The early bird gets the worm. Yes, it does. Clichéd, but true.
Keeping the “new-year-is-a-pagan-ritual” aside, let us talk about building the habit that cannot only change our lives but also change the fate of the entire Ummah. That habit is rising up for Fajr prayer and utilizing the time after it. The irony of this is that OUR Prophet (sala Allahu alayhi wa salam) made dua for the after-fajr hours to be blessed for us. We Muslims love snoozing in those hours, whereas all the non-Muslim personal development gurus and business tycoons, and even some of the richest men on earth, practice this rising-up-early habit religiously.
In the days of my Jahiliya, I was crazy about an author. Once, while I was browsing through his website, I read something that instantly made me realize the secret behind his success. He had written:
- If I am not on my desk at 4:00 a.m., I believe, I am late.
First of all, let us understand and accept the fact that it is NOT difficult to be an early-riser; after reading this article, it is going to be a thousand times easier, ONLY if Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) wills.
How to develop a Habit?
Let us be very clear on this: we are trying to develop a habit to WAKE UP FOR FAJR AND RECITE QUR’AN and utilize the after-fajr hours.
Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) says in the Qur'an and it translates as this:
“…Indeed, the recitation of dawn is ever witnessed.” (17:78)
Say it out loud. Let the atmosphere around you record your affirmation (remember, even the intention is rewarded).
Now, give yourself a 21-day challenge and kick off. Remember, it has to be a consecutive 21 days. If you slip, start it all over again. No worries; better to try than to give up.
What is your ANCHOR?
You can develop a habit by two ways:
1) Using the sheer force of will power and forcing yourself to follow a plan. But I suggest you take it easy on yourself. The more you beat yourself up, the more difficult it will be. So, we will have a look at the 2nd way.
2) Find out what your anchor is. What actually triggers your habit? Try to find out what triggers you to wake up. Is it an alarm? Is it the voice of the mua’zzin? What is it? (Maybe someone throwing a bucket of water on your face :p)
Personally, I believe that there is some underlying factor that needs to be fixed. If you really discover what that underlying factor is, it will become easier to wake up for Fajr. For most of us, this factor is FEAR of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) that may result in us developing this habit.
“And whoever fears Allah - He will make for him a way out. (65:2)”
If you have to catch a flight at 7:00 a.m. and you sleep as late as 3:00 a.m., would you still make an effort and do everything you can to make sure you get up for the flight on time? You definitely will. Why? It is the underlying fear of missing the flight. So, if all the strategies to rise up early are failing, you need to fix your trigger. Stand in front of the mirror and ask (literally, do this): “ARE YOU AFRAID OF ALLAH OR NOT?” Try imagining hellfire, the siraat, and the grave and then give it a try.
I hope this will fix our trigger.
Are you going too fast?
Let us say you want to get up early in the morning, pray Fajr, recite 1 Juzz, say Adhkaar, go for a walk, do exercise, eat breakfast, and read a book. How does that sound? Cool? UN-COOL..! Remember: dream big, but start small. To develop a habit you must start by something that you can retain your focus on. So, it is better to start with praying Fajr and reciting 5-6 ayahs of Qur’an (for the beginners of course). Then build on to this habit from there. Remember, Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) loves the deeds that are consistent, even if they are little.
Taking baby steps is better than taking giant leaps which result in spectacular failure in the middle of the course.
What exactly is the ROUTINE you would like to start?
Let us say you want to get up, do miswak, pray Fajr, and read 5-6 ayahs of Qur’an. What you must do is maintain the order. Maintaining the order is necessary because that is how this routine will get strengthened in the long run. After practicing it in the same order for a while, it will become second nature to you, and you will not have to think about what you have to do next. Also, you want to have the decision making parts of your brain silent in the morning. Going on auto-pilot becomes much easier if the sequence is maintained.
How will you REWARD yourself?
Celebration, appreciation, gratitude, and reward are words that seem to have evaporated from Muslim dictionaries. Remember, the fasting person gets two rewards: the reward of meeting his Lord and the reward of breaking his/her fast. Craving for a reward makes building a habit easier. So, what reward are you going to give yourself for offering Fajr and reciting Qur’an? Maybe a healthy breakfast? Or wearing your best clothes out? Satisfying whatever other (halal) cravings you have been wanting? And remember, the best reward of pleasing Allah in order to attain Jannah inshaAllah.
Buddy up with someone for this task and share your success story below.
I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below!