It’s not really the ‘extra’ hour of sleep we supposedly gain because, as we all know, young children don’t get this memo and wake up at exactly the same time they always do – needing us in exactly the same way they always have.
And other than this extra rest (which I no longer benefit from anyways), it’s always been a bit difficult to think positively of this winter time change. In the UK particularly, moving the clocks back an hour heralds the end of luscious golden autumn evenings and the advent of a day so short that streetlights turn on at four in the afternoon and parks that empty out even earlier.
One year, upon listening to me complain about this very thing, a friend shared this saying of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him):
Winter is the springtime of the believer.
Its nights are long, so he can make use of them to stand in prayer, whereas its days are short so he can make use of them to fast.
Reading this re-framed everything. Yes, but of course! Why hadn’t I thought of it this way before?
Obviously, I knew fasting was easier in the winter but – as a pregnant mama who had been unable to fast some of the summer Ramadans – this knowledge took on an entirely new dimension and the short short days of winter now spread before me like jewels to be collected.
And with the time for fajr prayer beginning around half-past six in the morning and ending just after eight (!), not only was this the season where it was easiest to pray the morning prayer at the start of its time but the change also made it the most favourable to being observed together as family – youngsters like my six and three year old included.
In truth though, this analogy goes deeper than ease of actions alone. For what is spring if not the ultimate time of joy and renewal? The warm rain falls, the birds return, the trees bud and the flowers blossom – everything is so alive. And so too, inshAllah, will our hearts be in their spiritual spring: fresh, spirited and sprightly – ‘grazing in the orchards of obedience, frolicking in the fields of worship and free in the gardens of righteous deeds that are made easy at this time.’¹
So whether the clocks have gone back for you already, or if you still have a week to go, be hopeful and happy – though that hour of sleep may elude you, something much better is on its way.
1. Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali. Lata’if al-Ma’arif. Read the full excerpt on the Virtues of Winter here.