New Islamic Directions

By Imam Zaid Shakir

The Virtues of Winter

Posted in notes by Imam Zaid Shakir on 2009-12-18

This is our final translation from Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali’s, Lata’if al-Ma’arif, this year. It deals with some of the virtues and duties associated with the winter seas, which is rapidly descending upon us. This excerpt is taken from pages 557-560

Imam Ahmad relates from the narrations of Abu Sa’id al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, from the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah upon him, that he said, “Winter is the springtime of the believer.” [1] This Hadith is recorded by Imam al-Bayhaqi and others. Imam Bayhaqi has another version that states, “Its nights are long so he spends them in worship, and its days are short so he fasts them.”

Rather, 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. Just as cattle graze in the lush springtime pastures. They fatten up during that time and their bodies recover [from the hardships of winter]. Similarly, the religion of the believer is reformed during the winter owing to the acts of obedience Allah has made easy for him. During the winter the believers is able to fast its days without any difficulty or any great burden –hunger, or thirst. This is because its days are short and cold. Therefore, he does not notice the difficulty of fasting. Imam Tirmidhi relates that the Prophet, blessings and peace upon him, said, “Fasting in the winter is the cold spoils.”

Abu Hurayra used to say, “Shall I not direct you to the cold spoils?” They said, “Certainly.” He said, “Fasting during the winter months.” The meaning of it being the “cold spoils” is that it is like the spoils of battle taken without conflict, fatigue, or difficulty. Hence, one who takes these spoils does so casually with no exertion whatsoever.

As for standing in prayer during its nights, their length allows for the soul to take a healthy portion of sleep and then arise and pray. The praying person can recite his entire regular portion of the Qur’an and still get a healthy dose of sleep. He is thus able to complete his religious duty and to give rest to his body.

Among the saying of Yahya bin Mu’adh is the following: “The night is long; do not make it short by sleeping through it. Islam is pure; do not defile it with your sins.” This [the length of the winter nights] is the opposite of the case of the summer. Owing to the shortness of its nights and its heat, sleep is required during it and it is difficult for the soul to get the sleep it needs without sleeping its entirety. Therefore, praying during it requires exertion. For this reason, one may not complete his customary portion of the Qur’an.

Ibn Mas’ud used to say, “Welcome to winter, blessings descend during it; its nights are long and therefore conducive to praying and its days are short conducive to fasting.” It is also related that he attributed this saying to the Prophet, peace and blessings upon him. However, this attribution is not accurate. It is related from hasan [al-Basri], “What an excellent time the winter is for the believer! Its nights are long so he stands in prayer during them, and its days are short so he fasts them.” It is related that ‘Ubayd bin ‘Umair used to say when winter came, “O people of the Qur’an! The nights are long for you to recite so recite! The days are short for your fast so fast!”

Staying for prayer during the nights of winter is equivalent to fasting the days of summer. For this reason, Mu’adh wept as his death approached and he said, “Rather I am crying because I will miss the thirst of fasting during the midday summer sun, and the standing in prayer during the winter nights and crowding around the scholars at the gathering of knowledge.” Ma’dad mentioned, “Were it not for three things I would not mind if I were an insect: The thirst while fasting in the midday summer sun; standing for prayer during the winter nights; and the sweetness of reciting the Book of Allah during night vigils.”

The night prayer during the winter does involve difficulty from two perspectives:

The first is from the perspective of the pain the soul experiences in getting out of the [warm] bed during times of intense cold. Dawud bin Rushayd mentioned, “One of my brothers got up for his portion of worship during an bitterly cold night. He was wearing ragged clothes which the cold penetrated causing him to cry. He heard a voice cry out: ‘We have roused you from sleep, while we have left others slumbering. Are you crying for what we have done?’ ” This is related by Abu Nu’aym [2]

The second is from the perspective of the pain that results from performing ablutions during the bitter cold. Performing ablutions under such conditions is one of the most virtuous acts of worship. It is related in Sahih Muslim, among the narrations of Abu Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him, on the authority of the Prophet, peace and blessings upon him, that he said: “Shall I not direct you to something with which Allah will efface your sins and raise your ranks? They responded, “Certainly O Messenger of Allah!” He said, “Performing an expansive ablution during difficult times; taking many steps to reach the mosque; and remaining in the mosque for the next prayer –doing so a form of guard duty.” [3]

In a similar Hadith, Mu’adh ibn al-Jabal, may Allah be pleased with him, mentioned:

The Prophet, peace upon him, saw his Lord in his dream. He said to him: “O Muhammad! What are the members of the highest hosts discussing?” He answered: “The ranks and the expiations.” He said: “The expiations are extending ablution during difficult times; walking to the Friday [or congregational] prayers; and waiting for the next prayer. Whoever does that will live and die in a good state and will be free of sin like the day his mother gave birth to him. The ranks are providing food [to the hungry]; greeting people; and praying at night while people are asleep.” [4]

