Winter is a time of hibernation for nearly all creatures. We prefer not to exit our dwellings and remain indoors, safe from the cold. But how much can you possibly do at home? Here are seven recommendations.
Pray Salatul Layl
Imam Sadiq said:
Thw winter is like a spring for the believer. It’s nights are long and days become short.”
It’s strange to liken one season to a completely different season. Winter is when trees, flowers and the like wither and die. Animals stay inside their caves and nests. It’s a time for stillness. Why does Imam Sadiq liken winter to spring? Spring is associated with growth, rebirth and renewal.
Well, one of the reasons is the extra and easy opportunities to perform extra acts of worship!
Salatul layl, or the night prayer, becomes much easier to perform in the winter. In the summer fajr sets in as early as 2.30 am in some countries. Praying fajr is hard enough in the summer! Salatul layl is extremely difficult because we have to wake up in the middle of deep sleep to perform it. However, in the winter, this becomes easier. Many parts of the world will have between six and eight hours to pray salatul layl so we can get a decent night’s sleep and pray salatul layl and fajr in its prime time.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to do this! By the time winter’s out, you may just be in the habit of continuing it in the spring and summer!
The second half of Imam Sadiq’s hadith talks about the days being short. This is certainly a hint towards fasting. Whilst summer fasting can last 18 hours. Winter fasts could be as short as nine to ten hours. Winter fasting is a no-brainer. There’s plenty of time for a decent iftar and suhoor. What’s more, by the time we wake up after fajr, we might only be fasting for five to six waking hours. It’s no wonder the following statement is attributed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH):
Fasting during the winter is an easy reward.”
Now is as good a time to make up missed Shahr Ramadan fasts!
Pray at Home
Prophet Muhammad wouldn’t burden his companions to head out to the mosque and pray in the congregation when it was cold and rainy. If you can make it to the mosque, great! But if you’re unable to, then don’t feel guilty about it as the Prophet himself didn’t keep such expectations from his followers:
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) used to tell the Mu’adh-dhin to pronounce Adhan and say, “Pray at your homes” at the end of the Adhan on a rainy or a very cold night during the journey.”
The Sunnah of Responding to Sneezes
Sneezing reaches an all-time high in the winter as the common cold and flu make the rounds. The common response to someone sneezing is, “bless you”. Whilst there is nothing wrong with saying that, why not use the Islamic response instead?
When a man sneezed beside the prophet (May peace be upon him), he said to him : Allah have mercy on you, but when he sneezed again, he said: The man has a cold in the head.”
[Sunan Abi Dawud]
The ending of this hadith, “this man has a cold in the head,” is apparently interpreted to mean that one doesn’t have to keep saying “, Allah have mercy on you” after every sneeze if he/she is a repeat sneezer due to their cold. Once is enough! But, of course, there’s nothing with saying it each time!
Help People in Need
The winter months are extremely harsh on those who do not have the means to keep warm. You will notice many charities running their winter appeals, seeking monetary donations, blankets, old coats and the like to give to the less fortunate. Why not do a spring clean of your wardrobe and see if there’s anything you can give away? Alternatively, consider donating food to a soup kitchen or food bank. With everything at our disposal, we still feel the effects of cold temperatures – we can only imagine what it’s like for those less fortunate.
If you’re based in America, you can donate towards The Zakat Foundation of America’s winter appeal. UK residents can refer to Islamic Relief UK.
Remember Jesus and Maryam (PBUT)
Christmas isn’t our thing, but with the Christian world remembering Jesus and Mary, it’s an opportune time for us to dig into our books to learn more about this blessed Prophet Jesus. The most detailed account of Jesus/Maryam is provided in Surah 3 (Al Imran) and 19 (Maryam).
Commit to Seeking Knowledge
If you can’t go out, don’t sit around watching TV all day! Take this time to seek knowledge. You can read the Quran. And if you watch TV, take a moment to replace one episode of Netflix with something Islamic! With the family at home during the Christmas holidays, you acquire knowledge in a fun way through Quran quizzes and board games centred around Islamic concepts.
Don’t let winter pass without taking full advantage of its benefits!