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Six Steps for a Sensational Summer

The summer season is always radiant. After much anticipation, the temperature begins to rise steadily, with the sun showering rays of life that nourish everything that they touch. The sun is from Allah’s endless favours upon us.

Allah has said:

أَلَمْ تَرَوْا كَيْفَ خَلَقَ اللَّهُ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ طِبَاقًا (15) وَجَعَلَ الْقَمَرَ فِيهِنَّ نُورًا وَجَعَلَ الشَّمْسَ سِرَاجًا

“Do you not see how Allah created seven heavens, one above the other, placing the moon within them as a light, and the sun as a ˹radiant˺ lamp?”[1]

In the summer, all of the wholesome things of the living world are on full display. The sun is hot, the sky is clear blue, the wilderness is plump and healthy, ripe fruits weigh down from their branches, and gardens are overflowing with produce. While spring was about opening up, summer seems to be about growth. The Muslim is keen to be part of this growth, and despises the idea of being an exception to this positive trend. It would be a shame that while the world grows, he – the most important member of creation with the most at stake – depreciates in value. Yet sadly, this is precisely the experience of many during summer. With that said, I will share a few points for those who are keen to make this and every season a witness for them on the Day of Reckoning, not against them.

1) The Holidays

Summer holidays are a challenge for many parents. Parents often get tired of having their children at home around the clock, which often causes them to relegate their responsibilities. This leaves children condemned to endless hours of television, games, and browsing on social media, to assume the best, all of which can have irreversible consequences.




The Prophet (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ سائل كل راع عما استرعاه: أحفظ أم ضيع حتى يسأل الرجل عن أهل بيته

“Allah will ask each shepherd about his flock, whether he upheld this trust or neglected it, such that a man will even be asked about his household.”[2]

Plan a consistent programme together as a family. Include within it a variety of activities, such as sports, tarbiyyah, visiting family members, and leisure time. But most importantly, spend uninterrupted time as a family. Furthermore, apply pressure upon your local masjid to develop a programme containing innovative activities for the youth during the summer break. Such a programme should not be simply limited to Qur’an circles. Offer them both your ideas and volunteering services.

As for yourself, set a goal to acquire a new skill this summer. Traditionally, it was believed that in order to acquire a new skill, you needed to invest approximately 10,000 hours.[3] That equates to a full-time job over the span of 5 years! But this is not the whole picture, as these studies are strictly referring to expert-level performance in ultra-competitive fields, which is not our objective here. The reality is that one can go from knowing nothing about something to becoming reasonably competent in it after about 20 hours of immersion.[4] That corresponds to about 45 minutes a day for around a month, which covers the summer holidays quite nicely.

One poet said:

إذا مر بي يوم ولم أقتبس هدى *** ولم أستفد علماً فما ذاك من عمري

“If a day passes by without me acquiring guidance or securing new knowledge, then I disown that day of my life.”

2) The Gaze

Our two eyes weigh less than 30 grams each, yet they are made up of more than 200 million working parts. They process more than 36,000 bits of information every hour.[5] They are wrapped with the toughest skin found in our entire bodies. Our eyelids are even programmed to blink instinctively more than four million times a year to keep our eyes functional. In fact, it is said that an entire eye is one of the only limbs that cannot be transplanted. Neuroscientists in fact regard the eyes as part of our brains, as they extend from there during development in the womb. Since there are more than one million nerve fibres connecting our eyes to the rest of the brain, they are truly impossible to reconstruct.

Without any doubt, sight is our most cherished sense. Through sight alone, we acquire 80% of the information from the environment around us.[6] Indeed, no amount of gratitude can even begin repaying such a gift.

More importantly, our eyes are the most immediate entry points to our hearts, and they have a powerful influence over our thoughts, emotions, and inner well-being. ‘Love at first sight’ is often branded as a ‘cute’ concept, but if you think about it, it is rather frightening. One glance means that your heart is potentially enchanted: your wealth, blood, and sweat become fully committed to someone else, and your future is completely tied up. If a believer realises that his heart will be the focus of Allah’s assessment on the Day of Reckoning, he simply cannot afford to keep its doors wide open.

