Ofaira Ateeq Husain shares with us the suggestions of Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid.
Allah (swt) has preferred some times of the year over others in the sense that the rewards for good deeds done during these periods get multiplied many times. This encourages His servants to do more righteous deeds and worship Him more, in order to prepare themselves for death and the Day of Judgment.
The Prophet (sa) said: “Being laid-back is best in every matter except for good deeds.” (Abu Dawood & Al-Hakim)
Among the special seasons of worship are the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, which Allah (swt) has preferred over all the other days of the year. These days, which include the Day of Arafah and Eid Al-Adha, bring Muslims an opportunity to correct their faults and make up for any shortcomings.
Ibn Abbas (rta) reported that the Prophet (sa) said: “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.” (Bukhari)
It is indeed a great mercy of Allah (swt) that the blessings of Hajj spill over also to those, who are not making the pilgrimage but are fasting on Dhul-Hijjah 9, the Day of Arafah. On this day, also known as the Waqfah (standing), the pilgrims stand on and around the Mount of Mercy to ask Allah’s (swt) forgiveness. When the sun sets on that day, all their past sins are forgiven. If those, who are not making Hajj, fast on that day, the sins of two years (the past and the coming one) are forgiven. (Muslim)
Abu Hurairah (rta) relates that the Prophet (sa) said: “There are no days more loved by Allah (swt) for you to worship Him therein than the ten days of Dhul Hijjah. Fasting any day during it is equivalent to fasting one year, and offering Salatul Tahajjud (late night prayer) during one of its nights is like performing the late night prayer on the night of power (i.e., Lailatul Qadr).” (At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Al-Baihaqi)
In this season, the roads leading to goodness are numerous, so we must not miss out on any of them. Allah (swt) has given us many ways, in which to do good deeds and worship Him. Among the good deeds, which a Muslim should strive to do during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah are:
1. Salah. A guided slave of Allah (swt) would supply himself with optional Salah during these ten days, because it is a path to goodness and something that Allah (swt) loves. Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “Salah is the best thing that one can do, so perform as many as you possibly can.” (At-Tabarani) He (saw) also said, as narrated by Abu Hurairah (rta): “The son of Adam could not do anything more beneficial for himself than Salah, reconciliation (between Muslims) and being well mannered.” (Al-Bayhaqi and others)
2. Fasting. It is Sunnah to fast on the ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah. Hunaydah Ibn Khalid quoted some of the wives of the Prophet (sa) as saying: “The Prophet (sa) used to fast on the ninth of Dhul-Hijjah, on the day of Ashurah, on three days of each month and on the first two Mondays and Thursdays of each month.” (An-Nisa’i, 4/205)
3. Takbir. During the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, it is Sunnah to say Takbir, Tahmid, Tahlil, and Tasbih loudly in the mosque, the home, the street and every place, where it is permitted to remember Allah (swt) and mention His name out loud, as an act of worship and as a proclamation of the greatness of Allah (swt). Men should recite these phrases out loud, and women should recite them quietly.
Allah (swt) says: “That they may witness things that are of benefit to them (i.e., reward of Hajj in the Hereafter, and also some worldly gain from trade), and mention the name of Allah on appointed days (i.e. 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th day of Dhul-Hijjah), over the beast of cattle that He has provided for them (for sacrifice).” (Al-Hajj 22:28)
Abdullah Ibn Umar (rta) reported that the Prophet (sa) said: “There are no days greater in the sight of Allah and in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Him than these ten days, so during this time recite a great deal of Tahleel (La Ilaha Ill-Allah), Takbeer (Allahu Akbar) and Tahmeed (Al-Hamdu Lillah).” (Reported by Ahmad, 7/224; Ahmad Shakir stated that it is Saheeh)
4. Performing Hajj and Umrah. One of the best deeds that one can do during these ten days is to perform Hajj to the Sacred House of Allah (swt). The one, whom Allah (swt) helps to offer Hajj to His House and to perform all the rituals properly, is included in the words of the Prophet (sa): “An accepted Hajj brings no less a reward than Paradise.”
5. Doing more good deeds in general. This is because good deeds are beloved by Allah (swt) and earn one a great reward. Whoever is not able to offer Hajj should occupy himself during this blessed time with acts of worship, reading the Quran, remembering Allah (swt), making supplications, giving in charity, showing dutifulness to parents, maintaining the ties of kinship, enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil and other good deeds and acts of worship.
6. Sacrifice. Offering a sacrificial animal is also among the most virtuous deeds that one can perform. The Prophet (sa) said: “He, who does not offer a sacrifice while being financially able to, let him not come close to our Masjid (i.e. pray with us).” The Sunnah also indicates that the one, who wants to offer a sacrifice on Eid-ul-Adha, must stop cutting his hair and nails and removing anything from his skin, from the beginning of the ten days until after he has offered his sacrifice, because the Prophet (sa) said: “When the ten days (Dhu’l-Hijjah) have begun and one of you intends to offer a sacrifice, then let him not cut any of his hair or remove anything from his skin.” (Muslim)
In another narration, he (saw) said: “Let him not cut anything from his hair or nails until he sacrifices.” (Ad-Darimi)
7. Sincere repentance. One of the most important things to do during these ten days is to repent sincerely to Allah (swt) and to give up all kinds of disobedience and sin. Take advantage of these virtuous deeds, beware of laziness and neglect and know that Allah (swt) has favoured certain days over others. Let us use these opportunities and increase our righteous deeds. May Allah (swt) forgive us our sins and shortcomings, Ameen.