Winter's here and we know it brings its fair share of SAD (seasonal affective disorder), terrible weather and endless cups of coffee that go cold before we've had a chance to finish. This season isn't for everyone... but what if we all shifted our perspective? What if we made it the most wonderful time of the year - and not for the reasons that you might be thinking of!
Adulting has taught me a lot, one of the main things being that winter is - in my opinion - the season of the believer. Hear me out; winter can be a time of soulful introspection and rejuvenation for many Muslims worldwide. As the days shorten and the nights draw in, winter provides a unique opportunity to focus on personal growth, community engagement, and spiritual enrichment. If you're still with me, let's break it down because, by the end of this, you'll realize you have everything to gain from this time of year!
Long Nights, Big Rewards
We understand you might be in a state of mourning for the glorious hour of daylight we've lost, but longer nights come with abundant blessings! These extended evenings provide more time for night prayers (Qiyam-ul-Layl) and reflection. The darkness offers an opportunity to stand alone with your Creator, seek forgiveness, and ask for your desires at the hour when Allah is ready to grant them to you.
Admittedly, waking up for Tahajjud and night prayers during summer is often difficult for many as it starts shortly after you fall asleep. For all of the summer strugglers, now's your time to shine! During this time of the year, Fajr begins later in the morning, and you only need 20 precious minutes before it starts. It's closer to your usual wake-up time, making it easier to not only reap the rewards but also develop a habit that hopefully persists throughout the remaining year.
Maximize Your Ibadah
With the days being shorter, the five daily prayers are spaced closer together, making it easier to perform them on time! This is also an opportune moment to incorporate the Sunnah prayers into your routine. The cold season is often seen as a metaphor for spiritual awakening, reminding us that just as the earth rejuvenates with the rain and snow, so too can our faith be revitalized.
Ramadan Vibes... Now?
Shorter, cooler days mean... that it's the perfect opportunity to make up or keep some voluntary fasts! With Maghrib being around the 4 p.m. mark for a lot of us, you're looking at an average fasting time of around 10-12 hours! In comparison to the 18-19 hour days we've had in recent years, this is a piece of cake (not that we're trying to make you feel hungry). Set your intentions, wake up for suhoor and you're good to go!
Amir bin Mas'ud narrated that: The Prophet (PBUH) said:
"Fasting during the winter is an easy reward."
The best part is that the days get progressively shorter, so as you find your routine with fasting, it's actually being made easier for you! Remember that fasting, before anything else, increases our consciousness of and closeness with Allah, so don't squander the opportunity to do it at a point in the year when it's been simple for you. As we mentioned earlier, this is a fantastic way to build a habit and prepare for Ramadan which will come around faster than you'll realize inshaAllah.
Reflect and Set Goals
Use the quieter winter days for self-reflection and setting goals. As the world outside slows down and quiets, it opens up a space for internal reflection and detailed planning. This is the time to contemplate, to review the year just passed and to prepare for the one ahead. It's a period perfectly suited to contemplate your aspirations and intentions for the coming months.
Consider setting comprehensive goals that extend beyond personal development. Think about how you can positively impact those around you, and how you can contribute to your community. Evaluate how you could affect change or offer assistance. Whether it's volunteering, participating in community events, or sharing skills and knowledge, there are numerous ways to make a difference.
Community Service and Charity
Islam emphasizes the importance of helping those in need. Winter can be particularly harsh for those less privileged and volunteering for or organizing coat drives, soup kitchens, and other community services can be incredibly rewarding. Charity doesn't always have to be financial; giving your time is equally - if not more - valuable.
Health is Wealth
Self-care should be a staple during all seasons and more so during the winter! Remember to strengthen your immune system, nourish yourself well and take your vitamins. The lack of sunlight can often cause deficiencies in your body so be sure to stay on top of your health and consult with a doctor if you need to!
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Take advantage of the good health before sicknesses.” This includes eating wholesome foods, staying active, and getting adequate rest, which are all part part of the Sunnah. If you find you're feeling a little extra tired, lean into it and make sure you're getting more sleep - you don't have to pressure yourself to cram more into the day just because it's shorter. Let this be a time when you're more conscious of how much rest you need.
Bonding Over Warmth
Winter is an excellent time for family bonding. Long evenings allow for family gatherings, sharing meals, and engaging in group discussions about faith and life. It’s also a chance to pass on traditions, stories, and knowledge to younger generations.
Winter is a fantastic season to learn. Whether it's attending a lecture at the mosque, joining an online course, spending more time with the Quran or claiming a little nook to read in every day, the acquisition of knowledge is a noble pursuit in Islam and one that's especially perfect during a season when you're spending more of your time indoors!
Dress Modestly and Seasonally
Islam teaches modesty, and winter attire naturally complements this principle. Enjoy the fashion that comes with the season while adhering to Islamic guidelines. Two birds with one stone, right?
Winter, with its crisp air and cozy nights, is a season that can bring out the best in our faith if we approach it with intention and positivity. It’s a time to warm our hearts with increased worship, to share the warmth with those around us through charity and companionship, and to illuminate the dark nights with knowledge and reflection. Make the most of this winter, and let it be a season that contributes to the best version of yourself!