إِنَّ ٱلسَّمْعَ وَٱلْبَصَرَ وَٱلْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْـُٔولًا

“…Indeed, the hearing, the sight, and the heart – about all those [one] will be questioned.”[7]

Confusion, aimlessness, and deep guilt are common to those who keep this dangerous door unguarded. Imam Ibn al-Qayyim said: “Glancing (at what is impermissible) splits apart one’s heart and takes it away from Allah. Nothing is worse than this for a slave, because it alienates the slave from his Lord.”

How wise, merciful, and liberating were Allah’s instructions when He said:

قُلْ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا فُرُوجَهُمْ ذَلِكَ أَزْكَى لَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ

“Say to the believers that they should lower their eyes and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Allah is aware of what they do.”[8]

During the summer, it is easier for eyes to land on a prohibition. However, a heart that yearns for Allah’s intimacy will close its door in front of every other competitor.[9]

3) The ʿAwrah[10]

During severe heat, our bodies sweat profusely, in their bid to cool us down. For that to occur, the sweat must evaporate, and for that to happen, air must flow over as much skin as possible. This is when issues arise, as cooling down almost always involves the uncovering of one’s ʿawrah. It is common to find people exposing areas of their bodies in front of non-spouses, parents uncovering in front of their mature children, siblings, and friends.

The Qur’an takes the topic of covering the ʿawrah seriously. It instructs the believers to tell household members who have not even reached the age of puberty to request permission before entering at three distinct times of the day and night when people are likely to be improperly dressed. Allah said:

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ لِيَسْتَـْٔذِنكُمُ ٱلَّذِينَ مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَـٰنُكُمْ وَٱلَّذِينَ لَمْ يَبْلُغُوا۟ ٱلْحُلُمَ مِنكُمْ ثَلَـٰثَ مَرَّٰتٍ ۚ مِّن قَبْلِ صَلَوٰةِ ٱلْفَجْرِ وَحِينَ تَضَعُونَ ثِيَابَكُم مِّنَ ٱلظَّهِيرَةِ وَمِنۢ بَعْدِ صَلَوٰةِ ٱلْعِشَآءِ ۚ ثَلَـٰثُ عَوْرَٰتٍ لَّكُمْ ۚ لَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَلَا عَلَيْهِمْ جُنَاحٌۢ بَعْدَهُنَّ ۚ طَوَّٰفُونَ عَلَيْكُم بَعْضُكُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمُ ٱلْـَٔايَـٰتِ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ

“O believers, let those ˹bondspeople˺ in your possession and those of you who have not reached the age of puberty ask for your permission ˹to come in˺ at three times: before dawn prayer, when you take off your ˹outer˺ clothes at noon, and after the late evening prayer. ˹These are˺ three times of privacy for you. Other than these times, there is no blame on you or them to move freely, attending to one another. This is how Allah makes the revelations clear to you, for Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.”[11]

If this is the instruction towards children who have not yet reached the age of puberty, what then of those who are much older? Commenting on this āyah, the great scholar Ibn ʿĀshūr said:

“These are periods when household members would wear fewer clothes, and it would be reprehensible for their children to see their ʿawrah. This is because that would leave an impression on the child’s mind, as he would often not be used to seeing it. Children should be brought up to cover their ʿawrah so that it will be like second nature to them when they grow up.”[12]

The image of an uncovered ʿawrah is likely to remain imprinted in the mind of a child in the long run. It can result in many negative outcomes in terms of behaviour, especially in attitudes towards one’s own body in later years. This is not about being “confident in yourself” or feeling “comfortable in your own skin”. It is about the inseparability of ḥayā’ (modesty) from īmān (faith). The Prophet (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

إِنَّ الْحَيَاءَ وَالإِيمَانَ قُرِنَا جَمِيعًا فَإِذَا رُفِعَ أَحَدُهُمَا رُفِعَ الآخَرُ

Ḥayā’ and īmān are of each other. So if one of them is lifted, so is the other.”[13]

On the topic of summer attire, it should be noted that Allah is most deserving of our best presentation during acts of worship. We should exert our utmost efforts in covering ourselves in a respectable way. Although there is convenience found in performing the prayer in loosely clad clothing, it is optimal to dress in one’s best attire.

Speaking about men, the Prophet (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

 لَا يُصَلِّي الرَّجُلُ فِي الثَّوْبِ الْوَاحِدِ لَيْسَ عَلَى عَاتِقِهِ مِنْهُ شَيْءٌ

“Let no man offer ṣalāh in a single garment without there being something over his shoulders.”[14] An example of such a covering would be a vest.