Imams Ahmad and Tirmidhi related this Hadith. In one version of the Hadith [we read]’ “Extending ablutions during Sabarat.” Sabra means bitter cold. Extending ablutions during bitter cold is one of the highest characteristics of faith. Ibn Sa’d relates via his own chain of transmission that ‘Umar advised his son ‘Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with them both, as he lay on his death bed, “O My son! It is incumbent upon you that you adhere to the characteristics of faith.” He asked, “What are they?” ‘Umar relied, “Fasting during the intense heat of the summer months; fighting the transgressing enemies of the faith; being patient in the face of calamities; extending your ablution during the cold winter days; hastening to prayer during inclement weather; and never drinking alcohol.”

(to be continued)

[1] Bayhaqi, al-Sunan, 4:294
[2] Abu Nu’aym, Hilya al-Awliya, 8:335
[3] Muslim, 251
[4] Ahmad, al-Musnad, 5:243; Tirmidhi, 3235



By Umm Shams on December 25, 2009 at 4:41pm

Masha'Allah. Jazak Allahu khayr Imam Zaid, for providing this precious gift of translating Imam Hanbal's work. I'm a gardener, and all I'm thinking of these days is how far spring seems to be...Reading this, I'll be rethinking my view of the winter season.

By wSaleem on January 8, 2010 at 2:19pm

SubhanAllah. I never knew of the beauty of worship during winter or harsh weather. Alhumdulilah, thank you for sharing this.

By bryanlee12 on September 10, 2010 at 12:00am

this post is really awesome. . . :) thanks for sharing it. .

By Kellie on December 24, 2010 at 7:56pm

Great post! You may want to follow up to this topic! <a href="">humidors</a>

By Zachary on December 25, 2010 at 9:10pm

This is the most influential post I have read all week!! <a href="">my web site</a>

By Curt on December 26, 2010 at 5:05pm

is the greatest!? Regards, <a href="">telefon chat</a>

By Louis on December 27, 2010 at 7:03pm

Great read! You should definitely follow up to this topic.. Thank you, <a href="">keyword two</a>

By Darrin Shepard on December 28, 2010 at 7:40pm

Great read! I want to see a follow up on this topic :) <a href="">acupuncture school in India</a>

By Timothy on December 30, 2010 at 7:13am

I am glad you said that!?! <a href="">single chat kostenlos</a>

By Jessica on December 31, 2010 at 6:07pm

Great post! I want to see a follow up on this topic :) Yours truly Beryl <a href="">alternative medicine college in india</a>

By Michael on January 2, 2011 at 5:27pm

I'm glad you said that!? Fondest Regards, Jack <a href="">alternative medicine courses in india</a>

By Rachelle Lockhart on January 4, 2011 at 6:03pm

Possibly the most interesting read I read this week.. Ed <a href="">blasen pic</a>

By Javier on January 15, 2011 at 9:25pm

Great post! You might want to follow up on this topic?! Ruthie <a href="">padron cigars</a>

By Alana Stallings on January 18, 2011 at 11:11pm

The most influential blog that I read this week? <a href="">moncler jacket</a>

By Dale Mcintosh on January 22, 2011 at 4:50am

Could be the best blog that I read all month!!! <a href="">bach flower course</a>

By Joseph Hoffman on January 23, 2011 at 12:37am

Great post! You should definitely follow up to this topic?!? <a href="">{romeo y julieta|romeo y juliet|romeo julieta|romeo & julieta|romeo yjulieta|romeoy julieta|romeo y julietta|romeo y</a>

By Rosalinda on January 25, 2011 at 10:51pm

I'm glad you said that :P <a href="">Oatmeal scrub</a>

By Dominique Caballero on January 26, 2011 at 8:35pm

Could be the greatest page that I read this year!?! Prince <a href="">humidors</a>

By Cara Downs on January 27, 2011 at 10:49pm

Great post! I want you to follow up on this topic :D <a href="">mobile porn</a>

By Meagan on January 29, 2011 at 10:38pm

Great post! Maybe you could do a follow up to this topic?!? <a href="">video sexe</a>

By Mack on February 1, 2011 at 1:42am

Great read! Maybe you could do a follow up on this topic!! <a href="">potenzmittel ohne nebenwirkungen</a>

By Jimmy on February 2, 2011 at 3:28am

Great post! You might want to follow up to this topic?!? <a href="">vgradne omare</a>

By Mayra Banks on February 3, 2011 at 11:38pm

Great read! You might want to follow up on this topic!?! -Kindest Regards Isidro <a href=""></a>

