Photo by Syed Akif. Source: Internet
WHENEVER I think of the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah, I think of a sale. In Dubai, one of the biggest exhibitions of the year is Gitex, a technology fair that goes on for just under 10 days, and has the public going tech-crazy well before that. There is so much hype about the new products coming out and all the offers, and if you need a new gadget, it is well known that you wait until Gitex to buy it. Because even if the price is not discounted, you get so much free stuff with it that it makes it worth your while.
There is such a buzz of excitement around Gitex, even for non-tech-lovers like myself. Do we feel anywhere close to the same about the incredible month of Dhul Hijjah?
The first ten days of Dhul Hijjah, are much like the days of Ramadan – brimming with amplified rewards, even for non-pilgrims. Anything we do is multiplied more than usual, so we need to make the most of it.
The Prophet ﷺ has said regarding these blessed days:
“There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.” The people asked, “Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah?” He said, “Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah, except in the case of a man who went out, giving himself and his wealth up for the cause (of Allah), and came back with nothing.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
With all the reverence given to the pilgrims in this month, non-pilgrims might feel like there are just ordinary days up ahead. But hajj isn’t the only act of worship in Dhul Hijjah, and it is up to us to make these days amongst our best yet. Here are a few ideas on what you can do:
Allah swt gives us incredible opportunities so many times to wipe out our sins – because He knows we need it! And we need to avail every single one of them. Besides being an act of worship whose reward lies solely with our Rabb, fasting specifically on the day of ‘Arafah – the 9th day of Dhul Hijjah – serves as an expiation of our sins for the year that went by and the one still to come! SubhanAllah!
So even if you cannot fast the whole 9 days, push yourself to fast at least the 9th because it is worth it!
2) Dhikr and shukr
During the days of hajj, the pilgrims in Makkah are doing tawaf, stoning at the jamarat, and saying the talbiyah. The equivalent for us back home is to remember Allah as much as possible in our daily lives – whether that be in a gathering with other people, or saying SubhanAllah, Alhamdulillah, and Allahu Akbar as much as possible. There is so much time in our day that we cannot dedicate completely to worship – maybe it’s because we are stuck in traffic, have to cook for the family, or are just caught up in the minute details and chores that make up our days. These are the moments to avail, to ensure that they are not missed opportunities. They are the perfect moments to keep our tongues moist and remember Allah.
Gratitude is essential in our lives, but these are days when we are rewarded so much more. And so, it doesn’t matter what you have in your life or not, what came your way or didn’t – there is still so much to be thankful for. What better time to try and make a habit out of being grateful?
Allah says: “If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favour]…” (14:7)
3) Extra worship
Just like in Ramadan, these holy days are meant to get closer to Allah swt, so they call for more salah, more Qur’an in our lives, and more sadaqah. Try to make a habit out of the sunnah salah if it’s not a part of your life already, and if it is, then aim for more. Pray two rak’at after you take wudhu, a minimum of 2 or a maximum of 8 rak’at of Duha, and tahajjud.
Get up close and personal with the Qur’an – set a goal to recite more, memorise a bit more, and understand it a bit more. Try to cut out the time-wasters in your day and incorporate more elements of deen instead.
There is never a time when we shouldn’t give in charity. Whether it is to the poor and needy, or to someone who just needs a hand, whether it is monetary or time or skill, the rewards for sadaqah are incredibly bountiful.
4) Repent and forgive others
In order to cleanse our heart, we tend to add on more good deeds in our life, and while that is always a good thing, we sometimes that forget that the cleansing process needs to start with just that: cleansing. We need to make a habit out of repenting, sincerely begging Allah to forgive us of our sins – big and small, open and hidden, past and future – in order to purify our hearts. There is something almost therapeutic about having such a conversation with Allah and laying ourselves exposed to Him. It makes the effort of then adding on good deeds much more effective.
Just as we want to be forgiven, we also need to make a habit out of forgiving others. There may be people we treat just a little differently because of something they may have said or done to us years ago, that space in our hearts that is taken up by the hurt that we hold on to. But there is such a great sense of relief in letting go of a grudge and moving on, knowing that that person does not have a hold on your life. We have no idea who we may have hurt in the same way, and we would want to be forgiven as well, so let go.
5) Good character
I feel like the biggest part of being a Muslim is not in how we dress or how much we pray, but in how we treat others. It is so easy to assume a monk-like behaviour and hole ourselves up in worship, but it is SO hard to treat people with ihsan – better than they deserve, and better than they treat us. Whether it is close family or random strangers, try to adopt the best character possible, such that even if people don’t know about Islam, they will come to know it through you.
6) Get the family involved
One of the most exciting parts of hajj is the story behind it. Get your friends and family, and especially the kids, involved in understanding the legacy behind it. Get them excited so that going for hajj is definitely on their bucket list. If there is something you want to incorporate in your life, use the people around you to make it a group effort. Maybe it is waking up for tahajjud or fasting all 9 days, maybe it is feeding the neighbours or controlling your anger. However big or small, there is nothing like having a support group when you’re venturing into something new.