“Those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, and establish regular prayers and regular charity — they will have their reward with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.”
— Surah al-Baqarah (Holy Quran, 2:277)
Consistent and daily prayer practice constitutes one of the Five Pillars of Islam, holding a place of such importance and benefit that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) stated that it is the observance of daily prayers that delineates belief from disbelief.
And it is one of the great gifts of Islam that Allah Almighty has enjoined prayers upon believers, in effect providing a means to fortify and continually reinforce faith and belief, and to continually remember, for indeed, “faith without works is dead.”
By actively and consciously engaging one’s daily prayers, one can benefit greatly from this unique spiritual practice. Islamic prayer, or salah, provides the following three key benefits.
Benefits of Prayer in Islam
Islamic prayer, or salah, is both an exercise in Presence and a test of Presence. It is an opportunity to cultivate Presence as well as to gauge the degree of Presence one has, the degree to which one is free, liberated and independent of the world, or dunya.
Daily and consistent prayer provides focus, clarity, direction and vision, and continually reminds the believer that life on earth is temporary, a journey and a passage to be travelled intentionally and gratefully for the greatest good and for growth, that the experience beyond be unencumbered with attachment and the soul thus free to ascend to its highest potential.
3. Spiritual Culture
The Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) consistently insisted upon the observance of the daily prayers in congregation, for thus a spiritual culture is formed, an atmosphere and environment most conducive to personal growth, awareness, awakening and ultimately enlightenment.
Preeminence of Fajr Prayer in Islam
And of the five daily prayers, Fajr, the early morning prayer is undoubtedly the most valuable.
“Establish the Prayer after the declining of the sun to the dusk of night, and the recitation of Fajr. Indeed, the recitation of Fajr is witnessed.”
— Surah al-Isra (Holy Quran, 17:78)
As-Suyuti, in Tafsir al-Jalalayn, explaining the meaning of “witnessed” in the verse above, states that “both the angels of the previous night and the angels of the new morning intently listen to the Fajr prayer being recited aloud because of its great status and virtue.”
Fajr Prayer and the Angels of God
“Whoever performs the Prayer before the rising of the sun and the Prayer before its setting will not enter Hell.”
— Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) [Muslim]
It is said that there are two shifts of Allah’s angels in the company of humanity, and that each group ascends to their Lord at the times of the Fajr and Asr prayers, i.e. as the sun rises and as it sets.
Regarding the great virtue of being engaged in prayer and meditation at these times, the Prophet (SAWS) relates the following tradition via Abu Hurayrah (RA).
“There are angels who take turns in visiting you by night and by day, and they all assemble at the dawn (Fajr) and the afternoon (Asr) prayers. Those who have spent the night with you ascend to the Heaven and their Lord, Who knows better about them, yet asks, ‘In what condition did you leave My servants?’ They reply, ‘We left them while they were performing salah and we went to them while they were performing salah.'”
— Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) [Bukhari, Muslim]
The Time of the Fajr Prayer
The time of the Fajr prayer is during the beginning of dawn until sunrise, a period which lasts about one to one-and-a-half hours on average.
This is an especially valuable time for spiritual practice, for as the sun rises upon the earth, the soul awakens from its rest in the Divine Presence, and one’s actions during this sanctified period are of immense significance towards spiritual awakening into consciousness.
The word fajr means “dawn” in Arabic, and comes from the same root word as infijar, which means “to explode” or “to burst forth”, referring to the light of the sun as it erupts into the darkness of night and illuminates the world, replacing darkness with light, vision and clarity.
It is the light of the sun that sustains all life on the planet, enables and causes all things to grow, and provides warmth and comfort, safety and security to humanity. In the same way, the Fajr prayer provides light and guidance, strength and support, to the human soul and heart, and observing Fajr prayer consistently, with presence and with intention is invaluable to the human being seeking to awaken from unconsciousness, heedlessness and ignorance.
The time for the Fajr prayer is a time of light and barakah, spiritual blessings, and it sets the tone, energy and frequency for the entire day which follows. It is a blessed time, and one need not worry about losing sleep, for with proper spiritual practice, the human body and mind become energized with qudra, divine life-energy and force, and so becomes less dependent upon worldly rest and sustenance for its nourishment.
