajr, and encouraging one another in this regard. This

is essential, and is undoubtedly included in the words of Allaah

(interpretation of the meanings):

“… Help you one another in

al-birr and al-taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety)…” [al-Maa’idah

5:2]

“By al-‘asr (time). Verily!

Man is in loss, except those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and

recommend one another to the truth and recommend one another to patience.”

[al-‘Asr 103:1-3]

The Muslim should encourage

his wife, for example by waking her up to pray fajr, and she should

encourage him, no matter how tired and exhausted he may be. Children

should also seek their father’s help to wake up, so he can wake them when

it is time for the prayer. No father should say “They have exams, they are

tired, let them sleep, poor kids.” It is a mistake to think that be doing

this one is being a kind and merciful parent; true parental mercy means

that the father wakes them up to worship Allaah. “And enjoin al-salaah

(the prayer) on your family, and be patient in offering them (the

prayers)…” [Ta-Ha 20:132 – interpretation of the meaning].

Just as family members should

help and encourage one another to pray fajr, so brothers in Islam can also

help one another. For example, university students living in the same

residence or neighbours in the same neighbourhood can help one another by

knocking on a neighbour’s door to wake him for prayer and helping him to

worship Allaah.

Praying to Allaah to help him

to wake up to pray fajr in congregation. Du’aa’ is one of the greatest

sources of strength and success in all things.

Using various means of being

woken up, such as alarm clocks. These should be put in the most

appropriate place. Some people put the alarm clock next to their head, and

when it rings, they turn if off at once and go straight back to sleep.

Such a person should put the clock a little further away, so that he can

feel that it is really waking him up.

One can also arrange to

receive alarm calls from the telephone company, and no Muslim should think

that it is too much to pay for this service if he needs it, because this

is spending in the way of Allaah, and waking up to obey the command of

Allaah cannot be measured in terms of worldly wealth.

Throwing water in the face of

the person who is sleeping. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon

him) praised the man who gets up at night to pray, and wakes his wife, and

when she refuses to get up, he throws water in her face; and he praised

the woman who gets up at night to pray, and wakes her husband, and when he

refuses to get up, she throws water in his face. (Reported by Imaam Ahmad

in al-Musnad, 2/250; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3494).

Throwing water in a person’s

face is one of the means of waking a person for prayer that is prescribed

by sharee’ah. In fact it is quite refreshing and energizing. Some people

may become enraged when woken in this manner, and they may shout and swear

and issue threats, so the person who is seeking to wake another should

employ wisdom and patience, and remember that the pens are lifted from the

record of one who is sleeping (i.e., his deeds are not being recorded

while he is asleep) – so he should put up with any bad treatment, and not

let this put him off trying to wake people up for prayer.

Not sleeping alone. The

Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah

be upon him) forbade any man to sleep alone. (Reported by Imaam Ahmad in

al-Musnad, 2/91; al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, no. 60). Perhaps

the wisdom behind this prohibition is that a person could sleep too long

if there is no-one to wake him up for prayer.

Not sleeping in remote places

where it would not occur to anyone that someone could be sleeping there,

such as a person sleeping on the roof of a house without telling his

family where he is, or sleeping in a remote part of the house or student

residence, so that no-one will know to wake him for prayer, but everyone

will think that he is in the mosque when in fact he is fast asleep. Anyone

who needs to sleep in a remote place should tell the people around him

where he will be so that they can come and wake him.

Being lively and active upon

waking. One should get up straightaway, and not wake up in stages, as some

people do. A person could be woken up several times, and each time he gets

up, but when his friend leaves, he goes back to bed. Waking up in stages

usually ends in failure, and the only way to prevent falling asleep again

is to get up straight away.

Not setting the alarm too

early. If a person knows that there is still a long time to go until the

time of the prayer, he may think, “I still have time, let me sleep a

little more…” Everyone should know how to handle himself and avoid this

situation.

Lighting a lamp when waking up

– or, in our modern times, switching on the light. This has the effect of

dispelling sleepiness.

Not staying up late, even to

pray qiyaam al-layl. Some people may stay up late to pray qiyaam

al-layl, then fall asleep a few minutes before fajr and be unable to

wake up for the prayer. This happens a lot in Ramadaan – people stay up

late and sleep a little while before fajr, so they miss the prayer. No

doubt this is a grave error, because fard (obligatory) prayer should take

precedence over naafil (supererogatory) prayer. So what about those who

stay up late not to pray but to commit sin, or at best to do permissible

things? The Shaytaan may make the idea of staying up late to discuss

important matters attractive to some daa’iyahs (Islamic workers), then

they sleep late and miss the prayer, thus losing much more than they

gained.

