Early to Rise
The early bird gets the worm. Yes, it does. Clichéd but true.
Keeping the “new-year-is-a-pagan-ritual” aside, let’s talk about building the habit that can not only change our lives but also change the fate of the entire Ummah.
That habit is rising up for Fajr and utilizing the time after it. The irony is that the Prophet (peace be upon him) made dua for the after-fajr hours to be blessed for us but 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.
Before, 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’s understand and accept the fact that it is NOT difficult to be an early-riser; and after reading this article, it is going to be a thousand times easier, ONLY if Allah wills.
How to Develop a Habit?
Let’s be very clear on this. We are trying to develop a habit to WAKE UP FOR FAJR AND RECITE QURAN and utilize the after-fajr hours.
… the Quran at dawn is ever witnessed. (17:78)
Say it aloud. 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 consecutive 21 days. If you slip, start it all over again. No worries, better die trying than giving up.)
What is your ANCHOR?
You can develop a habit by two ways:
1- Using the sheer force of will power and forcing yourself hard to follow a plan.
But I suggest you to be easy on yourself. The more you beat yourself up, the more difficult it is going to be.
2- Find out what your anchor is. What actually triggers your habit?
Say, for example, when you wake up and go to washroom and pick up your brush, you unconsciously pick up the tooth paste, apply it on the brush and take it to your mouth. You don’t have to think about it or make a decision whether you have to take your tooth brush to your mouth or not. You JUST TAKE IT there.
So, try to find out what triggers you to wake up? Is it an alarm ? Is it the voice of the mua’zzin or what? (someone throwing a bucket of water on your face :p ??)
Personally, I believe that there is some under-lined factor that needs to be fixed. If you really discover what that under-lined factor is, it will become way too easier to wake up for Fajr. For most of us, this factor is FEAR of Allah that may result in developing this habit.
And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out. (Al-Quran 65:2)
If you have to catch a flight at 7:00 a.m. and you sleep even as late as 3:00 a.m., won’t you get up for the flight on time? You definitely will. Why? It’s the underlined 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? Imagine hellfire, siraat and grave and then give it a try.
I hope this will fix our trigger.
Are you Going too Fast?
Let’s say you want to get up early in the morning, pray Fajr, recite 1 Juz, say Adhkar, go for a walk, do exercise, eat breakfast, 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, better start with praying Fajr and reciting 5-6 verses of Quran (for the beginners of course) and then build from there. Remember, Allah 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’d Like to Start?
Let’s say, you want to get up, brush, pray Fajr and read 5-6 verses of Quran. What you must do is maintain the order. Maintaining the order is necessary because that’s how this routine gets strengthened in your neural pathways and after practicing it in same order you will not have to think over and over again regarding, “what next”?
Also, you want to have 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 the words that seem to have been evaporated from Muslim dictionaries. Remember, the fasting person gets two rewards; one is when meeting his Lord and the other is on breaking the fast. Breaking the fast – i.e. right in this world. Therefore, this step is INEVITABLE.
Craving for a reward makes building a habit easier. So, what reward are you going to give yourself for offering Fajr and reciting Quran? May be a healthy breakfast or wearing your best clothes or whatever (halal) you have been craving for long.
Buddy up with someone for this task and share your success story below.