Fajr Prayer in Islam: Start the Day with Grace, Divine Light and Support
Fajr prayer in Islam is designed to begin the day with light and with life, with positive energy and the presence of God’s Angels. The early morning sets the tone and energy for the entire day, and by beginning the day in the best possible way, in prayer and meditation, in spiritual practice, you will bless your entire day with barakah and noor, blessings and light.
Early morning is a blessed time and most conducive to spiritual awakening and the cultivation of consciousness, for while the world sleeps, the seekers and spiritual warriors arise and assert that “prayer is better than sleep,” that consciousness, transcendence and divine purpose are greater than heedlessness and ghaflah, unconsciousness and loss of purpose
Some may be concerned that the loss of a bit of sleep will affect them adversely, however, when meditative spiritual practice is approached and practiced properly, the mind and body become energized with qudra, divine life energy, also known as “Chi”, and the system becomes invigorated with greater strength, power, energy and capacity.
“The two sunnah cycles of prayer preceding Fajr prayer are better than this world and all that it contains.”
Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) [Ahmad, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i]
Fajr Prayer in Islam: Awakening
As the sun rises and brings light to the world during the time of Fajr prayer, it sets the tone for a glorious awakening from sleep, from “the lesser death,” for humanity, particularly for those who walk the Way and struggle against the self in Jihad an-Nafs, the Great Struggle against the self, against ego-self, and the unconsciousness it is based in.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) in life never sought comfort, but rather actively avoided it, for comfort is the bane of progress, growth, ascension and evolution.
To demonstrate this principle, the Prophet (SAWS) told his wife Aisha (RA), when she padded his bed after seeing straw marks on his back when he awoke, to not make his bed too comfortable for it would make it “difficult to awaken,” and that he preferred the lack of comfort to sleep.
Ease and comfort prevent awakening, and in fact thus lead to hardship, while the Way of the Spiritual Warrior, the way of the zahid, is one of perpetual discipline and honor in the Divine Presence.
For the Spiritual Warrior, home is not this world, but rather in Eternity. And hence the Arabic saying, la rahata fiy-deen, “There is no rest in the Way.”
While ease and comfort in life ultimately lead to hardship, discipline and difficulty in fact lead to ease, for they create strength and clarity. And hence, Allah Almighty says in the Holy Qur’an that “with hardship comes ease.”
“For verily, with hardship comes ease. Verily, with hardship comes ease.”
— Surah ash-Sharh (Holy Quran, 94:4-5)
It is of immense value to be awake when the world sleeps, to observe the holy rite of Fajr prayer in Islam, and thereby align oneself with divine destiny as holy deputies of the Almighty.
There is immeasurable reward to thus strive and struggle, to wage the holy war within against weakness, laziness, lethargy and unconsciousness, when the tendency of the world is to cultivate these very qualities.
“Do not leave the two cycles of Fajr prayer, even if you are being attacked by cavalry.”
— Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) [Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Al-Bahaiqi, at-Tahawi]
How to Pray Fajr: Suggestions for Success
The following suggestions will help you attain maximum benefit from observing Fajr prayer in Islam, and insha’llah, by the Grace and Goodness of God, lead you to strength, health, prosperity and purpose.
The Night Before
Enable yourself to be in the best condition to arise for Fajr prayer in Islam beginning with how you end your evening the night before.
“Whoever prays the Fajr prayer, he or she is then under Allah’s protection. So beware, O son or daughter of Adam, that Allah does not call you to account for being absent from His protection for any reason.”
— Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) [Muslim]
1. Eat Light
Eat a light meal early in the evening. Do not eat heavy and rich foods, particularly late at night. Fresh fruit, vegetables, a salad or raw smoothie are excellent choices.
Light and living foods cultivate consciousness, while rich and heavy foods cultivate unconsciousness, and lead to lethargy and laziness, often demanding more energy from the body to process than they provide.
Light and natural foods, the divine bounty created by Allah Almighty, provide living enzymes and give the body energy, facilitating health, healing and repair.
2. Pray 2 Raka
Before retiring for the night, pray two cycles of prayer and then rest while in a state of wudu, ritual purity. This is most conducive to conducting spiritual energy and attracting divine support and angelic presence.
3. Sleep Early
The human body is designed to obtain maximum benefit from rest early in the night, particularly after being awake, working and struggling the entire day. Give your body the love and care it deserves, and allow it to rest early.
