Shaykh Abdul Azeez ibn Baz rahimahullaah was asked the following question:
Q: I wake up late sometimes in the morning, and there are only six or seven minutes left till sunrise; & I perform ablution – so should I start with the obligatory (Fajr) prayer, or the Sunnah prayer; as I fear that if I pray the Sunnah prayer the sun will rise and Fajr time will end.
A: It is obligatory for you to set the alarm clock for just before Fajr time, so that you wake up before the adhaan (call to prayer), prepare for the prayer, and pray with the Muslims in congregation.
And it is not allowed for you to be late to the extent that you miss the time of the congregation, or you miss Fajr time completely – this is forbidden and wrong, and a resemblance of Allaah’s enemies; the hypocrites.
Rather what is obligatory upon every Muslim is that he pays great attention to praying in congregation – for the Fajr prayer and for other than it – and he seeks Allaah’s help, then he uses the clock as an aid.
The alarm clock is beneficial, if a person has nobody to wake him up, or he fears that he will be lax; in that case he should buy an alarm clock and place it by his head, setting the alarm time close to the time for the adhaan (call to prayer), so that he wakes up as the call to prayer is being carried out.
If he did that, he would be able to make ablution, or have a bath – if he had his wife with him – and then attend the prayer with the Muslims in the mosques so that he prays in congregation. This is what is obligatory upon the Muslim.
And it is not permissible for him to delay or become lax regarding this. Becoming lax with regards to this is from the resemblance of the hypocrites; those whom Allaah said about them:
إِنَّ الْمُنَافِقِينَ يُخَادِعُونَ اللَّهَ وَهُوَ خَادِعُهُمْ وَإِذَا قَامُوا إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ قَامُوا كُسَالَىٰ
Indeed, the hypocrites [think to] deceive Allah , but He deceives them. And when they stand for prayer, they stand lazily. [4:142]
Then he heads to the mosque and prays with the people. And if he misses the prayer he should begin with the Sunnah prayer, praying two short rak`ahs (units), then he prays the obligatory prayer.
The Prophet sallAllaahu `alaihi wa sallam used to pray them (i.e. the two rak`ahs before Fajr) even if the time had ended. On some occasions during his travels he overslept past the prayer time – sallAllaahu `alaihi wa sallam – and did not awaken except due to the heat of the sun. So when he awoke he ordered for the call to prayer (to be carried out) and (then) he prayed the Sunnah prayer, and (then) he prayed the Fajr prayer – sallAllaahu `alaihi wa sallam.
So the believer, if sleep overcomes him and he does not wake up until late, he should pray the Sunnah of Fajr, then he should pray the obligatory prayer – even if it is dawn, and even if the sun has risen, and even if it is after the sun has risen – the Sunnah is that he prays it before the (obligatory) prayer, even if it were at sunrise.
However it is not allowed for him to delay waking up for the prayer to the extent that he misses the prayer in congregation. Rather it is obligatory upon himself to take the required measures that make him wake up so that he can attend the prayer with the Muslims on time; (whether that be) in relation to the Fajr prayer or other than it.
May Allaah grant us all guidance.
[Source: The Shaykh’s official website: http://www.binbaz.org.sa/mat/15412 ]