By Zahra Anjum
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Warm drinks, a snow-covered landscape, and lazing off in cozy quilts – this is what comes to mind when we think of winter. For us it may be just another season; however, for our righteous predecessors it was a period for rejoicing. They would welcome the winter season as a blessing because they saw it as an opportunity to gather massive rewards.
Ibn Rajab termed winter as the ‘springtime of the believer’. He writes in his bookLataif al Ma’arif: “…winter is the springtime of the believer because it is a time he grazes in the orchards of obedience, frolics in the fields of worship, and frees his heart in the gardens of righteous deeds that are made easy at that time.”
Umar bin Khattab (ra) said: “…winter is the gift of the worshippers.” (Ahmad – authentic)
How can we make the most out of this time and what can we do to feel blessed instead of blue?
A reminder of the afterlife
Surah al-Insan is among those Surahs which gives an elaborate description of Paradise. One of its verses states:
“[They will be] reclining therein on adorned couches. They will not see therein any [burning] sun or [freezing] cold.” (Surah al-Insan 76:13)
The weather of Paradise will be pleasant, neither too hot nor too cold, whereas extreme heat and severe cold are known to be the breaths of Hell. The Prophet (sa) said: “In very hot weather, delay the Zuhr prayer till it becomes (a bit) cooler because the severity of heat is from the raging of the Hellfire. The Hellfire of Hell complained to its Lord saying: O Lord! My parts are eating (destroying) one another. So Allah allowed it to take two breaths, one in the winter and the other in the summer. The breath in the summer is at the time when you feel the severest heat and the breath in the winter is at the time when you feel the severest cold.” (Bukhari)
The freezing temperatures of winter remind us of the wrath and punishment of Allah, so that we pay heed, seek refuge from it, and make every effort to please our Rabb and not anger Him. It is a poignant reminder to aim and race towards Paradise where life is perfect!
The night prayers
Hassan Basri used to say: “The best season to a believer is the winter; its nights are long for those who wish to pray and its days are short for those who wish to fast.”
The long winter nights give us a chance to stand in prayer in the last part of the night, call out to Allah, and make lengthy recitations of the Qur’an without having to compromise much on our sleep. It is the best time for us if we are striving to develop the habit of making the night prayers (qiyam ul layl/tahajjud).
Nonetheless, one does find it difficult to leave the warm bed on cold nights. When the bed pulls you down, remind yourself of the pleasure that comes hidden in the secret, uninterrupted talks with Allah. When the thought of making ablution in the cold daunts you, remember you are being upgraded in Paradise!
Prophet Muhammad (sa) once asked his Companions: “Shall I not tell you something by which Allah effaces the sins and elevates the ranks (in Paradise)?” The Companions said: “Yes (please tell us), O Messenger of Allah.” He said, “Performing the ablution properly in spite of difficult circumstances, walking with more paces to the mosque, and waiting for the next Salat (prayer) after observing Salat; and that is Ar-Ribat (mindfulness), and that is Ar-Ribat.” (Muslim)
Because of shorter days and cooler weather, one can fast during the winter days without feeling intense hunger or thirst. We can use these days to gain the pleasure of Allah by fasting voluntarily. Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Fasting in the winter is the easy prize.” (Ahmad – authenticated by Albani)
Those who need to make up obligatory fasts, especially nursing mothers, can also utilize these days.
Winter is a special time for believers, and should not be wasted in procrastination. Time will keep flying, and only the moments spent in worship and righteous deeds will remain.
Zahra Anjum is a freelance writer, editor and translator based in Islamabad, Pakistan.
© IIPH 2015