A Summer Reminder

A Summer Reminder
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Allah Almighty reminds His slaves of the heat of Hell by making them experience very high temperatures during the summer.

The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) informed us that Hell has two breaths: it inhales during our winter and exhales during our summer; he  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) also stated that the extreme heat people experience during the summer is due to this exhalation. This information from the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) is a reminder to us of the Hellfire.

The narration of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) regarding this is not a figurative one; rather, it is unambiguous and very real. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: “When the heat reaches an excessive level then (delay the) prayer until it cools, as extreme heat comes from the vehement raging of Hell.”[Al-Bukhari and Muslim] This was said because if people were to pray during such a very hot time, then they would be distracted from their prayers and lose their submissiveness and humility in it.

Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said:“The (Hell) Fire complained to its Lord saying: 'O my Lord! My different parts consume each other, so allow me to breathe.' Therefore He (i.e., Allah) allowed it to take two breaths, one in the winter and the other in summer, and this is the reason for the severe heat and the bitter cold you find (in weather).” [Al-Bukhari]

As believers we are commanded to believe in this as it is from the unseen, even though we may not perceive it or understand exactly how it could occur. We fully believe in it regardless, because it was narrated to us via the truthful, trustworthy Prophet of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ). It is therefore the duty of the believer to protect himself from the punishment of Hell.

The punishment of Hell in the grave

The punishment of Hell is not limited to the Hereafter; rather, part of it touches the person who deserves it in his grave, just as parts of it touch all people in this worldly life in the form of extreme heat in the summer and bitter cold in the winter.

Al-Baraa’ bin ‘Aazib, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) was once at the funeral of one of the Ansaar, may Allah be pleased with him, when he began informing some of his companions who were present of the situations of the believer, the disbeliever and the sinner upon their burial in their graves. After mentioning the situation of the believer, he  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) addressed that of the sinner and the disbeliever, saying: “…And two angels come to him and ask him to sit; they say: ‘Who is your Lord?’ He answers: ‘Haah, Haah, I do not know.’ They ask: ‘What is your religion?’ He answers: ‘Haah, Haah, I do not know.’ Then, a voice says from Heaven that My slave is not telling the truth, so make his clothing and furnishing that of fire, and open a gate of fire towards him so as to make him smell (its terrible stench) and suffer its scorching wind. His grave is then made so tight that his bones intertwine. A voice then says: `Spread his grave with the fire (of Hell) and dress him with the fire (of Hell) and open a gate towards him from Hell, so that he may feel its heat.' Then a blind and mute creature will appear with an iron rod in his hand, and if a mountain were to be struck with this rod it would turn into dust; (the creature) would strike him with this rod and cause him to make such a piercing scream that it could be heard in the farthest parts (of the earth), east and west, and everything will hear his cry except Jinn and mankind. Then a man of evil complexion and horrid smell visits him. The buried slave man asks him: ‘Who are you?’ and adds: ‘You have a threatening and wretched face.’ The man answers: ‘I am your evil deeds coming to you with the bad news'….” [Ahmad and Abu Daawood]This is how he  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) would admonish and remind his companions, may Allah be pleased with them.

Allah Says (what means): {Not equal are the blind and the seeing. Nor are the darknesses and the light. Nor are the shade and the heat.} [Quran 35: 19-21] Here Allah highlights that opposites are not necessarily equal: faith is not equal to disbelief; those who follow the Sunnah are not equal to those who innovate in the religion; and, the religious person is not equal to the dissolute; Allah Says (what means): {The example of the two parties is like the blind and the deaf, and the seeing and hearing. Are they equal in comparison?...} [Quran 11: 24]

Paradise has shade that never decreases or disappears, unlike that of this worldly life which is dependant on the movement of the sun. But how is the shade in Hell? It is a 'shade' of hot black smoke that neither shades nor protects from any heat; rather, it only adds to it. Also, the drink of the people of hell is water that is so hot that it slashes the intestines and does not quench thirst in the least.

Ways to protect oneself against the heat of the Hellfire

Allah gives us reminders so that we may take heed and consider. The following are some means to protect oneself against the Hellfire:

Seeking refuge in Allah from its heat: The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) directed us to seek refuge in Allah as a means of protecting ourselves from the Hellfire. Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: “When any one of you has completed his Tashahhud during prayer, he should seek refuge in Allah from four things, saying: "Allahumma inni a`oothu bika min `athaabi jahannam, wa min `athaabil-qabr, wa min fitnatil-mahya wal-mamaat, wa min sharri fitnatil-maseehid-dajjaal (i.e., 'O Allah! I seek refuge in You from the torment of Hell, from the torment of the grave, from the trials of life and death, and from the mischief of Al-Maseeh Ad-Dajjaal (i.e., the Antichrist)'.” [Muslim]

Fasting

Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, reported: “The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: “He who observes fasting for a day in the Cause of Allah, Allah will distance his face from the Hellfire for a distance equivalent to seventy years of travel, as a reward for fasting that day.” [An-Nasaa’i] Due to this narration, Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, would select the hottest and longest days for fasting in.

