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I hope this question is relevant enough for this section of StackExchange, as it's more towards history rather than Islam itself.

Nowadays, people depend on alarm clocks or the loud sound of athan coming in from the window (in which case, the muathin probably also woke up from an alarm clock) in order to wake up for fajr, in which the time may shift between 4am and 6am (in my country at least). If someone were to ask me to wake up at those times without an alarm clock, I would find it completely impossible.

My question is, in the past, before the invention of electricity and alarm clocks, how did Muslims wake up reliably for fajr?

  • Interesting question +1! Have in mind that many people used to stay awake praying night prayers and it was narrated that in a family one prayed and before going to bed they woke up the next family member. There are some options available. Beside at least for Ramadan it was custom to call for prayer before fajr so that people get warned. And they used to go to bed earlier. As they didn't have to much diversion. – Medi1Saif Aug 29 '18 at 12:21
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This is mentioning the obvious + some speculation:

  • It was somewhat a collective effort. That if someone wakes they try to wake up others including the caller (mo'azzin)
  • They had roosters.
  • They went to bed early. Logically the chances of you waking up early are higher if you go to sleep sooner! After a while it becomes part of your routine. Additionally being awake from dawn till sunrise is highly rewarding in Islam. It's also recommended to go sleep early.

So I think taking it all into account after a while it just becomes the norm. I mean whatever time you normally wake up without any alarms...it was somewhat similar for them as well.

  • Here's a hadith to support your point: سَمِعْتُ مَسْرُوقًا، قَالَ سَأَلْتُ عَائِشَةَ ـ رضى الله عنها ـ أَىُّ الْعَمَلِ كَانَ أَحَبَّ إِلَى النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَتِ الدَّائِمُ‏.‏ قُلْتُ مَتَى كَانَ يَقُومُ قَالَتْ يَقُومُ إِذَا سَمِعَ الصَّارِخَ‏. I asked `Aisha which deed was most loved by the Prophet. She said, "A deed done continuously." I further asked, "When did he used to get up (in the night for the prayer)." She said, "He used to get up on hearing the crowing of a cock." – Armaan Aug 29 '18 at 17:29
  • I always assumed that the rooster would crow after the sun has risen. Very interesting – 9a3eedi Aug 30 '18 at 6:07

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