Posted on Jul 16, 2020
“Dhul Hijjah is coming, kids! Let’s talk about our ibadah (worship).”
My kids looked at me gamely, but if I’m to be brutally honest, the excitement wasn’t where I wanted it to be. Maybe you’re more on top of it than me. Maybe you have your Dhul Hijjah plans in place to maximize on the specialness of these days, to increase your ibadah and do acts of charity, to do activities with your kids that teaches them about the story of Prophet Ibrahim (sa) (if you have kids).
If so, that’s great. Please teach me your ways. Because I think like me, many of us struggle to give these holy days their due importance and plan for it with the thoughtfulness, joy and emphasis that they deserve. Let’s face it – the 10 holy days of Dhul Hijjah in the lead up to the Hajj and Eid ul Adha just don’t get the same hype as the lead up to Ramadan, Ramadan itself and Eid ul Fitr – and that just shouldn’t be.
Dhul HIjjah is set to start next week. And while Hajj has been cancelled for millions of international pilgrims because of COVID-19 (a small number of locals will be allowed to do the Hajj pilgrimage), honoring the story of Prophet Ibrahim (as) and realizing the gift Allah (S) has given us with these upcoming ten days is so important.
The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, as narrated by Al-Bukhari:
“‘There is no deed that is better in the sight of Allah or more greatly rewarded than a good deed done in the (first) ten days of Al-Adha.’ It was asked, ‘Not even jihad for the sake of Allah?’ The Prophet (saw) replied, ‘Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah, unless a man goes out himself for Jihad taking his wealth with him and does not come back with anything.’”
We cannot underestimate for a second how important and beautiful these upcoming days are, or what an opportunity we’re being given during these stressful times in the midst of a global pandemic. Many of us are still sheltering-in-place, worrying about our children returning to school and how safe it is to go to our masajid (among many other things) – but we should try to increase our worship and our good deeds and reap the rewards that are there for us to take.
With this in mind, here are five things I’ve come up with to prep and get in the right mindset for Dhul Hijjah and Eid ul Adha.
1. Even if you already know it, revisit the story of Prophet Ibrahim (as) and think about how it speaks to your life now. Sheikh Omar Suleiman offers a wonderful in-depth webinar detailing the life and legacy of Prophet Ibrahim (as) and we can all connect with his story. It's long, but worth it! Watch it here:
2. If you can, it is recommended to fast during the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah, ESPECIALLY on the Day of Arafat. Fasting is a form of worship, because we do it for the sake of Allah (S), and fasting on the day of Arafat, which coincides with the day Hajj pilgrims stand in worship on the plains of Arafat in Makkah, is filled with blessings.
According to Sahih Muslim, fasting on the day of Arafat is equal to forgiveness for two years – the sins of the previous year and that of the coming year. Also according to Sahih Muslim, there is no day on which Allah (S) frees more people from the fire than the day of Arafat.
3. Engage in acts of charity! This is a no-brainer. We’ve published numerous articles over the years about charities you can support. Our masajid are struggling right now with funds for the upkeep of their facilities and programs. Donate to your local masjid or see how you can help them in organizing food pantries and other things. Your local food pantries in general probably need donations as well. Do something for your family or friends. A lot of us are struggling with various things in our lives, and a simple meal delivered or call made/message sent asking about someone's well being can be such a lifeline.
4. Set aside time for extra ibadah, whether that is tahajjud prayers, Quran reading, dhikr, nafl prayers or all of this in some combination. None of this is new advice, but too often we forget to make this a part of our schedule or set aside time dedicated to this during the first ten days of Dhul Hijjah. If we make our intention now and actively think about how we want to go about doing this, we may have a better chance at the follow through.
5. Decorate for Dhul Hijjah and Eid ul Adha. Yes, I know you may not be into decorating, but if you are, let’s make our homes festive and special for the ten days leading to Eid ul Adha! Especially if you have kids in the house, or even just for yourself, having that pretty and special ambiance in place can help set the mood for discussions and ibadah.
I know it’s really weird to live in a time when Hajj is pretty much cancelled. Many are devastated that they cannot go this year. This phrase has been said to death, but truly these are unprecedented times. However what I remind myself is that the majority of Muslims worship where they are while a small percentage of us are at Hajj each year. This year that percentage is even smaller.
Allah (S), the ever merciful, still gives us an opportunity to reap endless rewards. If the last ten nights of Ramadan are the holiest of the year, these upcoming ten days of Arafat are the holiest days of the year. Subhanallah, there is always an opportunity to gain His forgiveness. These days are much needed for us. Let them be a source of light, comfort and deep comfort to our families. May we be of those whose du’as and worship are accepted Insha’Allah!