By Casandra on February 4, 2011 at 10:22pm

Great read! You may want to follow up on this topic!? -Sincerely Elvia <a href="">vgradne omare</a>

By Chris Tanner on February 5, 2011 at 8:04pm

Great post! You may want to follow up on this topic??? <a href="">Handcrafted Soap</a>

By Connie on February 15, 2011 at 4:42am

The best page I read all day?? <a href="">eigenes sperma probieren</a>

By Amos Hammer on February 16, 2011 at 10:28pm

I wonder exactly what Ilene will change about that.. <a href="">streaming movies</a>

By Kelsey Ortega on February 17, 2011 at 9:25am

Great post! You should definitely follow up on this topic?! -Fondest Regards, Weston <a href="">hobby huren</a>

By Juan Lamb on February 19, 2011 at 1:13am

I am thrilled you said this :P <a href="">online apotheke billig</a>

By Stevie on February 19, 2011 at 11:25pm

I am happy you took the time and wrote that? <a href="">Butik Online Murah</a>

By Winnie on February 20, 2011 at 9:08pm

Could be the top paper I have read in my life?!? <a href="">Butik Online Murah</a>

By Jarvisqserb on April 26, 2011 at 6:38pm

I was search for <a > webcrawler </a> and found this post. I would say that you have answered my question thanks

By low cost car insurance on July 1, 2011 at 5:21pm

Hi, Neat post. There is a problem along with your site in web explorer, may check this

By affordable auto insurance on July 6, 2011 at 9:18pm

I would like to thnkx for the efforts you have put in writing this website. I am hoping the same high-grade web site post from you in the upcoming as well. Actually your creative writing skills has inspired me to get my own website now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings rapidly. Your write up is a great example of it. <a href="">affordable car insurance</a> <a href="">low cost car insurance</a>

By affordable car insurance on July 8, 2011 at 4:41am

I am very happy to read this. This is the type of manual that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that is at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this best doc. <a href="">low cost auto insurance</a> <a href="">low cost car insurance</a>

By designer shoes online on September 2, 2011 at 9:05pm

We preferred which web page regarding your own in addition to I do believe that you genuinely contribute achievable document. I will talk about your thoughts about the weblog with a website link to this post, you could end up certain.

By Motivation to lose weight on April 6, 2012 at 10:02pm

MZ1h9B Really enjoyed this blog.Thanks Again. Much obliged.

By Motivation to lose weight on April 7, 2012 at 3:12am

OOYZlb Enjoyed every bit of your blog article.Really thank you! Really Cool.

By Motivation to lose weight on April 7, 2012 at 3:41am

lVG7Er I appreciate you sharing this article post.Much thanks again. Great.

By Motivation to lose weight on April 7, 2012 at 6:42pm

kToTr1 Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic blog article.Much thanks again. Really Cool.

By TimurDumb on April 16, 2012 at 8:03pm

I want to say thanks to you with respect to your weblog. You have quite a lot of insightful content therefore website is very beneficial. I'm a undergraduate in Los angeles and I currently have an significant term paper scheduled in the week. Now i'm cornered and get writers-block at this time as I am investigating. Need anybody to aid me revise the cost-free essay I stumbled upon on-line <a href="">registered nurse midwife essay</a>. That paper satisfies my personal specifications however is authored in a poor fashion and there are syntax problems. Do you think I ought to proceed? Now i'm just anxious for help, therefore any recommendation could be fantastic.

By wyszukiwarka mp3 on July 26, 2012 at 10:54am

Hello! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us valuable information to work on. You have done a outstanding job!

By refluks on July 27, 2012 at 6:58pm

Thanks for another great post. Where else could anyone get that kind of info in such a perfect way of writing? I've a presentation next week, and I'm on the look for such information.

By m Backlinks a on September 3, 2012 at 9:30pm

Thanks on your marvelous posting! I certainly enjoyed reading it, you're a great author.I will remember to bookmark your blog and may come back someday. I want to encourage you to continue your great work, have a nice evening!

By GermanRoatt on May 25, 2019 at 11:28pm

Many thanks for sharing with us, I always find out interesting things from your posts.

By kartmanHet on May 26, 2019 at 10:12pm

I am amazed. I don't think I've met anybody who understands so much about the topic. You need to make a career of it, honestly, awesome blog

By Xooyco on June 9, 2019 at 6:32pm

i don't unserstand that

By cigar shop in pakistan on October 25, 2019 at 5:09am

It's a very informative information..

Leave a Comment



Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:


Treatise For The Seekers Of Guidance


Buy Now

Support Zaytuna

12000 Hearts Beating as One Can't Be Beat

donate now

The Ocean of "The Opening"

Taught by Imam Zaid Shakir

Learn More