◊ 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 neighbours 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. Duaa 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 (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) 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.
Throwing water in a persons face is one of the means of waking a person for prayer that is prescribed by shareeah. 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 (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) forbade any man to sleep alone. [Ahmad]. 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 daaiyahs (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 (SAW) said: “When any one of you has prayed, let him lie down on his right side.” [Tirmidhi].
It was also reported that when the Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) 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 Bilal used to come and tell the Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) when it was time to pray. Moreover, as was reported by Imaam Ahmad and Ibn Hibbaan in a saheeh hadeeth, if the Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) wanted to rest before fajr, he would put his head on his right palm, propped up on his elbow. [Ahmad]. This kind of resting prevents one from falling fast asleep, because in this case ones head is propped up on ones palm and elbow, and will drop if one dozes off, thus waking one up again. In addition to this, Bilal was entrusted with the responsibility of waking the Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) 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 (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) 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 (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam), 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.