With the start of Dhul-Hijjah, Muslims from all over the world have embarked on a journey of a lifetime. However, if you are among those who will instead be watching them on TV and wishing you were with them, you must be asking yourself: What do I do during these days? Let us remind ourselves of some specific and other general deeds which will In sha Allah maximize our benefit from the best of all days!
The Superiority Of These Days
Tafsir Ibn Kathir mentions that the “ten nights” in the verse above refer to the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah.
Moreover, the Prophet said: “There are no days during which the righteous action is more pleasing to Allah than these days (i.e., the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah).” He was asked: “O Messenger of Allah, not even Jihad in the Cause of Allah?” He replied, “Not even Jihad in the Cause of Allah, except in case one goes forth with his life and his property and does not return with either of it.” [Sahih Bukhari]
“Righteous deeds during the first ten days of the month of Dhul-Hijjah are far better and more rewarding than righteous deeds done on other days of the year, because they are Hajj days in the sacred season of pilgrimage. Because of their excellence and importance, Allah swore by them…” [Hafiz Salahuddin Yusuf in his commentary of Riyad-us-Saliheen]
So what can we do to honor these days?
1. Take special care of your obligations
Before discussing any voluntary actions (and bonuses), it is important to remind ourselves that we must first take care of all our obligations. How can we think of building and beautifying a house without constructing its pillars? The Messenger of Allah said,
“Allah, the Exalted, has said: ‘…the most beloved thing with which My slave comes nearer to Me, is what I have enjoined upon him.’” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
a) Pray on time (and in congregation, for men)
The Messenger of Allah said, “Verily, between a man (i.e., a Muslim) and between shirk (polytheism) and kufr (disbelief) is the abandoning of As-Salat (prayers).” [Sahih Muslim]
Try to set higher aims. Go to the mosque early and pray in the first row with khushu. Here is an amazing hadith which motivates me:
Allah’s Messenger said, “If the people knew the reward for pronouncing the adhanand for standing in the first row (in congregational prayers) and found no other way to get that except by drawing lots they would draw lots, and if they knew the reward of the zuhr prayer (in the early moments of its stated time) they would race for it (go early) and if they knew the reward of isha and fajr (morning) prayers in congregation, they would come to offer them even if they had to crawl.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
b) Give your zakat if it is due!
If a complete Hijri year has passed once your wealth has reached the nisab (minimum threshold), it is obligatory to pay your zakat immediately, and any delay without any excuse is a sin. Here is an interesting article on how zakat impacts our productivity.
c) If you have not yet fulfilled the obligation of hajj, make special dua to Allah to grant you this wonderful opportunity soon, and help you to fulfil this obligation in the best of manners.
2. Supplicate for sighting of the new moon
When the Prophet would see a crescent moon, he would say:
اللَّهُمَّ أَهْلِلْهُ عَلَيْنَا بِالْيُمْنِ وَالإِيمَانِ وَالسَّلاَمَةِ وَالإِسْلاَمِ رَبِّي وَرَبُّكَ اللَّهُ
‘O Allah, make the new moon rise on us with blessing, faith, safety and Islam. My Lord and Your Lord is Allah.’ [At-Tirmidhi]
3. Repeat tahleel, takbeer and tahmeed
These remembrances have a special connection to these ten days:
Our Prophet said: “There are no days that are greater before Allah and in which good deeds are more beloved to Him than these ten days, so recite a great deal of tahleel (laa ilaaha ill-Allah), takbeer (Allahu akbar) and tahmeed (al-hamdu Lillah) during them.” [Ahmad]
The companions would go to the marketplace and recite the takbeer out loud and people would also recite after hearing them. Let us follow their footsteps and encourage others to recite the takbeer as well, as an act of worship and a proclamation of the greatness of Allah . You might find it uncomfortable to constantly remind your family members, but if you simply play an audio from your laptop or mobile, you will notice others will join in with the recitation naturally, in sha Allah.
One of the forms of takbeer you may recite is:
“Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, laa ilaaha ill-Allah, Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, wa lillaahil-hamd”
Translation: “Allah is Most Great, Allah is Most Great, Allah is Most Great, there is no god but Allah, Allah is Most Great, Allah is Most Great, and to Allah be praise.”