You are standing before the Mighty Lord, your source of success and greatest ambition. No amount of heat should cause a person to downplay the gravity of this daily interaction with the Divine. For this reason, when the Companion ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿUmar saw Nāfiʿ praying with basic attire, he said to him:

أَرَأَيْت لَوْ خَرَجْت إلَى النَّاسِ كُنْت تَخْرُجُ هَكَذَا؟

“Would you appear in public with those clothes on?” He replied: “No.”

To this statement ʿAbd Allāh responded with:

فَاَللَّهُ أَحَقُّ مَنْ يُتَجَمَّلُ لَهُ

“So, realize that Allah is worthier of being adorned for.”[15]

4) The Fajr Prayer

During the summer, the days are long and the nights are short. Because our modern lifestyle has made sleeping late a common habit, this may cause us to miss Fajr prayer regularly, even though we may set our alarms. The compounded effect that this negligence can have on one’s spiritual well-being cannot be overstated.

The Prophet (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

رَكْعَتَا الفَجْرِ خَيْرٌ مِنَ الدنْيَا وَمَا فِيهَا

“The two units of prayer before Fajr are greater than this world and everything within it.”[16]

He (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) also said:

من صلَّى الصبحَ كان في جوارِ اللهِ يومَه

“Whoever prays the Fajr prayer, then for that day such a person is under the protection of Allah.”[17]

Unless one is staying up for something that is “better than the world and everything within it” and does not need Allah’s protection, then they should make serious adjustments in their life. We must promote a new culture of sleeping early, particularly during the summer.

5) The Wakeup Call

The heat of summer must not pass without deep introspection. Everyone sees the flickering flame of fire, but it is only the guided ones who see its divine messages. Everyone hears its crackling and hissing, but it is only the guided ones who hear its threats.

Speaking about the primary purposes of fire, Allah said:

أَفَرَأَيْتُمُ النَّارَ الَّتِي تُورُونَ * أَأَنْتُمْ أَنْشَأْتُمْ شَجَرَتَهَا أَمْ نَحْنُ الْمُنْشِئُونَ * نَحْنُ جَعَلْنَاهَا تَذْكِرَةً وَمَتَاعًا لِلْمُقْوِينَ

“Have you considered the fire you kindle? Is it you who produce its trees, or is it We Who do so? We have made it a reminder and provision for the travellers.”[18]

The Prophet (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

اشْتَكَتِ النَّارُ إِلَى رَبِّهَا فَقَالَتْ: رَبِّ أَكَلَ بَعْضِي بَعْضًا، فَأَذِنَ لَهَا بِنَفَسَيْنِ: نَفَسٍ فِي الشِّتَاءِ وَنَفَسٍ فِي الصَّيْفِ، فَأَشَدُّ مَا تَجِدُونَ مِنَ الحَرِّ، وَأَشَدُّ مَا تَجِدُونَ مِنَ الزَّمْهَرِيرِ

“The Hellfire complained to its Lord by saying, ‘O my Lord! My parts are consuming one another!’ So, He allowed it to take two breaths, one in the winter and the other in the summer. This is the reason for the severe heat and the bitter cold you find in the weather.”[19]

If these are the effects of its distant exhalations today – devastating heat waves, causing frantic retreats to shade, worldwide wildfires,  and even render parts of the planet to be uninhabited – what then of those who shall inhabit the very core of Hell? What then of those who have no hope in ever escaping from it?

Instead of allowing the summer to weaken one’s commitment to ṣalāh, loosen one’s observance of the ḥijāb, expose the, or promote the endless wastage of time, one should harness it as a motivational driving force to stay on top of one’s game. In fact, the heat of summer serves as an inescapable wake-up call throughout the whole day.

