Winter: warm jumpers, woolly socks, and hot chocolate with marshmallows and cream.
But let’s be honest. These are probably not the first things which come to mind when we think of winter. The truth is probably something like this: early mornings to de-ice the car, wet socks, delayed trains and even costlier utility bills.
Whilst some people enjoy the cold season, for others, the grey skies and the lack of sunshine can cause them to feel down and glum.
Changing our perspective on things can alter our feelings and motivate us to do better. Instead of approaching it like any other winter, let’s make this winter different. Let us find inspiration in the Sunnah and the lives of our predecessors to beat the ‘winter blues’ and make it a special season: a season of worship and reconnecting with Our Lord, Allah (‘azza wa jall).
So what is a believer’s winter? And how does it differ from an ordinary winter?
Its Days are Perfect for Fasting
Winter’s short days make it the perfect time for optional fasts. Al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī (raḥimahullāh) said, “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.”
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Fasting in winter is the easy prize.” (Tirmidhī)
Winter is also the ideal time (particularly for sisters) to make up any missed fasts.
Try to fast on Mondays and Thursdays and, if you can, the three middle days (13th, 14th and 15th) of the Hijri month (also known as ayyām bīdh).
Muʿādh b. Jabal (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) wept on his deathbed and said: “I weep because I will miss the thirst I felt when I fasted, praying at night during the winter, and sitting knee to knee with the scholars during the gatherings of knowledge.”
A Chance to Enjoy the Night Prayer
Winter allows us to taste the joy of ‘ibādah through the night prayer (tahajjud). Tahajjud brings with it a sweetness which is nearly impossible to experience otherwise.
One of life’s greatest joys is being able to cry out to one’s Maker in the stillness of the night, in Tahajjud, in Sajdah, when one is closest to Him.
Winter is the best time to begin praying tahajjud if you don’t already do so. Even if it means waking up 10 minutes before Fajr starts, do it. The key is to be consistent and gradually build up the amount of time you pray.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Hold on tight to the night prayer. Indeed it is the habit of the righteous who came before you. It brings you close to your Lord, wipes away your sins and prevents you from sinning.” (Tirmidhī)
“By Allah, if it wasn’t for the night prayer (qiyām al-layl), I would not have loved the world. By Allah, the people of the night (prayer) experience more delight in their night than the people of entertainment experience in their entertainment. Sometimes the hearts experience moments in which they leap out of joy due to the remembrance of Allah, to the extent that I say: ‘If the people of Paradise have anything like this, then how blissful must their lives be!’” (Abū Sulaymān al-Dārānī)
When winter would approach, ʿUbayd b. ʿUmayr would say: “O people of the Qur’ān! The night has become long for your ṣalāh, and the day has become short for your fast, so take full advantage.”
A Reminder of the Hell-fire
We often associate the extreme heat with Hell-fire, but even the cold should remind us of what awaits the wrong-doers.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ told us, “Hell-fire complained to its Lord, saying: ‘Parts of me have consumed other parts.’ So, He allowed it to breathe out twice: one in the winter and one in the summer. This is the extreme heat that you experience, and the bitter cold that you experience.” (Bukhārī)
“The night is long, so do not shorten it with your sleep; and the day is pure, so do not make it filthy with your sins.” – Yaḥyā b. Muʿādh (raḥimahullāh)
Winter is a Means to Thank Allah and Help Others
Winter is a reminder of how many blessings Allah has bestowed upon us. There are thousands of homeless people on our streets, shivering through the long nights whilst we remain warm in our homes. Similarly, there are countless more around the world facing even worse difficulties. Let us be grateful to Allah for giving us roofs that shelter us, heating facilities that keep us warm, and clothing which protects us.
One of the best ways to thank Him is to help those less fortunate than us. Don’t hesitate to buy a homeless person a hot meal/drink or donate to a charitable cause, whether it’s local or global.
Saʿīd al-Kalbī (rahimahullah) used to weep during cold nights. When he was asked about this, he said: “I thought about the poor amongst the Ummah of Muḥammad ﷺ during this night, and I cried out of compassion for them.”
More Opportunities to have Du‘as Accepted
It rains more in the winter, which means even more opportunities to have our du‘ās accepted. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Two are not rejected: the du‘ā’ made at the time of adhān, and under the rain.” (Ḥākim)
Instead of grumbling about the rain, let us turn to Allah and pour our hearts out to al-Mujīb, who never disappoints.
To learn what du‘ā’s you can pray when it rains, thunders, etc., click here.
May this season be a festive one; one in which we truly experience the joy of worshipping Allah (subḥānahū wa taʿālā), our Master, our Creator, our Protective Friend. May He allow us to experience the delight in conversing with Him in the early hours and fasting during the short days.
*If you genuinely suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, please get professional help.