4. Earn the reward of Hajj without going to Makkah!
a) The Messenger of Allah said: “Whoever leaves his house to go to an obligatory prayer after having purified himself (performing ablution), his reward will be like the reward of one who performs Hajj in the state of Ihram.” [Abu Dawud]
b) The Prophet said: “Whoever goes to the mosque not desiring except to learn or teach what is good, has the reward of a pilgrim who completed his Hajj.” [Tabarani]
c) Anas bin Malik narrated that the Prophet Muhammad said: “Whoever prays Fajr in congregation, then sits remembering Allah until the sun has risen, then he prays two Rak’ah, then for him is the reward like that of a Hajj and Umrah.” He said: “The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Complete, complete, complete.’” [Al-Tirmidhi]
Those are small deeds with huge rewards, Allahu Akbar! However, this would obviously not mean that you can use this as an excuse for not performing hajj (which is the fifth pillar of Islam!) especially when Allah has made you able for that.
5. Observe voluntary fasts
Read the following Hadith and imagine the reward we would get for fasting during these grand days, In sha Allah!
The Messenger of Allah said: “Whoever observes fast for a day in the way of Allah (non-obligatory fasting observed for the sole purpose of pleasing Allah and seeking His blessings), Allah will remove his face from the Hell to the extent of seventy years’ distance.” [Sahih Muslim]
The most important day to fast is the 9th of Dhul-Hijjah (see point 10) and it only applies to those who are not performing hajj. Remember, fasting is not permissible on the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah (which is the day of Eid!).
6. Befriend the Qur’an
The immense reward of reciting the Qur’an is evident from the following hadith:
Ibn Mas’ud reported: The Messenger of Allah said, “Whoever recites a letter from the Book of Allah, he will be credited with a good deed, and a good deed gets a ten-fold reward. I do not say that Alif-Lam-Mim is one letter, but Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter and Mim is a letter.” [Al-Tirmidhi]
As Muslims, our job is to not only recite, but also to understand, implement and spread the teachings of the Qur’an. How can we expect to be guided to the straight path unless we read The Book of guidance? Given the importance of reciting the Qur’an, it is essential that we block time out of our day, especially for this task.
If you are fluent in your recitation, set high aims. Reading around 3½ juz’ each day will allow you to finish the Qur’an before Eid begins, in sha Allah (within the first 9 days)!
7. Do not waste time
These are the best days of the year! How can you possibly waste your time? Reject all invitations to parties and appointments which can be delayed to a later date. Tell them about the immense importance of these days and in sha Allah you will even get rewarded for every good that they consequently do. If you can take time off from work, do so. Again, remember that these are the most valuable days of the year!
8. Maintain good character
Just like the person performing Hajj must refrain from getting into disputes and acts of disobedience, you should try to do the same. Forgive everyone no matter what they have done to you. Visit the sick. Have good relations with people, especially your parents, relatives and neighbors. This would be the best time to re-establish ties of kinship and instil barakah in your life.
9. Be prepared for the grand day of ‘Arafah (9th Dhul-Hijjah)!
On the day of ‘Arafah pilgrims gather at Mt. ‘Arafah and perform the most important ritual in Hajj. In fact, the day is of such importance that Allah even swears an oath by this day:
“And [by] the witness and what is witnessed [the day of ‘Arafah].” [Qur’an: Chapter 85, Verse 3]
To make the most of the grand day of ‘Arafah, make sure to:
a) Fast and expiate your sins
Out of the first nine days, this is the most important day to keep a fast on.
Abu Qatadah reported that the Prophet said: “Fasting on the Day of ‘Arafah, I hope from Allah , expiates for the sins of the year before and the year after.” [Ibn Majah]
Fasting this day is only recommended for those who are not performing Hajj, and it is not permitted for those performing Hajj.
The Messenger of Allah said: “There is no day when Allah ransoms more slaves from the Fire than the day of ‘Arafah. He draws near and expresses His pride to the angels and says: ‘What do these people want?’” [Sahih Muslim]
Don’t settle for less. You will have your minor sins forgiven with the fast of ‘Arafah In sha Allah, but what about your major sins? Repent sincerely and remember that Allah is capable of forgiving all our sins no matter how great they are. Allah says in the Qur’an:
“Say, ‘O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.’” [Qur’an: Chapter 39, Verse 53]
These grand days are a great opportunity to quit your sinful habits once and for all! Be regretful for committing sins and make a strong determination to never commit them ever again. Bismillah.
c) Make duas and remember Allah
The Prophet said: “The best of supplications is the supplication of the Day of Arafah. And the best of what I and the Prophets before me have said is:
لَا إِلهَ إِلَّا اللهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ، لَهُ الْمُلْكُ وَلَهُ الْحَمْدُ وَهُوَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, Alone, without partner, to Him belongs all that exists, and to Him belongs the Praise, and He has power over all things.’” [Tirmidhi]