Fajr thought

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A while back someone asked me, “Don’t you think it’d be an idea to change the fajr time closer to 7am all year round since that’s when our day starts and getting up during summer hours is difficult?

Some thoughts:

  1. There’s a reason the fajr call to prayer includes “Salah is better than sleep”.
  2. As some hadith indicate, some sahabah also found waking for fajr challenging.
  3. If (and probably when) some research comes out that suggests waking up for a while during summer nights for some meditation is beneficial, the same folk who were complaining yesterday will say: “Look at the wisdoms of the Lawgiver!”
  4. It’s reported that the Prophet wouldn’t speak to people after Esha prayer, and would retire quite soon after. So perhaps the problem isn’t about getting up early, but when we actually go to bed?
  5. There is a reason that the fajr Salah is the shortest of the five (two units/rakat), what do you think they are?

“But sometimes I miss fajr”

For those who are God-conscious, this can be an affair that weighs down heavy on the soul (and should do). Some live in absolute despair until it breaks their drive and motivation, and quite paradoxically, they give up altogether! But I would urge that intention is all important. The one who intends to get up and mistakenly oversleeps or presses the snooze button differs from the one who had no intent at all and made no conscious preparation.

A’ishah (related by Abu Dawud) and Abu Darda (related by Ibn Majah) narrate from the Prophet that the one who goes to bed intending to awaken during the night to pray but doesn’t because his tiredness overcomes him will be recorded as he intended (i.e. rewarded) and the sleep is considered a sadaqah (charity).

Some scholars put this hadith down to the Esha prayer, some to tahajjud (the optional night prayer), and some to fajr. The Maliki jurist and hadith master, Ibn Abdil Barr, wrote in explanation of this hadith:

مَنْ كَانَتْ عَادَتُهُ الْقِيَامَ إِلَى صَلَاتِهِ الْمَكْتُوبَةِ أَوْ إِلَى نَافِلَتِهِ مِنَ اللَّيْلِ فَغَلَبَتْهُ عينه : فقد جَاءَ عَنْهُ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَنَّهُ يُكْتَبُ لَهُ أَجْرُ صَلَاتِهِ ، وَنَوْمُهُ صَدَقَةٌ عَلَيْهِ

Whoever’s habit is to perform the obligatory or non-obligatory prayer during the night, and his eyes overcome him, then it comes from the Prophet that a reward for the (missed) prayer is recorded and his sleep is deemed charity (from God).”

al-Istidhkar

This is analogous with the one who mistakenly eats or drinks during Ramadan forgetting that he’s fasting, for as the hadith of Abu Hurairah (Bukhari and Muslim) goes, it is God who (charitably) feeds him.

God is merciful and looks out for His sincere servants. As long as you have no intention to offend God or be consciously negligent, why assume God is mercilessly vengeful, or petty?

God is great, supreme in His power and glory, and a benign King of kings. As such, Abu Dharr relates from the Prophet that he said those who offer the fajr prayer are left “in the charge of God”, meaning that He personally looks after their affairs, protecting them, for the rest of the day. From my own anecdotal experience, any day that starts with a meaningful fajr prayer, contemplating the words of the Most High and consciously expressing my subservience to Him through bowing and prostrating, sincerely trusting in His plan and divine ability to do all things, ensures that day unfolds a beneficial one.

And of course, if you have been overcome by sleep (or even if you haven’t been) and the sun has risen, offer the prayer with a penitent heart to show you care, expecting God to overlook your shortcoming due to His infinite mercy.

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