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Friday, 26 October 2007

Are the Prophets Alive in Their Graves?

Are the Prophets Alive in Their Graves?
Taken from sunnipath.com

What Aqeedah should we have for the people that are dead? Some people say the Prophets are alive in their graves, is this true? please give me evidence.

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

"Muhammad is a man, but not like men;
He is an emerald, and others mere stone."

The belief (Aqidah) of the mainstream Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama'ah is that our beloved Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) and all the other Prophets are alive in their graves.

This life is physical and worldly (dunyawiyyah), and not just a spiritual one with the soul (barzakhiyyah), as the latter is common for all the people. They are usually involved in performing prayer and worshiping Allah (out of their own free choice without it being obligatory on them), and we can normally not see or feel them.

This is the Aqidah held by the Sunni Muslims throughout the ages, and many books in Arabic have been written on this subject. The great Imam Suyuti (Allah have mercy on him) compiled a whole work on this subject titled 'Inba al-Azkiya bi Hayat al-Anbiya' (Informing the intelligent regarding the living of the Prophets), in which he quoted many evidences in support of this belief. Similarly, other scholars such as: Imam al-Bayhaqi, Imam Abdul Wahhab al-Sha'rani and Imam Ibn al-Qayyim in his book 'al-Ruh' (The Soul) have also written and gathered evidences with regards to this.

Evidences on the prophets remaining alive in their graves:

There are many evidences in the Qur'an, Hadith and sayings of the predecessors regarding the prophets remaining alive after death. Some are reproduced here:

1) Allah Most High says:

"And Question thou our Messengers whom we sent before you. Did we appoint any deities other that Allah, Most gracious, to be worshiped"? (Surah al-Zukhruf, 45).

Many commentators have stated in their respective exegeses of the Holy Qur'an that the living of the Prophets can be proved from this verse (See: Durr al-Manthur of Suyuti, Ruh al-Ma'ani by al-Alusi and others).

2) Allah Most High says:

"And say not of those who are slain (martyred) in the way of Allah, "they are dead", nay, they are living, though you perceive it not" (Surah al-Baqarah, 154).

Regarding this verse, the great Hadith expert (hafidh), Imam Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (Allah have mercy on him) states in his monumental commentary of Sahih al-Bukhari, 'Fath al-Bari':

"When the living of the martyrs is proven from the text of the Qur'an, then this is also proven from a analogical point of view. And the Prophets are superior then the martyrs" (Fath al-Bari, 6/379).

3) Sayyiduna Anas ibn Malik (Allah be pleased with him) narrates:

"On the night of Isra, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) passed by the grave of Sayyiduna Musa (Allah bless him), and found him praying in his grave" (Recorded by Imam Muslim in his Sahih, and others).

4) Anas ibn Malik narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wsallam) said:

"The Prophets are alive in their graves performing Salat" (Recorded by al-Bayhaqi in his 'Hayat al-Anbiya' and Abu Ya'la in his Musnad).

The above Hadith has been authenticated by many Hadith scholars, such as: Ibn Hajar, al-Haythami, Ali al-Qari, al-Munawi, al-Shawkani and others.

5) Aws ibn Aws narrates the Messenger of Allah as saying:

"Send salutations in abundance on me on Friday, as your sending salutations are presented to me. The Companions inquired: "How is it possible that you receive our salutations when your body will have been decayed? The Messenger of Allah said: "Verily Allah has made forbidden on the earth that it eats the body of the Prophets" (Recorded by Abu Dawud, Nasa'i, Ibn Majah, Darami and others, and authenticated by many, such as Ibn al-Qayyim).

6) Abu Hurairah (Allah be pleased with him) Narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessing be upon him) said:

"None of you greets me except that Allah returns my soul on me until I return his greeting" (Musnad Ahmad, 2/527 and Abu Dawud, 1/279).

7) Anas ibn Malik narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:

"The Prophets are not kept in their graves for more then forty nights, but they remain worshiping Allah until the trumpet will be blown" (Sunan al-Bayhaqi).

Due to the fact that there are many narrations regarding this (of which we have only reproduced a few, as an example), Imam Suyuti is of the view that these narrations have reached the level of certainty (tawatur).

8) The great Hadith Imam, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani states:

"Death will never come to the Blessed Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) in his grave, but he will remain alive, due to the fact that the Prophets remain alive in their graves" (Fath al-Bari, 17/22).

9) Imam al-Subki states:

"It is from our beliefs that the Prophets are alive in their graves". (Tabqat al-Shafi'iyya al-Kubra, 6/266).

