Fawa’id As-Subh: The Virtues of the Dawn Prayers
There are many obstacles we face in life. Once we have realised the Truth, the root of all obstacles becomes the controlling and taming the nafs. So, we might find ourselves struggling in maintaining good relations with family and friends. It may also be that we have become detached from the da’wah due to the strain it has on maintaining a comfortable life style. Describing the nature of those that miss the ‘Isha and Fajr prayers, The Messenger of Allah (saw) “The most burdensome prayers for the hypocrites are ‘Isha and Fajr, but if they only knew what they contain, they would come even if they had to crawl.” [Ahmad] How far is this from those that want to seek the most reward as the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Whoever prays the Fajr prayer in congregation, and it is as if he (or she) had prayed the whole night long” [Muslim and Tirmidhi].
The source of all of these obstacles, once we have understood the Truth, is indeed the nafs. However, one of the most crucial fronts in the lifestyle of a Muslim is the huge battle with Salah, as the Messenger of Allah (saw) said “Islam has been built on five, the proclamation that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah, the five (daily) prayers….”
So, the daily prayers have been established as one of the central priorities in the life of a Muslim. No one can claim progress in any aspect of Islam if this, the most direct and essential relationship with Allah (swt) is not recognised and safeguarded. It is inconceivable to think one can fool themselves into thinking that they have a close relationship with Allah (swt) whilst their Salah is grossly deficient.
One of the most if not the most challenging prayer of the day is the Subh or Fajr Salah. Having said that, it is also the most emphasised prayers by Allah (swt) in the Qur’an, when He (swt) says:
“Establish the prayer at sunset until nightfall, and (establish the recitation of dawn), Verily the recitation of dawn is witnessed”. [TMQ 17:78]
The recitation that is witnessed at the time of Fajr is the noble verses of the Qur’an that are recited in during the Salah. In another verse of the Qur’an, Allah (swt) swears by the Fajr Salah testifying to its importance, when He (swt) says
“By the Dawn” [TMQ 89:1]
Although parts of the Qur’an should be recited in every prayer, the Fajr Salah is metonymically singled out as the “recitation (Qur'an) at dawn” because the Messenger of Allah (saw), under divine inspiration, used to lengthen his recitation while praying at that time, thus stressing the special significance of this particular prayer.
Any idleness or neglect in the Fajr or ‘Isha Salah is usually a direct indication of the general state of ones Taqwa and Islam. Such a person has been engulfed by the evil of his sins, and the Satan has his tentacles wrapped around his heart, while their mind is sedated with the pleasures of his own desires, not allowing them to think and contemplate before performing a deed. It has been narrated from our pious predecessors that, “If you are unable to pray at night, then that is a clear sign that your sins have shackled you and deprived you of good deeds”. When Hasan al-Basri (ra) was asked “Why is it that we cannot uphold prayers at night?” He answered: “You are shackled in your own sins”.
The Messenger of Allah (saw) disliked sleeping before ‘Isha and staying awake after ‘Isha. Imam Nawawi (ra) says in explaining this “The reason why conversation after it (‘Isha) 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] prayers in their permitted, preferred or best times. The topics covered by this restriction are all fulfilling no good or useful purpose. However, as to other valuable 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 discussion 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. In these, there are no such restrictions.”
In the case of one who sleeps through Fajr, they been visited by the Shaytan. Bukhari and Muslim and An-Nasa’i related on the authority of Ibn Mas’ud (ra) 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 Messenger of Allah (saw) whereupon he (saw) said: “That was a man in whose ear Shaytan has urinated”, or he said “in both his ears”. Just as human beings urinate the Jinn also urinate, however their nature is not known to us, so the urination in fact is literal.
This is what one of the pious companions of the Messenger of Allah (saw) said about missing the ‘Isha and Fajr prayers, Abdullah and Ibn Mas’ud (ra) asserts “The only one indeed who misses them [i.e. ‘Isha and Fajr prayers] is a confirmed hypocrite”. Further to this, Ibn Umar (ra) said “When we find a man missing from the ‘Isha and Fajr prayers we nurture suspicions about him”.
Describing the nature of those that miss the ‘Isha and Fajr prayers, The Messenger of Allah (saw) “The most burdensome prayers for the hypocrites are ‘Isha and Fajr, but if they only knew what they contain, they would come even if they had to crawl.” [Ahmad] How far is this from those that want to seek the most reward as the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Whoever prays the Fajr prayer in congregation, and it is as if he (or she) had prayed the whole night long” [Muslim and Tirmidhi].
Let’s consider a simple equation or litmus test to measure our Islamic personality. Once we accept the essential role that the Salah plays in the life of a Muslim and the importance of the Fajr Salah, then we can conclude that if our Fajr Salah is deficient or even absent, then the chances that other aspects of our Islamic personality are also weak, is very high, since Allah (swt) made them one of the pillars of a wholesome Islamic personality.
Allah (swt) has defined our purpose in life in three simple relationships, one of which is the pillar that all other relationships rest upon. This relationship is the one between us and our Creator, Allah (swt), and this is the relationship that all other relationships namely, the relationship between man and himself as well as the relationship between man and other creation, depend on, and are established upon. Since, one cannot aspire to achieve true success in any other relationship if the link with Allah (swt) is not established. This most important link between man and his Lord (swt) has been further defined by Allah (swt) through the Ibadah or the worship system, of which the Salah plays the most critical role. The simple question we have to ask ourselves is, do we want to build a house on a foundation that is not even fit to build a wall on?