How to Make the Most of Dhul-Hijjah Featured

By Dr. Ramadan Fawzy June 10, 2024 2500

Muslims desperately need times to charge in their journey to their Lord; they need seclusion with their Lord and solace from the loneliness of the path, and they need to find refuge in His companionship amidst the crowded and busy life.

How delightful it is to live in the company of Allah and to breathe His mercies that He bestows upon His servants; waves of blessings come from the heavens to the earth one after another. As soon as one wave bids farewell, another follows, so that no seeker has an excuse for negligence; if one missed the blessings of Ramadan, here are the blessings of Dhul-Hijjah, and whoever tasted the sweetness of mercy in Ramadan must roll up their sleeves and prepare to strive to taste the mercy of these blessed days.

O you who have neglected what has passed, prepare for what is coming. O you who are seeking guidance, get ready for the first step. O you who are lost in your misguidance, far from your Lord, finding comfort in your sin, isn't it time for your distance to end?

How great You are, my Lord, how gracious, how compassionate, and how vast is Your mercy! You open door after door, You send down mercy after mercy, and we are heedless and lost in our misguidance. But still, Your mercy and Your pardon encompass us, and Your blessings reach us.

 

The Grand Virtue

What greater honor and exaltation can these days receive than Allah the Almighty swearing by them in His Noble Book: “And [by] ten nights.” (Al-Fajr: 2)? An oath from the Most High signifies the immense significance of what is sworn upon. Al-Tahir ibn Ashur, in his Quranic exegesis “The Verification and Illumination,” explains: These are well-known nights to the listeners, described as ten. The description with the number is enough to identify them as ten consecutive nights. However, the use of an indefinite form, despite being well-known, with a descriptive number emphasizes their grandeur.

There are no other ten consecutive days in the entire year as magnificent as the ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, which are the period of Hajj rituals. During these nights, there is Ihram, the entry into Mecca, the Tawaf, the night of Tarwiyah on the eighth, the night of Arafah on the ninth, and the night of Nahr on the tenth. Therefore, it is clear that these are the nights intended by “ten nights.”

These are days of divine mercies bestowed by the Almighty upon His weak servants. He compensates for their shortcomings, overlooks their misdeeds, and forgives their sins. Whoever is touched by one of these divine mercies will never be miserable thereafter.

The Noble Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, clarifies the significance of this virtue in the hadith narrated by Ibn Abbas: “There is no virtue more to the liking of Allah in any day than in these days, that is, the first ten days of Dhu al-Hijjah. They (the Companions) asked: Messenger of Allah, not even the struggle in the path of Allah (Jihad)? He said: (Yes), not even the struggle in the path of Allah, except a man who goes out (in the path of Allah) with his life and property, and does not return with any of them.”

Scholars have differed on the virtue of these ten days compared to the last ten days of Ramadan. Some said these ten days are superior due to this hadith, while others said the last ten days of Ramadan are superior because of fasting and Laylat al-Qadr. Some scholars concluded that the days of these ten are superior due to the Day of Arafah, and the nights of the last ten of Ramadan are superior due to Laylat al-Qadr, since the Day of Arafah is the best day of the year and Laylat al-Qadr is the best night of the year. Hence, the hadith says, “There are no days” and not “no nights.”

This noble hadith contains several illuminations that make these days shine even brighter:

Firstly, the writer of “Fath al-Bari” notes that the ten days of Dhul-Hijjah are special due to the combination of major acts of worship in them: prayer, fasting, charity, and Hajj, a combination not found in any other time.

Secondly, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said in the hadith “virtue” and not just “worship” or “obedience.” This broadens the scope of virtue to include all good deeds, whether at the individual level or for the entire community.

Thirdly, some scholars suggested that the preference of righteous deeds over jihad in these days might be because jihad during these days could prevent one from performing the obligatory Hajj. Thus, righteous deeds are considered better these days, while jihad is superior at other times.

 Fourthly, these days gain their virtue from the forgiveness and emancipation from the Fire that occur within them. Those whom Allah grants the opportunity to perform Hajj return as sinless as the day they were born. For those who do not perform Hajj but fast on the Day of Arafah, Allah forgives the sins of the previous year and the coming year, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Fast the Day of Arafah, for indeed I anticipate that Allah will forgive (the sins) of the year after it, and the year before it.”

 

The Virtuous Deeds

Deeds performed during these days derive their virtue from the greatness of the time in which they occur. These days present a significant opportunity for those with a living heart and a sharp mind. Deeds that are more beloved to Allah than jihad are worth preserving and increasing. The reward for jihad, which involves sacrificing one's life and wealth, is unparalleled. This is evidenced by the hadith of Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him), where he said: The Messenger of Allah () was asked: “What other good deed could be an equivalent of Jihad in the way of Allah?” He () replied, “You do not have the strength to do it.” (The narrator said:) The question was repeated twice or thrice, but every time he () answered, “You do not have the strength to do it.” Then he () said, “One who goes out for Jihad in the Cause of Allah is like a person who observes Saum (fasting), stands in Salat (prayer) constantly, recites the Ayat of the Qur'an and does not exhibit any lassitude in fasting and prayer until the participant of Jihad in the way of Allah returns.”