10) The great Hanafi jurist, Ibn Abidin says:

"The Prophets are alive in their graves, as proven from the Hadith" (Rasa'il of Ibn Abidin, 2/203).

11) Imam al-Shawkani (whom the Salafis normally refer to) states:

"The Prophet (Peace and blessing be upon him) is alive in his grave, as has been established in the Hadith "The Prophets are alive in their graves". (See: Nayl al-Awtar, 5/101).

12) Also, one of the major incidents that prove this, is the incident of Me'raj (Ascension of the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) to the heavens), where he met and conversed with many Prophets. He also led them in prayer in Masjid al-Aqsa.

The above evidences from the Qur'an, Hadith and the sayings of the predecessors are sufficient to prove the fact that the Prophets remain alive in their graves after they pass away from this world. There are many other evidences which we have not mentioned here, due to the fear of prolonging our discussion.

This is the reason why this Aqidah has been held by the mainstream Sunni scholars throughout the eras. It is only recently that some people have objected to this view.

For more details on this subject, one may refer to Imam Suyuti's 'al-Inba' and Imam al-Bayhaqi's 'Hayat al-Anbiya'.

May Allah guide us all to the straight path (Ameen).

And Allah knows best

Answered by: Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari, UK

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Record price for 13th-century Quran

Record price for 13th-century Quran
By Associated Press, Wed Oct 24, 2007
(Thanks to Bodrul Ali for highlighting this newspiece)

LONDON - A Quran written in 1203, believed to be the oldest known complete copy, has sold for more than $2.3 million at an auction.

The holy book, which had been estimated to sell for up to $715,000, fetched $2,327,300 at Tuesday's auction in London, Christie's said.

That was a record auction price for a Quran or any type of Islamic manuscript, the auctioneer Christie's said.

A nearly complete, 10th-century Kufic Quran, thought to be from North Africa or the near East, sold $1,870,000. Both were offered for sale by the Hispanic Society of America, and were purchased by trade buyers in London, Christie's said.

The record-setting Quran was signed by Yahya bin Muhammad ibn 'Umar, dated 17 Ramadan 599 (June 1203).

It was acquired in Cairo in 1905 by Archer Milton Huntington, who founded the Hispanic Society in New York City in 1904. Huntington, the adopted son of railroad and ship-building magnate Collis P. Huntington, died in 1955.

The calligraphy in the manuscript was done in gold outlined in thin black lines, and the marginal notes are in silver outlined in red. The kufic Quran bridges a gap between the earlier style, copied on parchment of horizontal format, and the later style of vertical composition, often on paper, Christie's catalog said. The kufic script takes its name from Kufah in Iraq, an early center of Islamic scholarship, according to the British Library. Because the script's vertical strokes were very short but the horizontal strokes elongated, it was written on papers in a landscape format.

Interesting Readings:

1. Pictures of Qur'ans - King Fahd Complex for The Printing of Holy Quran, Saudi Arabia
(This is a very useful website for research and gaining knowledge)

2. Pictures of another Gold Qur'an - The Johns Hopkins University - The Sheridan Libraries website

3. SULTAN BAYBARS' MAGNIFICENT QUR'AN (about 704 - 705 AH) - digitally available from the British Library)

4. Sultan of Brunei in row over £4m gold Koran - Telegraph, UK, 20.08.07

5. Did you know that David Khalili, a Jew from Iran has the largest collection of Islamic artifacts? Here is some some details about David Khalili: the art newspaper, forbes.com.

You can have a peek at this collection at his website http://www.khalili.org/

6. For those in the UK - why not visit the British Museum Islamic Collection? Here's a link to some of thier collection britishmuseum.org and discoverislamicart.org

7. islamicarchitecture.org is also a good website for Islamic art and architecture. It also has a good list of useful links.

For those outside the UK, islamicart.com has a small directory of useful Museums - why not pay them a visit and find out more about Islamic art? It is unfortunate to note today that looting in occupied Iraq and Afganistan has deprived us of a wealth of artifacts, maybe someday these items will end up at auction in Christie's or Sotherby's!

Monday, 22 October 2007

The Boy and the Apple Tree

The Boy and the Apple Tree
Taken from everymuslim.net, Author: Unknown

A long time ago, there was a huge apple tree. A little boy loved to come and play around it everyday. He climbed to the treetop, ate the apples, took a nap under the shadow. He loved the tree and the tree loved to play with him. Time went by and the little boy had grown up and he no longer played around the tree every day.

