07-29-2007, 01:39 PM
AsalamuAlaykum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh,
"Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise" - a famous maxim coined by the American scientist, writer and inventor, Benjamin Franklin. And he was not alone in these beliefs. The writer Samuel Johnson also warned that "nobody who does not rise early will ever do any good".
This is not just opinion but proven scientific fact. A study by researchers at Brigham Young University in Provo in the American state of Utah found that:
"students who habitually go to bed late and sleep late the next day have lower grade point averages (GPAs) than students with early-to-bed and early-to-rise sleeping habits. The later students slept in the morning, the lower their grades tended to be. Each hour over the average that students slept in on weekdays was associated with a 0.13-point drop on the GPA (0.0-4.0 scale)."
Source: Journal of American College Health 2000
Of course, we Muslims are well used to getting up not just at the crack of dawn but actually half an hour before it to begin the day with the ritual worship of fajr salat (and even earlier in Ramadan before starting the day's fast).
What are the spiritual blessings of Fajr salat?
According to a hadith recorded in Sahih Muslim, prophet Muhammad (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) stated that the action which is dearest to God is salat at its proper times. On another occasion prophet Mohammed also said to his companions:
'The five set prayers may be compared to a stream of fresh water, flowing in front of your house, into which you plunge five times each day. Do you think that would leave any dirt on your body?' When they replied: 'None at all!' Mohammed said: 'Indeed the five prayers remove sins, just as water removes dirt.' [Sahih al-Bukhari, Muslim]
And once while standing beside a tree in autumn, he stated: 'When a Muslim observes his salat with due attention and devotion, he sheds his sins just like this tree is shedding its leaves.' [Ahmad]
Moreover, in the Quran we are told that prostrating (in salat) brings us closer to God (96:1).
Prophet Muhammad (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) also tells us that fajr salat along with isha is particularly rich in blessings: 'If people only knew what blessings are in the fajr and isha prayers, they would come to them, even if they had to crawl.' [Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim]
And according to Utham, (radiAllahu anhu), prophet Muhammad (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said: 'To perform the dawn prayer, [fajr], in congregation is like keeping vigil throughout the night.' [Muslim].
In Surah 23, ayats 1-2 of the Qur'an we learn that: "Certainly the believers have succeeded, those who offer salat with devotion."
But as Muslims we are also called upon not just to earn spiritual blessings for the next world but also to be materially successful in this one. Despite the obvious call to work hard and make the most of our abilities demonstrated in the parable of the talents, the Christian West has often had an ambiguous attitude towards wealth, sometimes glorifying poverty and misinterpreting Jesus's gospel statement that "love of money is the root of all evil" to mean that money itself is the root of all evil. As a Muslim, I am more inclined to agree with the playwright George Bernard Shaw who is reported to have said that "lack of money is the root of all evil".
Prophet Muhammad (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) himself stated: 'There will dawn a time over people when the destruction of a man will be at the hands of his wife, parents, and children. They will humiliate him because of his poverty and will make such demands which will induce him to engage in such activities (to gain more money) which will finally destroy his religion.' Narrated by Ibn Mas'ud and Abu Hurairah (radiAllahu anhum)]
The other side of the coin, so to speak, is: 'How excellent is the wealth of the Muslim'. [Sahih al-Bukhari - Abu Said Al Khudri (radiAllahu anhu)]
It is wealth which enables us to take care of our families, keep on the straight path and avoid doing wrong in order to make ends meet. It is wealth which enables us to meet our obligation to pay Zakat. It is wealth which enables us to help others and contribute to Dawah through additional charity. It is wealth which enables us to meet our obligation to go on Hajj.
It was wealthy Muslim traders who peacefully spread Islam throughout West Africa and the areas we now know as Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. And if we look at the first generation of Muslims, we find the shining example of Abdur-Rahman Ibn Awl. The eighth person to embrace Islam, he migrated twice to Abyssinia. Abdur-Rahman distinguished himself in both the battles of Badr and Uhud, suffering more than twenty wounds at the latter. Then starting with nothing, he went on to achieve tremendous success as a merchant, becoming the richest of the companions. From his great wealth, Abdur-Rahman financed the Muslim armies, contributed to the upkeep of the family of Mohammed after the prophet's death and was universally renowned for his fabulous generosity.
'The most excellent jihad is that for the conquest of self.' [Sahih al-Bukhari]
Each of our lives is different, but you know how to apply these ideas to your own situation.
Take action now!
"Ah, that's too hard", I hear you say. Well Allah assures us in the Qur'an that:
"We do not lay a burden on anyone beyond his capacity." [23: 62]
It is possible to turn these early hours to great advantage. It's desirable and it's beneficial. We are obliged to get up for fajr anyway. From this we derive a spiritual advantage. Let's stay up and get to work. Why have just one type of advantage when we can have two - spiritual and material. As Muslims we are uniquely placed. The next fajr is less than 24 hours from now. First thing tomorrow morning make sure that you take advantage of your fajr double advantage.
07-29-2007, 03:43 PM
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