While this may be a challenge in modern times with abundant distractions via technology, remember that health, strength and wellness are best cultivated with simplicity, and that worldly entertainment and engagement pale in comparison with the joy and pleasure of a pure life in the Divine Presence of the Almighty, the Creator and Source of all that is.
“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
— Benjamin Franklin
Clarify Your Intention and Purpose
The Prophet (SAWS) said that “the value of an action is dependent upon the intention,” implying that much of life is precisely what we make it.
By approaching Fajr prayer in Islam with the right perspective and in the appropriate light, as an honored appointment in the Divine Presence of the Lord of Heavens and Earth, so it shall be.
See Fajr prayer in Islam as an opportunity to cultivate consciousness, and a healthy and balanced life. Understand that this is an invaluable opportunity to attract spiritual light, grace, barakah and beauty.
Remember that Fajr prayer in Islam is a holy opportunity to cultivate divine purpose and eternity, and to awaken from unconsciousness, heedlessness and slumber.
Awaken before the Fajr prayer arrives, and pray the Tahhajud prayers. In its simplest form, Tahhajud prayer simply consists of 4-8 cycles of prayer before the time for Fajr.
By setting your intention to awaken for Tahhajud, you strengthen your resolve to observe Fajr itself, and secure the likelihood of awakening for that most important prayer of the entire day.
Pray in Congregation
Whenever possible, at least once per week, do your best to observe Fajr prayer in congregation at a mosque. The benefit and barakah of praying in jama’, in congregation, are exponentially greater than simply praying alone.
Also, by making a commitment to pray with others, you create accountability and strengthen both your resolve as well as your alignment with divine purpose, in addition to contributing to the cultivation of a spiritually aligned community based in divine service.
“The most difficult prayers for the hypocrites are the Isha and Fajr prayers. Yet if they only knew what these prayers contain, they would come to prayer even if they had to crawl.”
— Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) [Ahmad]
The physical, mental and emotional benefits of daily meditation are innumerable, and by observing a daily meditative spiritual practice, you will best position yourself for success both in this life and in the hereafter.
A simple consistent practice of about 20 minutes per day will not only enable you to get maximum benefit from your daily prayers, but will also augment every aspect of your life.
The health benefits of meditation are now well documented, and range from lowering blood pressure to keeping the body young, fit and alive.
Meditation nourishes your body’s tissues with qudra, life-energy, at the cellular level, and maintains a balanced biochemistry that strengthens and heals your system by improving immune system function.
A strong and healthy body has little difficulty in awakening early morning for Tahajjud and Fajr prayers, and needs far less sleep than a body deprived of the deep rest only meditation can provide.
By calming the mind, Islamic Meditation, also known as muraqaba, produces clarity and ultimately prescience, enabling again your system to get far more rest than otherwise, for the largest single drain upon the system’s resources are continual and compulsive thoughts, often plagued with negativity and fear.
A mind untrained in being still through meditation is often frought with fear that reduces and diminishes not only quality of life, but weakens the entire body and makes one susceptible to disease.
When we are stressed, the mind produces stress hormones that ultimately take a devastating toll on the mind and body. Yet by meditating daily, you regain control over your very mind, and ultimately attain true freedom.
Daily meditation is essential to a healthy Islamic lifestyle.
Barakah and Noor
Meditation cultivates Presence, which is essential in prayer and in life. In fact, salah, or Islamic ritual prayer, is an exercise in presence, being rooted here and now, and thus connected to the Divine Presence.
By meditating daily, you best prepare yourself for being still, calm, present and focused during prayer, enabling you to get maximum benefit from this vital Islamic spiritual practice.
Praying with Presence cultivates and attracts barakah and noor, Grace and Light, supporting you with Allah’s Angels in all you do.
“One hour of meditation is more valuable than seventy years of worship.”
— Prophet Muhammad (SAWS)
Fajr Prayer in Islam
Prayer is jihad, and is in fact of Jihad al-Akbar, the Greater Struggle of self-purification mentioned by the Prophet (SAWS) as being the essence of Islam.
It not easy to stay upon the Straight Path, particularly in the modern world where most have lost, abandoned and forgotten the Way. Consequently, stress and suffering have become the pervasive norm.
Yet good tidings to they who keep the Way. Never before has there been so great a reward and potential for a result, for light, barakah, grace, and awakening.
Arise. Awaken. Heed the call to the Divine Presence and to your greatest good. You are being invited five times daily. And it begins with Fajr prayer in Islam.