6) The opportunities

One of our predecessors was once asked why she would actually seek out the hottest days of the year to fast in. She replied:

إن السعر إذا رخص اشتراه كل أحد

“Everyone is a buyer when the price is cheap.”[20]

During his dying moments, some of ʿUmar’s final words to his son ʿAbd Allāh were:

عليك بخصال الإيمان وسمى أولها: الصوم في شدة الحر في الصيف

“Hold tightly onto the traits of īmān.” The first thing he mentioned among them was fasting during the intensely hot days of summer.[21]

Similarly, despite only being 37 years of age when leaving this world, some of Muʿādh b. Jabal’s final words on his death bed were:

اللَّهمَّ إنِّي قد كنت أخافك، فأنا اليوم أرجوك، اللَّهمَّ  إنَّك تعلم أنِّي لم أكن أحبُّ الدُّنيا وطول البقاء فيها لجري الأنهار، ولا لغرس الأشجار، ولكن لظمأ الهواجر، ومكابدة الساعات، ومزاحمة العلماء بالرُّكب عند حلق الذِّكر

“O Allah, I feared you. Today, I have hope in You. O Allah, You know that my love of life was not to enjoy its flowing rivers, nor to plant trees. Instead, it was found in the thirst of fasting the hot days, praying during long nights, and joining scholars in their circles of knowledge.”[22]

ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿUmar once invited a shepherd – who was tending to his flock in the outskirts of Madinah – for some food which he had prepared. The shepherd declined by noting that he was fasting. ʿAbd Allāh said to him: “You fast on an intensely hot day like this, while you still follow your flock throughout the valleys and mountains?” The shepherd said:

أبادر أيامي الخالية

“I am rushing to make use of what life I have left.”[23]

These are six recommendations for those who will see growth this summer and aspire to be part of it. As they see others leading their carefree lives this summer, they on the other hand patiently restrain themselves, with eyes that never lose sight of the perfect and eternal Home, where they will be

مُتَّكِئِينَ فِيهَا عَلَى الْأَرَائِكِ لَا يَرَوْنَ فِيهَا شَمْسًا وَلَا زَمْهَرِيرًا

“reclining on raised couches, never seeing scorching heat or bitter cold”[24]

Source: www.islam21c.com

Notes:

[1] Al-Qurʼān, 71:15-16.

[2] Ibn Ḥibbān, on the authority of Anas.

[3] Popularised by K. Anders Ericsson, PhD, Professor of Psychology at Florida State University.

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MgBikgcWnY

[5] http://discoveryeye.org/way-eyes-work/

[6] http://www.doppelherz.com/health-news/our-eyes-our-most-precious-sense-test.html

[7] Al-Qurʼān, 17:36.

[8] Al-Qurʼān, 24:30.

[9] Adapted from Ahmed Hammuda’s article: https://www.islam21c.com/islamic-thought/39cand-the-extraordinary-secrets-of-lowering-the-gaze/.

[10] ʿAwrah (Arabic: عورة‎) is a term used within Islam which denotes the intimate parts of the body for both men and women. These areas must be covered with opaque clothing.

[11] Al-Qurʼān, 24:58.

[12] Al-Taḥrīr wa al-tanwīr.

[13] Al-Ḥākim, on the authority of Ibn ʿUmar.

[14] Al-Bukhārī and Muslim, on the authority of Abū Hurayrah.

[15] Ibn Taymiyyah, Majmūʿ al-Fatāwā.

[16] Muslim, on the authority of ʿĀ’ishah.

[17] Al-Ṭabarānī, on the authority of Ibn ʿUmar.

[18] Al-Qurʼān, 56:73.

[19] Al-Bukhārī and Muslim, on the authority of Abū Hurayrah.

[20] Ibn al-Jawzī, Ṣifat al-ṣafwah.

[21] Ibn Rajab, Laṭā’if al-maʿārif.

[22] Ibn al-Jawzī, Al-Thabāt ʿind al-Mamāt.

[23] Ibn ʿAsākir, Tārīkh Dimashq.

[24] Al-Qur’an, 76:13

About Shaikh Ali Hammuda

Shaikh Ali Ihsan Hammuda is a UK national of Palestinian origin. He gained bachelors and masters’ degrees in Architecture & Planning from the University of the West of England, before achieving a BA in Shari'ah from al-Azhar University in Egypt. He is currently based in Wales and is a visiting Imām at Al-Manar Centre in Cardiff, and also a senior researcher and lecturer for the Muslim Research & Development Foundation in London. Ustādh Ali is the author of several books including 'The Daily Revivals' and 'The Ten Lanterns", and continues to deliver sermons, lectures and regular classes across the country.

One comment

  1. Subhan Allah such a beautiful reminder for us all.
    Let us all strive to be the best in this life to gain the unimaginable rewards of the Akhira. Ameen ya Rabbul Ala’meen

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