Genesis 11:5

The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. Genesis 11:5

The Best Season

The weather is getting chillier by the minute. I swear that last week I walked out of work and smelled snow in the air. I hear that it snowed in West Virginia that day - perhaps some WV air drifted our way up north. The tomatoes in the garden have slowed their ripening. Actually, I think I picked the last of this year's harvest early this week.
Also this week, special joy was added to the pleasure of autumn when I read the following Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).
The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said: "The Winter is the believer’s best season. The nights are long for him to stand in them (in prayer) and its days are short for him to fast in them."
Wivenhoe, Essex England - About two years ago now.
This Hadith prompted me to fast. There's no shame in fasting the shorter days of winter. And I am striving to be more focused during the daily prayers - many times it's hard to avoid a distracting thought crossing my mind when I am praying. But I've learned that the moments of distraction are deducted from our reward. Suhaib Webb mentions the following Hadith in his post Impediments Toward Tranquility:
إِنَّ الْعَبْدَ لَيُصَلِّي الصَّلَاةَ مَا يُكْتَبُ لَهُ مِنْهَا إِلَّا عُشْرُهَا تُسْعُهَا ثُمُنُهَا سُبُعُهَا سُدُسُهَا خُمُسُهَا رُبُعُهَا ثُلُثُهَا نِصْفُهَا
“A servant may pray and only be credited for one tenth of the prayer, or one ninth, or one eighth, or one seventh, or one sixth, or one fifth, or one fourth, or one third, or half” (Abu Dawud, Ahmad).
This is because:
ليس للمرء من صلاته إلا ماعقل منها
“A man is rewarded only for that part of his prayer of which he is conscious” (Abu Dawud).
These days I'm praying for loved ones who are very close to my heart. I'm praying about marriage, I'm praying for my family, I'm praying for friends. I have found great challenge and comfort in the following quote recently:

The planning of The Almighty (Allaah) is better for you than your own planning, and He could deprive you of what you ask to test your patience. So let Allah see from you a determined patience and you will soon see from Allah what will give you joy. And when you have cleaned the paths of answering (of supplication) from the stains of sin [i.e have repented] and were patient about what Allah has chosen for you, then everything that happens to you is better for you whether you were given or deprived of what you have requested.” - Imaam ibn Al-Jawzee

Increasingly I am accepting this reality. At any given moment I may imagine that this or that would be great for my present moment, or for my future. But ultimately, Allah knows best what is good for me, and what I need. My part is the determined patience, committing to pray and ask for forgiveness.

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