riyada in arabic means "training" or "discipline". It was used by the arabs in relation to horse taming. Sufis refer to their discipline as "riyadat an-nafs": disciplining the soul / training the ego. Today, the word riyada has come to mean "sports". There is an Arabic proverb that says: "The purpose of sports (riyada) is not to win cups, but to discipline the soul". This blog is here to help me discipline my soul and train my body.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Waking Up for Fajr

Well, having stayed in Jordan for about 10 or 11 days, I'm happy to report that i've been able to do all my prayers in their proper times- every post-fajr prayer, that is. Only one time in these 10 days have I had to make up a prayer, and that was because I went to a charity concert in support of the youths of Lebanon and Palestine which caused me to miss maghreb and have to make it up after isha. This is a huge difference from what I was doing in Egypt before coming here, and hopefully I will keep this up and be able to continue this when back in Egypt. And God is our support.

Anyway, I've been missing fajr every night, and to be honest I haven't actually tried or wanted to wake up for fajr. I didn't feel I was ready to try doing so yet, before feeling secure with my previous accomplishments first. But now that I feel like my other prayers are well-established, i'm ready to take on fajr. And if i can get myself to do it in congregation in the mosque (which is nearby, that that would be amazing).

"There is no prayer heavier on the hypocrites than Fajr and Isha. If they only knew what is in them, they would come to them even if they had to crawl."
- Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) [1]

This leaves me with a problem: even if i use an alarm to wake me up, I usually wake up, turn off the alarm, and go back to sleep. And most times I dont remember doing this, but figure it out when I wake up next morning.

But I'm going to try another method, which I learned from bodybuilders. You see, bodybuilders are crazy. Well, they're not all crazy, but a lot of them are. Now the body has natural cycles of anabolism, the phase in which your body builds stuff, like storing food and buildig muscle, and catabolism, when your body breaks things down, such as muscle, for energy. Both are important. For example, the act of working out itself is considered the most anabolic thing you can do, but it is also the most catabolic period of your day. You see, during the workout itself, you go into high catabolism: you're releasing energy and breaking down muscle. You do this only so that your body will overcompensate with anabolism to make your muscles grow back even bigger than before. The more catabolic your workout, the more anabolic the body's response will be, and so the workout could be said to be anabolic.

Thus, both anabolism and catabolism are important and inseperable. If you are trying to stay in an anabolic state all the time, your anabolism is slow and weak. But if you go through long or strong catabolism, your body will react with even stronger anabolism. Sleeping is a perfect time for your body to be in a fasting, catabolic state, after which you can return anabolism the rest of the day.

But most bodybuilders fear the word catabolism. They have been taught my magazine ads that they need to be in a state of anabolism all the time. That catabolism is pure evil. Thus they want their body taking in nutrients every second of their existence. Before they sleep, they take a slow-releasing protein drink that will keep releasing protein in their system for hours. But that is not enough for the crazy bodybuilder (again, the word crazy here is for distinction, not labelling all bodybuilders). These guys actually wake themselves up late at night in order to drink a protein drink. Yes, they wake themselves up at about 3 or 4 a.m, drink a protein shake, and go back to sleep! All from fear of the evil catabolism. IT'S THE ADVERTISEMENTS THAT ARE EVIL, DAMMIT! Give your body a damn break!

So anyway, how do said bodybuilders get themselves to wake up and drink their protein shakes, and avoid going back to sleep? Well, we know that we can easily turn off the alarm clock and go back to sleep, even if it's on the desk across the room. So, what they do is drink a lot of liquid just before going to bed. This way, they have to wake up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, an activity that requires more alertness than turning off an alarm clock. Yes, there are tons of bodybilders out there, many of them skinny beginners, drinking tons of water before going to bed so that they can wake up for their mid-night protein drinks, to keep that evil catabolism at bay.

So I figured i'd try this for fajr prayer. The problem is, with bodybuilders, it doesnt really matter whether it's 3, 4 or any other time that your bladder wakes you up at night. But for fajr, there is a specific time for prayer. So I will give this a try tonight inshalla, and see if it works or not, and when i will wake up. Hopefully, it will be around fajr time, or up to 30 minutes earlier. Either way, it would be acceptable. But to wake up an hour earlier and have to wait that long (or waking up way after fajr), that would not work, and i might have to find another way. (Maybe I could train a small harmless snake to bite me at fajr time every night! But them again I'm sure i'd just kill it and go back to sleep. J/K).

