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Revive A Sunnah : Playing and Praying in the Rain

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By Sakinah Alhabshi

Rain rain go away, come again another day – we were taught to sing in kindergarten. Growing up in tropical Malaysia where it rains pretty much every week (and almost every day during the three month monsoon!), I could really appreciate the relevance of this nursery rhyme. Curiously enough, it dates back to some England-Spain battle in the 1500s where an English thunderstorm eventually caused the Spanish armada to scatter midway through the battle. Hah, they wouldn’t have survived a minute in our crazy monsoon downpour!

In my own home though, we had always loved water. Baba used to swim and sail, and would toss us into the sea as babies (swim training he called it, yeah right); and Mama would always rush out of the house whenever there was a storm and start washing the windows, gutters, patio, and the car. One of the houses we lived in was on a hill, with a jungle in front, and a long slim drain from the top of the hill all the way down – mainly to channel the flow of the excess water when it rained. I remember we used to look forward to the rain; because then we could rush up the hill with the paper boats we’d made, squat by the drain – partly sheltered from the rain under the canopy of the jungle – and release the boats to speed downhill with us chasing alongside. Sometimes they would make it all the way and sometimes they would disintegrate or get caught in leaves and twigs midway, and the race would have to be aborted. Oh, we looked forward to the rain indeed.

It was only a couple of years ago that I learnt this authentic Hadith:

Anas Ibn Malik reported:

“It rained upon us as we were with the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him). The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) adjusted his clothing (exposing part of his body – shoulder/back) till the rain fell on it. We said: Messenger of Allah, why did you do this? He said: It is because it (the rainfall) has just come from the Exalted Lord. [Sahih Muslim Book 4, Number 1960] – Sahih

What? How come I didn’t know this before? All this while, I could have gotten the reward of practicing a Sunnah by loving, appreciating and even playing in the rain. Brilliant!

I always felt there was something special about rain; coming from the sky seemingly out of nowhere, like magic. When I found out about this authentic Hadith, it really felt like an affirmation of something my soul already knew and believed; and I couldn’t wait to share it with everyone.

A work colleague was in town from Uzbekistan. It doesn’t rain much there, he says. The day he arrived Kuala Lumpur it rained. No, it poured. Cats and dogs … tigers and monkeys and all. He told us that he stepped out of his fancy hotel downtown, in his business suit, into the rain. He says, “The rain here is different. I can feel it. It just washed away all my problems, all my worries. I just … felt … blessed”. I shared this Hadith with him. He hadn’t heard it before, and said I was very lucky to live in a place where it rained a lot. I agreed.

We know from other Hadith that whoever revives a Prophetic Sunnah or any good deed will get the reward equivalent to the person who follows or establishes the same act after him, without diminishing whatsoever from that person’s reward. It’s the perfect Multi-Level-Marketing (MLM) scheme and investment. So let’s do it, folks. Next time it rains – which if you’re in Malaysia now in November, would probably be in the next five minutes – step outside for a bit. Just hold your hand out and feel the drops falling, the cool spray lightly touching your face. Smile, and thank the Almighty.

Imam As-Shafi’ee mentions in his book Al-Umm: “It is narrated by Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him): That the rain fell from the heavens so he told his servant to bring out his mattress and saddle so that the rain may fall on it. Abu Jawzaa’ then asked Ibn Abbas: Why are you doing that, may Allah have mercy on you? He (Ibn Abbas) then said: Do you not read the book of Allah?

“And We have sent down blessed rain from the sky and growing from it gardens and grain from the harvest”

[Al-Qur’an, Qaf 50:9]

I may not necessarily suggest that you go the way of Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) and start dragging furniture out into rain; but seriously – teach your kids this Hadith. Go make paper boats. Dance in your garden to the rhythm of the rain. And remember how the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) would rejoice in happiness at this blessing of the Almighty.

Another very important point related to the rain is that it is known to be one of the times for which supplication (du’a) is more likely to be accepted.

Sahel ibn Sa’ad (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Two will not be rejected, supplication when the call to prayer (Adhan) is being called, and at the time of the rain”. [Abu Dawood – Sahih]

In addition to general supplication, there’s also a specific one from the Sunnah which we learn in the following Hadith:

‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated that: “When it rained, the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) would say: ‘Allahummaj’alhu sayyiban nafi`a (or in another narration – Allahumma sayyiban nafi’an) – O Allah, make it a beneficial rain.’” [Sunan an-Nasa’i 1523 with a similar narration in Sahih Al-Bukhari 1032 and Sunan ibn Majah 3889] – Sahih

So when it rains – pray. Ask the Almighty for anything and everything. Show Him your appreciation, beg Him for forgiveness and help, and display to Him your amazement of His ever-present Mercy, Grace and Beauty. Pray with your mind, body, and most importantly your heart and soul.

Join me in reviving this Sunnah. Share this with your family and friends. Insha Allah we plan to continue with the “Revive a Sunnah” series – and we welcome your suggestions on any particular Sunnah you recommend us to write about.

I can hear the start of pitter patter on my roof – maybe it’s time to go make some paper boats again!