What Islam Teaches Us About Protection From Winter 22nd November, 2016
Winter is coming and as Syrian refugees struggle to survive in the cold, Shaukat Lal explains how the Qur’an, the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) have given guidance on coping and helping others in this season.
Keeping Warm in Winter
Sulaym ibn Aamir narrates that when winter would come, Sayyiduna Umar ibn al-Khattab (radhiallahu anhu) would be extra mindful and would write to the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them), advising: “Winter, which is an enemy, has come, so prepare for it with wool, leathers socks, and socks. Use wool as your under-clothing and outer-clothing, because the cold is an enemy that enters quickly but leaves slowly.”
Ibn al-Rajab al-Hanbal (rahimahullah) comments that Sayyiduna Umar (radhiallahu anhu) would write this advice to the people of Shaam (modern-day Syria) when it was conquered in his era, as he was worried that the Companions of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and others who had not previously experienced such cold would be harmed by the cold of Shaam.
This was out of his complete well-wishing, graceful vigilance, compassion and safeguarding of his subjects. May Allah be pleased with him. (Lataa’if al-Ma’aarif).
Following in the footsteps of Sayyiduna Umar (radhiallahu anhu), the following is some important advice on what we can do to protect ourselves against the cold and stay warm this winter.
Wear warm clothes
The best way to protect against cold and stay warm is to wear warm clothes, especially when going outdoors. Allah mentions warm clothing amongst His many favours: “And the grazing livestock He has created for you; in them is warmth [i.e., warm clothes] and [numerous] benefits” (Qur’an, 16:5). He also said, “And from their wool, fur and hair is furnishing and enjoyment for a time” (Qur’an, 16:80).
Wearing a number of thin layers, especially clothes made of cotton, wool and fleecy fibres, helps to keep the body warm. Keeping the feet warm and dry is particularly important, not forgetting footwear with good grips during icy/snowy periods.
Even if you are going out into the cold for a few minutes, to put the bins out perhaps or to get something out of the car, wrap up warm; a few moments of being exposed to the cold is enough to make a person ill. Keeping your head warm with a scarf or hat is important, as a lot of body heat is lost through the head.
Good nutrition is vital to keep the body warm. Hot meals (soups in particular) and hot drinks will help you stay warm throughout the day. Wholegrains, legumes (lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans) root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, turnips etc.), vegetables in general, citrus fruits, spices (in moderation!!!) and herbs (especially ginger), almonds, walnuts, pistachio and other nuts, dried fruits (especially dates and figs) are excellent choices to boost our health during winter.
Keep the House Warm
Cold and damp houses negatively affect our health, so keeping the house warm is a must for staying healthy during winter. We sometimes overlook the most obvious things which make our houses cold, such as unnecessarily opening windows and not attending to draughts under doors, so think about ways to minimise heat escaping from the house; this will also help to reduce heating costs.
Taking Care of Others
As Muslims, it is our duty to be concerned about the welfare of others and not just be concerned about ourselves. Allah’s Messenger (Peace Be Upon Him): “None of you truly believes until he loves for himself what he loves for others.” (Bukhari, Muslim).
We should be checking on relatives, elderly neighbours or anyone who is more vulnerable during the cold, ensuring they have what they need to stay warm and safe, especially during the night. If we can save an elderly person the trouble of going out in the cold and do their shopping for them, or run other errands for them, we should do so and earn immense reward from Allah.
And let us not forgot the spirit of Sayyiduna Umar ibn al-Khattab (radhiallahu anhu) towards the people of Shaam, who are currently enduring extreme hardship and struggle, with many of them battling against the bitterness of winter without ample clothing, food and shelter.
There are a number of reliable charities that are providing much-needed provisions to our brothers and sisters in Shaam, and other parts of the world. Each Muslim home should aim to provide for at least one family this winter and help alleviate the suffering Allah, out of His Mercy, has saved us from. May Allah keep us all in His protection, and make us all a means of blessings, comfort, guidance and happiness for others. Ameen.
Islamic Help is distributing food, fuel and clothing to Syrian refugees and other vulnerable communities across the world as part of our Winter Emergency Appeal.
Find out more and donate here.