As the cold wind intrudes through the gaps into our homes, we sip on our second steaming cup of tea for the day, coming to the realisation that Winter has settled in comfortably. We have left behind a Summer like no other, filled with social distancing, thorough hand washing and a pervading virus.
Winter is a season which many do not look forward to. Its rainy weather and limited day light can leave you feel groggy and fatigued. More so this Winter, where we are battling a resurging virus and the uncertainty it brings. However, as Muslims we can flip this feeling on its head. We are told that Winter is the season best season for the believer; we can shed those Winter blues by using this time to our benefit.
Ibn Rajab said: “Winter is considered the spring of the believer, because he revels in the orchards of obedience and goes in the fields of worship and his heart having the pleasure of strolling in the gardens of deeds which are easy during winter.”
The righteous forefathers (including the companions of the Prophet, may Allah be pleased with them all) emphasized that; they used to care for winter, welcome its coming, feel joy because of it and encourage people to take advantage from it.
To help you make the most of the best season, we have prepared for you: 5 Reasons to Greet the Best Season with Open Arms.
Shorter days, shorter fasts.
Over the last few years, we have grown accustomed to long fasts. Maghrib during the Summer months is around 9pm, therefore many may find it difficult to fast optional fasts during that season. However, with the days shortening, it is the perfect opportunity for you to fast, and gain rewards without feeling the pangs of hunger or needed to quench your thirst. It is also a great opportunity to keep up any missed fasts that you may have.
For this reason the Prophet (saw) specifically mentioned that “Winter is the best season for the believer. Its nights are long for him to pray in, and its days are short for him to fast in” and in another narration, he described the “cold booty is observing fast in Winter” (at-Tirmidhi). It is an “easy reward”, as the best of mankind (saw) said, since, like the spoils of war, it is obtained with minimal difficulty and hardship.
Make it a habit to fast on Mondays and Thursdays during the Winter months, or during the or the three white days of the (Islamic) month (13th, 14th, and 15th). Without little effort, you can perform an act of worship beloved to God and one that guarantees your prayers will be answered:
‘Three supplications will not be rejected, the supplication of the parent for his child, the supplication of the one who is fasting, and the supplication of the traveller.’ –(at-Tirmidhi)
At a time where we are trying to keep healthy, and our immune system strong. Fasting also has many physical benefits alongside its spiritual ones. It can
- Boost brain function
- Enhance heart health
- Promotes better health by fighting inflammation
- Promotes blood sugar control
Longer nights, intimate conversations
There is no better time to call out to your Creator than in the sanctity of the night. Winter offers you this opportunity, a time of blessings, to engage in intimate conversations with your Lord whilst still getting enough sleep. It is a chance to embody the characteristic of the people of Paradise who would “sleep but little by night” (Qur’an, 51:17).
The early generations would utilise this time specifically to connect with the Lords of their Creator. ‘Ubaid Ibn ‘Umair (rh) used to say when Winter approached: “O people of the Quran, your night became long for your recitation; so, recite.”
They would consider standing at night in Winter due to its length as equal to fasting the days of summer. Its sweetness was such that they would weep on their death beds, reminiscing those moments, longing for them again, and the opportunities they had missed. Mu’dad said: “Unless there are three things; thirst in the hot days, prayer in the nights of winter and enjoying reciting the Book of Allah at night, I would be just a drone in the house.”
As the nights are longer, even if we get a decent sleep, it is easy to still catch these precious opportunities:
The Prophet (saw) told us: ‘The Lord descends every night to the lowest heaven when one-third of the night remains and says: “Who will call upon Me, that I may answer Him? Who will ask of Me, that I may give him? Who will seek My forgiveness, that I may forgive him?’ (Bukhari)
Try to wake up 15 minutes before Fajr, so you can supplicate in isolation.
The Salaf would also take benefit from the peace and absence of distractions in the night, making it the perfect time to study. Abu Hurairah (ra) and Sufyan ath-Thawri would divide their nights into three parts: one for prayer, one for sleep and one for acquiring knowledge. Al-Khatib Al-Baghdadi was one of many who considered “memorising at night is better than memorising in the day.” Such luminaries considered that knowledge was gained “by the lamp and sitting till morning” at a time when others would be inattentive and sleep through.
The final season, the final day.
The season was a constant reminder for these generations of what was to come, motivating them to sacrifice their sleep and the comfort of their beds for a higher goal.
