by Muhammad Amin Tily
With the start of Dhul Hijjah less than a week away, Muslims all over the world are preparing to embark 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
The immense importance of these days is shown by the fact that Allah الله سُبْحَانَهُ وتَعَالَى swears an oath by them in the Qur’an: “By the dawn; And [by] ten nights.” [Qur’an: Chapter 89, Verses 1-2]
In Tafsir Ibn Kathir it is mentioned that the “ten nights” in the verse above refer to the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah.
Also, the Prophet ﷺ said: “There are no days during which the righteous action is so 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 ﷺ 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]
The reason righteous deeds are more rewarding during these days, according to Hafiz Salahuddin Yusuf, is because they are Hajj days in the sacred season of pilgrimage. Because of their excellence and importance, Allah الله سُبْحَانَهُ وتَعَالَى swore by them.
So what can you do to honour these days?
1. Take special care of your obligations
Before talking about 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? Thus, we have to pay special attention to the pillars of Islam and strive to perfect our obligations.
a) Pray on time (and in congregation, for men)
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ 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, Hadith No. 82]
b) Give your zakat if it is due!
Click here to read about ‘How Zakat Impacts Productivity’.
c) If you have not yet fulfilled the obligation of Hajj, make special dua to Allah الله سُبْحَانَهُ وتَعَالَى to grant you the opportunity to do so soon and in the best of manners.
2. Supplicate for sighting of the new moon
Start the month with this supplication:
‘Allah is the Most Great. O Allah, bring us the new moon with security and Faith, with peace and in Islam, and in harmony with what our Lord loves and what pleases Him. Our Lord and your Lord is Allah.’ [Fortress of the Muslim]
3. Repeat tahleel, takbeer and tahmeed
These remembrances have a special connection to these ten days:
Our Prophet ﷺ said: “There are no days that are greater before Allah or in which good deeds are more beloved to Him, than these ten days, so recite a great deal of tahleel (saying Laa ilaaha ill-Allah), takbeer (saying Allahu akbar) and tahmeed (saying 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 الله سُبْحَانَهُ وتَعَالَى! You might find it uncomfortable to constantly remind your family members, but if you simply play an audio file from your laptop, mobile, etc., you’ll 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. Renew your taqwa
After the fasting of Ramadan whose main purpose was “…that you may become righteous” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 183], Allah الله سُبْحَانَهُ وتَعَالَى makes a special connection between sacrificing animals (which has to be offered on the days of Eid) with taqwa:
“Their meat will not reach Allah, nor will their blood, but what reaches Him is piety from you.” [Qur’an: Chapter 22, Verse 37]
The people of taqwa, as explained in Dr. Muhsin Khan’s translation of the Qur’an, are “the pious believers of Islamic Monotheism who fear Allah much (abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which He has forbidden) and love Allah much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained).”
Thus, let us repent from all our sins and try our level best to attain taqwa.
5. Earn the reward of a Hajj without going to Makkah
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ 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]
That’s a small deed with such an immense reward! Allahu Akbar! However, this would not mean that you will be free from the obligation of Hajj (the fifth pillar of Islam) of course.
6. Observe voluntary fasts
Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said: “Allah says: ‘(The person observing Saum) has abstained from food and drink, and sexual pleasures for My sake; fasting is for Me, and I will bestow its reward. Every good deed has ten times its reward.’” [Sahih Bukhari]
In addition, Messenger of Allah ﷺ 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]
So imagine the reward for keeping fasts during these grand days, In sha Allah! This applies only for the first nine days. The 10th of Dhul Hijjah will be Eid, in which fasting is prohibited.
7. Do not miss out on ‘Arafah (9th Dhul Hijjah)!
The great importance of the day of ‘Arafah, the day when pilgrims gather in Mt. ‘Arafah and perform the most important ritual in Hajj, is shown by the fact that Allah ﷺ 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 ﷺ reported that the Prophet ﷺ 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 to fast on the day of ‘Arafah.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “There is no day when Allah الله سُبْحَانَهُ وتَعَالَى 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), so 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
الله سُبْحَانَهُ وتَعَالَى 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.
c) Make dua, istighfar and special adhkar
Even though the Day of ‘Arafah has a special status, it’s important to remember that all the days of Hajj are days of dhikr (remembrance of Allah).
The importance of dhikr is demonstrated in the following verses in which Allah الله سُبْحَانَهُ وتَعَالَى addresses the pilgrims in Surat Al-Baqara:
“…But when you depart from ‘Arafat, remember Allah at al- Mash’ar al-Haram. And remember Him, as He has guided you, for indeed, you were before that among those astray.” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 198]
“Then depart from the place from where [all] the people depart and ask forgiveness of Allah…” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 199]
“And when you have completed your rites, remember Allah like your [previous] remembrance of your fathers or with [much] greater remembrance…” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 200]
“And remember Allah during [specific] numbered days…” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 203] in reference to the Days of Tashreeq (11-13 Dhul Hijjah).