So, hopefully this bodybuilding tip will help me in my religious practices. If not, then at least I tried. And success comes from Allah.


1. Riyad as-Salihin: Encouragement to attend the Group Prayers at Subh and Isha


Blogger Silencer said...

...and it worked! I woke up last night to the sound of the adhan and going to the bathroom helped wake me up a bit.

i'm gonna try it another two or three nights to make sure this wasn't coincidence and then i'll report.

August 4, 2006 at 7:44 AM

Blogger HijabiApprentice said...

masha ALLAH! i'm glad this worked for you. the water trick was used also by native americans back yesteryear to help the tribe wake for hunting/fishing etc. my great-grandmother taught this to me when i was about 7.

August 5, 2006 at 1:20 AM

Blogger Elizabeth said...

I didn't realize there was a midnight prayer. I always thought you just followed the calls from the mosque five times a day. Or did I misunderstand this?

Reading your post reminds me of how when I was in Palestine in '04, whether I was in Dheisheh, Jerusalem, or Gaza, I was coincidentally never more than 30 yards from a mosque. I certainly couldn't have slept through a call to prayer, that's for sure. Non-religious Palestinians told me they did, but I found this hard to believe, one would have had to be in a coma.

August 5, 2006 at 2:27 AM

Blogger DA said...

I oddly no longer miss fajr much. I would say I get up on time and do it 4 days out of 5 (and then promptly fall back asleep). I keep forgetting to say that one tayyib du'a that's in the qu'ran afterwards (what verse is that anyway? I'm still learning it). I just got paid so I'll be buying a thobe to throw on for easy fajr in the morning. Not wearing it outside though, especially with my turban; people might think I'm some sorta A-RAB or somethin' :-P

August 5, 2006 at 7:25 AM

Blogger Silencer said...

ok. so last night it didnt work. the problem is that i go to sleep on different times. the first night i had my water and went to sleep at 1:30 am. and i woke up at 4:30 just as the adhan was going on.

but last night i had my water and went to sleep at 12:30. i made sure to go to sleep earlier to see what happens, and i woke up at 3:50 or something. and i was so tired i didnt think i could wait 40 minutes, and went back to sleep. i'm gonna try this another couple times. maybe i'll purposely go to sleep at the same time each night, at about 1 or 1:30. or maybe i just need to teach myself to stay awake and sacrifice some sleep if i wake up too long before it.

DA- LOL! you should send a pic with you in them both! i'm not sure what dua you're talking about tho. hey if i like it i might get a turban too!

elizabeth- yeah there's a sunrise prayer, which currently in jordan is about 4:30 a.m. and yeah when tourists and foreigners get here they sometimes have a hard time getting to sleep if they're next to a mosque. but yeah the locals do sleep through it.

hijabi- it's cool to know the native americans did this. i'm gonna keep trying until i figure out the best way.

August 5, 2006 at 9:55 AM

Blogger al malibariiy said...

hi silencer...
figured the best way already?

i have a real problem too. Fajar in my place is between 530am to 645am thereof. my "biological alarm" wakes me up only at 7am every time. geez... this juz cant go on.

scary to hear abt the tradition regarding hypocrites. :(

March 20, 2008 at 5:25 AM

Blogger Silencer said...

I did! I found a great way. I wrote a post about it on my new blog riyada.hadithuna.com called "Artificial Sun" (but hadithuna.com is temporarily down, should be back up my the 22nd inshalla).

it'd be better to wait a couple days to read it properly, but basically you hook up a timer to a light, so that it lights up at a time you set (ex. half an hour before fajr), so that your body begins waking up naturally by sensing the light.


March 20, 2008 at 7:01 AM

Blogger septimus el-dallal said...


You can wake up anytime you want, by ordering your mind to be active at a certain time...visualise the time of the fajr, make intention from the heart and sleep asking Allah for help.

My ustadh taught me a way of getting up for fajr, to say Bismillah 11 times and blowing in your right hand and wiping your pillow, with the intention of waking up for fajr.

Try it.

June 10, 2008 at 4:28 AM


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