Jihaad (i.e. fighting, struggle) for the sake of Allah

This is one of the greatest means with which one can protect himself from the heat of Hellfire, even if it entails fighting on the hottest of summer days. The summer heat is what made the hypocrites refrain from Jihaad, as Allah Says (what means): {…And they [i.e., the hypocrites] said: 'Do not go forth in the heat [i.e. for Jihaad].'…} [Quran 9: 81] Allah responded to this at the end of the very same verse, Saying (what means): {Say: 'The fire of Hell is more intense in heat.'…} [Quran 9: 81] Jihaad is the act of worship that enables the slave to attain the highest rewards; it is thus a protection from Hellfire and its heat.

Spending in charity

Charity is another means by which the slave can protect himself from the heat of the Hellfire. `Adiyy bin Haatim, may Allah be pleased with him, reported: “I heard the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) saying: “Protect yourself from the (Hell) Fire, even (if) by giving half a date (in charity).” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] We ask Allah to protect us all from the Hellfire.

Fever is a reminder of the Hellfire

One of the things that remind a person of the heat of Hellfire is being struck by fever. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) informed us that its heat is from the vehemence of the Hellfire. `Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, narrated that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: “Fever comes from the vehement raging of Hellfire, so cool it with water.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

This is proof that there is a real connection between fever and the Hellfire, and that fever is not merely caused by other physical factors as some people believe, based on their limited view in how to judge matters.

Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, reported: “I entered into the presence of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) while he was sick and placed my hand upon him and could feel the heat of his body from above the blanket. I said: `O Prophet of Allah! You are afflicted with a very difficult fever.` He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) responded: “This is how the case is with us Prophets; we get multiples of the hardship and thus receive multiples of reward.” I asked: `O Prophet of Allah! Who are the one's facing the toughest hardships and trials?` He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) responded: “Those who face the toughest trials and hardships are the Prophets.”I asked: `Then who?' He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) replied:“Then those who are the most pious (after them). One of them would be afflicted with poverty to the point that he can find only a single garment with which to cover himself. Such a person would rejoice upon receiving a hardship just like one of you rejoices at being eased of one.”" [An-Nasaa’i]

Imaam Al-Bayhaqi  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him reported the following story about fever: “Once Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, had a very bad fever and `Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, conveyed the news to the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) who said: “O Allah! Make Madeenah as beloved to us as Makkah and even more so. Make its climate clear and bless our Saa’ and Modd (i.e. measures of weight for food), and move its fever to the area of Juhfah” Allah responded to the supplication of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) and fever, which was one of the famous diseases of Madeenah, shifted to the area of Juhfah.”

One should not curse fever, as it is man’s share of Hell and is a means by which Allah expiates sins. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) forbade cursing it, saying: “Do not curse it, as it expiates sins.

Incidentally, Imaam Ibn Al-Qayyim  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him mentioned that fever is to be treated by means of cold water for three consecutive days just before dawn, and this is also a well known method of treatment in modern medicine.

Being wary of our odour during hot seasons

A Muslim must be heedful of his fellow Muslims and ensure that he does not get a bad odour as a result of the summer heat. During the summer it is likelier for a person to sweat and thus develop a very bad smell if he fails to wash himself and change his clothes regularly.‘Ikrimah  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him narrated: “A group of people from Iraq came to Madeenah and questioned Ibn ‘Abbaas, saying: `O Ibn ‘Abbaas! Do you rule the Ghusl (i.e. ritual bath) on the day of Friday (before the sermon) as mandatory?` He, may Allah be pleased with him, responded: `No, but it is purity and is (therefore) better for the one who performs it. I will tell you how the legislation of Ghusl came about: The poor inhabitants of Madeenah would wear woollen clothes and toil very hard. The mosque was very small with a low ceiling made of tree branches. One hot day, the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) came out while these people were sweating profusely due to the type of clothes they were wearing and a very bad smell emanated from them, to the extent that it offended others. When the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) smelt this, he said: “O people! On this day (i.e. Friday) you need to perform Ghusl and each of you should use the best perfume he has.”`"

Based on the above narration, some of the scholars ruled that performing a Ghusl on the day of Friday (i.e. before the sermon) is mandatory upon those who have a bad smell emanating from them, otherwise they will be sinning. Others hold the opinion that it is mandatory upon everybody who will attend the Friday prayer and sermon.

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