With regards to making dua, the Prophet ﷺ said: “”The most excellent dua is the dua on the Day of Arafa, and the best of what I and the prophets before me have said, is ‘There is no god but Allah, alone, without partner.’” [Muwatta Malik]
Another recommended dua that is mentioned in the Qur’an is: “…”Our Lord, give us in this world [that which is] good and in the Hereafter [that which is] good and protect us from the punishment of the Fire.”” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 201]
What a great chance you have to get your duas accepted! Prepare a dua list, as advised in Ramadan, so that you don’t spend a minute without asking Allah الله سُبْحَانَهُ وتَعَالَى for everything you want, in dunya and akhirah.
Again, don’t waste this golden, annual opportunity to gain enormous rewards. Fast and spend your time in supplication, repentance and remembering Allah الله سُبْحَانَهُ وتَعَالَى .
8. The Udhiyah (Sacrifice)
A great act of charity to get closer to Allah الله سُبْحَانَهُ وتَعَالَى on the day of ‘Eid ul-Adha is sacrificing a livestock animal. This revives the sunnah of Prophet Ibrahim ﷺ. He ﷺ was ready to give up everything for the sake of Allah الله سُبْحَانَهُ وتَعَالَى and submitted unconditionally to Allah’s الله سُبْحَانَهُ وتَعَالَى commands by even offering his beloved son as a sacrifice.
Revive the spirit behind the sunnah, be generous and select a healthy animal for sacrifice. You may have given a lot of charity other than the udhiyah, but if you miss out on this, you have missed out on a great act of charity specific to this occasion. Look at how you have spent your money on luxuries for the entire year. Now what will you offer as a sacrifice to gain the closeness of Allah الله سُبْحَانَهُ وتَعَالَى ?
Remember to abstain from paring your nails or having your hair cut until after the sacrifice, as the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is reported to have said:
“When anyone of you intends to sacrifice the animal and enter in the month of Dhul-Hijjah, he should not get his hair cut or nails pared till he has offered his sacrifice” [Muslim].
9. Give in charity
The days of Eid are the days of sacrifice. Apart from the udhiya, what will you give for the pleasure of Allah الله سُبْحَانَهُ وتَعَالَى ?
a) Spend from what you really love
Allah الله سُبْحَانَهُ وتَعَالَى says in the Qur’an:
“Never will you attain the good [reward] until you spend [in the way of Allah ] from that which you love. And whatever you spend – indeed, Allah is Knowing of it.” [Qur’an: Chapter 3, Verse 92]
What is it that you value greatly? What possession can you sacrifice for Allah’s الله سُبْحَانَهُ وتَعَالَى sake by giving it in charity? This may even be your precious talents, time, reputation, etc. How can you spend that in the way of Allah الله سُبْحَانَهُ وتَعَالَى ?
b) It’s time to give away everything extra
This may be the best time to de-clutter your house. Give in charity everything extra that you possess. What is the use of hoarding stuff that you will never use?
Assess your community needs. What can you do to help your community?
10. Befriend the Qur’an
The immense reward of reciting the Qur’an is evident from the following hadith:
Ibn Mas’ud reported that the Messenger of Allah الله سُبْحَانَهُ وتَعَالَى 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.” [At-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. The most productive time to recite the Qur’an is in the early hours, as Allah الله سُبْحَانَهُ وتَعَالَى says:
“Establish prayer at the decline of the sun [from its meridian] until the darkness of the night and [also] the Qur’an of dawn. Indeed, the recitation of dawn is ever witnessed.” [Qur’an: Chapter 17, Verse 78]
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)!
11. 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 work, do so. Again, remember that these are the most valuable days of the year!
12. Maintain good character
Just like the person performing Hajj must refrain from getting into disputes and acts of disobedience or risk the acceptance of their Hajj, 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 put barakah in your life.
13. Spread the knowledge
Unfortunately, many Muslims are unaware of the superiority of these days, or are unsure how to make the most of them. Spread the knowledge and multiply your rewards. This will also In sha Allah get you motivated to be foremost in performing good deeds.
The best days of the entire year have almost arrived! Muslims from around the globe will unite to perform one of the greatest forms of worship: Hajj. Make the most of this grand opportunity by drawing nearer to our Creator by performing acts of worship with true sincerity and according to the sunnah.
May Allah الله سُبْحَانَهُ وتَعَالَى make us understand the greatness of these days and help us perform the best possible deeds with the purest of intentions. Ameen.
This article was originally published by ProductiveMuslim: http://productivemuslim.com/how-to-productively-spend-10-days-of-dhul-hijjah/