One day, the boy came back to the tree and he looked sad. "Come and play with me the tree asked the boy. "I am no longer a kid, I do not play around trees any more the boy replied. I want toys. I need money to buy them. Sorry, but I do not have money, but you can pick all my apples and sell them. So, you will have money. The boy was so excited. He grabbed all the apples on the tree and left happily. The boy never came back after he picked the apples. The tree was sad.

One day, the boy who now turned into a man returned and the tree was excited Come and play with me the tree said. I do not have time to play. I have to work for my family. We need a house for shelter. Can you help me? Sorry, but I do not have any house. But you can chop off my branches to build your house. So the man cut all the branches of the tree and left happily. The tree was glad to see him happy but the man never came back since then. The tree was again lonely and sad.

One hot summer day, the man returned and the tree was delighted. "Come and play with me! the tree said. I am getting old. I want to go sailing to relax myself. Can you give me a boat? said the man. "Use my trunk to build your boat. You can sail far away and be happy. So the man cut the tree trunk to make a boat. He went sailing and never showed up for a long time.

Finally, the man returned after many years. "Sorry, my boy. But I do not have anything for you anymore. No more apples for you c the tree said. "No problem, I do not have any teeth to bite" the man replied. "No more trunk for you to climb on I am too old for that now the man said. "I really cannot give you anything... the only thing left is my dying roots the tree said with tears. "I do not need much now, just a place to rest. I am tired after all these years the man replied.

"Good! Old tree roots are the best place to lean on and rest, Come, come sit down with me and rest. The man sat down and the tree was glad and smiled with tears. This is a story of everyone. The tree is like our parents - when we were young, we loved to play with our Mum and Dad... When we grow up, we leave them only come to them when we need something or when we are in trouble. No matter what, parents will always be there and give everything they could just to make you happy.

You may think the boy is cruel to the tree,
but that is how all of us treat our parents.
We take them for granted
we don't appreciate all they do for us, UNTIL it's too late.
Wallahi May Allah forgive us of our shortcommings
and may He Guide us, Insha'Allah Ameen Ya rub.
Please enlighten all your friends
and your families by telling them this story.

Love your Parents
"Thy Lord hath decreed, that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour. And, out of kindness lower to them the wing of humility, and say: "My Lord ! bestow on them thy Mercy even as they Cherished me in childhood". Translation from The Holy Qur'an (A.Yusuf Ali.) Surah Al-Israa. (17: 23-24)
In addition to the beautiful story (of above) here are some ahadith I found on aminahsworld: TAKING CARE OF PARENTS' - A SURE METHOD OF ATTAINING PARADISE

"If anyone visits the grave of his parents, or of one of them, every Friday he will be granted forgiveness and it will be recorded as piety due from a son or daughter." (Baihaqi)

Hazrat Anas (Radi Allahu anhu) reported Allah's Messenger (on him be peace) as saying, "The parents of a man die, or one of them dies and he/she has been undutiful to them, then he/she keeps on making supplication and asking forgiveness for them till Allah records that he/she is dutiful." (Baihaqi)

Hazrat Ibn-e-Abaas (Radi Allahu anhu) reported Allah's Messenger (on him be peace) as saying, "No dutiful son or daughter gives his parents a kind look without Allah recording to his credit an approved pilgrimage for every look." He was asked if that was so even if he/she gave a hundred looks daily and replied, " Yes Allah is Most Great and Most Good." (Baihaqi)

Hazrat Abu Huraira (Radi Allahu anhu) reported Allah's Messenger (on him be peace) as saying, "May he be humbled ; May he be humbled; may he be humbled !" He was asked about whom he was speaking and replied, " The one who having one or both parents live to old age, does not enter Paradise." (Sahih Muslim Shareef)

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Sleeping and missing salaat al-fajr

Sleeping and missing salaat al-fajr
Shakawa Wahulool - Problems and Solutions, English Translation
Book by Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

A brother complained: “I miss salaat al-Ffjr 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 Allah. 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 Allah, may He be glorified. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah 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 Allah 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 Allah. Do not put yourselves in a situation where Allah 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 Allah 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 Allah 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 Allah. Do not put yourselves in a situation where Allah 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 Allah 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 Allah as soon as one wakes up. Some people may initially wake up, then they go back to sleep again. But if a person remembers Allah 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 Allah (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 Allah. “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 Allah.
  • Praying to Allah 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 Allah, and waking up to obey the command of Allah 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 Allah 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 Allah 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 Allah 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 Allah 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 Allah 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 Allah 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 Allah 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 Allah 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 Allah 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 Allah is the best thing to motivate a person to get up for prayer, because Allah 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 Allah, then Allah 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 Allah 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 Allah 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 Allah be upon him).