The month of pilgrimage has arrived, but the vast majority of us (unless you’re one of the very lucky few) will not be performing Hajj this year. Even umrah looks unlikely for the time being, while the world continues to grapple with the Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst restrictions enforced by the Saudi authorities seem sensible considering the risk of spreading coronavirus, it feels sad not to have the opportunity to visit the House of Allah.
Fortunately for us, reaping the rewards of Dhul Hijjah is not only reserved to people performing Hajj. Ramadan may feel like the best opportunity to develop our connection with Allah SWT, but, did you know that it is actually Dhul Hijjah that is the most sacred month of the year?
Dhul Hijjah – Blessings of the first 10 days and nights
“By the daybreak,
By the ten nights.”
Quran 89: 1-2, Suratul Fajr.
Allah SWT swears by the ‘ten nights’ in the Qur’an, and for Allah SWT to swear by anything is significant. Qur’an commentators believe this is in reference to the first 10 nights of Dhul Hijjah, during which tremendous blessings are available for anyone who endeavours to gain them. RasulAllah SAW is reported to have said:
“There are no days in which deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days” (Sahih Bukhari).
We don’t need to wait until we can next visit the House of Allah to gain immense rewards.
Here are 7 ways we can make the most of the 10 days of Dhul Hijjah:
1. Fast the first 9 days of Dhul Hijjah
Fasting on the first nine days of Dhul Hijjah is a beautiful act of devotion, similar to Ramadan, in which we sacrifice our basic needs and desires for a higher purpose. Those performing Hajj are not recommended to fast, due to the strain it would cause, giving everyone else at home a special act through which to gain the pleasure of Allah SWT.
2. Fasting the Day of Arafah
Of course, it may not be possible to fast all nine days, but don’t worry – even fasting only one day can bring you huge benefit. Fasting on the Day of Arafah could be your imaan boost to take you right up to the next Ramadan, in sha Allah. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad SAW is reported to have said that fasting on the Day of Arafah expiates the sins of the past year, and of the coming year (Sahih Muslim).
3. Read more Qur’an
Rasulallah SAW said “Recite the Qur’an, for on the Day of Resurrection it will come as an intercessor for those who recite it” (Sahih Muslim). With many us continuing to be housebound, it’s a bit easier to develop a regular habit of reading the Qur’an on a daily basis.
If you struggle to read it in Arabic, read the translation (there are many accessible ones around, such as by Adel Haleem and Muhammad Asad). It is worth continuing to read the Qur’an in Arabic as much as you can, especially since those who struggle will gain double the reward. (Sahih Muslim).
Practical tip: Read 5 minutes of Qur’an after Fajr, one of the most beneficial times to sit in remembrance of Allah SWT. It’s also one of the few times that you aren’t thinking about the tasks you have to complete that day, so take this time to invest in your self-care and draw closer with your Creator.
4. Increase in Dhikr (remembrance of Allah)
One of the easiest and most effective ways to increase our mindfulness of Allah SWT is through regular remembrance of Him. Rasulallah SAW is reported by both Imam al Bukhari and Muslim to have said:
“Allah says, “I treat My servant as he hopes that I would treat him. I am with him whenever he remembers Me: if he thinks of Me, I think of him; if he mentions Me in company, I mention him in an even better company. If he draws near to Me a hand’s span, I draw near to him an arm’s length; and if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw closer by a distance of two outstretched arms nearer to him; and if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.”
Even if you feel rushed off your feet all day and find it hard to make the time to dedicate to reading Qur’an, dhikr is something you can do alongside your daily tasks. One of the best forms of dhikr to recite that Rasulallah SAW reported is light for the tongue to remember, heavy in the scales and dear to the Most Merciful, is the following:
“سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ وَبِحَمْدِهِ سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ الْعَظِيمِ”
Transliteration: Subhaanal-laahi wa bihamdih Subhaanal-laahil-‘Adheem
Translation: Glory be to Allah and praised is He, and Allah is the most great, free from imperfection.
Practical tip: Read this form of dhikr – or any you prefer – twenty times after each salaat, so that you read it 100 times a day.
5. Donate to charity
Dhul Hijjah is the month of sacrifice, and the pilgrimage of Hajj and sacrifice on the day of Eid revolve around the story of Prophet Ibrahim AS, whose life is a model of worshipping Allah with sincerity. Allah says in the Qur’an:
“Who is it that would loan Allah a goodly loan so He may multiply it for him many times over? And it is Allah who withholds and grants abundance, and to Him you will be returned.”
Qur’an 2:245, Surah Baqarah
Practical tip: If you’re looking for an easy way to gain rewards every day this month, LaunchGood have made it possible for you to automate your donations.
6. Make more dua
For yourself, your parents, your siblings, your extended family, your neighbours and friends, the Ummah and the world at large.
7. Bake or buy something for your neighbour
One of the most important legacies left to us by the Prophet Muhammad SAW is treating people with kindness. Our neighbours in particular have the right to good treatment from us but living in a large town or city can feel isolating for many people, young and old. Bring a smile to your neighbour’s face by knocking on their door with a slice of home-baked cake, or surprise them with a platter of fresh fruit.