Despite this, the Prophet (peace be upon him) indicated that righteous deeds in these days are more beloved to Allah than anything else, even jihad in His path. What a reward and what a virtue it is for a servant to find an action that Allah loves!

The love of Allah is sought by every rational person and desired by every seeker. For those who wish to achieve this, the opportunity is at hand. Prepare well, and get ready to welcome these blessed days. Here are some tips for the journey, may Allah make them beneficial for both you and me:

- Understanding the Virtue of These Days: One of the motivating factors to endure efforts and hardships is knowing their virtue. Whoever understands the virtue of these days and the merit of righteous deeds during them will feel more enthusiastic, determined, and driven to earn this virtue.

- Welcoming Them Properly: Just as one eagerly prepares to welcome a cherished guest, the love of Allah, which is epitomized in performing righteous deeds during these days, deserves the utmost readiness. Whoever desires the love of their Lord, manifested in righteous deeds during these days, should adorn themselves with piety, purify their intention from any trace of showing off, and abandon the stains of sins and misdeeds.

- Encouraging Righteous Deeds: Any deed that is deemed righteous is recommended during these days. Righteous deeds vary, including different forms of worship, enjoining good and forbidding evil, seeking beneficial knowledge, excelling in one’s work, and protecting the frontiers. Every person with a righteous job or craft can earn this reward if they purify their intention for the sake of Allah during these days.

- Emphasizing Increased Acts of Worship: While acts of worship are mentioned within the context of righteous deeds, it is also crucial to discuss them specifically due to their importance. Righteous deeds vary in merit, and among the best of them is the worship of Allah and increasing acts of obedience during these days. Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There are no days on which God likes better to be worshipped than the ten days of Dhul Hijja.” Types of these acts of worship include:

  1. Encouragement for Hajj and Umrah: They are among the best deeds during these days for those whom Allah has granted the ability. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “(The performance of) 'Umrah is an expiation for the sins committed between it and the previous 'Umrah; and the reward of Hajj Mabrur (i.e., one accepted) is nothing but Jannah.” (Sahih al-Bukhari) Those whom Allah allows to perform Hajj during these days combine the honor of both the time and place, as the day of Arafah is the best of days and Mount Arafah is among the best places.
  2. Reminder of the Importance of Fasting and Night Prayers: These ten days follow two months after Ramadan, a time during which one might fall into relaxation and indulgence. Allah wants the soul to continue adhering to discipline, controlling desires, and maintaining self-restraint. This is best achieved through fasting and night prayers (Qiyam). It is recommended to fast and pray at night during these days. Continuing from the hadith of Abu Huraira mentioned earlier, “Fasting observed on each of these days is equivalent to a year’s fasting, and prayer during each of these nights is equivalent to prayer during Lailat al-qadr.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi)

While fasting is recommended during these days, it is especially recommended on the day of Arafah for those not performing Hajj. As we mentioned before in the hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Fast the Day of Arafah, for indeed I anticipate that Allah will forgive (the sins) of the year after it, and the year before it.”

  1. Tahleel and Takbeer: One of the highly recommended and easy acts of worship for every Muslim is the continuous dhikr (remembrance of Allah). This act is a sign of a living heart and a thriving soul. The importance of dhikr increases during these ten days, as supported by the words of Allah: “And mention the name of Allah on known days.” (Al-Hajj: 28) Scholars have interpreted these “known days” as the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah. It is narrated that ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There are no days that are greater before Allah (SWT) or in which good deeds are more beloved to Him than these ten days, so increase in them your declaration of the oneness of Allah (Tahlil), your exaltation of Him (Takbeer), and your praise of Him (Tahmeed).” (Musnad Ahmad)
  2. Increasing Du’a on the Day of Arafah: The Day of Arafah is one of the greatest days in the sight of Allah; it is a day of mercy and emancipation from the Hellfire. It is narrated by Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There is no day when God sets free more servants from hell than the day of ‘Arafa. He draws near, then praises them (Literally, ‘boasts of them.’) to the angels saying, ‘What do these want?’” (The reference is probably to their undertaking the vicissitudes of the Pilgrimage) (Sahih Muslim)

Therefore, it is wise for every believer to increase in du’a and humbleness before Allah on this day to join the ranks of those freed from Hellfire, fulfilling the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “The best dua is dua on the day of Arafa, and the best thing that I or the Prophets before me have said is 'There is no god but Allah, alone, without any partner' (La ilaha illa'llah, wahdahu la sharika lah).” (Muwatta Malik)

These are some of the ripe fruits for every seeker from the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah. Whoever wishes to harvest them should know that every prize has a price, every comfort has its toil, and every rose has its thorns. Whoever pays the price, endures the toil, and overcomes the thorns will gain the prize, enjoy the comfort, and be rewarded.

 

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