Let Summer Count for You, Not Against You
Every year, a discussion arises among families, friends, neighbors, and the community about the different ways to spend summer vacation. It is important for us to engage in these discussions and plan ahead so that summer time can be a time for both relaxation and productivity. It is also important for us include the month of Ramadan in our plans, if we are so blessed to witness it this year, insha’Allah, since it will take place during summer vacation.
Islam encourages rest and relaxation within defined limits. It was narrated that a companion of the Prophet (S), Handhalah Ibn ‘Aamir (R), came to the Prophet (S) complaining that the strength and level of his emaan decreased when he returned home and played with his children as opposed to the time when he was with the Prophet (S). The Prophet (S) replied to this by saying, “A time for this and a time for that.” (Bukhari).
As Muslims, we must strive to find a balance between hard work and relaxation. How do we utilize our time during the summer and maintain our priorities? We must keep in the forefront of our minds that we will be questioned about the way we divided our time on a Day that the pages of our every deed will be spread before us. As Prophet Muhammad (S) reminded us, “The two feet of the son of Adam will not move from near his Lord on the Day of Judgment until he is asked about five (matters): (one of them being) his life and how he spent it…” (Tirmidhi)
The first way to ensure our summers are pleasing to our Creator (SWT) and fulfilling for us is befriending the Book of Allah. Reviewing what one has already memorized from the Quran should take precedence over any summer reading. Choosing a Surah or Juzu’ to memorize with a spouse, sibling, or friend can be a motivating way to include the Quran in one’s summer. One could also join a Tajweed or Tafsir class or hire a tutor if that is feasible. Parents often focus on their children’s memorizing while forgetting that memorizing from the Quran is not specific to an age group. In fact, their own memorizing of the Quran will encourage their children. Prophet Muhammad (S) was narrated to have said, “The best among you are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it.” (Bukhari)
Muslims should also take advantage of the summer to spend time with their families. This is a perfect time to engage your spouses and children in discussions not only about their faith but also about their personal interests and life goals. The best way to love your family is to spend time with them, and Prophet Muhammad (S) modeled this the best. Although it is important to visit relatives and kin, time should be spent mainly with your core family unit, giving them the attention and care you will be held accountable for by Allah (SWT) as a parent. If you are a young person, you should also value time spent with your parents and siblings. The best way to obey your parents is to spend time with them and show them compassion. There is much you can learn from the experiences of your parents, and you can also serve as role model for younger siblings.
Summer is also a great time to strengthen a wide range of skills and hobbies. This might include registering for a summer course to learn a new language, to volunteer in a nonprofit organization, or to become more adept at a computer program especially for parents. There are also classes and workshops available for developing hobbies such as gardening or calligraphy. Our community makes many options available for those who seek to gain life skills or professional development.
These are but a few of the many ways we can take advantage of our summers. It is equally important for us to avoid actions that might spoil our efforts or be displeasing to Allah (SWT). These include travelling to a place that is visited by people who typically engage in Haram such as drinking, gambling, or indecency even if one does not intend to commit any of these sins. If the place you are travelling to is known for these types of acts, it is not permissible to visit it. Travelling with your family to Umrah or places where one can ponder over the beauty of Allah’s creation or historical sites can be a truly fulfilling experience.
Summertime is also a time for many graduations, weddings, and other celebrations. May Allah (SWT) bless these occasions and increase them. It is important to note that unfortunately many of these celebrations in our community often include actions displeasing to Allah (SWT) such as indecent mixing between genders, lack of adherence to Hijab and rules of modesty, and music filled with inappropriate language.
As tempting as it may be, it is also important that we avoid staying up late and sleeping in until late afternoon because this is discouraged by the Prophet (S). Of course, it becomes entirely Haram, prohibited, to do so if one is committing sins during the night such as watching inappropriate movies or TV shows on cable or satellite or playing cards and smoking cigarettes or water pipes (argeela).
Finally, we must plan our vacationing around Ramadan. Ramadan is one of the greatest blessings Allah (SWT) has granted us. If we fast sincerely we are given an opportunity like no other to be saved from Hellfire. Since it is during summer this year, there can be no excuses for those who are not studying or working to miss nightly prayers or recitation of the Quran during the day as well as opportunities to volunteer. We should also commit to attending a weekly Dars at the Masjid and programs like FNL and Seeking Shade for youth, as well as programs offered by the MFCC during Ramadan and the year.
Brothers and sisters, each passing minute will count for us or against us. Prophet Muhammad (S) said, “There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) health and free time for doing good.” (Bukhari)
Oh Allah make us amongst those who take advantage of our health and free time in pleasing You.
Sh. Jamal Said