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If you asked any Muslim what prayer they struggle with the most, a majority would say fajr – the dawn prayer. Fajr times can vary drastically between summer and winter. Sometimes getting up for fajr is no thing. Actually sometimes you can get up, get ready for work, drive to your job and start your day, and then have to find a decent corner to pray in. Other times though, fajr is at 3 am. It can feel like an impossible challenge to maintain your prayer (never mind emotionally communicating with the Divine) through such transitory shifts. Don’t fret though, that’s why we’re at it again with another Around the Web edition dedicated just to the first prayer of the day.
Fajr has a special place in the prayer repertoire of the Muslim. Beginning at dawn and extending until the sun begins to rise, it’s the closest prayer to the night prayer and can often elicit the same feelings of intimacy and wonder. Additionally, being so early in the morning, it can set a mood for the day and allow each person to clarify their daily intentions. Starting your day with the freshness of a renewed connection with God is such a blessing.
Often though, many of us who make fajr prayer on time do so bleary eyed and at the very last moment of the window. It may feel like a simple thing to put off prayer and even feel good that we at least made it on time, but putting off the prayer creates long term issues for the rest of our day. Just from an etiquette perspective, constantly running late to a recurring meeting would indicate a lack of interest and commitment to who and why you are meeting. How can we say that to Allah? How can we be so flimsy in our devotion? Fajr prayer needs to mean more to us.
So you feel inspired and want to take your first prayer of the day more seriously. Great! The fact of it is that so many people are talking about and invested in helping each other do better with fajr. Some great articles which can give you good tips. There are youtube lectures and even great apps. One of the coolest apps has subscribers get an actual call from another Muslim to wake them up and gives you the chance to wake someone up somewhere in the world for fajr. Connecting the world around salah – what more could we want?!
Let’s not fool ourselves though, fajr tests us. It tests our faithfulness specifically. Mostly, fajr is about the pregame effort that eases us into being able to get up easily in the morning. When I’ve missed my daily Quran reading, I will usually miss fajr the following day. On the days my spirituality is high and I sleep late for some reason or another, I can still get up for fajr easily. Though it’s less easy to parse out a specific action plan for, tackling our spiritual state should be our first priority. It’s up to each person to reflect on what is holding them back spiritually the most and tackle that specific problem head on. You will see your progress reflected in your fajr prayer.
In addition to the spiritual component, another major challenge when it comes to praying fajr on time is how much the timing for it fluctuates through the seasons. Catching fajr is easy when the nights are long and we already have to get up for work before the time for fajr has come in. On shorter days, when we have to break up our sleep to get up, fajr feels impossible. One way to tackle this constant flux is to attempt to wake up around the same time regardless of the season. It will definitely take some time to achieve a consistent wake up no matter what, but those extra earned morning hours are well worth it.
Extra morning hours are an obvious benefit of getting up early. There are so many ways to benefit from them. Such a disciplining practice, your ability to get up for fajr consistently and with positive energy will allow you to tackle other worship or non worship related endeavors you aspire to. Night prayer will feel closer to your grasp. Morning thikr will become an easy extension to your routine. Maintaining a daily reading habit – whether of the Quran or otherwise – will be just another part of the morning. Getting up for fajr allows us to chip away at building a lifestyle we may aspire to.
Final Thoughts …
Fajr prayer has such a transformational power that it can really change your life. This is why, even for non-believers, there is so much encouragement to be an early riser and how great this can be for your productivity. It is Allah’s wisdom that He has built this personal development mechanism straight into our religion. Our commitment to fajr is a natural extension of our commitment and submission to Allah. The more we submit and call on Allah into our lives, the more we will succeed with fajr – and vice versa. What’s amazing is how much we resist this. Allah invites us to betterment, and we insist on regression. Let’s stop resisting Allah’s plan for us, and allow His guidance to transform our lives one fajr prayer, on time, at a time.