Not eating too much before

going to sleep. Eating too much makes one sleep deeply. The one who eats a

lot gets very tired, and sleeps a lot, thus losing a lot. So one should

try to eat lightly in the evening.

Warning about the

misinterpretation of the sunnah to lie down after praying the sunnah of

fajr. Some people may have heard the hadeeth in which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon

him) said: “When any one of you has prayed, let him lie down on his right

side.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, no. 420; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 642).

It was also reported that when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon

him) had prayed the sunnah of fajr, he would lie down, then Bilaal would

call him to prayer, and he would stand up to pray. People may have heard

these ahaadeeth, and be keen to follow this proven sunnah, but they do not

understand how to do it properly. So a person may pray the sunnah of fajr,

then lie down on his right side, and fall fast asleep until the sun rises.

This is because of a lack of proper understanding. The lying down is not

for the purpose of sleeping, and Bilaal used to come and tell the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon

him) when it was time to pray. Moreover, as was reported by Imaam Ahmad

and Ibn Hibbaan in a saheeh hadeeth, if the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon

him) wanted to rest before fajr, he would put his head on his right palm,

propped up on his elbow. (Reported by Ahmad in al-Musnad, 5/298;

Saheeh al-Jaami’, no. 4752). This kind of resting prevents one from

falling fast asleep, because in this case one’s head is propped up on

one’s palm and elbow, and will drop if one dozes off, thus waking one up

again. In addition to this, Bilaal was entrusted with the responsibility

of waking the Prophet (peace and

blessings of Allaah be upon him) for the fajr prayer.

Praying qiyaam al-layl late in

the night, just before fajr, so that when one finishes witr, the call for

fajr prayer is given, making the worship continuous. The night prayer

should be offered during the last third of the night – which is the

preferred time – and immediately followed by the fajr prayer, whilst one

is feeling awake and energetic.

Following the example of the

Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah

be upon him) in lying down to sleep. So a person should lie on his right

side, placing his right cheek on his right hand. This position makes it

easy to wake up. The best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon

him), and this is better than sleeping in any other position which may

make it difficult to wake up.

Helping oneself by taking a

nap during the day, because this will help a person by making him need

less sleep at night.

Not sleeping after ‘asr or

maghrib, because this will make a person sleep late, and whoever sleeps

late will find it difficult to wake up.

Finally, sincere devotion to

Allaah is the best thing to motivate a person to get up for prayer,

because Allaah is the One Who is controlling all means of help. If a

person has that true sincerity and his heart is burning with devotion to

Allaah, then Allaah will help him to get up to pray fajr in congregation,

even if he goes to sleep only a few moments before

fajr.

This sincerity and devotion may

cause some very enthusiastic people to find unusual ways to help themselves to

wake up to pray, which is a sign of their eagerness and keenness. One of them

may set a number of alarm clocks to wake him up, setting each one a few

minutes later than the other, so that if he turns the first one off, the next

one will wake him a few moments later, and so on. Another may tie a string to

his wrist, with the other end dangling from his window, so that when one of

his friends passes by on his way to the mosque, he can pull on the string and

wake him for fajr prayer.

See what can be achieved with

sincerity and determination, may Allaah guide you! But the bitter truth is

that weakness of faith and lack of sincerity are widespread among people

nowadays, as we can see from the small numbers of people to be found praying

in the mosques at fajr, despite the fact that there are so many people living

around the mosques in many neighbourhoods.

But no doubt there are people who

sleep so heavily that it is almost like an illness, and they may be excused,

because the matter is beyond their control. People in this situation should

turn to Allaah for help, and do everything that they possibly can, and visit

the doctor, to try to find a cure.

Finally, a word about a well known

phenomenon: some people claim that there is a hadeeth which says that the

person who wants to get up for fajr should recite the last part of Soorat

al-Kahf before sleeping, and have the intention in his heart to get up at a

certain hour, and this will make him get up at that time. They claim that this

is a tried and tested method. Our response is that there is no such saheeh

hadeeth, and this carries no weight whatsoever. The best guidance is the

guidance of Muhammad (peace and blessings

of Allaah be upon him).

by Shaykh

Munajjid

Yearning for Allah and His meeting is like the gentle breeze

blowing upon the heart, extinguishing the blaze of the Dunya. Whosoever caused

his heart to settle with his Lord shall be in a state, calm and tranquil, and

whosoever sent it amongst the people shall be disturbed and excessively

perturbed.

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