Fezia Haq, UK
“Winter blues” is a recognised condition, and there’s a general perception that the colder, shorter and darker days are a miserable time of the year. In light of this, below are some incidents from the autumn and winter seasons experienced in the time of Prophet Muhammadsa and the Promised Messiahas to warm our hearts and souls.
The famous Battle of the Ditch took place in February or March, 627 AD. Medina was bitterly cold during this season. Many did not have the means to guard themselves against freezing temperatures. On top of the severity of the weather, an army of over 10,000 was looming. Sensing danger, the Muslims decided on digging a ditch – a foreign strategy suggested by Salmanra the Persian. The Companionsra dug with their bare hands, whilst another group bore baskets of sand and rocks on their backs to dispense. At the sight of his devoted followers’ endurance, the Holy Prophetsa began reciting poetic couplets. The sound of his voice transformed the atmosphere, and the Companionsra reverberated melodically after him, his words lifting their spirits.
All the while, the Prophetsa was himself covered in dirt from labouring in this expansive task. The Companionsra, too, felt sorrow seeing the state of the Prophetsa, who had tied a rock against his abdomen to contain the hunger. At this trying hour, Allah the Almighty sent divine help to His beloved servant. Hazrat Jabirra bin Abdullah and his wife, pained by his suffering, prepared what they had and discreetly invited the Prophetsa to their modest home for a hot meal. Unbeknownst to him, a miracle was about to take place: the Prophetsa called out to the hunger-stricken Companionsra that they were all invited over for food. Hazrat Jabirra, worried about how one goat and some flour would feed a thousand, was instructed by the Prophetsa to hurry home and tell his wife not to take the meat off the fire, and to not start baking the bread until he arrived. The Prophetsa came and prayed over the steaming pot and dough. Allah blessed this food, and astonishingly everyone present ate their fill on that cool day, with some still left over.
On the enemy’s arrival, another phenomenal scene was about to be witnessed. Not knowing how to cross the trench surrounding Medina, the confederates set camp on the outskirts. It was a daunting time, as they could attack the Muslims from a weaker point. So, the Prophetsa and his Companions would stay awake, exhausted, guarding the ditch whilst supplicating to their Lord. The extreme cold had started to kill the enemy’s animals, but they waited for an opportunity to attack.
It so happened that one night, rain clouds had formed and fierce, stormy winds took over the enemy tents. Their campfires were extinguished, resources damaged, and the scent of smoke filled the air. During this episode, the Prophet asked; “Is there anyone about?” The Companions were so numb from the cold, that none other than Hazrat Huzayfara bin Yaman managed to mistily reply. The Holy Prophetsa called a shivering Huzayfara up, stroked his head and prayed for him. The love of the Prophetsa radiated so much warmth that it benefited those around him and this Companion felt as if the cold had left him. His anxieties also went away, and he was able to go and see the enemy camps preparing to leave, reporting this back to the Prophetsa. The Muslims were bestowed with another victory. (The Life & Character of the Seal of Prophets, Vol. 2)
Regarding the season where green leaves change their colour and become crisp, we find the Holy Prophetsa sharing an observation, relevant to all ages. Hazrat Anasra bin Malik reports that the Prophetsa passed by a tree whose leaves were drying, and struck its branch with his staff, and stated:
“Praise be to God; Glory be to God; there is no god but God; and God is most great, who causes a man’s sins to fall away just as the leaves of that tree were falling.” In this way, the Messenger of Allah taught us to renew ourselves and seek forgiveness. (Jami‘ al-Tirmidhi)
Closer to our time, we find the same humility in the Promised Messiahas, inspired by his Master, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
On a wet winter evening, a devoted companion, Hazrat Seith Ghulam Nabira came to Qadian. As it was quite late, he went straight to bed after dinner. He heard a knock at his door, only to find Huzooras there, holding a lantern in one hand, and a cup in the other! The Promised Messiahas apologised for the inconvenience, and stated: “Somebody brought some milk, and it occurred to me that you might be in the habit of drinking hot milk before going to bed; so I have brought a cup for you.” In this benevolent way, the Promised Messiahas comforted his guest, brightening an otherwise dim and frosty night. (Stories from Early Ahmadiyyat, p. 45)
Now that this season is approaching in the northern hemisphere, these stories of the past teach us valuable lessons on righteousness, and how to make the most even when times get gloomy.