The cold we feel in Winter causes us to reflect of an abode we strive to avoid: the severity of the cold in the hell fire, so bitter that it burns and shatters the bones of its inhabitants.
The Prophet (saw) said:
“Verily the Hell fire takes two breaths; a breath in the winter and a breath in the summer. As for its breath in winter, that is the bitter cold, and its breath in the summer is the extreme heat.” (al-Silsilah as-Sahihah)
The righteous would see signs in the natural world around them and take lessons from them – whether it was the freezing cold water they used for ablutions or the snow. The famous worshipper Rabi’ah al-‘Adawiyya (rh) would reflect on the snow, saying “I never see the falling snow except that I imagine the flying pages of the records of peoples deeds (on that day)”.
As we too witness these signs, we should not lighten our worship during the winter months due to a lack of motivation or energy. Instead we should up our game and go the lengths to seek refuge with Allah from extremities of the hell-fire. Next time you turn the thermostat up, remember to make du’a that you are saved from the bitter coldness of the Fire.
A season to shield
As the temperature dips, many of us turn up our thermostats, and wrap up in extra layers. However, other families in our midst may not have that luxury. During these Winter months, we should remember those who struggle to afford extra layers, and to heat their homes without sacrificing on eating to their fill. With the pervading virus, and many losing their jobs, their anxiety prevents them from sleep, dwelling on what is looming. With lockdowns being imposed, their isolation becomes even more acute.
Our legacy is to use
this season as a time to protect those less fortunate. Umar (ra) and other
great leaders after him would ensure that the people of Sham had sufficient
warm clothing and advised them to wrap up in wool and khuffs. Ibn Rajab
encouraged: “Taking care of the poor in the winter and protecting them from the
cold is a great deed.”
Inspired by their example, you can help clothe these families and keep them warm.
Provide them with the clothing they need this Winter, and make the most of this blessed season. In doing so you could be clothed with the green silk of Paradise.
“Safwan bin Salim went out on a cold night in Madinah near the mosque, and he saw a man with little clothing on. So he took off his coat and covered him up with it. Someone living in Sham saw in a dream that Safwan bin Salim had entered Paradise with a shirt he had made. (al-Lata’if al-Ma’arif)
Days of striving
Winter is therefore the perfect season to school us in striving and sacrificing for a higher purpose. Who wants to leave their warm comfort of their duvet to pray at night or splash freezing cold water on your limbs for wudhu? Yet the greater the sacrifice, the sweeter the reward:
The Prophet (saw) said “Shall I not tell you of something by
means of which Allah erases sins and raises you in status? Doing Wudu well even
when it is difficult.” (an-Nasa’i)
He also described the rewards awaiting those who wake to pray at night, “striving against his soul to get up and purify himself…Then Allah says to those who are veiled (in the unseen): ‘Look at this slave of Mine, he is striving against his soul and asking of Me. Whatever My slave asks of Me shall be his.” (Ahmad)
These words motivated the early generations to the extent Safwan ibn Salim would pray his qiyam on the roof during winter or in a single garment so the cold would keep him awake. If they became sleepy they would plunge themselves in water, telling themselves: “This is easier upon you than the seepage of the Hell fire.”
Similarly, we can use this time to push out of our comfort zones. There’s nothing quite like a challenge to get your adrenaline rushing, when you feel that Winter slump. We aren’t as motivated as the weather can get you down. Why not join our Warmer Winter challenge to help provide you with the motivation you need, or test yourself by coming up with your own 120 Challenge, all whilst helping families survive Winter.
Whether you prefer to sleep out in the cold or live on cold food to raise just £3.33 a day this winter, or want to push yourself to your limits by walking or running 120km to raise £120, you could be saving a life this winter, a few doors down from your own.
Just £3.33 a day for 90 days is equal to £300 – that’s all we need to get one HHUGS family through the winter. Help us to give them a warmer winter.
Orchards of obedience
In Winter, the Spring of the Believer, to uplift your own well-being, uplift others. In the grey days that compound our melancholy, you can improve your own mood, self-esteem and mental health by empowering others. This Winter, women and children in HHUGS families are relying on you.
You can help by feeding, clothing and sheltering them. You can keep their homes warm. Every ounce of support can change the dynamic of their household; and help them fight through this Winter of uncertainty and isolation.
During these dark days of worry and despair, revel in these orchards of obedience. As we’re forced to embrace the cold don’t forget to embrace the blessings of Winter. Be that helping hand, that light of mercy, radiating hope for a family to survive a seemingly merciless season.